"She's just one of those rare people who doesn't seem to hit a wrong note," said celebrity coach Rebel Wilson of Cohoes singing sensation Madison VanDenburg prior to Sunday night's live performance on "American Idol."
And with that, the 17-year-old VanDenburg, a Shaker High student, calmly went out on "Disney Night" on "Idol" and sang "How Far I'll Go" from the animated film "Moana." The song was fitting, because many observers think VanDenburg can now go quite far.
Her performance impressed all three judges and, more importantly, the national viewing audience, which promptly voted VanDenburg into the Top 8 and a spot on next week's show. Eliminated from the competition were Uche and Dimitrius Graham.
Said an impressed judge Luke Bryan of VanDenburg: "Can you just try to make it look difficult, please? You've just surpassed any version we've heard [of that song]."
"The talent is just amazing," added judge Lionel Richie of VanDenburg.
"First of all, you look so gorgeous," said judge Katy Perry. Of VanDenburg's singing voice, Perry added: "I can't believe these notes even exist."
Before the 10 singers performed Sunday night, "Idol" showed some of the preparation work of Wilson and each contestant. Wilson said of VanDenburg, "Personally, I'd cast her in a major musical tomorrow."
USA Today's Patrick Ryan said VanDenburg "continues to be the reality competition's go-to powerhouse."
VanDenburg's younger sister, Taylor, was introduced early on Sunday night's show, and a clip showed them riding a rollercoaster. A photo was shown of Madison during her Soap Box Derby days as a youngster in Albany. "My sister and I are a little bit like adrenaline junkies," joked Madison.
Advancing along with VanDenburg were Wade Cota, Alejandro Aranda, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, Walker Burroughs, Laci Kaye Booth, Alyssa Raghu and Laine Hardy. Cota was especially impressive with his version of "You've Got a Friend in Me" from the movie "Toy Story."
"American Idol" returns tonight (Monday) with a close-up and behind-the-scenes look at the Top 8 competitiors.
The eventual winner of "American Idol" gets a recording contract and cash prize and after each season the top competitors normally go on the "American Idol Live" tour around the country.