Dakota Hayden and Dan Marshall; Photo Courtesy of American Idol/ABC
Dakota Hayden and Dan Marshall; Photo Courtesy of American Idol/ABC

WATCH: Dakota Hayden & Dan Marshall Face Off For Final Spot In Top 24 With Country Hits On ‘American Idol’

With only one slot left in American Idol’s Top 24, Dan Marshall and Dakota Hayden were pitted against one another and set to face-off for the final chance at advancing to the next round.

The Showstopper Round found the show narrowing down the 59 remaining contestants to officially name the Top 24. This marked the first time the contestants had the opportunity to perform alongside a full and in front of a live audience.

Following their performances, the contestants appeared in front of the judges for the “final judgement” as they learned their fate regarding the Top 24.

Up first was Marshall, a 24-year-old Virginia native who surveys land. After reflecting on his musical journey, he went on to perform a cover of Brooks & Dunn’s “Hard Workin’ Man.”

“For the longest time I played football, so, I came into music kind of late just being here in general I just learned so much about myself really,” Marshall shared. “My mentality heading into the showstopping performance, it’s like football, you know, mirror focused, ready to hit it hard.”

The contestant delivered a confident performance of the ‘90s country hit in front of the capacity audience and Idol judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.

“It’s surreal man, I’ve never played in front of a band,” Marshall shared following his performance. “So, first time, I think it went pretty well.”

 

Dakota felt confident going into his performance of Parker McCollum’s “Pretty Heart.”

“The judges, they told me I was Top 10 material, so I’m definitely going to try to give a Top 10 performance tonight,” Hayden declared.

“Being in Hollywood is definitely a lot different than what I’m used to, duets didn’t go according to plan,” Hayden shared, referencing his duet with Ryleigh Madison where he forgot the lyrics to the song. “I’m still here luckily, I’m just hoping to prove the judges they made a good choice by keeping me around.”

“During the showstopper performance, I definitely put everything out there like emotionally, my parents being out there made me feel more comfortable. They’re always kind of pushing me to do this kind of thing,” Hayden said. “To make it in the Top 24 would be breathtaking.”

Marshall and Hayden then faced the judges to learn their fate.

“What’s up boys? We are down to the final moments,” Bryan said as they entered into their final judgement.

“Dakota, I think your showstopper round was good enough to get you a slot,” Bryan admitted, before saying, “So, we’re going to have a good ol’ country boy sing off and I’m not going to be in it.”

“Thank God, you’d lose,” Perry jokingly chimed in.

Marshall and Hayden then had a sing off in front of the Idol judges to prove to them that they are worthy of a spot in the Top 24, however, only one of them could make it to the next round.

Hayden performed an acoustic cover of Kane Brown’s “Heaven” while Marshall sang a cover of Chris Stapleton’s “What Are You Listening To?”

Bryan complimented Hayden’s performance, “good job under pressure,” and told Marshall his was a “good deal.”

It all came down to this moment.

“Alright boys, tons of promise out of both of you, tons, I would say Dakota, everything you’re giving us at 17 years old telegraphs a big star on the rise, but at 17 you’re still a little young, you’re not going to make it in the Top 24. Dan’s just got a few years on you man,” Bryan revealed.

Ultimately, Hayden didn’t advance to the Top 24, but Marshall made it through.

“Hearing I lost was devastating but at the same time I keep telling myself to be proud of myself no matter what,” Hayden admitted.

“I was sitting my truck just a couple of months ago, now I’m here singing for America, this is an absolute dream come true. I just can’t believe. It’s up to America now, Top 24 baby!” Marshall said after earning the final spot in the Top 24.

American Idol returns to ABC next week with the Top 24.

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