Two country singers went head to head on Monday (April 4) with hopes of making it through to the next round of Season 20’s American Idol. Dan Marshall and Dakota Hayden, who were last to perform on the two-hour Showstoppers episode, found themselves coming face to face vying for the final slot in the Top 24.

After Marshall performed Brooks & Dunn’s “Hard Workin’ Man” and Hayden delivered Parker McCollum’s “Pretty Heart,” Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie brought the two of them into a room to tell them who would be advancing on the show and who would be going home. However, because both singers gave exceptional Showstoppers Round performances, the celebrities found it difficult to choose between the two.

“We’re going to have a good old-fashioned country boy sing-off, and I’m not going to be in it,” Bryan told the standouts.

First to step up to the plate was Hayden. He grabbed an acoustic guitar and delivered an on-the-fly take on Kane Brown’s “Heaven.” The 17-year-old talent showed promise as he proved he could sing under pressure and still flaunt his natural gravel vocals that got him to Hollywood Week. But, judges still had to hear from Marshall, who was awaiting his turn to sing for the final chance at advancing to the next phase of the competition.

Like Hayden, Marshall also delivered an incredible on-the-spot performance. For his offering, he crooned Chris Stapleton’s “What Are You Listening To?” for the judges. Backed by piano, the 24-year-old Virginia native threw his whole heart into his performance.

Afterward, the three judges sent the hopefuls out of the room so they could put their heads together. Although Hayden had enough talent to become a star, the panel agreed that Marshall was a more developed artist.

“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 shared.

Although Hayden’s journey on Idol has come to an end, he did leave on a high note.

“Hearing I lost was devastating, but at the same time, I keep telling myself to be proud of myself no matter what,” the singer, who was one out of 35 singers to leave the competition, said.

American Idol returns Sunday and Monday nights on ABC.

See American Idol Contestants Then and Now

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