Dan Marshall, a 24-year-old former college football player, has never been shy about his love of country music. He’s often covered ‘90s country artists throughout his American Idol journey, so it was no surprise to see him take the stage to perform Kenny Chesney’s 1997 hit, “She’s Got It All.”
During rehearsals, Marshall had the chance to sit down with American Idol alum Gabby Barrett, who returned to the show to offer the Top 14 contestants advice.
“I feel like a little nervous, because you’re like famous,” Marshall told her. “Gabby Barrett is a really special artist and will make anybody shake in their boots.”
“I don’t blame him for his nervousness, I just hope he doesn’t do that for the performance,” Barrett cautioned.
Together, Barrett and Marshall came up with a plan to encourage audience participation during his performance.
“I think Gabby could tell this whole thing is new to me. She’s so helpful and we’re worked in a little spot where maybe we can incorporate the audience,” Marshall explained.
“They want to have that connection with you,” Barrett said of the live audience, before encouraging him to get the crowd involved. “So, don’t be afraid to kind of be like ‘come on!’ You know, like ‘let’s go!’”
The “Pick Me Up” singer went on to encourage the Virginia Tech alum to enjoy his time onstage.
“Definitely helps you get out of your head when you’re entertaining people and trying to bring them in,” Barrett continued. “It gets you out of that to just have fun and be comfortable, and just sing like you.”
Strumming an acoustic guitar, Marshall performed the Kenny Chesney hit in front of the live audience and the idol judges.
“And that’s how you do it, that’s the way to do it Dan,” Lionel Richie exclaimed. “What I’m loving is ownership. You actually walk out on the stage and you owned Kenny’s song. Kenny Chesney, I love him, but that was your song. That was your song tonight. I will tell you this though, let me give you… You’re still going ‘oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening,’ not only is it happening, but it’s happening to your best advantage because you are sounding like a star. You are actually stepping into the boots and I’m loving that.”
“You know Dan, I think that was a great song choice,” Katy Perry added. ”I think that it was still that fun kind of singing at the bar like. I think you have to really strike a line of fun and just like keeping it pro and remembering you can’t… I feel like there could’ve been a couple more notes that could’ve had a little bit more, but you’re picking the right songs. I just want your aim to be a little bit… you know what I’m saying. Great song!”
Bryan, who could be seen singing along from his seat throughout the performance, offered Marshall a bit of constructive criticism.
“Yeah, the song… Your song choices the last three rounds have been spot on and this was another perfect song choice for you,” Luke Bryan added. “You know, what I did notice, the front part you looked a little freaking out. You settled out in the middle and me and you were kind of… I was singing the song and I mean, I know that song in my sleep. You did get yourself in a little bit of trouble with some notes at the end. So when you’re nailing it and when you’re rocking and it’s feeling great, just remember when you got it. You know, you and Gabby talked about the crowd moment, own that and don’t back yourself into any corners, but great song choice and good job!”
At the conclusion of the show, it was revealed that Dan Marshall did not secure enough votes to make the Top 11. His Idol journey came to an end.