‘American Idol’s first night of the highly anticipated finale is here and the top 3 are set to give the performances of a lifetime for a last chance to come out on top. Check out our recap here!
It’s night 1 of 2 for the American Idol finale and we’re so ready for it! After a thrilling season of incredible performances and memorable moments from some of the best talent in the world, it’s time for the final stretch. Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Gabby Barrett and Maddie Poppe are the remaining three contestants after America’s votes and at the end of tonight’s episode we’ll get the last opportunity to vote for our choices. Check out our recap here as we join host Ryan Seacrest and judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan for an epic night of emotional highs and lows as we get closer to the revival’s first winner!
Bobby Bones is back as a mentor for this episode and after a random drawing, Caleb is up to impress America first. He takes on a song written for him called “Johnny Cash Heart”. The sweet lyrics of “you are my June in my Johnny Cash heart” is an ode to one of the most legendary country couples of all time and Caleb definitely represents it well with smooth vocals but he seems a little more tense from the high pressure. Katy loves the song but feels like it’s one of the weakest performances she’s ever seen from him and encourages him to take on the song as his own. Luke agrees that he was more tight than usual and would like to see him up there being more loose and free. He leaves the stage with the constructive criticism and aims to do better in the next two performances.
Gabby is up next with her new single called “Rivers Deep” and she brings a spunky vibe to the upbeat song. She belts out the lyrics with a lot of emotion as she usually does with her performances. Although she looks a little nervous, she gets it done with a lot of energy and support from the audience. Katy tells her she thinks she’s just getting her bearings with her own song and Luke agrees that at the beginning she didn’t look as comfortable as she usually is but she took it up a notch at the end. Lionel tells her that singing a song in a studio is different than singing one on a stage and encourages her to keep that in mind.
Maddie closes out the first set of performances with her own new song, “Going Going Gone” written by amazing songwriter Julia Michaels. She shows us that unique style she’s always brought to the show by playing her acoustic guitar and spotlighting the great dreamy voice she’s become known for. With a lot of smiles, she finishes the song strong. Luke feels like she was the most comfortable during the performances so far. Lionel tells her that to only know a song for two weeks before performing is hard but she’s in the sales business now and needs to continue to do a great job like she did tonight. Katy advises her that they’re trying to get her ready for the music business and it’s up to her to get and keep that wingspan. Maddie admits she feels she was the most nervous out of the three performers but is glad she convinced the judges otherwise.
The next round is the encore round in which all three performers will sing a song of their choosing that they previously sang on the show in the hopes that it will help them get closer to winning. Caleb starts things off with “Don’t Close Your Eyes” by Keith Whitley and he definitely looks a lot more comfortable than before. He sings effortlessly while strumming his acoustic guitar and ends just as strong as he began. Lionel compliments him on his voice and Katy agrees that she also thinks he let his amazing textured voice come through. She continues by advising him that because she wants him to succeed in the rough music industry, she’s always going to tell him the truth. Luke tells him that his talent is spoiling the judges. Ryan then reads Caleb a sweet letter a fan wrote to him that gives him advice on songs he should sing to win the show and one of them happens to be the one he just sang. Caleb jokes that because he sang it, if he doesn’t win he’s going to blame the fan. He leaves the stage with everyone laughing from his endearing sense of humor.
Gabby’s song of choice is “Little Red Wagon” by Miranda Lambert. She struts her stuff around the stage and mingles with the backup guitarists as she energetically sings out the lyrics. She lets her sense of humor shine through and can’t help but laugh and smile at the end. Katy tells her she remembers the first time she sang that song and she can see her growth and she humorously lets her know that next time she wears fringe, she wants to see it move. Gabby then shakes a little for it to move. Luke encourages her to not be tense for these last performances and Katy adds that she wants to see her do some hair flipping. Gabby goes on backstage and after Ryan cleverly asks her if someone special is going to give her a hug, she runs over to rumored new boyfriend Cade Foehner and hugs him. She then looks at the camera and says “Shh”.
Maddie sings her memorable original song, “Don’t Ever Let Your Children Grow Up” next and we’re reminded why she’s special and unique with the important lyrics and her own style. Luke tells her he missed that song and remembers her singing it. He thinks it was quintessential Maddie and Lionel compliments how comfortable she was. Katy loves that she took a risk by showing off that she’s a songwriter and thinks she is authentic as heck.
It’s time for some performers who didn’t make the top 3 to return and sing us parts of their awesome original songs that got them far in the competition. Harper Grace is first and she sings her upbeat song, “Yard Sale” with her country twang and a lot of energy. Jonny Brenns is next with “Blue Jeans” and the emotional lyrics have the audience swaying their arms. He’s followed by Michelle Sussett and she takes on her meaningful song, “I’m A Dreamer” with a lot of passion and heart. Catie Turner sings her clever song “21st Century Machine” to round out the flashback part of the night and she again brings her fun-loving charm to the performance.
The last performances from the top 3 are about to begin. We’re taken to Dallas, GA to see clips of Caleb going back to his hometown and being met by tons of fans and supporters. He goes to the local radio and television stations and looks to be in utter disbelief when he goes back to his high school and stands in front of an entire football field full of enthusiastic screaming fans. He even gets to be introduced at an Atlanta Braves baseball game. After Caleb takes it all in, he hits the stage for his final performance of the night, “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash. His vocals are strong as he makes it smoothly through the song. Lionel jokes that it’s always wonderful when “Caleb Cash” stops by to see them. He tells him that song is his wheelhouse and Katy thinks it was so fun. Luke loved seeing the video of him back in his hometown and congratulates him for his success.
Gabby’s homecoming clips are being shown next in Pittsburgh, PA. Gabby is super excited as she sees street loads of fans with signs for her. She hangs out with her family and sweetly sings with her grandfather, who is also a singer. She has an emotional moment with her dad and sheds tears of joy for her dreams coming true. She is greeted by the gospel choir she grew up with and she’s in awe as she’s met with so much love and even literal fireworks! Gabby sings “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey as her last song and shows off her vocal range as she gets the audience to sing along. After her performance, the legendary Steve Perry surprises Gabby by being in the audience and cheering her on. Ryan takes Gabby over to meet him and he tells her that it was the most amazing version of his song that he’s ever heard. Luke tells Gabby he’s always thought she was one of the best singers in the competition and just like that, Gabby leaves the stage on a high note.
Maddie closes out the night with her homecoming and performance. Clips show her going back to her hometown of Clarksville, IA and when she goes back to her school, she’s met by sweet supporters as well as her old friends. She sings “Rainbow Connection” with a gymnasium full of young fans and also emotionally sings “Amazing Grace” with her family. She even gets the day named after her! She tries not to cry and holds back tears because she can’t believe the love she’s getting. She ends the visit by being met with a huge crowd at her local fairgrounds and she gets to sing “Homeward Bound” by Simon and Garfunkel for them. Maddie’s final song of the night is the classic “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. Her voice is stronger than ever as she brings her dreamy-like vibe to the stage and is met with a lot of cheers. Luke tells her that a performance like hers is the reason he signed up to be a judge and Katy admits that she’s voting for her on her phone right now.
It’s viewers last chance to vote for their favs as the night comes to an end. The excitement continues tomorrow night with an incredible finale that will include performances from A-list singers and of course, the crowning of the new American Idol winner. We can’t wait!