‘American Idol’ Judges Hint At ‘Surprises’ During Finale: We Have ‘Something Up Our Sleeves’

With less than two weeks until the first-ever virtual finale on 'American Idol,' judges, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie dished on how they plan to keep the show exciting while broadcasting from home.

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The season 18 finale of American Idol will broadcast live from the contestants and judges’ homes on May 17 amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Of course, this at-home format won’t allow for some of the big finale moments of seasons’ past, which often includes contestants singing with the judges, celebrity guests performing and much more. Luckily, though, the judges and producers are already working on big plans to make this year’s finale just as enjoyable, despite the circumstances.

“We are going to be as innovative and creative as we can,” Katy Perry told HollywoodLife and other media outlets after the show’s May 3 episode. “Thankfully, we have been able to think about it for a few weeks and think about ways we can contribute from our houses. I think our producers have a few tricks up their sleeves. People are busy, but they are at home, and I think all of us are calling in some favors with our friends that are other musicians and artists, like we did [on the May 3 episode] with Stevie Wonder, Darius Rucker and Charlie Puth. I think it will be a bigger version of that, for sure. I know Lionel [Richie] will have something up his sleeve, and I got something up my sleeve, and Luke [Bryan] does, too. We have to keep it spicy!”

Lionel added that he likes the word “surprise” to describe what’s to come during the remaining two episodes of Idol. “We are a work in progress from week to week,” he explained. “It’s a group effort like I’ve never seen before and I’m amazingly proud of how all of this talent just came together. I just think how this show is rolling out is just amazing. It really is amazing to see it all come together.” So far, there have been two virtual episodes of Idol, with the top 20 performing on April 26, and the top 11 performing on May 3.
The top 11 was decided by America voting through ten artists, and the judges choosing one to save. They picked Makayla Phillips, which, Katy said, was unanimous. “There was no pulling of legs or fights breaking out over Zoom,” she joked. “[Makayla] checks a lot of boxes. She’s an incredible singer, first and foremost, and we do base our decision on the talent. But it’s called American Idol, and the definition of the word ‘idol’ is really multi-faceted. She’s young, she’s incredibly talented vocally, and presentation-wise, it checks all the boxes. It comes together.” Lionel added that Makayla “sparked” the judges “more than anyone else,” and confirmed that “she has the [whole] package.” 
After the top 11 sang, Luke and Katy agreed that Julia Gargano gave their favorite performance of the night, while Lionel admitted to favoring Dillon James, Jonny West and Francisco Martin. On May 10, the top 11 will be dwindled down to just seven artists, who will perform for a chance to sing during the finale on May 17.

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