The winner of season 16 of “American Idol” will be revealed at the end of the May 21 results show. The three finalists are Gabby Barrett, Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe. After Ryan Seacrest has announced which of the Top 3 has won “American Idol,” that artist will perform their winner’s single. These tracks were released last Friday and each has done well already on iTunes. Barrett and Hutchinson have the country-flavored “Rivers Deep” and “Johnny Cash Heart” respectively while Poppe has the indie-influenced “Going Going Gone.”
The finalists will open the two-hour telecast with a performance of “Meant to Be” with Bebe Rexha. This marks a return to “idol” for Rexha. She had been a mentor to the Top 24 and done a duet then with Hutchinson on this song, which was a big hit for her and Florida Georgia Line last year.
Each of them will also get a chance to shine in a duet on Monday’s show with the original artists. Hutchinson is slated to sing “Wagon Wheel” with Darius Rucker. Poppe will perform the Oscar-nominated “Rainbow Connection” with Kermit the Frog. And Barrett will join with “Idol” judge Luke Bryan on “Most People Are Good.”
Below, follow along with all the action on the May 21 episode of “American Idol.”
9:00 p.m. – According to our racetrack odds at Gold Derby, Gabby has been the frontrunner to win all season long. Last night, however, Maddie’s potential coronation single was the leader on the iTunes chart, followed by Caleb and then Gabby. Could an upset be brewing on Season 16? We’re about to find out!
9:05 p.m. – “Idol” enlisted their very own legendary judge, Lionel Richie, to kick off the finale festivities with his classic jam “All Night Long.” I love this song! As the song reaches the climax, the Top 10 join him on stage for a time to celebrate before things get tense. Bravo Lionel!
9:10 p.m. – The judges take their seats at the table and Katy immediately begins to fake sob in sorrow that the season is ending. “My babies are leaving the nest!” she exclaimed before letting it be known that she ordered champagne so it’s about to get wild! The judges say all three finalists are winners and it’s really up to them to make the most of this moment moving forward. Coming up next we will see some all-star performances and find out if Katy gets wasted and does anything headline worthy!
9:15 p.m. – Caleb proved he is more than just a singing talent by showing off an uncanny impression of Lionel! We have seen him do the same with Luke earlier this season, but his take on Lionel is even more impressive. Funny stuff.
9:20 p.m. – On stage to perform his new single “Anywhere” as well as his multi-platinum hit “Jealous” is Season 16 mentor Nick Jonas with a special guest known as Mustard. I’m not sure what Mustard’s purpose was, but he quickly exited the stage to make way for Jurnee to join Jonas for “Jealous.” She looks like a pop star and sounds great on this track with Jonas. Despite her rough road on “Idol” I still think Jurnee has star potential with the right direction. Following the performance Jonas called Jurnee “incredible.”
9:30 p.m. – Debuting his new single “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” is “Idol’s” own Luke Bryan. They lyrics immediately project images of lakes, pontoons and light beer through my mind so I’d say it’s going to be a summer hit! Next, Gabby joins him on stage for “Most People are Good.” She looks flawless and sounds great. It’s the kind of performance that would hold up on the “CMA Awards” on any given year. I love that Gabby has developed her sound throughout the season and no longer sounds like a Carrie Underwood clone. She has definitely formed her own identity.
9:40 p.m. – Teaming up for “Bright Lights” are Cade Foehner and Dennis Lorenzo with the fantastic Gary Clark Jr. The trio rocked out with guitars and I loved the rock flare from Dennis; something we didn’t get to see enough of because his season ended early. Cade was able to show off his incredible instrumental abilities while Dennis led vocally. But it was Clark Jr. who proved why he is the star on stage. The crowd erupted into a standing ovation. That was fun!
9:50 p.m. – Up next Maddie is joining perhaps the biggest star in the building, Kermit the Frog, for “Rainbow Connection.” The green crooner strummed a ukulele as the pair beautifully harmonized. It’s a sweet performance and a great way to pay homage to Maddie’s audition. On another note, Katy is letting out her funniest, most obnoxious looks and phrases. Bring it on! We need more of this from her.
10:00 p.m. – Last up in the first hour is Caleb joining Darius Rucker for “Wagon Wheel.” Rucker has made a seamless transition from the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish to country icon and Caleb looks perfectly comfortable by his side. This is a great song and adds some lighthearted fun to the show before the first finalist is eliminated from contention.
10:05 p.m. – Jimmy Kimmel surprised the audience with a special presentation. He jokingly dug up an “American Idol” time capsule from Seacrest’s zucchini garden. It included a baby-sized black t-shirt he said was worn by Simon Cowell, Seacrest’s old frosted tips, Steven Tyler’s scarves, the tips of Adam Lambert’s fingerless gloves, a DVD copy of “From Justin to Kelly,” Sanjaya’s hair and Sanjaya himself! Sanjaya is now proudly bald and will be joining other former Idol alums on “Late Night” later on tonight.
10:15 p.m. – A re-cap of some of the season’s most memorable moments was shown to fill this two-hour time slot. In reality they could have knocked this out in an hour, but ratings don’t create themselves! It was a nice walk down memory lane though. Following the montage, the three finalists joined Bebe Rexha for hit “Meant to Be.”
10:20 p.m. – Following the joy of that performance, Seacrest came out to kill the buzz with the first results of the night. “Dim the lights!” The first person advancing to the Top 2 is….Caleb! The next person to advance is….Maddie! Gabby was eliminated in third place and the judges look shocked! Perhaps most of our readers are as well. I actually called this upset when I finalized my predictions earlier today after reviewing their iTunes performances.
10:30 p.m. – A funny video starring Trevor Holmes, Noah Davis and Ada Vox was shown of them singing about their early exits from the series to the tune of Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” Next, Layla Spring took the stage with her adorable little sister, Dixie, to perform “Blue” by LeAnn Rimes. Halfway through the song, Rimes shocked the Southern duo as she walked out on stage and joined them. Adorable!
10:35 p.m. – Coach Katy Perry is making good on a promise to perform with one of the season’s most memorable contestants, Catie Turner. Turner chose “Part of Me” from Perry’s song catalog. Most viewers probably expected this personality-filled duo to perform a high-energy dance tune filled with humor. In contrast, the pair gave us a stripped-down emotional performance about holding on to confidence.
10:45 p.m. – I’m so excited to see Michael J. Woodard back on the stage! He is joined by gospel great Yolanda Adams for an inspirational rendition of “What the World Needs Now.” Adams is a powerhouse and proved that while Michael worked hard to keep up.
10:50 p.m. – Breaking news! Caleb announced to the audience that him and Maddie are, in fact, a couple. Such canoodling on this series! Following that confession, the duo paired up to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” This song perfectly suits both of their voices. Near the end of the performance, Caleb reached over to hold Maddie’s hand. How romantic. Following the performance, Seacrest announced they were sending Caleb and Maddie on a trip to Hawaii, courtesy of Disney.
10:55 p.m. – Ok folks, it’s time to get serious now. Ada Vox is joining the incomparable Patti LaBelle on stage for “Lady Marmalade.” Ada strutted out with the fierce attitude we expect and sang the first verse. Next Ms. LaBelle emerged as the grand diva she is. Patti looks incredible. She’s 73! The duo belted it out before embracing for what will likely be a memory Ada never forgets.
11:00 p.m. – The time has come to announce the winner. “Dim the lights!” Your 2018 American Idol is…Maddie Poppe! Caleb finished in second place. Maddie wrapped up the season with her coronation song, “Going Going Gone.” Congratulations Maddie!