Just minutes before Maddie Poppe won “American Idol” on Monday May 21, she gave an encore performance of her audition song, “Rainbow Connection.” When she first sang this melody from “The Muppet Movie” penned by Paul Williams and Kenny Ascher, she did it alone in front of judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.
For this reprise, she was joined on stage by Kermit the Frog, who crooned the tune in the 1979 film. Back then, it contended for Best Original Song at the Oscars but lost to “It Goes Like It Goes” from “Norma Rae.”
The opening lyric asks “Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side?” Later in the results show, Poppe answered that question when she and “Idol” runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson sang “Over the Rainbow.” Judy Garland introduced that heartfelt ballad in the 1939 film classic “The Wizard of Oz.” It went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Song and became the signature song for Garland.
Before their duet, Hutchinson announced that the pair were dating. “Maddie’s like my best pal and I’ve known her since the beginning of Hollywood Week,” explained the soft-spoken teen. When questioned further by host Ryan Seacrest, he revealed “she actually happens to be my girlfriend.”