Sunday nights live taping of “American Idol” will determine who takes home the crown this season.
During part one of the finale the final three contestants, Gabby Barrett, Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe each performed three songs to vie for the top spot. Voting takes place overnight until Monday at 9 am ET. One contender will be eliminated during the first hour of Monday nights taping, leaving the winner to be announced during the second hour.
This week, iHeartRadio host Bobby Bones mentored Barrett, Hutchinson and Poppe, whose set lists included an original single, a repeat of their favorite song performed so far and a hometown dedication, after going back to their respective hometowns to perform for their communities.
Barrett, who dedicated Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” to her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa., was surprised to find that she was singing in front of Steve Perry, former Journey lead singer who fronted the band as they made the song a hit. Perry congratulated Barrett on her performance, saying it was the best version he had ever heard.
“That was insane. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I had no idea he was coming, that was such an honor. He said that my version was the best version he’s ever heard. Just seeing him here and being able to sing his song in front of him was such an honor,” Barrett said.
Poppe, an Iowa native, dedicated Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” to her hometown of Clarksville. “They said, ‘You need to pick a hometown dedication song,’ and I thought, that was the very first song that I ever sang in front of my town, like, that I ever sung for anyone. I couldn’t even play guitar at the time, so I sang it as a duet with my sister. I was shaking and so scared and my whole community was there, and so I was like, ‘I think that I should do that again and do it on a national level now.’ I didn’t realize when we put it together that it’s in the exact same key that I originally sang it in, which is really weird because I usually sing it a lot lower.”
The three finalists performed their original songs first, much to the dismay of judge Katy Perry, who qualified round one as a “disaster,” stating that none of the contestants seemed comfortable on stage. Fellow judges Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan agreed with Perry’s evaluation.
Poppe said, “I am not nervous anymore. I feel like the weight has just been lifted. I’ll say that I don’t think it was my strongest night, and I think honestly all three of us have had stronger nights. That first round was really rough, we weren’t feeling confident, I mean, the words were up on the teleprompter and it was like, we weren’t even comfortable. We really weren’t comfortable with these songs and it was rough.”
Bones was open about disagreeing with the judges, “So a couple things, one, I think in [the judges] mind, they were already going, ‘This is a new song, they’re probably not gonna be that good.’ So listen it wasn’t the best, but to say it was a disaster, come on. Also to be fair I was watching it on a screen, so I saw what America was seeing, I don’t know what it sounded like in the room. Maybe in the room it sounded like a disaster. So I did disagree with their opinion and they disagreed back and that’s okay.”
Richie stressed the importance of song writing, “Well that’s everything. Songwriters to me, you control your own destiny. And you don’t have to go and ask somebody, ‘Well can you write me a hit record?’ One thing that happened to me with the Commodores, one time we were sitting on a flight, I won’t tell the name of the group, but they came and did a song just like the Commodores, and we toured with them on the same tour – I would never throw them under the bus – and then all of a sudden, the lead singer came up to the front of the plane and he said, ‘Could you do us a favor, could you write our next hit record?’ And we said, ‘You mean you don’t have your next hit record?’ (laughs).”
Bryan echoed that sentiment, saying, “Songwriting is your fingerprint. If you ever think you’re gonna lean on someone to say it exactly like you’re gonna say it, nobody’s gonna say it like you’re gonna say it and at the end of the day that’s truly what your artistry is.”
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