×

‘American Idol’ Finale: Judges, Fellow Contestants Sing Praises of Maddie Poppe

Voters crowned singer-songwriter Maddie Poppe the newest winner of “American Idol” on Monday night, bringing the show’s first season on ABC to a close.

Part two of the finale included performances some top-shelf artists. The night kicked off with judge Lionel Richie joined by the top ten Idols, performing his song “All Night Long,” followed by acts from Patti Labelle who sang a duet of her eponymous group’s hit “Lady Marmalade” with former contestant Ada Vox. There were also performances by fellow judges Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, along with Nick Jonas, Leann Rimes, Bebe Rexha, Gary Clark Jr., Darius Rucker, and Yolanda Adams.

Special performances included a guest spot from Jimmy Kimmel, as well as Kermit the Frog, who sang the 1979 song “Rainbow Connection” as a duet with Poppe.

The winner was in shock after the big announcement, “I don’t have many words to say I just, I feel so overwhelmed and I just can’t even believe, you know I felt like I was kind of an underdog for a while. I really did because my music is not mainstream, and so to know that I pulled this off just doing what I love and I didn’t have to change myself is pretty incredible. And the thing is I remember a year ago I was playing in a coffee shop for six people, and I just, I wanted to give up. I didn’t see this going anywhere and I was afraid, and just to know a year later if I could go back and tell myself, you’re the winner of ‘American Idol,’ I wouldn’t believe it,” she said.

Former contestants, including Poppe’s roommates on the show, Catie Turner and Jurnee, congratulated the winner.

“She did it, America came through and voted for the most deserving girl, ever. I’m so happy,” Turner said.

Jurnee agreed, “We were so happy, [Catie] was crying, we love [Maddie] so much we can’t even believe it.”

Poppe’s boyfriend and second place winner, Hutchinson, said he was surprised to make it as far as he did in the competition, “I absolutely was, I was shocked that I got into the top three. I think part of me just always kind of was ready to talk myself into like, ‘Okay I may not make it this far but I’ll be alright,’ and it was incredible. And being able to stand by her is like, the best.”

Country powerhouse Gabby Barrett took third place after being eliminated during the first hour.

“Maddie 100% deserves to be first place runner, I love her to death. I told Maddie from the beginning, even during Hollywood week when we first started, I was like ‘Oh, I love your voice so much you gave me goose bumps,’ every time she sang. So I truly give props to her and congratulate her on everything and all her success and being the winner.”

When asked if she would have done anything different, Barrett said, “I would probably change the last couple songs that I did yesterday. I did ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ [by Journey] and ‘Little Red Wagon’ [by Miranda Lambert]. I would probably change ‘Little Red Wagon’ to ‘The Climb’ [by Miley Cyrus] or the Whitney Houston song [‘I Have Nothing’] again because ‘Little Red Wagon’ was more of a performance song. After I did it I was like, ‘Why am I doing a performance song when it’s based on singing?’ Like the best singing you can do, I mean it is about performance but it’s a lot about singing so I would definitely change that. But I want to say I’m really happy with how everything turned out, I couldn’t be happier.”

Perry, Richie, and Bryan all agree that American Idol is the best way for new and emerging artists to find a platform.

“When ,American Idol, came out I think people thought you were skipping the process, you were getting a free pass to stardom, but it’s not that way now,” Bryan said.

“Right. I was gonna say the same, when I started out it was called radio, and so now all of a sudden it goes from that to streaming and all that stuff, this is the best ticket now to get 25 million people to see you,” Richie continued.

Perry added, “It used to just be radio and then promo and then streaming, and now it’s like there’s so much marketplace that you really have to separate yourself so I think to have a combination of a great song, which I think Maddie does have, and a launching platform, the sky’s the limit.”

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Ava Max iHeartRadio Wango Tango, Portraits,

    Megan Thee Stallion, CNCO, Ava Max to Perform at VMAs Pre-show

    CNCO, Megan Thee Stallion and “Sweet but Psycho” singer Ava Max (pictured) have been added to the performer lineup at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. The three will take the stage during the VMAs’ red carpet pre-show, hosted by Terrence J and Nessa. Zara Larsson will join the two hosts as a special correspondent. [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen FYSEE Opening Night with

    Bruce Springsteen Drops Introspective Trailer for 'Western Stars' Film

    While initial reports about Bruce Springsteen’s forthcoming documentary around his recent “Western Stars” album said that it would essentially be a concert film, the first trailer for it, which dropped today, suggests it’s going to be a more introspective outing, more in line with his autobiographical performances at “Springsteen on Broadway” in 2017 and 2018, [...]

  • Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan,

    Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan, at No Charge in U.S. and U.K.

    Just days after reports emerged that Spotify is aiming to increase the price of its family plan in its home market of Scandinavia, the streaming giant announced an upgrade to the plan — with no price increase in the U.S. and U.K., where it remains at $14.99 and £15, respectively. A rep for the company [...]

  • Mike Vaughan

    Former Venmo COO Mike Vaughan Joins Stem's Board

    Los Angeles-based music distribution and payments startup Stem has appointed former Venmo executive Mike Vaughan to its board of directors. Vaughan was chief operating officer of Venmo from 2011 until earlier this year, and is now executive in residence at Oak HC/FT. “The music industry can benefit tremendously from innovation in the way money flows [...]

  • James Corden Variety Cover Story

    James Corden Signs Deal to Host 'Late Late Show' Through 2022

    James Corden has signed a new deal with CBS which will see him stay on as host of “The Late Late Show” through 2022. The multi-talented Brit had been in advanced negotiations with the studio since May, and the new deal is sure to see him score a substantial bump in pay. The previous deal [...]

  • Troy Carter Jacqueline Saturn Aaron Bay

    Creative Community for Peace to Honor Top Music Execs for Second Annual Gala

    Creative Community for Peace (CCFP), an apolitical organization made up of  prominent members of the entertainment industry that’s dedicated to promoting the arts as a means to peace in the Middle East, will honor several music business executives at its second annual Celebrating Ambassadors of Peace  gala. More than 200 top entertainment industry leaders are [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST

    Jay-Z Gets Shade From Kaepernick, Support From Cardi B as NFL Fallout Continues

    UPDATED: If anyone expected the drama surrounding Jay-Z’s deal with the NFL to calm down over the weekend, they were mistaken, as controversy and conversation continued to swirl. The situation grew even more intense late Friday when TMZ reported that Jay is looking to acquire a majority interest in an unspecified NFL team, which would [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content