×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘American Idol’ Finale: The 11 Best Moments, From Kermit the Frog to Ada Marmalade

What the show lacked in star power, judge Katy Perry more than made up for.

We laughed. We cried. We laughed some more. Thanks, Katy Perry!

The “American Idol” finale may have been a little lackluster in terms of star power, but the judge in the middle seat — when she could endure sitting in it for more than a minute — more than made up for it. Whether it was begging Bachelorette contender Becca Kufrin for her hand — and a chance to compete on the ABC show — or  spinning herself silly after the revelation that Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe are now a couple, or mock fawning over hottie Trevor Holmes, who showed up again in a cute video sendup of Richle’s “Hello” with Ada Vox and Noah Davis, between Perry’s snappy retorts, her physical comedy or her pop culture know-how, there was not a dull moment.

But even beyond the judges’ table, creative pairings (Katy and Catie) and natural ones (Ada Vox and Patti Labelle; finalists — and lovebirds– Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe), and a jubilant opening with Lionel Richie singing his hit “All Night Long” (aided by the audience, who were given flashlights to create a cool effect on television), made for an all-around entertaining night, highlighted by these 11 moments…

1. Perry Turner Overdrive: Perry’s pairing with Catie Turner on a stripped down version of “Part of Me” was inspiring, with Turner vocally rising to the occasion and Perry clearly getting emotional as the two committed to the lyrics. Truth be told, we couldn’t get enough of the judge that keeps Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan on their toes. Lucky for us, we have season two to look forward to.

2. Hey Sista, Go sista, Soul sista, Flow sista: Audience members got to feel just how electric Ada Vox’s “Lady Marmalade” duet with Patti Labelle was on the “Idol” stage. Even former “Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe — who was in the crowd— couldn’t get enough of “Ada Marmalade.”

3. Sanjaya Returns: Bringing out Jimmy Kimmel and the “American Idol” time capsule was pure genius. In it was Simon Cowell’s shrunken black T-shirt, Seacrest’s frosted tips, Adam Lambert’s fingerless gloves, and finally … Sanjaya Malakar, hair icon from season six. The only thing missing was “crying girl.” (We stand corrected: Crying Girl was in the building.)

AMERICAN IDOL - "119 (Grand Finale)" - Following amazing performances by music superstars and legends, including our very own "American Idol" judges, the winner of Season 1 of "American Idol" on ABC will finally be crowned, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar comes to a close on its new home on AmericaÕs network, The ABC Television Network, MONDAY, MAY 21 (9:00-11:00 p.m. EDT). (ABC/Eric McCandless)SANJAYA, JIMMY KIMMEL
CREDIT: ABC

4. Bright Lights, Big City: Cade Foehner is first and foremost a self-taught guitarist who loves Jimi Hendrix and plays with the dexterity of Lindsey Buckingham and a voice that straddles rock and R&B. Enter: Gary Clark Jr., an artist who has played with the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and B.B. King and who made for guitar magic. Foehner, who performed the song earlier on the show, more than held his own with the guitar great, and Dennis Lorenzo displayed pure grit in his delivery. This jam was a treat.

AMERICAN IDOL - "119 (Grand Finale)" - Following amazing performances by music superstars and legends, including our very own "American Idol" judges, the winner of Season 1 of "American Idol" on ABC will finally be crowned, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar comes to a close on its new home on AmericaÕs network, The ABC Television Network, MONDAY, MAY 21 (9:00-11:00 p.m. EDT). (ABC/Mitch Haaseth)CADE FOEHNER, GARY CLARK JR., DENNIS LORENZO
CREDIT: ABC

5. Jurnee Gets Jealous: Joining Nick Jonas for a duet of his hit “Jealous,” Jurneee shined and showed true pop star potential. She looked fantastic, and played off of the Jonas brother like a consummate pro.

6. Michael Woodard Shines: In these dark times, contestant Michael Woodard is a ball of sunshine. Pairing him with gospel star Yolanda Adams for the Burt Bacharach classic “What the World Needs Now” proved a throwback to the “Idol” of old, bringing with it a positive message that had the theater — and Lythgoe once more — swaying in unison.

7. When You Wish Upon a Frog: When Maddie Poppe first auditioned with this classic from “The Muppet Movie,” she probably never imagined singing it as a duet with the iconic Kermit the Frog. It was a delight to all in attendance. Usually stars wait years before they’re booked to guest on a show like “Sesame Street” and pull off a moment like this, but Poppe seems already as seasoned as John Denver was when he joined Kermit for various TV specials — no small task, despite the puppet’s size.

8. The Top Three are “Meant to Be”: Bebe Rexha was an MVP for “Idol” this season, joining the show first as a mentor and then reprising her hit with Florida Georgia Line — “Meant to Be” — with the final three. Bonus points go to Hutchinson as his deep vocals crooned the male part — “Don’t you know that you’re beautiful?”— and earned screams from female admirers in the audience.

9. CMAs bound? Gabby Barrett’s sweet duet with Luke Bryan was one of the show’s top feel-good moments and could have easily been a performance worthy of a slot at the Country Music Awards, while the song’s positive message, that “people are good,” provided  nice moment with a song that has a positive message, and much needed at the moment.

10. A Rimes Surprise: You couldn’t ask for a better TV moment than when 16-year-old Layla Spring and her adorable 7-year old sister Dyxie turned around midway through their performance of LeAnn Rimes’ “Blue” to find Rimes there in the flesh.

11. Born on the Banjo: Hutchinson can pick like a pro. Joining Darius Rucker for a duet of “Wagon Wheel,” America got to see the finalist once again display his skills. The pairing of Hutchinson with the former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman was a perfect matchup, and made for a fun performance that once again showcased Hutchinson as the multi-talented musician he is. Hopefully that banjo will make its way onto the “Idol” tour bus this summer.

Bonus: Jimmy Kimmel pulled together an all-star reunion of “Idol” alums for a laugh-out-loud send-up of “We Are the World.” Among the grads to participate: Haley Reinhart, William Hung, Kevin Covais and Scott McIntyre.

More Music

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

  • Kacey Musgraves, winner of the awards

    Kacey Musgraves to Present at the Oscars

    Hot off her album of the year award at last weekend’s Grammys, Kacey Musgraves has been tapped to present at the Oscars on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. She joins previously announced presenters Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Awkwafina, Daniel Craig, Tina Fey, Whoopi Goldberg, Jennifer Lopez, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amandla Stenberg, Charlize Theron, Tessa Thompson, [...]

  • Olmo Teodoro Cuaron, Alfonso Cuaron and

    Alfonso Cuarón Tells Why His Scoreless 'Roma' Prompted an 'Inspired' Companion Album

    Back around the ‘90s, “music inspired by the film” albums got a bad name, as buyers tired of collections full of random recordings that clearly were inspired by nothing but the desire to use movie branding to launch a hit song. But Alfonso Cuarón, the director of “Roma,” is determined to find some artistic validity [...]

  • Panic at the Disco Concert Review

    Concert Review: Panic! at the Disco Brings Theatrical Flair to Forum

    At one particularly crowd-pleasing point during Panic! at the Disco’s show Friday at the Forum, Brendon Urie played the group’s cover of one of the “Greatest Showman” songs, from the recent tribute album devoted to that film, and it’s not hard to see why he would gravitate to the musical. Urie’s so much of a [...]

  • Ludwig Goransson Black Panther Composer

    Complete Guide to This Year's Oscar-Nominated Scores

    Unlike the song category, it’s impossible to predict the winner from this year’s quintet of original-score nominees. It’s almost anyone’s game. Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson spent a month in Africa recording unusual drums, flutes and vocals, then adding them to a massive London orchestra and choir to create a unique soundscape for the fictional land [...]

  • Oscars Best Song Nominees

    Complete Guide to This Year's Oscar-Nominated Songs

    This year’s crop of Oscar-nominated songs may be the most diverse in years: a ballad and a pop-rap from two of the year’s biggest films, plus a delicate lullaby from a Disney musical, a political themed anthem, and a novelty tune for singing cowboys. “Shallow,” the top-10 hit from “A Star Is Born,” is widely [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content