A new “American Idol” winner was crowned Sunday night, but not before Adam Lambert returned to the stage for the season finale for a pair of performances that included his new single and a duet with eliminated contestant Dimitrius Graham Sunday.
The show concluded with Louisiana teen Laine Hardy showered in confetti as he was crowned the winner over runner-up Alejandro Aranda. Hardy closed the show performing his coronation song, “Flame,” as he was embraced by his fellow Idol contestants.
Lambert was part of a star-studded finale that included performances by “Idol” season 4 winner Carrie Underwood, Weezer, Kane Brown, Dan + Shay, Andra Day, Jon Pardi, Montell Jordan, Kool and the Gang and judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.
Previous “Idol” winner Maddie Poppe made a brief appearance with host Ryan Seacrest with an interview plugging her debut album, “Whirlwind,” which was released Friday. Poppe did not perform her new single, “Made You Miss.”
Dressed elegantly in a velvet suit and the world’s widest bell bottoms (Gucci-style), Lambert — in a pretaped performance — effortlessly delivered a cool, nuanced performance of “New Eyes,” the sexy, soulful, classic rock-flavored track from his forthcoming album, “Velvet.” In an inspired artistic move, Lambert chose an all-female backing band of first-class musicians — including drummer Taylor Gordon, guitarist Angie Swan (who also performs with Talking Heads frontman David Byrne) and bassist Satarra — to flesh out the arrangement.
The live portion of the telecast resumed as host Ryan Seacrest introduced Graham, who made the top 10 but was mercilessly cut after Disney night. That cut was the deepest, as it came just before the Queen-themed episode with Lambert serving as mentor. The Maryland native is trained in opera, and planned on singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” that night. On Sunday, he finally got that opportunity.
Graham stood center stage to sing the opening lines of the song, connecting immediately with the camera and walking the stage until Lambert emerged, styled in black and generously allowing his partner to shine, particularly in the operatic section. It was nice to see the subtle ways that Lambert shares the stage with whomever he is paired with. It’s his gift, as was evidenced on the night he instructed each Idol in the art of performance.
Shortly after the duet aired, Seacrest tweeted it was “the performance we didn’t know we needed.”
If the show is looking to shake up the panel of mentors and coaches, it’s clear after his unofficial dominance with multiple appearances this season that the season 8 runner-up turned Queen frontman would be a no-brainer for a permanent role.
“New Eyes” is the follow-up to the release of his February track, “Feel Something,” which served as an introduction to the next chapter in Lambert’s career. He is set to appear on the “Good Morning America” concert series on June 28. He will hit the road on the Queen + Adam Lambert tour July 10.
As previously reported by Variety, the new album will be released through the independent label and distributor EMPIRE. He is represented by PhilyMack.