The very last American Idol Monday episode is an hour-long special celebrating 20 seasons of the iconic show. The “Great Idol Reunion” is full of a ton of special guests including former OG judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul.
Plus, the special featured incredible duets from David Cook and Kris Allen; Jordin Sparks and Ruben Studdard; Maddie Poppe and Caleb Lee Hutchinson; Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina; Willie Spence and Grace Kinstler .
And, David Archuleta, Justin Guarini and William Hung took part in a few fun onstage antics.
As if that weren’t enough, Idol invited a slew of former contestants to sit in a special VIP section and watch the show. Brooke White (S7), Pia Toscano (S10), Anthony Fedorov (S4), Brandon Rogers (S6), Elliott Yamin (S5), Michael J. Woodard (S16), Francisco Martin (S18), Julia Gargano (S18), Tamyra Gray (S1). Idol posted photos on their Instagram account.
Reports said the Laine Hardy and Laci Kaye Booth duet would remain in the special, and indeed it did, although American Idol did not promote the performance on their socials today. This, despite the season 17 winner’s arrest on Friday for planting a recording device in his ex-girlfriend’s dorm room.
The Laine Hardy sighting came almost immediately ahead of Laine and Laci Kaye Booth’s show opening duet. Idol taped this special on April 11 live in front of a studio audience. Excising the performance two days before broadcast would have been a tall order. So they left in the two singing Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks’ “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” but with a disclaimer: PREVIOUSLY RECORDED. Enjoy your last minute of fame, Laine.
Next, Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks and Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard joined forces on “I Knew You Were Waiting,” the song they performed together on Jordin’s finale in 2006. Oh gosh. They are both so emotional! Lionel Richie was in the house during Ruben’s season! Ruben is back touring “Ruben sings Luther.” Jordin has recorded 130 songs for her next record.
Ahead of Jordin and Ruben’s song, Luke Bryan and Lionel are on stage complaining to Ryan that some people stole their seats. “The lady said she was here first, and the guy said something about being a dog,” said Luke. And of course, the interlopers are the iconic OG judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul. The five former and current judges watched the show from the panel for the rest of the night.
Next, William Hung not only sat in the lounge, but came out on stage to sing an off-key snip of “She Bangs.” He’s a motivational speaker these days. Host Ryan Seacrest suggested that the season 3 contestant went viral before such a thing became popular.
Season 16 winner Maddie Poppe and runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson not only competed together, but have been a romantic couple ever since. Maddie called competing on American Idol the “best time of my life.” The lovebirds sang Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “Islands in the Stream.” Somebody in comments wondered why Maddie was dressed like Priscilla Presley. Now you know. In a recent interview, Maddie said she hated PDA and made Caleb promise he wouldn’t pick up her hand. So they fist-bumped instead! Still awkward! They’re so cute. Maddie promoted her new song “The One that Got Away” and Caleb his EP Slot Machine Syndrome.
Next, are a group of surprise guests. After David Cook won season 7, a video went viral featuring a bunch of tween girls crying and screaming after David Archuleta finished in second place. Now here they are, all grown up. Archie joined them on stage as a surprise. He just had throat surgery and couldn’t speak, so he used his iPhone to communicate.
Speaking of season 7 winner, David Cook– he joined season 8 Kris Allen for a duet of the Cranberries “Dreams.” The two both live in Nashville and have become friends over the years. They toured together in Europe last summer. They joke about how nervous they are and nervewracking singing on Idol could be. Kris released five songs last year, while David recently dropped his new song “TABOS.”
Season 19 runner-up Willie Spence and 2nd runner-up Grace Kinstler took the stage next to perform “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit. They note the duet they sang during their season. Grace announced that she’s working with Alessia Cara’s team on new music. She just dropped a new song “Breaking Myself “. Willie sang the National Anthem in England for the Queen.
Ryan enters the stage with a wacky wig signifying his frosted tips from the first season. That, to introduce season 1 runner-up Justin Guarini to the stage. Well, they couldn’t get Kelly Clarkson. She’s over on NBC presiding over a
failing singing show. Couldn’t resist (Still, check out our American Song Contest recap). Justin mentioned that he’s starting his 8th Broadway show.
Justin introduced the final duet, Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina. The two were only teens when they competed. Now they are adults looking back on their “journeys.” The two sang “You Say Nothing at All” by Alison Krauss and Union Station. Scotty has had 4 consecutive country number ones, while Lauren was recently inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.
What a trip down memory lane. Idol producers are making good on their promise to bring back former fan-favorite contestants, and I am here for it. Also, it’s great to see alums like Maddie Poppe and David Archuleta who have expressed some regret over their Idol experience. At one point, Maddie said she had no relationship with the show anymore. And David called his experience competing “traumatic.”
American Idol season 20 has 3 more weeks to go. The Top 7 perform two songs next Monday. The finale airs on Sunday May 22.