The Season 18 finale of American Idol aired on Sunday, May 17, 2020. The episode began with the announcement of the top five contestants and ended with the winner being announced.
Because of the global coronavirus pandemic, Idol now comes to viewers from the homes of judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie as well as the homes of host Ryan Seacrest, mentor Bobby Bones and the remaining contestants.
The reveal of the top five came before they each performed two songs in order to win votes from viewers for a chance at becoming the winner of Season 18 of Idol.
WARNING: Spoilers for the Season Finale Episode of American Idol follow. Don’t read on if you don’t want to know who made it through to the Top 5.
Read on below for a live recap of the results as they aired. If you’d rather just have a list of which contestants made it through and which were eliminated, scroll to the bottom for that.
‘American Idol’ 2020 Top Five Live Recap
The show began with Ryan Seacrest welcoming viewers to what may be the “most memorable Idol season finale” ever.
The Top five were announced to be Dillon James, Jonny West, Arthur Gunn, Francisco Martin and Just Sam.
That means the people who were eliminated from the finale were Louis Knight and Julia Gargano. The judges and Ryan said goodbye to Louis and Julia before they signed off for the night. They both thanked the judges and America at the end of the run.
Each of the top five then performed a song that they chose to celebrate their induction into the top five of the season, and they later performed a song they had previously performed that would then become their American Idol single.
The performances started with Dillon James, who decided to sing “Change the World” by Eric Clapton. Katy told him that was one of his best performances and called it effortless.
The next song was performed by Francisco Martin, who sang “Adore You” by Harry Styles to celebrate his joining the top five. The judges loved the performance and Luke said he loved watching his confidence rise throughout the season.
Just Sam performed “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” by previous Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. Lionel said “Our little girl has grown up,” saying that she gave them attitude during the performance and “killed it.”
Next, Arthur Gunn performed “I Don’t Want To Be” by Gavin DeGraw. Katy complimented that he looked so comfortable and said she’s proud to be on the show with him. Luke told him he did a great job, and Lionel said “As far as I’m concerned, just drop the mic, Arthur Gunn.”
Lastly, Jonny West performed “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down” by James & Bobby Purify. The judges loved it, and Lionel even offered to write a song with Jonny and “just chill” together.
For the second round, the top five were to perform something that they had already sung before. Dillon sang “The Times They Are A-Changin” by Bob Dylan, which he performed in the showcase round in Hawaii. Lionel said he was in love with Bob Dylan’s version of the song but also really loved Dillon’s, and Katy mentioned that he’d grown so much since the first time he sang it.
Next up was Francisco’s second performance, and he chose to sing “Alaska” by Maggie Rogers. Katy said it was an elevated performance from before and that it sounded like it was professionally recorded in a studio somewhere. Luke said he was so “heartbroken” it was the last time he’d hear Francisco perform like this on American Idol, and Lionel said that Francisco has been a model student and “delivered the goods on graduation day.”
Just Sam performed “Rise Up” by Andra Day for her second song of the night. The judges praised the performance and said Sam is an inspiration, with Lionel saying that he has been inspired by her journey and her relationship with her grandmother.
Arthur Gunn sang “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival for his final song of the season. Lionel called him an “absolute star,” and said he had the best vocals, style and performances. Katy said she thought he’d be winning after seeing his performances. Luke said he had “nailed every aspect of American Idol.”
Jonny West chose to perform his original song “Makin’ Love” once again for his final song of the season. He originally sang the song at his audition, and the judges loved it then. This time around, they felt the same way. Katy said that she thought it was great that he was already thinking about the future in singing his original song. Luke said the song was “radio ready,” and Lionel said “you are a singer, songwriter, producer extraordinaire” and he was afraid that if Jonny gained too much confidence he’d come after all the songwriters out there.
After the performance, the voting was closed and the rest of the performances began.
‘American Idol’ 2020 Top Five & Who Was Eliminated
This will be updated as the episode airs.
Here are the 2020 Top 5 contestants on American Idol:
- Dillon James
- Jonny West
- Arthur Gunn
- Francisco Martin
- Just Sam
Here’s who was eliminated tonight:
- Louis Knight
- Julia Gargano
Tonight’s episode was the season finale, and voting opened up after the Top 5 was revealed. The winner of the season was revealed near the end of the episode.
Idol will be posting performances online as they air. This way, West Coast fans will be able to see the performers and vote for their favorites.
To cast a vote for your favorite contestant, you’ll have to visit the website at americanidol.com/vote, download the official American Idol app, or text the contestant number to 21523.
Voting opens a few minutes into the show and closes at approximately 9:15 p.m. ET, which is 6:15 p.m. PST and 8:15 p.m. central. Fans can vote up to 10 times per method per contestant.
The episode featured performances from the judges and special guests. Academy Award nominee Cynthia Erivo was joined by the Top 11 to perform a medley of Aretha Franklin songs, Lauren Daigle and the Top 5 performed “You Say,” and Rascall Flatts were joined by fan-favorite contestant Doug Kiker to perform “Bless the Broken Road.”