‘American Idol’ Announces Star-Studded Season 21 Finale

Season 21 American Idol finale

Heavy/ABC "American Idol" Season 21 finale airs on May 21, 2023

When the just-announced top three “American Idol” contestants — Colin Stough, Iam Tongi, and Megan Danielle — compete one last time on the Season 21 finale, they’ll be surrounded by an array of old friends and famous stars.

The three-hour live episode airing on May 21, 2023, will include a performance by celebrity judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry as well as appearances by a wide variety of hitmakers and the return of multiple recent contestants. Here’s what you need to know:

Wide Variety of Stars Booked for ‘Idol’ Finale

Jazmine Sullivan, Pitbull, Lainey Wilson

Heavy/GettyJazmine Sullivan, Pitbull, and Lainey Wilson are among the Season 21 “American Idol” finale performers

Last week, producers announced that former “Idol” judge Keith Urban will perform and serve as the guest mentor for finalists Colin Stough, Iam Tongi, and Megan Danielle for the season finale. During the May 14 episode, host Ryan Seacrest revealed that he’s not the only star who will appear during the show.

Other performers announced for the Season 21 finale include pop stars Ellie Goulding and James Blunt, soul singer Jazmine Sullivan, country music’s Jelly Roll and Lainey Wilson, Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon, Christian pop star Lauren Daigle, rapper Pitbull, and 90s pop sensations Rozonda Thomas and Tionne Watkins of TLC and Kylie Minogue.

If past “Idol” seasons are any indication, it’s likely the Top 3 will each get to perform with a favorite singer. Tongi’s initial audition for the judges went viral when he sang Blunt’s “Monsters” in honor of his dad, who died in December 2021, so there’s a good chance the two will perform together.

Daigle, who competed on Season 9 of “Idol” but was cut before the Top 24, per Newsweek, is now a Christian pop sensation who surprised Danielle — a huge fan of hers — during her audition and will likely return to sing again with the 21-year-old. Meanwhile, Wilson or Jelly Roll could be partnered up with country singer Stough, though according to Holler, the two stars could also be planning to duet on Jelly Roll’s new single, “Save Me,” as they did at the ACM Awards last week.

Top 12 Contestants to Return for ‘American Idol’ Finale


ABCTyson Venegas, Haven Madison, Warren Peay and Wé Ani are among the contestants returning for the “Idol” finale

The season finale will also give viewers a chance to see some of their favorite contestants from the season return to the “Idol” stage. According to Billboard, the full Top 12 will return to perform. That includes the two contenders in the Top 5 who were cut at the end of the May 14 episode — Wé Ani and Zachariah Smith.

The other returning contestants who were part of the Top 12 are Warren Peay, Haven Madison, Tyson Venegas, Marybeth Byrd, Oliver Steele, Lucy Love, and Nutsa Buzaladze.

Some of them have shared on social media that they’re excited to be heading back to Hollywood for the finale. On May 14, Arkansas radio host Byrd revealed in her Instagram Stories that she had arrived back in Hollywood and was watching the Top 5 episode live in her hotel room. On the same night, Nutsa posted an Instagram video of her dancing to announce she was excited to be flying back the next day to prepare for the show. Venegas also teased his return by posting footage from his flight on May 15 in his Instagram Stories.

In addition to the Top 12 from Season 21, two longtime “Idol” fan favorites — Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken — will return together to perform.

ABC’s three-hour “American Idol” Season 21 finale, which will also include footage of the Top 3 contestants’ hometown visits, airs on May 21 starting at 8 p.m. Eastern time with the winner announced at the end of the show.