The top three “American Idol” finalists made their case for the last time on Sunday night’s (May 20) episode. Now, it’s up to viewers of the ABC reboot to decide who will win the 2018 edition.
The trio — Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Gabby Barrett, and Maddie Poppe — were each allotted three performances: one dedicated to their hometowns, a personal pick and an original song, which is are already available on iTunes. What didn’t you see on TV?
1. Caitlyn Jenner was among the VIPs in attendance. Also in the studio were ABC “Boy Band” winners In Real Life, who are opening the “American Idol” summer tour, former “Idol” mentor and Big Machine Label Group CEO Scott Borchetta and season 14 alum Rayvon Owen.
2. In the backstage area, Hutchinson was seen getting last-minute touch-ups for his opening song. Also spotted nearby were Barrett, Poppe, Cade Foehner, Catie Turner, Johnny Brenns, Harper Grace and Michelle Sussett.
3. “American Idol” warmup comedian Jay Flats instructed the audience that each chair has an LED bracelet, which will automatically change colors to go with the performances. These are similar to what were used on the Taylor Swift and Coldplay tours. To test them, Flats had the audience practice by singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’”
4. It’s showtime! As the judges take their seats, Lionel Richie took a moment to wave to fans, happily snapping a few shots with his camera.
5. After Hutchinson’s performance, Flats admonished the audience for taking pictures during the show — but noted that any photos or video snapped in between breaks should use the #AmericanIdol hashtag.
6. Some in the audience were having issues waving their LED bracelet lights in unison. Flats playfully called the audience out on this, too, and it was quickly remedied.
7. A fan in the audience held a cute sign — “Weighing in for Caleb Hutchinson” — and waved it furiously after mentor Bobby Bones joked that he is seeing less of Hutchinson. The 19-year-old has lost five more pounds since the show went to live episodes.
8. Ryan Seacrest, ever the professional, rehearsed his lines just seconds before the camera’s red light came on, and nailed the TelePrompTer read with smooth precision.
10. Scott Borchetta, noticing Rayvon Owen sitting a few rows behind him, strolled up for a handshake and a chat.
11. Barrett sang the classic Journey hit, “Don’t Stop Believin'” with Journey’s own Steve Perry sitting in the audience. He took a moment to say hello to the judges before taking his place by Barrett’s father. After the on-air appearance, all three judges come over for a group photo with Perry, who described Barrett’s interpretation of the song as “amazing.”
12. There was big applause in the studio for Maddie Poppe’s homecoming package and her performance of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” And while Katy Perry played it off that she was actively voting for Poppe, but her phone didn’t appear to be turned on.
13. After the show, Caitlyn Jenner comes down to the judges for a quick conversation and a photo.
14. As the crowd filed out, audience members were told that they can return for a taping of a Katy Perry performance. Hutchinson was also set to come back for a rehearsal post-show, as was Lionel Richie.
Subscribe to Variety Newsletters and Email Alerts!