Just over a year ago, the season 18 American Idol finalists were gathered at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, home to the Idol stage for the series’ entire history, to spend two days being interviewed by Billboard. At that time, the stage was being built for their live performances. Before the set was completed, California went into lockdown and the contestants were sent home. For the rest of the season, they competed via remote performances from their houses and apartments. Now, in a surprise twist announced Monday (April 12) morning by Ryan Seacrest on Live with Kelly & Ryan, ten of last season’s top 20 contestants will finally have their opportunity to sing on the big Idol stage at Television City, with one of them advancing into season 19’s top 10.
Voting on the “comeback” hopefuls will open during the show as they perform on Monday, April 19. The voting process will be the same as any other Idol show, with one exception. American Idol is pre-empted on Sunday, April 25 because ABC will be airing the Oscars live that night, so the voting will be open for an entire week, closing at 6 a.m. ET on Monday, April 26. The winner will be revealed on Sunday, May 2, completing the season 19 top 10.
“We pivoted pretty quickly to remote production last year because we had to,” executive producer and showrunner Trish Kinane tells Billboard. “When it became apparent that things were going to be a bit better this year and that we were going to be able to return to the Television City studio with the big lights, we thought about last year’s contestants. They did so well with the remote production, with their mums and dads helping them and their brothers and sisters holding iPhones and ring lights, but they never had the proper Idol experience. Some people really come alive on that big stage. We thought they deserved to have that experience.”
The 10 season 18 contestants who will perform for America’s votes on Monday, April 19 are: Faith Becnel; Franklin Boone; DeWayne Crocker, Jr.; Arthur Gunn; Cyniah Elise; Aliana Jester; Louis Knight; Nick Merico; Makayla Phillips and Olivia Ximines. Last year’s champion, Just Sam, was not asked back because she has already won the show. Two other top 10 finalists, Dillon James and Francisco Martin, have signed with record labels and so they weren’t eligible to compete again.
Billboard can exclusively reveal the songs the “comeback” contestants will be performing, below:
Faith Becnel: “Cry Baby” (Janis Joplin)
Franklin Boone: “Meant to Live” (Switchfoot)
DeWayne Crocker Jr.: “Voice of God” (Dante Bowe feat. Steffany Gretzinger & Chandler Moore)
Cyniah Elise: “Edge of Midnight (Midnight Sky Remix)” (Miley Cyrus feat. Stevie Nicks)
Arthur Gunn: “Iris” (Goo Goo Dolls)
Aliana Jester: “I’ll Never Love Again” (Lady Gaga)
Louis Knight: “Maybe That” (Louis Knight)
Nick Merico: “City Lights” (Nick Merico)
Makayla Phillips: “Anyone” (Demi Lovato)
Olivia Ximines: “Say Yes” (Michelle Williams feat. Beyoncé & Kelly Rowland)