It definitely won’t be the American Idol finale of old, what with the fireworks raining down on the winner of season 18 and the dramatic lights and parade of superstars singing duets with the top two in a blowout coronation. Thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown next Sunday’s (8-10:00 p.m. EST, May 17) season-ender will have to take place from home, but that doesn’t mean this year’s finalists won’t get some A-list help.
On Sunday’s semi-final, host Ryan Seacrest revealed some of the special guests who will dial in to wrap the challenging season, which include two performances from the top five (which will be announced at the beginning of the episode after two eliminations) preceding the live vote to determine this year’s winner. The top five will then perform a song celebrating their induction into the semi-final round, followed by a previously performed song and, then, their official AI single. (The winner will be determined live in a real-time vote on the East Coast broadcast.)
In addition to the return of the top 11 and a fan favorite from this season, there will be a once-in-a-lifetime special performance of “We Are The World” by that inspiring anthem’s co-writer, Idol judge Lionel Richie. In the first TV take on the song in 35 years, Richie will team up with fellow judges Katy Perry and Luke Bryan to pay tribute to all the families at home around the world now. Joining the judges on the all-star anthem will be a giant cast of former Idol contestants including last year’s runner-up, Alejandro “ScaryPoolParty” Aranda, Gabby Barrett, Jordin Sparks, Katharine McPhee, Kellie Pickler, Laine Hardy, Lauren Alaina, Phillip Phillips, Ruben Studdard and Scotty McCreery.
That blow-out will be accompanied by Cynthia Erivo singing a medley of Aretha Franklin songs, two-time Idol contestant Lauren Daigle singing her hit “You Say,” as well as Rascal Flatts and Doug Kiker doing “Bless the Broken Road,” Bryan performing his single “One Margarita” and Perry offering up the TV debut of her upcoming single, “Daisies.”
After Sunday night’s Mother’s Day special, the top seven semi-finalists are: Just Sam, Louis Knight, Francisco Martin, Julia Gargano, Arthur Gunn, Dillon James and Jonny West.