‘American Idol’ crowns the winner after Noah Thompson and Huntergirl face off

the “American Idol” the finale included star performances, touching hometown visits – and a new winner crowned, after a country showdown.

Before Season 20 ends on Sunday night, the final three contestants – Lea Marlene, huntress and Noah Thompson — each made their final plea for America’s vote during the three-hour broadcast, which was broadcast live from coast to coast. First, they sang Bruce Springsteen songs, before each singing an original they recorded during their time on “Idol.”

As per usual, judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie stepped in to offer a critique – but by this final stage of the competition, it was clear that all three contestants were ready to spread their wings.

Here’s what happened, including who won.

Leah Marlene brings Katy Perry to tears with original song ‘Flowers’

Leah Marlene kicked off the show with Springsteen’s hit “Born in the USA.”

The 20-year-old college dropout from Normal, Illinois has once again shown she can give the advantage by swinging while backing herself on guitar.

“What big boots you’ve stepped into,” exclaimed Richie.

Perry said Marlene was “the whole package”.

“You won, period, end of story, for me,” she added.

‘American Idol’: Nicolina delivers the show’s ‘precious moment’… then shockingly eliminated

Marlene then took to the stage singing her original song “Flowers,” which she recently released.

The inspiration for the song came from a difficult time for Marlene’s mental health, the contestant said on social media. Although her mental health is much better, Marlene said she hopes the song will give strength to those going through similar experiences.

When the haunting performance ended, Marlene and Perry were both in tears, as the crowd chanted “Leah.”

“The crowd won’t lie to you,” Richie said. “Accessories for your songwriter side.”

Perry said she was “breaking down in a really good way.”

“I’m so lucky to be here, to be a part of this show that really makes a difference and changes lives,” she added. “This song is so beautiful and will change the lives of others.”

Bryan agreed that “Flowers” is “just awesome”.

“What race do you have to do,” he said. “I’m so happy for you, and you have every right to have these emotions right now.”

‘Are you OK?’:Katy Perry flounders as Ariel on ‘American Idol’ Disney Night, falls into her chair

Next, Huntergirl, wearing a sparkling silver blazer and skirt, played

Huntergirl goes from a star to a “supernova”

Next, Huntergirl, wearing a sparkling silver blazer and skirt, performed “Dancing in the Dark.” As a country singer, Huntergirl predictably killed the Springsteen classic.

“You’re comfortable. This is your stage,” Perry told her. “You did that and more. I don’t think you’re a star. I think you’re a supernova.”

Bryan complimented the contestant’s song choice, while Richie added that Huntergirl certainly got the look. “You now own the scene,” Richie continued. “You are now in charge of your own career, and my dear, you have a career.”

Huntergirl then performed her original song “Redbird,” which is also available for streaming. In the song, Huntergirl is about finding hope in a dark time.

Bryan held back tears while delivering his comments, praising the contestant for her songwriting talent.

Luke Bryan wants to ‘ugly cry’ after an autistic singer’s inspiring audition for “American Idol”

“Forget the numbers for now,” Richie said, also praising Huntergirl’s volunteer work with veterans. “Your heart is in the right place. May you prosper as long as possible.”

Perry said Huntergirl “does something special”.

“Music is therapy for a lot of people,” she added. “And sometimes it’s our own therapy.”

Springsteen's catalog was also a perfect fit for Noah Thompson.  The country crooner sang Springsteen's

Noah Thompson takes art to the next level

Springsteen’s catalog was also a perfect fit for Noah Thompson. The country crooner sang Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.”

“We’re a long way from that first audition, buddy,” Bryan said.

Richie said Thompson’s newly developed stage presence takes her singing to the next level.

“You have what is now your stage persona,” he said. “That’s what you call an artist. You have now moved on to this wonderful stage of your life.”

Perry said Thompson sang his favorite Springsteen song.

“You just dove in and grabbed every heart in America singing this song,” she said. “You’re just a good guy from Kentucky who could win ‘American Idol.'”

‘American Idol’: Katy Perry wants ‘an extra hour of therapy’ after Noah Thompson covers for ex John Mayer

Thompson then performed the song he recently recorded and released, titled “One Day Tonight”.

Perry continued to tear up, reflecting on how far the Kentucky construction worker has come.

“I’ll just keep my handkerchief in the palm of my hand,” she said. “Keep dreaming. There is a plan for you and your life.”

Richie said Thompson made people “fall in love” with him on the show – and will continue to do so long after the season ends.

‘American Idol’: Noah Thompson gives his ‘best’ performance singing since COVID quarantine

Nicolina belts with Sara Bareilles, Christian Guardino teams up with Michael Bublé

In typical “Idol” finale fashion, the episode was also filled with filler performances, as viewers waited on the edge of their seats for the results of the live national vote.

The top 10 contestants performed various duets with other acclaimed singers. Fritz Hager, who was eliminated last week, took the stage with James Arthur for a moving rendition of Arthur’s “Can I Be Him”.

Nicolina, who was also eliminated last week just before the final, sang with Sara Bareilles on Bareilles’ “She Used to Be Mine.” (Nicolina sang the song for her first audition, which garnered 2.1 million views on Youtube.)

Christian Guardino gave a stunning rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s song “Smile” with one of his musical heroes, Michael Bublé.

Another standout duo came from Marlene and Perry. The two performed Perry’s hit ‘Firework’, after footage emerged of Marlene singing the song as a little girl in a heartwarming full circle moment.

‘American Idol’: Former Homeless Singer Wows Katy Perry With Judge’s Own Song

The last two give the final confrontation of the countries

About an hour into the show, host Ryan Seacrest announced the third place singer: Marlene. This means that Huntergirl and Thompson would once again each sing in the Top 2 for the final round of US voting.

For his latest song, Thompson revisited Rhianna’s song “Stay,” which he sang during Hollywood Week. The pop ballad was a curve ball for Thompson, but he gave the song a rugged twist and received a standing ovation from the judges.

“First and foremost, how dare you wear that costume,” Perry teased. “I’m so glad you picked this song.”

‘American Idol’ Judges Reveal They’re ‘Heartbroken’ on Kenedi Anderson, but optimistic for the Top 14

In another looping moment, Huntergirl sang “Riot” by Rascal Flatts, which she sang during her first audition.

“I’ll call you Hunterwoman, because I see a woman up there now,” Perry said.

Bryan said the candidate’s future “flashed right before my eyes” – and he looks bright.

“We’re so proud as judges to say that we’ve actually mentored you on this path to this wonderful place in your career,” Richie said.

Every “American Idol” Winner coronation song, ranked worst to best

And the winner is…

After 16 million votes, Seacrest announced that Thompson had won the show.

“My heart is pounding in my chest,” the low-key singer said. “It’s crazy.”

From building work to winning “American Idol,” Thompson has proven that, at least for some, dreams come true.

About John Crowder

Check Also

Rina Sawayama breaks the mold as a British artist making country music

Rina Sawayama is taking the UK country scene by storm – not that there’s much …