“American Idol” just crowned its newest champion. On Sunday night, the long-running competition show announced that Noah Thompson is the Season 20 winner.
Here’s a breakdown of the “American Idol” season finale.
Noah Thompson wins ‘American Idol’
Noah Thompson’s best friend forced him to audition for “American Idol,” and now, the 19-year-old construction worker from Kentucky has won the competition.
“It’s pretty cool to know that somebody believes in you more than you believe in yourself,” Thompson said in a clip shared during his audition, which has more than 2 million views on YouTube.
Thompson continued rising through the ranks of the “Idol” competition, even as he battled COVID-19. On the season finale, he performed Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” and his original song “One Day Tonight.”
Thompson has expressed gratitude for the show and all it has provided for him.
“It was actually my first flight, because of ‘Idol,’” he told Music Mayhem Magazine. “First time ever meeting famous people, first time going to Hawaii, ... that’s why I’m so grateful for the show because there are a lot of things I would’ve never gotten to do in my lifetime if it wasn’t for the show.”
Huntergirl places second on ‘American Idol’
Country singer Hunter Wolkonowski, who goes by the stage name Huntergirl, was the first singer this season to receive a platinum ticket on “American Idol” — a new ticket that indicates the judges’ confidence in a contestant’s ability to go far in the competition. Now, she has placed second on the show.
The 23-year-old singer from Winchester, Tennessee, got nothing but praise during her initial audition for the competition.
Following her audition, judge Luke Bryan told her she had his “favorite female country voice” he had heard in five years, the Deseret News reported. For the season finale, Huntergirl performed Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” and her original song “Red Bird.”
Huntergirl is a music therapist who works with veterans by listening to their experiences and transforming them into songs, she said during her audition. She credited the veterans she works with for encouraging her to pursue her music path.
“This has been the craziest year of my life,” she told Parade of the “American Idol” competition. “I worked my whole life just to have this moment. This is for everyone believing in me, this is for the veterans back home. There are so many people along the way that have taken a chance on me. I will be happy for whoever wins the competition. Just knowing how much I put into it and how hard I worked, I am proud of myself right now.”
The singer said she also hopes her run on the show has inspired a rising generation of female country singers.
“I am proud to be a woman in country music,” she recently told Parade. “I want little girls to say, ‘Hey, I could do this one day.’ I want them to chase their dreams. I looked up to Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire. And whenever I was little, I was like, ‘I want to be like them.’
“It’s crazy to think being on this show and getting to sing these songs, some little girl might say, ‘Maybe I could do that, too,’” she continued. “And that means everything.”
Leah Marlene finishes 3rd on ‘American Idol’
Leah Marlene, a singer-songwriter from Normal, Illinois, finished third on “American Idol.” Marlene was a strong contender on the show from the start of its 20th season.
“You are so comfortable with yourself,” Lionel Richie told the 20-year-old singer during her audition, which featured her original song “Wisher to the Well” and has more than 1 million views on YouTube. “It is refreshing.”
After performing “Cover Me” for the Bruce Springsteen round, Marlene ended the show the way she started: with an original song. After performing “Flowers,” Richie complimented her songwriting skills while judge Katy Perry told her she believed the song would change lives.
“There have been countless people just rooting for me since I was a little girl playing the farmer’s market and sounding terrible, but they let me play!” Marlene recently told Parade. So many people since then have lifted me up and encouraged me. They are solely the reason I am here. Winning is not about any of us at this point. It’s about the people who got us here and giving back to that.”