'American Idol' crowns Just Sam its Season 18 winner over runner-up Arthur Gunn!
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/17/2020
American Idol crowned Just Sam its Season 18 champion over Arthur Gunn during Sunday night's two-hour finale episode on ABC.
American Idol host Ryan Seacrest revealed Just Sam, a 21-year-old subway singer from Harlem, NY, had received the most home-viewer votes out of the Top 5 finalists after America voted throughout the live broadcast in real time.
"After the nationwide vote, the next American Idol for 2020 is Just Sam!" Ryan exclaimed at the conclusion of the episode.
Arthur, a 21-year-old musician from Wichita, KS, finished as the runner-up.
"My dreams have come true," Just Sam gushed in tears after learning she's the new "American Idol."
"My grandmother is good, like, thank you so much, America! I never, ever, ever would have expected this! Thank you, thank you! Thank you for voting for me! Oh my God, I did it!"
American Idol's third, fourth and fifth-place finishers were not disclosed, but the Top 5 was also comprised of Dillon James, a 26-year-old construction worker from Bakersfield, CA; Francisco Martin, a 19-year-old college student from San Francisco, CA; and Jonny West, a 23-year-old piano teacher from Murietta, CA.
At the start of the broadcast, Ryan announced the Top 5 finale contenders one by one, which ultimately eliminated Top 7 contestants Julia Gargano, a 21-year-old college student from Staten Island, NY, and Louis Knight, a 19-year-old pizza delivery guy from Philadelphia, PA, from the Season 18 competition.
Each of the remaining five finalists then performed twice for home-viewer votes. The first round featured celebration songs the finalists would want to listen to or perform once the coronavirus pandemic subsides.
"As far as I'm concerned, just drop the mic, Arthur Gunn. You just let us into your world... It was unbelievable and so magical, Lionel told the artist.
And Jonny performed "You Can't Keep A Good Man Down" by James & Bobby Purify.
"You navigate these songs like a seasoned, 40-year performer. It's just stuff that's not taught, it's given from the Man upstairs -- and you have it," Luke said.
For Round 2, the Final 5 each performed an encore of a song previously performed on the show that will also serve as the winner's first single coming off American Idol.
Dillon sang "The Times They Are A-Changin'" by Bob Dylan, Francisco performed "Alaska" by Maggie Rogers, Just Sam showcased "Rise Up" by Andra Day, Arthur performed "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Jonny sang an original song of his own called "Makin' Love," which Luke dubbed "Radio Ready."
Arthur won the second round in Katy's opinion. She said after his performance, "You took the winning pill because you came with the last play. It's like you had the last Ace up your sleeve... It was tremendous."
In addition, the finale also featured American Idol's three judges performing from their homes as well as performances by Idol's Top 11 contestants, the band Rascal Flatts, former American Idol contestant Doug Kiker, singer Lauren Daigle, and singer Cynthia Erivo.