'American Idol' notes: finalist singles out, tour dates, Kelly Clarkson

Posted Friday, May 18, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The three finalists on "American Idol" have already recorded original singles that you can hear on YouTube ahead of the live performances on Sunday.

Caleb Lee Hutchinson of Paulding County is singing a song called "Johnny Cash Heart," which is apropos since that is one of his heroes. It has a traditional feel with some quality hooks. Country radio should be receptive. The reaction has been largely positive on YouTube with 533 thumbs up as I write this and just 28 thumbs down.

Sample comment:

Maddie Poppe's song is "Going Going Gone," an upbeat mid-tempo pop song which sounds like something Rachel Platten or Colbie Caillat could have recorded. It definitely fits Maddie's vibe. As of the time I'm writing this, this song has had the most listens on YouTube of the three songs, which may or may not mean anything. So far, she has 534 thumbs up, just 34 thumbs down. The general consensus is this is the most radio-friendly of the three singles.

Sample comment:

Gabby Barrett's "Rivers Deep" sounds more R&B soulful than pure country with a smidge of gospel I presume this would be pitched to pop radio if she wins but I'm not sure how to define it per se. On the bright side, it has a catchy chorus and Gabby instills it with plenty of attitude. As I write this, it has received 301 thumbs up, 88 thumbs down.

Sample comment:

At each hometown visit, the dedication song was announced and all three are going seriously back in time. I was too far back in Dallas last Tuesday to hear what was said, but Caleb is going to sing Johnny Cash's 1950s classic "Folsom Prison Blues."

Maddie is opting for Fleetwood Mac's 1970s hit 'Landslide" while Gabby will take on the early 1980s classic "Don't Stop Believin' " by Journey.

Usually, the third song is a favorite from earlier in the season though "Idol" has not said what that will be.

Voting this Sunday will be traditional overnight voting. Real-time voting ran for three weeks. The results show will air Monday from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST.

On that two-hour finale, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie are all scheduled to perform. Among others scheduled to show up: Bebe Rexha, Darius Rucker, Gary Clark Jr., Nick Jonas + Mustard, Patti Labelle, Kermit the Frog and Yolanda Adams. 

The celebrities will likely duet with members of the top 10.



Disney, which owns ABC, plans to work hard to ensure whoever wins maintains a high profile and won't disappear, as many past winners had during the latter years of the show on Fox. (If you can name any of the winners from season 11 to 15, you are a true aficionado!)

‚ÄúSomething I was pretty emphatic about, that always felt like a miss for the show, was that we have to continue telling the story of the winner,‚Ä̬†Disney Music Group¬†president Ken Bunt tells¬†Variety. By tapping into built-in Disney assets, the label can tell that story in a variety of ways, he adds. ‚ÄúMore opportunities with ABC, when you think of the specials they have; what we could be doing with the parks; maybe a TV show on Freeform,‚ÄĚ he posits. ‚ÄúPrevious ‚ÄėIdols‚Äô never did that. We want to keep the talent from the show at top-of-mind for the rest of the year.‚ÄĚ

He promises a more collaborative relationship between Hollywood Records and the winner. (The label could conceivably sign the runner ups as well.)


The "American Idol" three-month tour featuring the top seven starting in July is seriously skimping on the Southeast, which used to be known as the hotspot for "Idol" fandom. There is only a single Nashville date. There is no Atlanta date at all at this point with no concerts set in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina or North Carolina. For some reason, the West Coast is getting a lot of love with 10 California dates alone. If Caleb wins, you'd think they would find a way to add an Atlanta date, perhaps after the final scheduled D.C. concert September 16.

American Idol Live! 2018 Dates

July 11: Redding, CA - Redding Civic Auditorium

July 12: Central Point, OR - Jackson Co. Fair

July 13: Napa, CA - Uptown Theater

July 16: Denver, CO - Paramount Theater

July 19: Grand Prairie, TX - Verizon Theater at Grand Prairie

July 20: San Antonio, TX - The Tobin Center for Performing Arts

July 21: McAllen, TX - McAllen Performing Arts Center

July 23: Tucson, AZ - Fox Tuscon

July 24: Mesa, AZ - Ikeda Theater

July 26: San Diego, CA - Copley Hall

July 27: Saratoga, CA - The Mountain Winery

July 29: Las Vegas, NV - Orleans Arena

July 30: Modesto, CA - Gallo Center for the Arts

July 31: Livermore, CA - Wente Vineyards

August 1: San Luis Obispo, CA - Fremont Theatre

August 3: Thousand Oaks, CA - Bank of America Performing Arts Center

August 4: Los Angeles, CA - Orpheum Theatre

August 5: Riverside, CA - Fox Performing Arts Center

August 8: Tulsa, OK - Club Brady

August 9: Kansas City, MO - Uptown Theater

August 10: St. Louis, MO - Fox Theatre

August 12: Baltimore, MD - The Lyric

August 13: Albany, NY - The Palace Theatre

August 14: Upper Darby, PA - Tower Theater

August 16: Westbury, NY - The Space at Westbury

August 17: Morristown, NJ - Mayo Performing Arts Center

August 18: Englewood, NJ - Bergen Performing Arts Center

August 19: Lynn, MA - Lynn Auditorium

August 21: Cincinnati, OH - Taft Theatre

August 22: Indianapolis, IN - Murat Theatre at Old National Centre

August 23: Omaha, NE - Orpheum Theatre

August 24: Sioux Falls, SD - Washington Pavilion

August 27: Salem, OR - Oregon State Fair

August 28: Monroe, WA - Evergreen State Fair

August 30: Billings, MT - Alberta Bair Theater

August 31: Kamas, UT - DeJoria Center

September 2: Deadwood, SD - Deadwood Mountain Grand Casino

September 5: Minneapolis, MN - State Theatre

September 6: Milwaukee, WI - Riverside Theater

September 7: Rosemont, IL - Rosemont Theatre

September 9: Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium

September 10: Huber Heights, OH - Rose Music Center

September 12: York, PA - York Fair

September 13: Munhall, PA - Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall

September 14: Red Bank, NJ - Count Basie

September 15: New Bedford, MA - Zeiterion Performing Arts Center

September 16: Washington, DC - Warner Theater


THE VOICE -- "Blind Auditions" Episode 1406 -- Pictured: Kelly Clarkson -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)

NBC has pulled out all the stops to blunt "American Idol." On Sunday night, it's airing the Billboard Music Awards (which used to be on ABC) and has picked season one "Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson as the host.

Clarkson agreed, thinking she'd be a co-host.¬† She then freaked when she found out she was going at it solo. ‚ÄúThat was a DEFCON, red-alert, total run-for-the-hills moment,‚ÄĚ Clarkson told USA Today. ‚ÄúBut then we figured out something fun and cool to do that‚Äôs totally in my wheelhouse.¬†Now I‚Äôm not really nervous... And I‚Äôm not afraid to look like an idiot, so we‚Äôll start with that."¬†

And "The Voice" season finale airs on Monday night from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., in part against "Idol," which airs from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Judge Clarkson has one singer in the final four: Brynn Cartelli, the youngest finalist in the show's history at age 15.

She also sang the theme song for the new Paramount TV series "American Woman," a dramedy  starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari set amid the sexual revolution and rise of feminism of the 1970s.


Clay Aiken Tweet of the week

Clay Aiken references his own white privilege after T.I. got arrested simply trying to enter his own gated community a few days ago:

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.