AMERICAN IDOL - "218 (Season Finale)" - Following a cross-country search for the next singing sensation, "American Idol" rounds out its second season on ABC with an epic grand finale event, featuring "Idol"'s Top 3 contestants: Alejandro Aranda, Laine Hardy and Madison VanDenburg. For the first time in "Idol" history, America's live coast-to-coast vote will determine the winner of the iconic singing competition series, with all voting taking place during the show. The crowning moment will be preceded by special performances from music legends, including "Idol"'s very own superstar judges, the return of fan-favorite contestants from the current season and a special visit by last season's winner, Maddie Poppe. Poppe's debut album, "Whirlwind," drops on Friday, May 17. The jam-packed music event airs SUNDAY, MAY 19 (8:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) RYAN SEACREST, LAINE HARDY
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

‘American Idol’ notes: ‘Idol’ season finale ratings, Jennifer Hudson ‘Jeffersons’ theme, Adam Lambert

Originally posted Thursday, May 23, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The season 17 “American Idol” finale drew about 8.7 million overnight viewers, comparable to last year, with a 1.5 18-49 rating. That’s good news when any show doesn’t lose viewers year over year. 

It also beat “The Voice” season finale, which had its worst performance in 16 seasons, with just 7.4 million and a 1.1 18-49 rating .

So ABC has to feel good about that. 

To be true, despite the truncated nature of season 17 and the weakness of the judges, the producers and judges did select a stronger-than-average top 10. Plus, the live voting gambit actually worked okay in terms of show flow though the actual choices were less than ideal. The producers kept it movin’ on Sunday night and was able to crown a winner quickly. 

The audience was split, based on polls, whether Laine Hardy was the right winner vs. runner up Alejandro Aranda but there wasn’t much outrage either. 

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Highlight of the week: Jennifer Hudson did a foot-stompin’ version of “Movin’ on Up,” the theme to “The Jeffersons” walking through the revamped set on Wednesday night for the Norman Lear ABC special.

That’s George Huff (also season three) has been a regular back-up singer for Hudson over the years. 

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Third place finisher Madison Vandenburg was able to perform today on “Live with Kelly and Ryan” after the audience voted her to come back. 

She did “Fallin’” 

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Alyssa Raghu will perform on the PBS Memorial Day concert along with the likes of Alison Krauss, Gavin DeGraw and Patti LaBelle.

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Adam Lambert has no desire to record new Queen music. He described to Billboard his newest collection of original music called “Velvet.”

“Sonically it references a lot of the music I herd in the house growing up: it’s retro," he said. "There are a lot of 70s and 80s choices in there and it lives in a world that is a fusion of new and old – it definitely has a vintage edge to it. Also as a whole I would it say it is more soulful than anything I’ve ever put out before – at least that’s what my friends have been telling me! Yeah, it’s Velvet – the word means so many different things. It feels smoother; it’s a very smooth delivery."

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Clay Aiken is following in Taylor Hicks’ footsteps by playing Teen Angel in a production of “Grease.” In this case, it’s in Pittsburgh June 7-16. More details here

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Maddie Poppe was given two minutes to plug her new album during the season finale but didn’t get to perform. Online, she wondered if Laine Hardy will be given similar treatment in 12 months. We shall see. 

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SONGLAND -- Episode X -- Pictured: (l-r) John Legend, Shane McAnally, Ester Dean, Ryan Tedder -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC)
Photo: NBC/Trae Patton/NBC


The latest music competition show is on NBC May 28 at 10 p.m. called “Songland.” I recommend it for all you lovers of how music is made. 

It will feature songwriters trying to basically “sell” songs to big-name artists such as the Jonas Brothers, John Legend, Charlie Puth, Meghan Trainor, will.i.am, OneRepublic, Kelsea Ballerini, Macklemore, Aloe Blacc, Old Dominion and Leona Lewis. The songwriters sing the songs in front of three regular judges and a guest. The judges are Ester Dean, Shane McAnally and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic.

I sampled the first episode in which the songwriters were pitching Legend. They critique the song, as opposed to the performance. And they start improving the song on the spot, which is fun. It’s creatives just spitballing. Overall, they are super constructive.

During one songwriter’s “message” song “We Need Love,” Legend said it was borderline too upbeat “cheesy” and needs to be more “mournful.” Tedder said it sounded a bit too “preachy” and needs “duality.” McAnally said it felt too “Lion King” until an undeniably catchy chorus. 

And since this is a song for Legend, he heard one country singer’s tune and found a bridge melody not to his liking. So he went to a keyboard and changed the key and instantly made it work better. 

Once he hears a few songs, he picks three to hone. Then each judge works with one songwriter to present a final version. Then Legend selects one song to record. 

In 2011, Bravo tried a similar show called “Platinum Hit.” It lasted just one season. I liked it but it clearly didn’t hit with the audience. 

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About the Author

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