The three-hour American Idol finale on Sunday night (May 23) was filled with incredible performances. Each finalist performed three times as soloists and joined forces with other artists like Luke Combs, Leona Lewis, and Alessia Cara.
Other finalists also returned to the stage for some epic collaborations, including controversial “Comeback” artist Arthur Gunn. When Idol got down to the Top Ten, they advanced 9 singers from this season and brought back ten artists from last season to compete for the final spot in the Top Ten.
Host Ryan Seacrest explained, “Those finalists never got the true experience of the big stage, the lights, the cameras, the hair, the makeup, the wardrobe, that fun stuff, Kris Pooley and the band backing them up.”
Of those ten artists, last season’s runner-up Arthur Gunn won “The Comeback” spot, upsetting fans online who didn’t think it was fair. Gunn made it through one elimination before going home after the Top 7 show.
He was slated to return to the stage to perform with Sheryl Crow, but he never showed up! In a move of desperation, producers plucked former contestant Graham DeFranco out of the audience to fill in for Gunn.
USA Today reports that during a virtual Q&A after the finale, judge Luke Bryan said DeFranco “literally came to cheer,” but ended up on stage with a Grammy-winning superstar!
“He was there to support Chayce, and we’re pulling him out of the crowd going, ‘You’re gonna sing with Sheryl Crow.’ And he’s like, ‘Hell yeah!‘” Bryan continued.
Richie added that they “don’t even know what happened” with Gunn, and Perry said that American Idol is “a spicy show.”
For having pretty much no notice – and for it being on live television – DeFranco did a great job! Watch Sheryl Crow and Graham DeFranco perform below.