American Idol 2018 Finale Part 1 Recap: Who Shined The Brightest?

The American Idol 2018 Top 3 took to the stage to sing for America’s votes one final time, and it was Maddie Poppe who emerged as the best performer of the night on all three songs.

Maddie, Gabby Barrett and Caleb Lee Hutchinson had a busy night as they each sang three songs and each one sang their hearts out, but Maddie just seemed more ready for this in every round, including an emotional version of “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac to close out the night.

As I’ve done all season, I’ll be reviewing each of the performances and assigning the letter grade I think each one deserved.

Round 1

Caleb Lee Hutchinson, “Johnny Cash Heart.” This was pretty boring. It’s a great song and I think it could really push him over the top with votes, but I was completely bored. And he even started singing too soon. That should not happen during the season finale. Grade: B

Gabby Barrett, “Rivers Deep.” Another good song, but she didn’t seem comfortable singing it. But that’s been my problem with her for most of the season. She just always seems to have a wall up between herself and the audience. Her vocals were solid and I’m glad she didn’t force her fake twang on the song. Grade: A-

Maddie Poppe, “Going Going Gone.” This is the one song of the three I could actually hear on the radio. And Maddie really embraced the song despite it might not being something she’d write for herself. I think she’s so genuine and relatable and her performance here showed that for sure. Grade: A+

Round 1 Winner: Maddie

Round 2

Caleb Lee Hutchinson, “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” This round was better for Caleb. This performance was tender and comfortable and he didn’t blow any words. This is a great song, but I do wonder if he should’ve picked something more upbeat since the first song was also around the same tempo. I also wish he had a vibrato. He has virtually no vibrato. Grade: A-

Gabby Barrett, “Little Red Wagon.” I’m glad she picked an upbeat song, but I’m not sure she picked the right one. This is actually her least-view Idol performance on YouTube, so that may have been a mistake on her part. And it was another one of those performances where the band just overpowered the singer and we could barely tell what was going on. That bad really needs to calm down. Grade: B+

Maddie Poppe, “Don’t Ever Let Your Children Grow Up.” Picking this song was either a huge risk or very, very smart. It could have been a risk because no one knows the song, so that’s two songs she sang that no one knows. Or it could really pay off because she wrote the song and it is perfectly in her wheelhouse and that resonated. Anyway, I thought it was beautiful. Grade: A+

Round 2 Winner: Maddie

Round 3

Caleb Lee Hutchinson, “Folsom Prison Blues.” I’m happy he performed a song that’s a little more upbeat. And Johnny Cash is always a smart choice if you want to pick up a few extra votes. It wasn’t the best song to showcase his vocals, but at this point voters aren’t paying attention to vocals. I also hated the arrangement. It was such a weird arrangement. Grade: B+

Gabby Barrett, “Don’t Stop Believing.” This was a smart song choice because it’s so iconic, but it wasn’t a good performance. She didn’t know the words and was pitchy and it was just a mess. And I was actually starting to root for her a bit, but this was so bad. I am so confused as to why the judges stood and Steve Perry himself said it was the best version ever. I’m at a loss. Grade: C

Maddie Poppe, “Landslide.” What a perfect song choice for Maddie and to close out the finale competition performances. It was amazing and probably my favorite performance of the season. I have nothing else to say expect that if she doesn’t win, then it will be a travesty. Grade: A+

Round 3 Winner: Maddie

In my opinion Maddie won the night and should win American Idol 2018. Caleb finished second and Gabby third, according to my critiques and I think that’s how I would make my final judgment. Will America see things differently? We’ll find out Monday night when the winner of American Idol 2018 is crowed. Be sure to join us here for your American Idol results live.