Noah Thompson Wins Season 20 of ‘American Idol’

On the season 20 finale of American Idol, the top three contestants, HunterGirl, Leah Marlene, and Noah Thompson, performed on the stage for the last time to win the votes of America. When the votes were in, Noah Thompson was crowned the season 20 American Idol winner.

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The 20-year-old Kentucky native performed three songs during the finale, including Bruce Springsteen’s 1984 song “I’m on Fire,” along with his original song “One Day Tonight,” and an encore of a song he sang earlier in the competition, Rihanna’s “Stay.”

Keeping with the Bruce Springsteen theme of the finale, HunterGirl, who placed second, also took on Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark,” before singing original song “Red Bird,” and closing on Rascal Flatt’s “Riot,” while Marlene, 20, came in third after performing “Cover Me” and her original song “Flowers.”

The three-hour finale also featured performances by Melissa Etheridge, Sara Bareilles, Michael Bublé, Ben Platt, James Arthur, Thomas Rhett, Flo Rida, Deana Carter, and Tai Verdes, and Earth, Wind & Fire, along with American Idol season 16 finalist Gabby Barrett, and the top 10 contestants of season 20.

Thompson, a father and construction worker from Louisa, Kentucky, has had a long journey on this season of American Idol. He first impressed judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan with his audition of Kameron Marlowe’s 2020 hit “Giving You Up,’ then went on to knock out all of his performances throughout the course of competition.

Prior to finale night, Thompson also tested positive for COVID-19, along with fellow contestant Fritz Hager, and had to perform one week from his hotel room.

“As a kid, all I thought about was playing music and being famous, but where I’m from, you don’t really get much opportunities,” said Thompson during his audition on Feb. 27. “My family, they believe in me. The guys I work with believe in me, but I’ve just never believed in myself.”

He added, “I would’ve never signed myself up for something like this, I never had that confidence.” It turns out, that his best friend went behind his back and signed him up for the show.

Following Thompson’s performance of “I’m on Fire,” the judges commented on how far the contestant has come over the past few months on the show.

“It’s a long way from that first audition, buddy,” said Bryan. Richie added that Thompson has a developed stage presence that takes his singing to another level now.

Noah Thompson performing “I’m the Only One” with Melissa Etheridge (Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC)

“You have what is now your stage persona,” said Richie. “That is called an artist. You have now graduated to that wonderful stage of your life.”

Perry added, “You just swooped in and grabbed every heart in America by singing that song. You’re just a good guy from Kentucky that might win American Idol.”

Throughout finale, Thompson also performed with Melissa Etheridge, singing her 1993 hit “I’m the Only One,” and performed his original song “One Day Tonight,” which was recorded during season 20. “I’m just gonna keep my tissue in the palm of my hand,” said Perry. “Do not stop dreaming. There is a plan for you and your life.”

Wearing a suit for his final performance, Thompson took on Rihanna’s 2012 song “Stay,” which he initially sang during Hollywood Week, giving it a more rugged twist.

After the 16 million votes were in, Thompson was crowned the winner.

“Oh my God, my heart is beating out of my chest,” said Thompson after winning. “This is crazy.”

Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

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