‘American Idol’ Top 20 Sing ‘Lean on Me’ for a Good Cause [WATCH]
All 20 finalists sing a portion of the song before judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie (plus host Ryan Seacrest and advisor Bobby Bones) appear to encourage donations to Feeding America, a non-profit, nationwide network of food banks. More than 37 million people are without access to nutritious food, the judges point out in a call for viewers to learn more at the organization's website.
Twenty-part harmonies would be a challenge even when musicians are sharing a stage, but done across an entire country via the internet, it's impossible, so the song is simplified and imperfect. The feeling of Withers' early '70s classic comes through, however, as fans watch Grace Leer, Just Sam, Nick Merico and more sing. Leer is country music's most obvious representative, but as the competition unfolds, others may reveal themselves as bonded to the genre.
Sunday night's live show is the first of the season and a first for the series. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic halted production of American Idol last month, forcing producers of the show to get creative for live episodes. Everyone is broadcasting from home, including the three judges and any celebrity guest stars who may appear later in the season. No one is quite sure how it will work (or if it will all work), but this clip of "Lean on Me" provides a glimpse at some of the "stages."
American Idol airs on ABC on Sunday nights at 8PM ET.
LOOK: Country's American Idol Singers, Then and Now