One year ago, Gabby Barrett debuted "I Hope" on American Idol as an independent artist, hoping to build off the momentum of a third-place finish in 2018. Today, she's signed to a major label, has a debut album in her future and the No. 1 song on country radio.

Barrett's scorching breakup song is the top-ranked country song on both the Billboard and Country Aircheck / Mediabase charts this week, making her the first female since 2017 to hit No. 1 with a debut single (that's when Carly Pearce did it with "Every Little Thing"). Pearce recognized as much on social media:

Zachary Kale and Jon Nite helped Barrett write "I Hope." She shared with People that they'd intended a more traditional breakup song, until Barrett turned to something a little more vengeful.

"The fact is that sometimes we hope for the worst when it comes to our exes," the 20-year-old tells the magazine. "We would never voice that, but it wreaks [havoc] inside. This song now says the things that maybe you or I never said."

The message resonated quickly with audiences, first on American Idol, then on SiriusXM and eventually traditional radio, once she'd signed with Warner Music Nashville.

A third-place finish on America's most popular TV singing competition is far from a guarantee of stardom these days. While once it seemed every finalist was promised a record deal and a shot, all but the winner — sometimes even the winner — fall back. You can be forgiven if you'd forgotten that Madison VanDenburg finished third in 2019.

Barrett recently recorded a remix of "I Hope" with Charlie Puth. In 2020, she was scheduled to tour with Brad Paisley, but those tour dates have been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus.

LOOK: Country Stars on Idol, Then and Now

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