Noah Thompson Named Winner of ‘American Idol’ Season 20
The winner of American Idol has officially been named! Country singer and fan-favorite Noah Thompson was crowned the Season 20 champion during Sunday night's (May 22) three-hour star-studded grand finale, which aired live coast-to-coast on ABC.
The highly anticipated announcement came mere seconds before the nail-biting episode came to a close. Thompson, who was presented with the title by long-running host Ryan Seacrest, beat out fellow contenders HunterGirl and Leah Marlene. Marlene learned hours before that she had placed third overall in the competition.
"What?" Thompson said, stunned by the news of his win. "My heart is beating out of my chest. This is crazy."
During the epic broadcast, each Top 3 finalist competed for America's votes one final time, facing off with not only solo performances of their debut singles, but also separate takes on Bruce Springsteen hits. For those moments, Thompson performed his original song, “One Day Tonight,” and “I’m on Fire,” from Springsteen’s extensive award-winning catalog. Later in the show, Thompson also did a duet of "I'm the Only One" with Melissa Etheridge before reviving a song that he sang previously in the season.
Thompson has had an interesting run since beginning his Idol journey. A former construction worker from Louisa, Ky., he auditioned in front of judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan with Kameron Marlowe’s “Giving You Up.” But that audition may have never taken place had it not been for his good buddy and former co-worker Arthur, who believed in him from the get-go and urged him to try out for the popular reality singing competition.
“Noah’s just got pure, raw talent, man,” Arthur told viewers of Thompson early on in the season. “It’s just something he was born with ... I think this is his time, man.”
After impressing judges with his initial audition, Thompson continued to fight for America’s votes in hopes to give his young son, Walker, a better life. Throughout his run on the show, he has successfully performed songs like Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up” (later recorded by Morgan Wallen), Rihanna’s “Stay,” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” showing fans that he has cross-genre appeal. The fan-favorite and Season 20 frontrunner also celebrated his 20th birthday on the series, when he received an extra birthday surprise: Landing in the Top 10.
At one point in the competition, Thompson ran into a hiccup after learning that he had tested positive for COVID-19 — but that didn’t stop him from outperforming some of his peers. Singing in isolation in a hotel room via video stream, with just an acoustic guitar in hand, he proved to judges that he had what it took to eventually win it all.
“I don’t know what you found between those two ferns for a whole week, but it was good. I have never seen you move from that stage to this stage," Perry told him after he broke out of isolation and delivered a memorable take on Carrie Underwood’s "So Small."
Now, Thompson is taking the next step in his music career as the new American Idol winner, and it will be interesting to see his star grow from here on out. Thompson’s win, which includes a recording contract with Hollywood Records/19 Recordings and $250,000, follows fellow country singer Chayce Beckham, who won Season 19.