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American Idol 2022: Contestants, Finale, Special Guests, and the Big Winner

American idol 2022
American Idol Experience - Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2007. Image by Josh Hallett on Wikimedia Commons.

Last updated on August 2nd, 2023 at 02:03 am

It’s the show that gave us Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, and Scotty McCreery. 

For two decades, American has tuned in each week to cast their votes for their favorite. It hasn’t been without its surprises and heartaches, either. 

The drama and anticipation were no different as the fan-favorite show returned for Season 20. And the American Idol contestants, as always, brought their A-game. 

The season aired from February 27 through May 22 on ABC.  

Learn about the American Idol Season 20 contestants, judges, and more below. 

Who hosted American Idol 2022?

Ryan Seacrest returned to host season 20 of the hit show, a role he’s maintained since its inception in 2002. 

This year’s panel of judges included popstar Katy Perry, country singer Luke Bryan, and “Endless Love” hitmaker Lionel Richie. 

The judging trio has been the faces of Idol since ABC took over the Fox network program in 2016. 

They will return for the 21st season, premiering on February 19, 2023. 

Related: The 50 Best Country Songs from Jimmie Rodgers to Morgan Wallen 

American Idol 2022 Auditions

Before the season premiere, the American Idol auditions took place over several weeks in several formats. 

First, the show kept with the virtual auditions program Idols Across America, which was implemented with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. American Idol hopefuls from across the country sent in their auditions from August 5 through October 28, 2021. 

Producers also held open-call auditions in various places. These, combined with the virtual auditions, determined who would audition for the three Idol judges on the air. 

Judge auditions took place in October and November of 2021 in Austin Texas, Los Angeles, and Nashville. 


Luke Taylor American Idol

One of the most popular auditions came with Pennsylvania native and TikTok star Luke Taylor, when his rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” left Lionel Richie to say he sang it deeper than Johnny Cash himself. 

Unfortunately for Taylor, he never made it past Hollywood Week. 

American Idol 2022 Platinum Tickets

In honor of the show’s 20th season, the “platinum ticket” was also introduced during the audition process. The three contestants who received it were given automatic passes to the second round of Hollywood Week. 

The lucky recipients were Hunter Girl of Tennessee, Kenedi Anderson of Virginia, and Jay of Maryland. 

Related: The Masked Singer Season One Reveals 

American Idol 2022 Hollywood Week

The lucky contestants who received a Golden Ticket from the judges went to Hollywood Week. For it, contestants were tasked with two challenges. First was the Genre Challenge, in which contestants chose their groups based on their chosen genre. 

During this challenge, contestants were mentored by former alums of the show, including Lauren Alaina for country, Ruben Studdard for R&B, Lee DeWyze for Indie folk, Haley Reinhart for soul, David Cook for rock, and Jordin Sparks for pop.  

The advancing contestants moved on to week two and participated in the Duet Challenge, where the platinum ticketholders returned to the competition. After they chose their partners, the judges paired up the rest of the contestants. 

After 12 hours of rehearsal, a stage rehearsal, vocal coach consultations, and advice sessions with one of the three judges, the duets hit the stage. 

In the end, 59 contestants advanced to the Showstopper Round. 

American Idol 2022 Showstopper Round

The Showstopper Round aired on April 4, 2022, and marked the first time contestants performed for a live audience. The contestant chose whatever song they wished to perform. 

The judges narrowed the group of 59 contestants to the Top 24 the next day.  

Related: The 25 Best Songs About America 

American Idol 2022 Top 24

The next pre-recorded episodes, which aired on April 10 and 11, featured the Top 24 contestants split up into groups of 12. 

Country hitmaker Jimmie Allen served as the mentor for Group One, and pop singer Bebe Rexha served as mentor for Group 2. 

Again, contestants chose whatever song they wished to perform. 

Afterward, four more contestants were eliminated based on America’s vote. 

Scarlet, Danielle Finn, and Sir Blayke were eliminated following their performances. The fourth elimination didn’t happen after platinum ticket winner Kenedi Anderson withdrew from the competition before the results were announced. 


Why did Kenedi Anderson leave American Idol?

Kenedi Anderson of American Idol 2022 stated that “personal reasons” led to her sudden withdrawal from the show. 

American Idol 2022 Top 20

Performances of the Top 20 aired on Sunday, April 17, with the results airing live on Monday, April 18. 

During the live results, six contestants were eliminated based on audience voting. It was the first time the public started voting for American Idol that season. 

Cameron Whitcomb, Katyrah Love, Cadence Baker, Sage, Jacob Moran, and Elli Rowe were eliminated. 

Related: The 15+ Best Songs About Heartbreak to Help You Heal 

American Idol 2022 contestants

With the competition narrowed down to the Top 14, the live shows officially began airing on April 24, 2022. 

It also marked the start of contestants having to choose songs based on specific themes or artists, be it Breakout Hits, Disney Night, or Mother’s Day Dedication.

Contestants included Jay, Hunter Girl, Christian Guardino, Dan Marshall, Leah Marlene, Fritz Hager, Tristen Gressett, Lady K, Allegra Miles, Ava Maybee, Mike Parker, Emyrson Flora, Noah Thompson and Nicolina. 

As the weeks went on, the Top 14 were whittled down to the top three.

Although eliminations were a given, several contestants made their mark on fans. 


Dan Marshall American Idol

Dan Marshall delivered notable renditions of Bryan Adam’s “Heaven,” Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places,” and others. 

His elimination episode also saw audiences saying goodbye to Allegra Miles and Ava Maybee. 

Related: Garth Brooks Net Worth: How Did the Legendary Country Artist Make His Millions? 


Lady K American Idol

Lady K’s American Idol 2022 run brought incredible performances, including “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana, which brought her praise and even stand ovations from the judges. Unfortunately, she was only able to finish in the Top 10. 

Lady K was eliminated along with Emyrson Flora and Mike Parker. 

Related: The 10 Best Disney Theme Songs 


Fritz Hager American Idol

Fritz Hager’s run on American Idol Season 20 was met with quite a bit of success, as he made it to the Top 5 before being eliminated. 

One of his most notable performances came in the Top 14 when he covered Oasis’s “Wonderwall.” 

Nicolina was the second elimination during Week Four. 

Related: Best 90s Songs: The Top 15 Tracks from An Unforgettable Decade 

American Idol 2022 finale.

Three performers were left standing when the finale aired on May 22, Leah Marlene, Hunter Girl and Noah Thompson. 

Each hopeful was tasked with singing a Bruce Springsteen song, the song they would release as a single should they win, and a reprise of their favorite performance of the season. 


How old is Hunter Girl on American Idol?

Of the three finalists, Hunter Girl was the oldest at age 23. Her opponents, Leah and Noah, were 20 and 19, respectively. 


American Idol winner 2022.

After weeks of competition, Noah Thompson of Louisa, Kentucky, was crowned the new American Idol during the finale episode, which aired on May 22, 2022. 

Hunter Girl finished as the runner-up, with Leah Marlene coming in third. 

Throughout Thompson’s time on the show, the 19-year-old down-home country boy performed hits across all genres. His song choices included Rihanna’s “Stay,” The SteelDrivers “Blue Side of the Mountain,” Harry Styles’ “Falling,” Morgan Wallen’s “Cover Me Up,” Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” and John Mayer’s “Heartbreak Warfare.”  

As the competition dwindled further and further down, his success only continued. 

He flawlessly performed “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story for Disney Night for the Top 10. 

His performances of “Painted Blue” by Sundy Best for TikTok Viral songs and “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac for Mother’s Day Dedications won out in the Top 7. 

Finally, Larry Fleet’s “Working Man” became his contestant’s choice for the Top 5. He also performed “So Small” by season four winner Carrie Underwood, who served as the guest mentor that week. 

His finale performances included Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” his original song “One Day Tonight,” and Rihanna’s “Stay,” which he previously performed during the show’s Showstopper Round. 

Related: 17 of the Best Bruce Springsteen Songs 

Since the season ended, Thompson has released a music video of his cover of the famous tune

He’s made notable appearances in the world of country music, too. He performed at the Country Music Association (CMA) Festival in Nashville over the summer and is planning to start work on his debut album. 

Who’s the next artist that will find fame with the famous show? Find out when American Idol Season 21 premieres on February 19, 2023. 

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The Best Female Musicians of All time 

Written by Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson received her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth in 2015. She has worked in journalism since 2015, beginning as production assistant and eventual head staff writer of the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Currently, she is a multimedia journalist with the Diocese of Nashville's Office of Media and Evangelization where she writes, does photography, and edits for several types of content, including the Tennessee Register, Catholic Awakenings, and She has also worked as a freelance journalist with the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas's newspaper, The Leaven, since 2016.
In her spare time, Peterson enjoys reading, spending time with her pup, Sadie Lynn, singing and songwriting.


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