‘American Idol’ Finale Will Include ‘We Are The World’ Performance With Special Guests

Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan attend an event.
Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images

While American Idol will be filming the finale to its 18th season remotely, that doesn’t mean the long-running reality series will be dialing back on its usual bombast. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic means this finale will be like none that came before, and an E! Online report reveals that the competition will take advantage of its remote setup in order to put together a special night.

American Idol’s latest season has been its most turbulent yet, with production halted and the top 21 competitors sent home before the show was relaunched remotely on April 26. Judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan have adapted to the competition’s new normal and have whittled the field of contestants down to seven singers — Arthur Gunn, Dillon James, Francisco Martin, Jonny West, Julia Gargano, Just Sam, and Louis Knight.

The finale will see those seven become five, with remaining singers getting a chance to make their final pitch before fans vote live. According to the report, each contestant will perform two songs: one to “celebrate” their placement, and then a song which they have performed previously — one that will become their official American Idol single.

As is usual for American Idol, the contestants won’t be the only ones performing that night. While it’s likely that there will be some surprises, one special collaboration has already been confirmed. Lionel Richie will be performing “We Are the World” — the 1985 charity single he co-wrote with Michael Jackson — and will be joined by his fellow judges. Former American Idol contestants Alejandro Aranda aka Scarypoolparty, Gabby Barrett, Jordin Sparks, Katharine McPhee, Kellie Pickler, Laine Hardy, Lauren Alaina, Phillip Phillips, Ruben Studdard, and Scotty McCreery will also be contributing to the performance of the 1980s classic.

In March, Richie spoke about the track. The singer admitted that before the pandemic he wasn’t interested in marking the 35th anniversary of its release, telling People it wasn’t the right time to “sell an anniversary.” Later, however, Richie had a change of heart, explaining that the “We’re saving our own lives” line from the chorus is even more relevant today.

“We were back to there are ‘those people’ and ‘those people.’ If you find yourself saying ‘those people’ then you are not thinking properly… What happened in China, in Europe, it came here. So if we don’t save our brothers there, it’s going to come home. It’s all of us. All of us are in this together.”

American Idol fans can also expect performances from previous contestants Cynthia Erivo, Lauren Daigle, and Doug Kiker, as well as country superstars Rascal Flatts. Bryan will be performing his new single “One Margarita,” while Perry will be launching her own new single, “Daisies.”