LOS ANGELES, Ca. - Caleb Lee Hutchinson advanced to the final two of "American Idol" but his dreams of winning the title were cut short when he was defeated by Maddie Poppe in Monday's two-hour finale.
Before the big reveal, the duo surprised the audience during a duet when Hutchinson announced that Poppe is his girlfriend.
That wasn't the only surprise. Crowd favorite Gabby Barrett was eliminated during the middle of the show.
The two-hour finale was packed with star power including Patti LaBelle, Nick Jonas, LeAnn Rimes, Darius Rucker and former "American Idol" stars.
It was a long final day for Hutchinson, who revealed in a tweet Monday afternoon that he was struggling with a sore throat.
Luckily America's vote is already in, but Caleb is scheduled to perform on the show tonight. https://t.co/JopzOhG54b— Justin Wilfon (@JustinWilfonWSB) May 21, 2018
Channel 2’s Justin Wilfon was in Hollywood to cover the two-part finale and caught up with Hutchinson's father, William, who said his son wasn't feeling well but was pushing through.
"He's a trooper. He's doing the best he can," the older Hutchinson told Wilfon. "He has a little sinus infection but he knows that's part of the game. He's battling through."
Luckily for all the Hutchpuppies out there, since voting ended Monday morning, Caleb's health didn't affect his chances of winning. Monday night's results show was just a showcase and wasn't being judged .
Wilfon spoke with Hutchinson's fellow contestants in Hollywood ahead of the big finale and they had nothing but praise for the 19-year-old singer.
“He has stood out to me from the beginning and I just think he’s incredible,” Barrett told Wilfon.“He’s a good kid. He really is. He deserves to be here and he deserves all of this."
“I love him," Poppe told Wilfon. "And he is my best friend. He truly is.”
Wilfon also caught up with all three judges and learned that Hutchinson has a fan in fellow Georgian, judge Luke Bryan.
"There are many, many things about Caleb, but I think he’s so relatable," Bryan told Wilfon. "I think people just cheer for him, you just cheer for him. And you pull for him.”
Not every judge had glowing praise for Hutchinson.
Caleb performed three songs on Sunday night's final judged performance. He tackled songs originally sung by Keith Whitley and Johnny Cash as well as his new single.
During his first performance of the evening, he received some harsh criticism from judge Katy Perry, who called it his weakest showing of the season. Perry told Wilfon that she is honest with the contestants.
“I think it would be unfair to not tell the truth. I think sometimes to withhold the reality is to lie to someone no matter if it’s bad news. Sometimes bad news is hard to deliver.”
I was holding out hope that we might get to talk with Katy Perry, Luke Bryan or Lionel Richie, but to talk with all three of them together was really something. Hear from them, at 4. @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/A0y4SWmzm2— Justin Wilfon (@JustinWilfonWSB) May 21, 2018
Luckily, Hutchinson was able to rebound nicely for the last two songs on Sunday night.
No matter what the night's outcome was, judge Lionel Richie told Wilfon that the journey has really just begun for all three contestants.
“What’s going to happen after "American Idol" is then their lives are going to really start," Richie said. "This is the warmup. If I may say, this is the class. Real life is a whole different ballgame.”
It's already been a wild ride for Hutchinson.
"It's been a journey. It's really surreal. It's always weird going into it because we've been so busy. That adrenaline rush is about to hit me. It's really fun," Hutchinson said.
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