'American Idol' Season 18 Grand Finale: Subway Singer Just Sam crowned the champion, beating Arthur Gunn
The 'American Idol' Season 18 Grand Finale has now just concluded, with the watching American public deciding to vote for Just Sam aka Samantha Diaz as the ultimate winner of the competition.
In truth, the amazing young subway singer from New York had always looked like winning the competition, consistently blowing away audiences week after week with her flawless, intense voice that was capable of telling powerful stories, coupled with her sincere, heartwarming rags-to-riches journey thus far. The talented young New York-based singer has transformed herself on this show, from being a shy, emotional crybaby from the projects to becoming a beautiful, self-assured, gifted diva full of grace, femininity and poise. She always performed like a star and now she looks and feels like one too - this has shades of Fantasia Barrino's win!
For the grand finale this weekend, two of the final Top 7 were eliminated at the very start of the show. The talented British youngster from Philadelphia, Louis Knight, and the soulful New York-based singer, Julia Gargano had to say goodbye after the nationwide vote from last week confirmed that they were no longer in the running.
The remaining Top 5 were thus confirmed to be Arthur Gunn, Francisco Martin, Dillon James, Jonny West, and Just Sam. These final five then had a chance to perform two special performances for their watching fans. Their first song was heralded as the song that they wanted to celebrate with and their second song was a look-back at their best performance from the show, which the eventual champion would release as their winner's single.
Dillon sang 'Change The World' by Eric Clapton and then 'The Times They Are A-Changin' by Bob Dylan. Francisco sang 'Adore You' by Harry Styles and then 'Alaska' by Maggie Rogers. Jonny did 'Can't Keep A Good Man Down' by James & Bobby Purify and then followed that up with his own original song called 'Makin' Love'.
Meanwhile, the Top 2 completely nailed their performances - Arthur rocked the house with soulful renditions of 'I Don't Wanna Be' by Gavin DeGraw and followed that up with his authentic take on 'Have You Ever Seen The Rain' by Creedence Clearwater Revival. But Just Sam put in a masterful display, first nailing 'Stronger (What Doesnt Kill You)' by former 'American Idol' winner Kelly Clarkson and then performed what will be known as her signature cover, 'Rise Up' by Andra Day, really bringing out the sublime, intense power of the song.
Eventually, Just Sam was crowned the winner, with the talented Nepali Arthur Gunn announced as the runner up. Her fans were ecstatic on Twitter - one fan said, "So impressed with Just Sam!! (This year’s American Idol winner.) Just Sam’s story was amazing and this title was well deserved. So much courage, perseverance, and of course TALENT!"
Another admirer declared, "She is so deserving of this new path in life!!" while another viewer said, "OMG! Somebody go hug Just Sam!! It’s killing me that no one is hugging her as she is announced the winner."
She'll be hugging her grandmother soon enough and of course, all of America wants to give her a hug right now.