How American Idol kept the finale moving after a performer bowed out unexpectedly
The show must go on. ABC's American Idol exemplified that age-old adage when a performer suddenly dropped out of Sunday's finale show.
Arthur Gunn — who returned this season after placing second on season 18 and winning this season's comeback competition only to be eliminated after the top 7 show — was slated to perform two songs with Sheryl Crow.
But instead of Gunn, top 16 contestant Graham DeFranco took the stage with Crow for a medley of "Every Day Is a Winding Road" and "If It Makes You Happy." No explanation was given by the show regarding Gunn's absence and the switch.
So what happened? An individual with knowledge of the situation tells EW that Gunn decided at the last minute that he didn't want to perform, so DeFranco stepped in.
Apparently, that's more information than even the judges had on Sunday.
Judge Lionel Richie told PEOPLE during a virtual Q&A after the show that they "don't even know what happened."
And as for DeFranco ending up on stage with Crow, it was also a last-minute stroke of luck for the ABC competition (and DeFranco).
"He literally came to cheer," Luke Bryan said of DeFranco during the Q&A. "He was there to support Chayce [Beckham], and we're pulling him out of the crowd going, 'You're gonna sing with Sheryl Crow.' And he's like, 'Hell yeah!'"
And in the end, fans were still able to enjoy a contestant duet with Crow.
"It's a live, three-hour show. And, quite honestly, we've had a very colorful season. Curveballs galore," Katy Perry said during the post-show Q&A. "But Graham DeFranco? I mean, killed it. Sang so well, and I was so glad he was there."
Those "curveballs" Perry referred to could include the sudden departure of Wyatt Pike for "personal reasons," and finalist Caleb Kennedy's exit after a controversial video from his younger years resurfaced.
Ultimately, DeFranco was cheering on the winner as America's vote gave the win to country music singer Beckham over Willie Spence.
EW messaged Gunn on Twitter but he has yet to respond and hasn't posted any information as to his absence on Sunday's finale. He recently released a single called "Save Me Now."
Watch DeFranco and Crow's duet above.
Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.