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Ryan Seacrest American Idol

American Idol Season 18 is at an end but, for some contestants, the next chapter of their career has only just begun. Even the "losers" of American Idol have used the series to springboard their music careers, and one is getting a head start in a big way, thanks to fans and Ryan Seacrest. Idol fans should be sure set their DVR's, because Julia Gargano is headed back to television.

Live with Kelly and Ryan recently hosted its annual contest Idol Encore, in which it asks viewers to vote on the American Idol competitor they'd most like to see perform on the show. Julia Gargano ended up winning the opportunity and will now appear on the program Thursday, May 21, to perform her new single "Growing Pains." Gargano's win was announced during the program and was also uploaded to Twitter not long after:

Julia Gargano's win is both surprising and unsurprising all at once. It's unsurprising in the sense that Gargano was a fan-favorite all throughout Season 18 of American Idol and was viewed by some as a clear favorite to win the competition. It seemed predictions of her win only intensified after Idol's first quarantined episode, in which she played "New York State Of Mind" as a tribute to those in New York impacted by COVID-19.

And yet when American Idol Season 18 winded down, Julia Gargano just missed the opportunity to compete in finale night. Gargano was eliminated alongside Louis Knight, which left both of them out of the Top 5 in contention to win American Idol. Gargano will be one of the lowest finishing performers to perform in the Idol Encore, with 3rd place finisher Madison VanDenburg performing after Season 17, and 4th place's Cade Foehner from Season 16 appearing before that.

Julia Gargano's performance of her original song on Live With Kelly and Ryan will be an encore in more ways than one. Gargano performed "Growing Pains" for her audition in Season 18, which first captured the attention of judges Katy Perry and others:

It's not typical for an American Idol contestant to perform an original over a cover for an audition, though Season 18 certainly saw an uptick of original songs after the phenomenal run of Alejandro Aranda in Season 17. Gargano mentioned Aranda in her audition, perhaps signaling she had hoped to have a similar career run to the competitor. There's still a chance for her to do that in the years to come, as Aranda's career has skyrocketed, despite him finishing as runner-up in his season. Could this performance on Live With Kelly and Ryan be the big push that really gets Julia Gargano's post-Idol career moving?

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Be sure to catch Julia Gargano on Live with Kelly and Ryan Thursday, May 21. As always, be sure to stick with CinemaBlend for all the latest news regarding singing competitions and for a look at what's headed to television and movies in the near future.