BMG, in partnership with American Idol and 19 Entertainment, have released original songs by the Top 7 finalists from Season 20. The seven singles include songs by Fritz Hager, HunterGirl, Nicolina, JAY, Christian Guardino, Leah Marlene, and Noah Thompson.
On May 22, the Top 3 contestants will perform their original songs live during the three-hour finale of American Idol before the winner is revealed at the end of the show.
Before the S20 winner of AI is chosen, give a listen to the original songs by the Top 7:
“Red Bird,” HunterGirl
The 23-year-old Tennessee native HunterGirl (real name Hunter Wolkonowski) began singing at 3 years old with her grandfather at church and writing her own music by the age of 9. At 15, she won the 2014 Texaco Country Showdown and several songwriting contests, including Nash Next and the Nashville Songwriter Association International. After her season 20 audition on American Idol, HunterGirl received a platinum ticket, which sent her directly to the second round of Hollywood Week. Her five-song EP One Day charted at No. 4 on iTunes and No. 4 2 on the iTunes country chart.
“Red birds have been a big sign in my life since I was a little girl,” shares HunterGirl of her single. “There is a saying that states, ‘When a cardinal appears around you, it is one of your family members in Heaven coming down to visit you.’ My mom also told me when I was younger that if I made a wish on a red bird when it flies my wish will come true.”
“Hearts Align,” Fritz Hager
Dallas native Fritz Hager, who got his first guitar in the sixth grade, credits the inspiration to appear on American Idol to Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips. The 22-year-old was originally auditioned for Season 19 but unfortunately never made the cut. Hager’s self-titled debut EP charted No. 1 on the iTunes pop charts and crossed over into the Billboard digital sales charts. “Hearts Align” was produced by King Henry (Beyoncé, Diplo, Lany) and written by Drew Pearson (Philip Phillips, Wrabel) and American Idol, Season 18 contestant Francisco Martin.
“I think this song perfectly describes a moment that everyone has felt,” says Hager. “It’s about the moment when two people fall out of step with each other, but you aren’t ready to let go. It’s about holding on to those final moments and the fear and uncertainty of what comes after. I think it’s the perfect song to blast in the car after a breakup or a fight.”
Hager adds, “It feels very cathartic to me, and I think music is the perfect tool to express these kinds of pent-up emotions when it can be difficult to express to the person you feel them for. It’s okay to be hung up on someone and to be scared of what will happen if you lose them. The important part is to be able to come to terms with those feelings and move past them.”
The 18-year-old Canadian fell in love with music while watching The Little Mermaid as a little girl and was later steered into performing in musical theater, appearing in Grease, Mama Mia! and more. Nicolina has attracted millions of views on her TikTok page, all fans of her powerhouse vocals.
“I chose the song ‘Glitter’ for my single because it is a beautiful and haunting depiction of what grief really is,” says Nicolina on the song, originally written by Patrick Droney and produced by Mr. Franks (Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber). “Grief is a scary feeling that we all inevitably feel in life and is something that is not easily gotten rid of. The lyrics in ‘Glitter,’ perfectly paint the theme and feeling of grief.”
“Higher,” Christian Guardino
Hailing from Long Island, New York, Christian Guardino, 21, studied music in school. At 16, he auditioned from America’s Got Talent and earned the Golden Buzzer, and made it to the semifinals before he was eliminated. Guardino has released a handful of singles, including a collaboration with country star Hunter Hayes called “Waiting.” Born with an eye disease, Guardino underwent an experimental gene therapy as a child, which stopped the impending full-blindness. Now, legally blind, Guardino sings give a light, give a light, when I’m in the dark on his new single.
“As soon as I first heard the song ‘Higher’ I knew instantly that was gonna be the song I chose,” says Guardino of “Higher,” produced by DannyBoyStyles (Belly, The Weeknd, Banks). “I fell in love with the melody, the lyrics, and everything about the song.”
“One Day Tonight,” Noah Thompson
The 20-year-old Kentucky native never wanted people to hear him sing when he was in high school, though his classmates had a different idea. After hearing him sing, they urged him to join singing competitions and the school choir. Thompson was working in construction when his friend and co-worker Arther signed him up for American Idol.
“I fell in love with ‘One Day Tonight’ as soon as I heard it, just by the sound of the melody,” shares Noah Thompson of the song, produced by Jimmy Robbins (Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Brett Young). “The lyrics are beautiful, the song has so much meaning and it is also so catchy. Can’t believe I get to sing it, to be honest, it blows my mind. I hope so many people love it just like I did when I first heard it.”
Jay Copeland grew up in a musical family. His grandfather, George Copeland, was in Reverend Copeland and the Singing Disciples while his mother and uncles performed in The Singing Copelands. The 23-year-old from Salisbury, Maryland was given one of three platinum tickets after his Season 20 audition on American Idol.
“‘Unlonely’ highlights how much we as people need a connection, and sometimes we take that for granted,” says Jay of his single, produced by Mr. Franks, who also worked on Nicolina’s “Glitter.”
Copeland adds, “Find something or someone that makes you happy and you’ll never be lonely.”
“Flowers,” Leah Marlene
The 20-year-old Illinois singer-songwriter learned to play piano and guitar at a very young age with encouragement from her father, Derry Grehan, lead guitarist for the Canadian rock group Honeymoon Suite. Marlene has been releasing music independently since 2014 and has been performing since the age of 10 and was selected as one of the five winners of the SOCAN Young Canadian Songwriters Awards in 2021.
On her song “Flowers,” produced by King Henry (Beyoncé, Diplo, LANY), Marlene says, “I wrote ‘Flowers’ as an encouragement to my past self that no matter how far gone you may feel, there is always a way out.”