Country star Jimmie Allen made a surprise return to American Idol in Sunday night's episode. The "Best Shot" singer joined Season 19 contestant Alanis Sophia for an impressive performance of the A Star Is Born song "Shallow." Allen, 34, participated in American Idol Season 10 in 2011 but was cut before the live rounds.
Although Allen did not get far on Idol, he never let that deter him from pursuing a career. On Sunday's episode, he gave Sophia, 19, some words of advice. "feel like I tell everyone that wants to be a singer, Idol's one of the best ways to really assess your talent," he told her, reports Taste of Country. "Mental toughness is super important on American Idol. Because if you get so wrapped up in how great everyone else sings, you can sometimes not deliver your best because you're worried about how great someone else is."
Allen also urged Sophia to make "Shallow" her own, which is understandably difficult to do considering how Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga's performance of the song is already embedded in the minds of so many. Although their performance did bring judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan to their feet, Perry told Sophia she struggled to make an impression when performing with Allen. "I think just get in that headspace to where you know you own the stage," Bryan said in his own review of the performance. "I mean, your voice... Now, you've got to build on that character, and on owning the stage."
After Allen was eliminated from Idol, he continued pursuing music and eventually earned a record deal in 2017. After releasing an EP that year, he released his first studio album in October 2018, Mercury Lane, which includes his hits "Best Shot" and "Make Me Want To." When "Best Shot" topped the Billboard County Airplay chart in November 2018, Allen became the first Black artist to have a debut single reach the top of the chart. In May 2019, he released a cover of "Shallow" with Abby Anderson. His most recent release is the EP Bettie James, which features "This Is Us" with Noah Cyrus and "Freedom Was A Highway" with Brad Paisley.
In a November 2020 interview with ABC's 20/20, Allen opened up about his mental health struggles in the past year while he was unable to perform live because of the coronavirus pandemic. "A lot of my mental issues came back," the Delaware native explained. "Kinda how I coped with [my bipolar disorder] is always staying busy, always doing something, whether it's playing shows, always having my hand in something. And in the first two weeks, it was rough. I didn't even get out of bed. I didn't eat. Mood swings were terrible. I realized for me and my mental health, I needed to be doing something. So that's kinda what, I was able to just dive into a bunch of other projects."