Some of the biggest American Idol winners of all-time have been females, but heading into Sunday's Season 18 finale, just two women remain among the Top 7 and for Julia Gargano, she can't believe she's one of the last two standing. Looking to follow in the footsteps of some of the show's biggest icons like Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson, and some of the more recent winners like Maddie Poppe, Gargano tells PopCulture.com ahead of the finale she has immense respect for all the women that were finalists, including Grace Leer, Makayla Phillips, Sophia James and Just Sam — who is also a major contender to be the next American Idol.
"It's truly hard to comprehend and believe. I admired all of the ladies in the Top 20 and look up to them vocally," Gargano told PopCulture. "It's an honor to be in the Top 7 with Just Sam, but so many of the other ladies deserve to be there with us." Gargano earned her way from the Top 11 into finale night by performing "Beauty and the Beast" for Disney night followed by Adele's "Sweetest Devotion." In regards to the latter though, Gargano said her emotion was "evident" in that song because it was sung to her mother.
"It was very easy to push any mental barriers or distractions out of the way on that one," she shared. It was her first turn of the evening, though, that saw Katy Perry tell her "you're a star no matter what," a remark that truly resonated with her. "For me, chasing a dream this big was always terrifying. It's hard to ever truly believe you could break through and become a successful musician," Gargano said of the comment. "Making a living doing what I love has always been my version of success. So getting validation like that from Katy Perry is so special to me."
The Staten Island native is now on the cusp of potentially winning the whole thing and becoming the second female Idol winner in the three seasons that aired on ABC and just the seventh all-time. When asked what it would mean for her to hear her name announced by Ryan Seacrest as the winner, Gargano said "that's not even a thought I could put into words."
America can watch starting at 8 p.m. on ABC as Gargano and the rest of the Top 7 sing for the top prize of the show. Perry will also be debuting her new single, "Daisies," while Lionel Richie will be joined by his fellow judges, contestants and some of the show's biggest alum including Katherine McPhee, Scotty McCreery, Kellie Pickler and Gabby Barrett.