American Idol winner Maddie Poppe paid a visit to the judges that first sent her to Hollywood—but she almost sent Lionel Richie running for the hills!
Poppe, who took home the victory during the first season of ABC's Idol reboot, transformed from her blonde and bubbly self into a full on ray of darkness as Lady Mapo, complete with black wig, pale makeup and snakebite piercings, before she reunited with the judges on the Idol audition stage Monday.
"I feel like I bring a kind of light to this competition," she deadpanned, explaining to the judges that she auditioned because "I feel like last year is pretty boring—it was just too America."
In another clip shared to Katy Perry's Twitter, Lady Mapo said she felt like "last year was maybe rigged," explaining, "I just don't feel like [Poppe] would have won," calling her real identity "boring."
The judges were definitely taken aback by her comments, but quickly learned they were being pranked when Poppe began to sing "Rainbow Connection," which she covered last year during the finals.
The reunion was a sweet one, with all the judges telling their winner they had no idea she was the one behind Lady Mapo.
"i was about ready to run for the door," Richie said as they all gathered together to embrace.
Prior to the season premiere, all the judges assured fans that the contestants this season would really be taking things up a level when it comes to their vocals and performance skills.
"I think one of the most important things is that we feel like the talent is really, really next-level stuff," Luke Bryan told ABC News Radio earlier this month. "And we feel like we have people that walk out, that they're not just walking out and they're just singing, they truly have stories to tell."
"They're true artists," he continued. "And they're so good, they just, even help legitimize our show so much more when we have extremely talented kids on the show."
Lionel Richie added that this year might actually have even more talented singers than last year.
"If you thought last year had talent, Oh. My. God!" Richie exclaimed. "They came out of the woodwork! I think the kids actually saw the first [season] and realized, okay, we not only give great advice, but on top of that, we're having a lot of fun ... and we're not so scary!"
Richie's plans to be more critical were squashed, he joked, with the caliber of artist there to compete.
"I was gonna be the toughest guy on the planet, but they're bringing some of the greatest stories," he explained. "Once you find out what these kids are trying to overcome, it's, 'How do they get up in the morning, considering what they're carrying?' They are facing their worst nightmares. And then they say, 'But...I can be the greatest singer in the whole world!'"
With last year under their belts, even the judges are stepping their games up.
"I think last season was kind of everybody's training ground," Bryan admitted. "It was a new network, new judges. The first year, you know, maybe all of America would've been somewhat reluctant to fully jump on board. But I think what I noticed is as the show caught its stride, and we got into live shows, me and Lionel and Katy [Perry] and even Ryan, we just started really having fun with the show."0comments
American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo credit: ABC