Zachariah Smith Proves He’s A Superstar With REO Speedwagon Collab On ‘American Idol’ Finale

Smith and the iconic rock band teamed up to sing “Take It On The Run.”

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

May 21, 2023

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KEVIN CRONIN, ZACHARIAH SMITH; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

Zachariah Smith joined forces with REO Speedwagon for a performance of “Take It On The Run” during the American Idol finale on Sunday (May 21). 

The Top 7 Idol finalist teamed up with the rock group to showcase his gritty vocals as the Idol judges watched on. 

Donning a velvet red jacket and a pair of black bedazzled pants, Smith belted out the lyrics to the massive hit. 

“You take it on the run, baby / If that’s the way you want it, baby / Then I don’t want you around / I don’t believe it / Not for a minute / You’re under the gun / So you take it on the run,” Smith and the band sang on the tune’s chorus.

“Take It On The Run” was released in 1980 via REO Speedwagon’s ninth studio album, Hi Infidelity. 

Re-Live Their Performance

YouTube video

Farewell To Idol

Zachariah Smith made it into the Top 5 on American Idol. Following his departure from the show, Zachariah Smith took to social media to bid farewell to the singing competition.

“I didn’t want to make a too complicated video [and] I thought about doing it and I wasted time doing it. I don’t want to waste any more time [and] I just want to get straight to the point,” Smith began. “First off, I want to thank you guys. You guys have got me to the top five and that is absolutely insane. And keep in mind, this is just a TV show. I get it. A lot of y’all are upset right now. Some of y’all are just disappointed that the votes didn’t go through like you thought they would. And sometimes it happens. But honestly, this is just a TV show. It helped me grow my platform.”

“American Grace”

Days later, he released his heart-pounding debut single, “American Grace,”

Co-written by Jesse Frasure, AJ Babcock and Alex Hall, “American Grace” finds the American Idol Top 7 finalist telling the story of a kid turning to music during the happiest of times as well as life’s most difficult moments. 

“Oh, oh, God bless it / Oh, oh, let it play / In every hometown, the heartbeat pounds / To the sound of American Grace / How sweet the sound of American Grace,” Smith sings on the chorus of the spirited track. 

Zachariah Smith - American Grace
Zachariah Smith – American Grace

Throughout the song, Zachariah Smith allows his southern-rock-leaning vocals to shine vibrantly over an energy-filled rock instrumental.

Click below to listen. 

YouTube video

Live from Hollywood, the three-hour Season 21 finale of American Idol also featured performances from the Idol judges, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, as well as the top 3 finalists: Megan Danielle, Colin Stough, and Iam Tongi. 

Additionally, Ellie Goulding, Jelly Roll, Pitbull, TLC, Lil Jon, James Blunt, Jazmine Sullivan, REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin, Kylie Minogue, Lainey Wilson and Lauren Daigle also performed throughout the broadcast. 

American Idol alums Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken also returned to the show. 

Country superstar Keith Urban, who served as an American Idol judge during seasons 12 to 15, was on hand to mentor the top 3.  

Guest Mentor

Keith Urban; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

“To be able to come in as a mentor, and play as well, is incredible,” he told PEOPLE. “That was home for me for several seasons, and the mentoring part is probably one of the things I always enjoyed the most, getting to work with the artist one-on-one.”

During the show, several other fan-favorite contestants returned to the American Idol stage, including Haven Madison, Olive Steele, Wé Ani, Zachariah Smith, Warren Peay, and more. 

Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, the American Idol season 21 finale aired on Sunday, May 21 at 8pm ET/ 5pm PT.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.