Kiss surprised the American Idol audience by accompanying contestant Caleb Johnson for a medley of the recent Rolling Stone cover stars and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees‘ “Love Gun” and “Shout It Out Loud” for the season’s finale. The band appeared in a mire of smoke-machine fog, as Johnson stood with his back to the audience, mic stand in the air. As the group’s pyrotechnics went off and frontman Paul Stanley took the first verse, two of the show’s judges, Harry Connick, Jr. and Keith Urban, looked mildly amused; Urban sang along while Connick rocked his body while texting someone. Regardless, the audience put their hands in the air and it came off mostly like a Kiss concert. At the end of the performance, which found Stanley bashing his guitar into the American Idol stage, Johnson’s brother Houston came onstage in Paul Stanley makeup.
Whether it had to do with the performance or not, Johnson emerged as the winner of the singing competition’s 13th season, besting Jena Irene, who sang a few songs with Paramore. The show also included appearances by Demi Lovato, Aloe Blacc, Darius Rucker, Jason Mraz and John Legend. The judges, including Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson, also performed a medley including Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own way.”
Watch Irene and Paramore’s performance of “Decode” and “Ain’t it Fun” below.
Although American Idol can still draw in famous guests, the show’s viewership has plummeted in recent seasons. In mid-May, ratings reached an all-time low of seven million people tuning in, compared to the 30 million who watched the show at its peak, a New York Times report revealed. Similar music-based shows, including Idol’s competition The Voice and even the dramatized Glee, have also experienced similar trends. “[These types of shows] have flooded the market,” original Idol judge Simon Cowell told the Times. “There have just been a ton of shows, and something has simply gone awry.”