Maddie Poppe: 'Best revenge is to be successful,' she says of 'American Idol' at Iowa State Fair
Maddie Poppe talks about her favorite Iowa State Fair food item. Des Moines Register
There were just a few things Maddie Poppe needed as she prepared to play in front of thousands of fans at the Iowa State Fair: Her mom, her band and a cookie dough milkshake to wash down her pulled pork sandwich.
Before her show Thursday night, Poppe hung out in her dressing room, getting ready for her long-awaited homecoming concert that was announced exactly one year ago.
And it’s been a long year for the American Idol winner who, last May, captured the hearts of America by singing “Rainbow Connection” with Kermit the Frog on ABC.
The 21-year-old lounged in the dressing room in her trademark overalls, while sporting new platinum blonde hair, which she revealed, may have gotten a little fried because she was too involved with an Instagram Live with her fans the night before.
Though an Iowa native, Poppe can count how many times she's been to the State Fair on one hand. She recalled a childhood trip when she made the trek from Clarksville to Des Moines at age 14 to compete in the Bill Riley Talent Show.
“When we got there, we were out the first round,” Poppe said. “I didn’t give up and I’m back.”
That’s the story of Poppe.
When she auditioned for "The Voice" prior to "Idol," she didn’t move on. But the supposed Midwestern underdog brought her guitar, charisma and folksy tunes to the national stage on "American Idol" in 2018 and ended up winning the season one-reboot of the competition.
After winning the show, though, things were not all smooth for the new star. She went on a three-month tour for American Idol Live! 2018 that held performances nearly every day. Following that, she got started work on her first record-label album, “Whirlwind.” After writing the majority of the songs in Los Angeles in the fall and winter, it took her 42 days to put it together and record the 10-song album.
It was a year of firsts and learning for Poppe — she learned who she wanted to work with and what collaborations didn’t work out. She also learned she was interested in other genres of music beyond the acoustic and folk she became known for, which can be heard in her pop and rock-inspired radio single, “Made You Miss.”
She also learned how to stand up for herself.
During "American Idol," she said, the show treated her well.
“In some ways they have been really supportive and in other ways they have really turned their back, which is disappointing and it’s sad to see they just left you out for the wolves and turned their back and something else is more important now,” Poppe said.
Poppe hasn’t been silent about this treatment.
Fans didn’t initially know if Poppe was going to be invited back to sing during the season two "American Idol" finale — a tradition that existed during previous seasons of the show.
They questioned on Twitter why "American Idol" wasn’t doing more to promote the artist’s new album that was also being released the same week as the finale, particularly after she appeared on the show’s Disney episode.
The artist herself made a tweet about it.
In the end, she appeared on the finale and got to plug her new album, but she didn’t sing.
“One thing that motivates me more than anything is when people don’t believe me or when someone tells me I can’t do something or not supportive of something,” Poppe said. “The best revenge is to be successful and prove them wrong, and so that’s what I try to do in situations like that.”
Maddie at the Iowa State Fair
It was a thunderous homecoming for Iowa’s "Idol" as they welcomed her back to the state on Thursday.
Though the Iowa State Fair queen hasn’t yet been named, the crown should be passed to Poppe.
Thousands of Iowa State Fair goers filled the Susan Knapp Amphitheater, shouting, “Maddie! Maddie! Maddie” as they waited for the Clarksville native to take the stage.
During the jam-packed hour and thirty-minute set, Poppe’s performance reminded the audience why she won "American Idol" in the first place.
In a blue floral jumpsuit and guitar in her hands, she sang a mixture of songs from her new album along with covers of crowd favorites and "American Idol" performances. From energetic songs like “Made You Miss” off her album to "American Idol" fan-favorites like “Brand New Key,” Poppe also threw in pleasant surprises during her set like Garth Brooks' “Friends in Low Places.”
Poppe didn’t take any breaks from her guitar, but she did take time between each song to share stories about her life on the road, lessons learned and interact with her Iowa fans, some of whom drove hours to the fair to see her.
She also wasn’t shy about treating the audience like old friends and family (who also were probably present in the crowd.) In the middle of songs, she would talk and point out things, like noting that a bobby pin fell out of her hair without missing a beat.
For the kids in the crowd, though, some of whom may have been like Poppe and lost the Bill Riley Talent Show, she encouraged them to never give up.
“I never thought my ‘yes’ would have been ‘American Idol,’ and I just tried it,” Poppe said. “That was the 'yes' all the 'no's were leading to.”
What's next for the artist that persists through the "nos?" She is starting work on writing new music and will have more shows announced in the fall.
"Thank you for everything. It’s been cool to grow up in Iowa," Poppe told the crowd. I wouldn’t wish to grow up anywhere else."