If there’s one thing ‘American Idol‘ seems to love as much as discovering the newest talent, it’s inviting their alums back for a moment in the spotlight. It’s always so incredible to how performers who were once anxious hopefuls develop into such poised, self-assured stars in no time. Next week, the past ‘Idol’ winner who will be coming back to show off how he’s changed in a year is Scotty McCreery, and he’ll be joined by rap princess Nicki Minaj.

McCreery won the heart of America last year in season 10 of the show, beating out fellow country contestant Lauren Alaina for the win. Even so, the runner-up has made quite a name for herself in the genre. Alaina was even invited to hit the ‘Idol’ stage on March 8 to show how she’s blossomed as an artist as well. For next week’s show, McCreery will perform his song ‘Water Tower Town,’ while Minaj offers up her ‘Starships’ single.

After this week’s Thursday (March 22) show, ‘Idol’ only has nine contestants left vying for the winning spot. The remaining nine include DeAndre Brackensick, Hollie Cavanagh, Colton Dixon, Heejun Han, Skylar Laine, Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Elise Testone. They’ll all be hitting the stage next week to perform songs written by their own idols.

In addition to gracing the familiar ‘Idol’ stage once again (but without the pressure of being voted off), McCreery has also been trying to resume some of the normal teenage activities he was into before shooting onto the fast-track to stardom. Pitching his first baseball game two weeks ago, McCreery reclaimed his spot on his high school baseball team. After all, just because he became an American idol doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be able to live out some of the traditional high school life of an all-American kid.

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