One year ago, Gabby Barrett debuted "I Hope" on American Idol as an independent artist, hoping to build off the momentum of a third place finish in 2018. Today she's signed to a major label, has a debut album in her future and the No. 1 song on country radio.

Barrett's scorching breakup song is the top-ranked country song on both Billboard and Country Aircheck/Mediabase charts this week, making her the first female since 2017 to hit No. 1 with a debut single (Carly Pearce, "Every Little Thing"). Pearce recognized as much on social media:

Zachary Kale and Jon Nite helped Barrett write "I Hope," and she shared with People that they'd intended a more traditional breakup song, until Barrett turned to something a little more vengeful.

"The fact is that sometimes we hope for the worst when it comes to our exes," the 20-year-old tells the mag. "We would never voice that, but it wreaks [havoc] inside. This song now says the things that maybe you or I never said."

The message resonated quickly with audiences, first on American Idol, then on SiriusXM and eventually traditional radio, once she'd signed with Warner Music Nashville. A third place finish on America's most popular singing reality show is far from a guarantee of stardom these days. While once it seemed every finalist was promised a record deal and a shot, all but the winner — sometimes even the winner — fall back. You can be forgiven if you'd forgotten that Madison VanDenburg finished third in 2019.

Barrett recently recorded a remix of "I Hope" with Charlie Puth. In 2020 she was scheduled to tour with Brad Paisley, but those tour dates have been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus.

See Country Stars on Idol Then and Now — Even Gabby Barrett Looks Different!

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