Article first published as American Idol: We Have A Winner! on BlogCritics.
We have a new American Idol! It took two hours and the second coming of the 1970s to get there last night, but a little after 10 pm, Ryan Seacrest announced that the season nine American Idol winner was none other than Lee DeWyze!
There was a whole lot of finale last night, which kicked off with the Top 12 singing "School's Out" with Alice Cooper. I think my favorite part of this performance was their outfits. They were all dressed in cute school uniforms, and I just loved it. Other performance highlights included Siobhan Magnus and Aaron Kelly singing with the BeeGees, Mike Lynche singing with Michael McDonald, and one of the biggest surprises of the night, Casey James singing with Bret Michaels. I seriously didn't see that coming at all!
Of course, the medleys and duets didn't end there. The top six male contestants sang "I Can't Go For That" and "Maneater" before being joined on stage by Hall & Oates, who performed "You Make My Dreams Come True."
The top six female contestants sang a Christina Aguilera medley of "Beautiful" and "Fighter," and were then joined on stage by the pop diva herself. Christina sang "You Lost Me" from her upcoming album, Bionic. She sounded amazing. Definitely one of my very favorite moments of the night.
However, my very favorite non-Idol guest performer of the night had to be Janet Jackson. All of the season nine Idols, minus Lee and Crystal, kicked off Janet's hit song "Again" before being joined on the stage by the one and only Miss Jackson. She performed her newest song, "Nothing" and then put on a full on performance of her huge hit, "Nasty." Personally, I was freaking out, because Janet Jackson is my favorite performer of all time. It was probably one of the best performances out of any of the past season finales of Idol ever. Janet was such a presence on the stage, I seriously sat at the Idol watch party I was at last night in awe while she performed.
Other big performances of the night came from previous Idol winners Carrie Underwood and Kris Allen. Carrie sang her latest single, "Undo It" and Kris sang his latest single, "The Truth." It is amazing to see what can happen in a year. Kris showed great stage presence during his performance and kind of rocked out a little bit. Both he and Carrie gave great performances.
One of the most touching moments of the night was the return of former judge Paula Abdul who was there as part of the huge tribute to departing Idol judge Simon Cowell. "American Idol is not going to be the same without you. But as only I can tell you, it will go on," Paula said to Simon at the end of her speech.
Paula's speech was ever-so-slightly topped by the performance that followed her. Former Idol winners Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, and Kris Allen returned to the stage and sang "Together We Are One" and they were joined on stage by a slew of former Idol contestants from the past eight seasons. It was a fantastic performance and proper send-off for Simon. (For those wondering, David Cook was unable to take part due to being part of a charity event.)
Before the night was over, both Crystal and Lee had duets with Alanis Morissette and Chicago. Crystal and Alanis was another highlight of the show for me. I wanted Crystal to sing something contemporary all season and just rock out. Singing "Ironic" and "You Oughta Know" with Alanis Morissette was a perfect match for her. I just wish that she had performed songs like these during the competition. It would have shown a little more of a rock side to her personality. I loved how much fun she was having on stage with Alanis, it definitely showed another side to Crystal and it was a joy to watch. She definitely held her own with Alanis, and it showed what a pro she already is.
Lee performed a medley of "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is," "If You Leave Me Now," and "25 or 6 to 4" with Chicago. Throughout the entire night Lee looked like he was taking everything in and just having fun. I really liked Lee's performance with the band, and I understand that Idol probably had him perform with them because he's from Chicago. However, it would have been nice to see Lee get to rock out a little more with a contemporary rock band, and one not so old school.
Both Crystal and Lee got a chance to sing together in their performance of "With A Little Help From My Friends," where they were joined by Joe Cocker on stage. I thought it was an appropriate song for the two to end together on. And was it just me, or at times did it seem that Lee was getting overwhelmed during that performance just a little? To me, it came across completely endearing.
And then the time had come for Ryan to read the results. He said that there was less than a two percent difference in the voting. Crystal looked ready for either outcome, Lee looked like he was about to pass out for the nth time that night.
I can't be the only one who thought that Lee was going to fall over after Ryan announced him as the winner, right? Lee's reaction was so genuine and real it totally moved one of my friends to tears. I will say this about the winning moment: Lee performing "Beautiful Day" with the confetti flying everywhere was one of the coolest moments of the night.
I think it was interesting that this season started out as being touted as "the season of the females," and then for the third year in a row, you have a male singer/songwriter win. Quite the Idol "hat trick," indeed!
I think Crystal will do just fine as far as getting signed and putting out a great record. With Lee winning, it allows him to work with producers that he may not have had the chance to work with if he had come in second. (And I know that's not always the case, but it doesn't hurt, that's all.)
Lee winning felt like the show accomplished it's mission as far as finding an unknown talent that needs that push. I am really thankful that Simon was around this season to fight on Lee's behalf to get him into the Top 24 and then make him work every week to be better. He really worked the entire season for this win.
I know there are a lot of fans and media outlets today saying that Crystal out-sang Lee this week. That was this week. They both were off for two-thirds of their performances, and when it came down to it, yeah, she was fantastic. When you look at the big picture, the season as a whole, Lee progressed, and with his progression his fan base grew.
It really doesn't entirely matter what the judges say in the end, it comes down to the fans voting. Lee's fans stayed true to him to the end, and helped him get this more-than-deserved win. (And I am not saying that Crystal's fans just kicked back on Tuesday night and did nothing. I think that the voting demographics for the two contestants probably vary.) But I am thrilled for Lee and I already can't wait to hear the music he releases post-Idol.
Which performances from the finale were your favorites? Are you going to miss Simon? What did you think about the American Idol results? And can you name all the former contestants that joined the former Idol winners during Simon's send-off?