Well, it's over. The best worst season of American Idol, in which the ones tapped early on (Casey, Lauren), fell short of expectations, the winner sings like a caricature drawn up by the producers, the judges never really judged...and yet, somehow, the franchise seemed to meet its own hastening irrelevancy and sort of staunch the bleeding. There was a respectable starriness to the whole thing what with Jennifer and Steven always there, even during the early gallery of freaks. No doubt those two benefited just as much from the window into their totally endearing souls as Idol did (buy Steven's new memoir and Jennifer's new single TODAY!). If they're not back next year, NBC's classier, tweetier version could steamroll ahead.
But as of right now, the Idoldome is an unlikely “everyone who's anyone” sort of place, where the girls of the season sang “Single Ladies,” only to reveal Beyoncé herself standing like a goddess in the center, ready to out-shimmy them. Judas Priest rocked out with James. Gladys Knight spread the Gospel with Jacob. Tony Bennett crooned with Haley. Scotty and Lauren scored Tim McGraw and Carrie Underwood. Casey kicked a couch and there was Jack Black, lounging behind where it had been. Lil Wayne Jon jumped on stage for 30 seconds before disappearing like a dream. Lady Gaga fell off a cliff. Steven and Jennifer took the stage. Chilli reprised "Waterfalls" with her old friend T-Boz. Tom Jones sported a healthy glow. Spider-Man from Broadway zip-lined across the Nokia Theater. Bono growled. The Obamas were conspicuously absent.
When Ryan Seacrest finally rang the gong for judgment time, it felt a little like landing up at the Sistine Chapel completely winded by the rest of the Vatican. How could anything possibly compare? Lady Gaga had shown us her entire ass from atop her fake mountain because she was playing the piano with her foot, for Chrissakes. But onward the show went.
In the galleys, Lauren looked like she might hurl. Scotty stared off in the distance, a young, clean-shaven Marlboro man. Ryan said the name, "Scotty McCreery!" and Scotty broke into a smile and then a song – that single of his from the night before about Loving You This Big. He descended into the crowd to hug his family members, still singing. Jack Black held his arms out, but Scotty was too caught up in his victory cry to notice. He sang the words, "for the rest of my life," and pointed to Lauren. "I love you, baby," he deep-voiced into the mic, before hugging her, still singing.
When the song ran out he touched the floor before rising, his mouth open to the falling confetti like it was a real blizzard. At this point, Lauren started to kiss him, adding a crucial chapter to the epic tale of Scotty and the young girls. It turns out even the ones who are supposed to hate Scotty love him. Welcome to the recording industry, oh powerful one.
LAST EPISODE: Eleventh-Hour Appeal to Young Girls is Underway
Photos: The American Idol Star-Studded Season Finale
Video: Bono and the Edge Perform "Rise Above" on Idol Finale
Video: Lady Gaga Sings "Edge of Glory" on Idol Finale
Video: Steven Tyler Performs "Dream On" on Idol Finale
Video: Beyonce Premieres "1+1" on Idol Finale
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