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American Idol finale recap: Winner Chosen

In one final love song to ‘Idol,’ past finalists return to pay respects to the show before naming a farewell winner

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American Idol

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Ryan Seacrest
Reality TV

Dim the lights, one last time.

About 1 million 14 years ago, I cried watching Kelly Clarkson’s inaugural American Idol victory. That was partially because I was a young boy with a lot of years of therapy ahead, but more so because it was a show and a moment that gave you hope that you also might be able to change the world and sing in front of millions of people one day. We’re here, 14 years in the future, at the end of the Idol road, and I’m somehow still not an American Idol. But I am writing this recap, and you’re reading it, and we stuck it out, and that has to mean something, right? If nothing else, it means a lot for Trent Harmon and La’Porsha Renae because they are the final two finalists left standing, FOREVER.

Tonight is a love song to Idol. A final performance where the entire gang comes together one last time before burning the house down, except not really, because can you imagine the deposit they’d lose on the Dolby Theatre? I can’t even count that high, so why don’t we just go over what’s happening tonight, shall we?

#ThrowbackThursday: Idol Edition

Remember when a bajillion Idol contestants descended on the stage to open up the show together in all white and you cried and cried and didn’t stop for two hours? Well, I hope you stopped crying because soon after is when the TRUE IDOL took the stage — that’s right: Brian Dunkleman is back, y’all. If only for a moment (like this). It appears that it’s going to be an emotional throwback night because the finalist duet to kick off the show is one you might remember from Mr. Guarini and Ms. Clarkson. Trent Harmon and La’Porsha Renae take on “It Takes Two.” Trent is in LEATHER PANTS and a green leopard-print shirt. I’m here for it. And then, of course, there’s the vocal. La’Porsha and Trent are the reason this season ended up being successful. It’s been a while since a finale felt so satisfying.

RELATED: Flashback to the First Season of American Idol

The First of Many Medleys

In a musical flurry, half of everyone involved in Idol over the past 15 years came back for one of the most overwhelming medleys in history. To even remotely try to cover all that singing, let’s rank all those mini-performances.

8. Kara DioGuardi, “Sober”

Shamefully, I didn’t know that Kara DioGuardi could sing, but honestly, I’m not even sure that it’s completely fair to call it that.

7. Allison Iraheta, “No”


6. Tamyra Gray and friends, “Girl Crush”

I feel sort of bad that I didn’t even recognize Tamyra Gray, but I am pretty happy that she can still sing so beautifully. 

RELATED: 19 of the Most Memorable American Idol Contestants

5. Kimberley Locke, “8th World Wonder”

Did you guys even know that Kimberley Locke was still around? And that she still sounds so wonderful? Snaps for Kim!

4. Colton Dixon, “Through All of It”

Definitely didn’t follow up with Colton Dixon, but it would appear that he’s a Christian singer now. His song was beautiful, but that hair was breathtaking. As my grandmother once told me, the higher the hair, the closer to God.

3. Justin Guarini and Jordin Sparks “No Air”

On the other side of the hair spectrum, Justin Guarini sans hair is hardly Justin Guarini at all, am I right? It’s just a Dr. Pepper advertisement. But Jordin Sparks is still delightful.

2. Pia Toscano, “All By Myself”

This is Pia’s moment, y’all! Remember when she got eliminated super early and everyone was upset because she was the next Celine, and then we didn’t hear from her again? She showed tonight that she wouldn’t be upstaged twice! Well, almost…

1. Larry Platt, “Pants on the Ground”


NEXT: Medleys on medleys on medleys