America has never been as extra as it is tonight
Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC
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I love an American Idol finale because it lives to be extra. Just rhinestones and absurdity. A parade of B-list singing stars trying to belong on the same stage as Patti LaBelle. But this year, they’ve somehow pulled a Bachelor/Bachelorette finale on us and stretched this nonsense to four hours. Four. Two yesterday, two today. The whole thing just keeps going and going, so I’ve watched it all. I’ve catalogued it below. I actually wrote this during that Jimmy Kimmel presentation of Idol‘s seasons passed, which is ironic because they insist that this is only the first season. Make up your mind, ABC. Does Idol have a history or not? Anyway, Sanjaya’s hairline is gone and so is most of this season: all of it except for these final two hours. By the time it’s over, several wigs have flown, a new couple has been announced, and we got greens, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, all served with a drag queen. This is your finale recap, and THIS is American Idol.

Lionel Ritchie, “All Night Long”

I have no idea why this happened, but as the show opened with Lionel wearing a bedazzled jacket that reads, you guessed it, “All Night Long,” the first thing I thought was, Nicole Ritchie is this man’s daughter. I love that this is how the show opened though because I like to believe that it took a lot of coaxing. He performs with all the contestants, some brass instruments, the memory of both of Nicole Ritchie’s failed shows, and all the ghosts of Idol winners who haven’t released more than one album.

Caleb Lee Hutchinson, as Lionel Ritchie

This was Caleb Lee’s best performance this season. I would pay money to see him do a Lionel Ritchie imitation for an hour.

Mustard feat. Nick Jonas, “Anywhere” / Nick Jonas feat. Jurnee, “Jealous”

Ah, yes, Mustard. Not sure how he got top billing on a song he barely sang on, but good for Mustard. To be honest, I hate a medley. But I’m happy to see Jurnee come back after snatching Ariana Grande’s high pony directly off her head. Nick Jonas serves as our constant between the two performances. I have a prediction that when the inevitable apocalypse comes in the next three years, the only thing that will be left behind are Nick Jonas’ forearms. And for that, we should be grateful.

Luke Bryan feat. Gabby Barrett, “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” / “Most People Are Good”

Some notes: “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” is a dumb song, and I can’t say that loudly enough. Now that we got that out of the way, “Most People Are Good” is honestly one of the nicest songs that’s ever existed. And if the song isn’t enough for you, Gabby sounds really good doing harmony with Luke. Not sure if she carried the song on her own, but with Luke? She sounds incredible. Also, Luke is still a dreamboat in his Canadian tuxedo tonight. I know that he’s the quintessential, “I love that you tried and with some apple pie and a prayer, you can win!” judge, but he’s been really nice.

Gary Clark Jr feat. Dennis Lorenzo and Cade Foehner, “Bright Lights”

Oh wow, Dennis is really solid as a rocker? And Cade, as it turns out, has chest hair well below his chest. How do I know that? Well, someone gave him a Shimmer Shirt (patent pending) that is legitimately open to his belly button. Performance-wise, this is actually a pretty stellar song. I feel like this is the first time I’ve understood rock music!

Maddie Poppe feat. Kermit the Frog, “Rainbow Connection”

That’s not Kermit. It sounds nothing like him, and i’m legitimately upset about it. Also, of all the people you could have paired Maddie (this year’s runaway talent) with anyone, and you chose Kermit the Frog? I love Kermit, but guys. On a strictly cutesy level, it was adorable, but I would have loved to have seen her paired up with someone like Carole King or hell, just a breathing human. Let it be noted that right after the 9:50 p.m. mark, this show went off the damn rails. Maddie sang with Kermit, and then it all went up in flames, because…

Noah Davis and a Damn Alpaca

Noah Davis, the talented guy who probably got cut a little short of his time, is being used as humor fodder as he’s introduced to an alpaca. Turns out, they’ve given him a certificate of adoption, but he can only name it Yanny or Laurel (Noah Davis is a Laurel, by the way). He doesn’t sing. He’s just an alpaca joke because American Idol is doing everything but soldering my eyes open with gimmicks.

Darius Rucker feat. Caleb Lee Hutchinson, “Wagon Wheel”

This feels a lot like they’re prepping us for Caleb Lee’s win, and I swear on all that’s good, if he pulls it off… Anyway, I come from a very unwarranted place of anger when I hear Darius Rucker sing “Wagon Wheel” because this song belongs to Old Crow Medicine Show. Want to listen to the superior version? Here you go. The performance was fine, just like everything else Caleb Lee has done (save that Lionel impression, which was Maddie-level). Again, Caleb Lee is a wonderful singer, but it feels like a big push for someone who has consistently been outperformed by his two final competitors.

As your completely unbiased and reliable recapper, if you need a break, listen to this.

Bebe Rexha feat. Maddie, Caleb Lee, and Gabby, “Meant To Be”

The final three perform with Bebe in presumably their last performance together. Of course, the song is meant for two country singers to take on with Bebe, which seems a little bit like foreshadowing. I don’t know, guys! I’m just feeling super apprehensive about this whole situation. But Bebe leaves the final three on the stage, and from there? Results.


LOL, WHAT. If anyone were a lock for the final two, it was definitely going to be Gabby Barrett. I don’t think anyone thought that she would make third, including her. As the results were named, Caleb was the first to be called in the final two, leaving Gabby and Maddie waiting in the wings. It was quite a shock, but at the end of the day, Maddie made the top two, leaving Gabby alone in third place.

LeAnn Rhimes, Layla Spring and Dixie, “Blue”

They’re really trying to burn time aren’t they? LeAnn surprises the girls in the middle of their performance, but I think the best part of it is Dixie clearly not caring that LeAnn is there because this is her moment.

Katy Perry feat. Catie Turner, “Part of Me”

This is a hard confirmation that Katy and Catie’s voices are way more similar than I originally imagined. In what might be her best performance of the entire season, Catie and Katy duet to her song, “Part of Me,” and it’s honestly out of this world. I’m so happy that Katy made good on the promise to perform with Catie, because it was so much better than any of us could have imagined.

Yolanda Adams feat. Michael J Woodard, “What The World Needs Now”

Well, this was gorgeous. Plus Michael got to wear a crazy little hat.

What. Wait. Caleb and Maddie are boyfriend and girlfriend. I am actually… I have no idea anymore. The formatting of this recap is going to be off the charts bonkers because I just can’t anymore. They sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” while I chug a whole bottle of wine and handle this increasingly violent emotional whiplash. I’m honestly so sorry that this is all in bold. Roll with me the way we’re supposed to roll with this finale. Anyway, American Idol is sending these two to Hawaii. My whole world is upside down.

Patti LaBelle feat. Ada Vox, “Lady Marmalade”

Ok, guys. I am blinded by absurdity at this point. They are not having Patti LaBelle and Ada Vox duet “Lady Marmalade.” This is what happens when you fulfill both the gay and straight agendas to their absolute limits. American Idol is doing the absolute most tonight, and yes, the vocals are out of this world, but with all of this information, how can you even process it?

So, at the end of this road, we’re down to naming one winner. Do you even have the energy to finish this recap? You better because it’s the only thing I have left to say. The winner of American Idol,season one or sixteen, depending on what church you pray at is…


Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

Holy moly! I just had to delete a whole bunch of pre-typed text because I was CERTAIN that Caleb Lee would win, but you guys! American freaking did it. You guys were put in charge of voting for something, and you didn’t botch it. Good for us! We all win!

Episode Recaps

American Idol

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.

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