Chris, Josh, and Melanie face off -- and the one with the best 'Love Actually' treatment wins!

By Annie Barrett
Updated December 23, 2011 at 05:47 AM EST

Congratulations, long-suffering Americans. It’s time to wake up! The three-month laser-y fever dream that has been season 1 of The X Factor has ended. [YAWN.] After a two-hour finale — featuring Simon Cowell guzzling something out of a Pepsi cup, Nicole Scherzinger rudely denying Thanksgiving spokesperson Steve Jones a spot at her Christmas card table, and “some incredible performances and Justin Bieber!” — the winner is….

Melanie Amaro!

This girl is not a penguin.

Melanie completely deserved to win, and the producers drove that point home by giving Melanie the coveted Love Actually treatment this time — twice! During Wednesday’s performance finale, third-place finisher Chris Rene got the treasured British Christmas film’s tinkling piano suite for his “tragic personal history” segment. I just assumed based on that alone that he would win.

But no! Melanie and runner-up Josh Krajcik both got the L.A. love during their clip shows on Thursday; plus, Melanie sang Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” It’s too bad Hugh Grant and Colin Firth weren’t hiding under those out-of-control-enormous candy canes to wrap up The X Factor‘s final Love Actually blowout with a giant bow. (“I hate Uncle Jamie!”)

It may seem like I’ve devoted two paragraphs to nonsense, but I’m just trying to mimic 98 percent of the finale. The show’s high points included but were not limited to: Ne-Yo’s shiny purple jacket, Melanie’s random “Edge of Glory” group number bangs, gold confetti threatening to corrupt Steve Jones’ magnificent widow’s peak, Drew’s joyous resurrection as a brunette, Leona Lewis’ shiny ponytail that literally seemed as if it had been yanked off of a magical pony, Josh Krajcik’s tears (“WOW, WHAT IS THAT?”), and Chris Rene’s mom Joni’s sassy leopard-print blazer. Truly a great night for hair.

Oh, and I obviously loved this.

During Josh’s “Please Come Home for Christmas,” there was a WOMAN IN A SNOW GLOBE. I’m home for Christmas, and I made sure to sing along with Josh, so I expect this entire contraption to arrive on my parents’ doorstep any minute now. I just need to figure out how to get rid of the woman and update the costume for Chicago weather.

Speaking of wetness…Nicole?

NEXT: Justin Bieber goes to town Stevie Wonder played second fiddle (Harmonica, Actually) to “Greensleeves” enthusiast Justin Bieber. There are so many things to ponder re: Justin Bieber, I know — what his rhythmic skip-down-the-stage jig might translate to in Sanskrit, or the questions How, Why, and So What? — but I’ve pretty much made peace on earth with all of that. All I can ever think about lately as I see him in magazines or watch him perform is that he wears earrings. They repel and fascinate me. I don’t get it.

I also still don’t quite understand Rachel Crow, but she looked very festive as she tried to take over for Stevecrest. She does have a knack for 2011’s most marketable talent: showing off. I’d wish her good luck, but she assured us she won’t be needing it.

“IT’S TIME. TO GET. SERIOUS.” Oh silly Steve, no one believes you!

Right after Chris Rene took third, Steve threw in the towel and threw to commercial. “Mayhem at the moment!” he cried, even though what was happening on the stage — nobody having any idea where to go or what to do — has pretty much been the default setting for the season. Why mess with tradition? Hold me just a little bit longer, Steve Jones. The Fat Jennifer Hudson vs. Thin Jennifer Hudson commercials are freaking me out!

Leona Lewis is the coolest girl in school and everyone worships her because she’s heaven. That is all.

Suddenly 50 Cent was onstage with some L.A. Lakers — and Astro! — performing his hit singles, “Bleep-ity Bloop Blop” and “In Da Bleep.” We may never know what those beautifully mouthed lyrics were. It’s probably for the best, because hearing the word “SEX” while backup dancers in high-cut white leotards executed thrusting, frontward-facing grand pliés might have placed this performance firmly in the cat-uh-gry of “a bit much.”

All ridiculousness aside, I thought the heart of the finale was Melanie and Josh’s final-two duet on “Heroes” just before the winner’s announcement. They seemed relatively unprepared, but in a way that worked in the moment’s favor — each of them giddy with the anticipation of whether they would combine well on the next note and, oh yeah, whether they might win a $5 million recording contract after the next commercial break. Both of them looked so happy and grateful to have made it that far.

“I love you,” said Josh. “Love you too,” said Melanie. “I love you both!” said a teary-eyed recapper terrified of letting her favorite series go. My stories!

By the time Melanie sang-screamed her victory lap, Beyoncé’s “Listen,” with time to spare (an X Factor first!), I was bawling for about the sixth time. All of the Top 3’s friends-and-family testimonial segments had made me cry — mostly because you could see them crying in the little boxes at the bottom of the screen. I wept softly as Pitbull and Ne-Yo’s backup black-lace figurines danced so listlessly, because that was just sad. But my first tears sprouted as the judges sauntered onstage to “The Final Countdown” and I realized that Arrested Development‘s G.O.B. Bluth would not be making a surprise appearance to contribute to the illusion, Michael, the illusion.

Congratulations to Melanie! God is good, and so is Justin Bieber for stumbling with Drew through the awkward “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” foxtrot of her dreams.

We’re back next year! Here’s how you get started: Forget all of this ever happened and watch American Idol instead.

I better see you back here for Idol recaps! Is anyone else already excited about Steven Tyler’s hats?

Thank you all for taking this long, strange trip with me.

“MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!” –Stevecrest and Annie, together at last

Follow @EWAnnieBarrett

Read more on ‘The X Factor’:

Wednesday’s performance finale recap: You Oughta Show

WINNER Q&A: Melanie talks that final song, secret ‘final two’ hand-gesture with Josh

MENTOR Q&A: Simon on the day he asked Melanie back on the show, who else he’s keen on signing

RUNNERS-UP Q&A: Josh and Chris talk about the future and duetting with Melanie