As I wrote earlier this evening, even though I believe this season of American Idol didn’t live up to its fullest potential, I still settled into tonight’s finale with the expectation of being entertained. And I was not disappointed.
Sure, there were trainwreck performances, as there are every year on the Idol finale. But there were also some transcendent moments. (Though nothing that combined both in quite the same way as the moment when Clay Aiken surprised his biggest fan mid-song in the Season 5 finale. If you never saw that, you must watch it here.)
Here’s how I’d assess some of the best and worst moments of the show:
BEST: Candice Glover is crowned the winner
As I was making my predictions earlier today, my head was saying Kree, but my heart was saying Candice. I should have listened to my heart. Candice gave the most consistently excellent performances throughout the season, and gave not one but two genuine showstoppers — “I Who Have Nothing” and “Love Song.” She is an amazing singer who displayed true artistry and passion, and her perseverance in coming back for a third time this season shows true heart and determination. Though it was easier to imagine where Kree would fit into an existing musical landscape, Candice deserved to win, and I’m thrilled that she did.
WORST: Mariah Carey’s medley
All season long we’ve been reminded of what an icon Mariah is, and how she’s sold 8 gazillion records. She’s been positioned as the vocal authority to end all vocal authorities. So why couldn’t she sing live tonight? And why couldn’t she construct a medley that allowed her to sing any given song for more than 18 seconds? This performance did not show you in a #pow way, darling.
BEST: Jennifer Hudson and Candice Glover’s duet
Speaking of divas, Idol alum and Oscar winner Hudson effortlessly killed it tonight, proving, as she always does, that she has one of the very best voices in the whole freakin’ world. She looked great, and displayed incredible generosity in sharing the stage with Candice, especially considering she never got anywhere close to competing for the Idol finale herself. Although something tells me she’s doing alright.
WORST: Kree not getting a more exciting duet partner
Candice got to share the stage with one of the world’s best singers, Angie got two duets, and finalist Kree had to do a Keith Urban song? Boooooooooring.
BEST: Janelle Arthur’s duet with The Band Perry
If Janelle had performed like this all season, she might have been competing for the crown. She was sassy, sexy and sounded great. And props to The Band Perry for clearly working with Janelle on choreographing a number that showed everyone off in their best light.
WORST: Aretha Franklin’s wig
No more need be said.
BEST: Angie’s duets with Adam Lambert and Jessie J
Though it’s a shame we didn’t get to see her reprise her original song, Angie sounded amazing on both “Titanium” and “Domino,” and was adorably excited to be performing with her idol Jessie J. She also has never appeared so loose on the Idol stage. With a bit more maturing this girl is going to be a star.
WORST: Amber’s duet with Emeli Sande
No chemistry. A song we heard Candice sing last week. Amber got the short shrift here in a big way.
BEST: Randy Jackson’s goodbye
I could not be happier that Randy will finally be leaving the show, but as the only judge to have been on the panel all 12 seasons, he certainly deserved (and received) a respectful send-off. Remarkably, his goodbye words may be the most coherent he’s ever been.
WORST: Not enough Nicki Minaj
Whether you loved her or hated her this season (I loved her), Nicki was easily the most interesting and colorful things about the judging panel, but she barely had a presence in tonight’s finale. If the rumors are true that she’s not returning to the show next year, that’s an anticlimactic way for her to go.
And there it is folks…another season has come to a close. What did you think were the best and worst parts of the Idol finale? Let me know!
READ: Crowning a Winner and Accepting My Fate as a Hopeless American Idol Fanatic
READ: The Top 30 American Idol Performances of All Time — A Second Opinion
READ: Ranking the American Idol Winners Based Solely on Their Idol Performances