By now, you’ve surely read the news that Asheville, North Carolina, native Caleb Johnson was crowned winner of American Idol‘s 13th season. The top two finalists, Caleb and Jena Irene, had a good, old-fashioned sing-off Tuesday night with the results of America’s final vote announced last night (May 21).
In addition to learning the identity of the winner, the episode was packed with songs from guest performers including Jennifer Nettles, Phillip Phillips, Kiss, Aloe Blacc, Demi Lovato, Paramore, John Legend, Jason Mraz, Richard Marx, Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum. Not to be left out, judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban also got on stage to perform together. Former host and mentor, Randy Jackson also joined in on the fun. Heck, host Ryan Seacrest even did his best to sing a tune.
The show opens with Jena and Caleb stepping to the stage and Caleb delivering a rousing rendition of “We Will Rock You” from Queen. From there, Jena takes over with “Just A Girl” from No Doubt. The two finally meet in the middle of the stage to duet “It’s Only Love” from Ryan Adams.
The judges arrive, JLo in the first of many sparkly mini-dresses she will wear throughout the course of the evening. Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban look formal in tuxedoes, as does Seacrest. In fact, I’m pretty sure Harry’s dressed in velvet, which is a bold move.
For the first guest performance, top ten finalist Sam Woolf takes to the stage to sing Phillip Phillips’ “Home.” When he’s done, Phillip takes over with “Raging Fire,” complete with pyrotechnics. Next is Jennifer Nettles singing “That Girl” in embroidered black velvet pants and smoke billowing on the stage. Then, she’s joined by this season’s finalist, Jessica Meuse for a duet of Miley Cyrus‘ “Wrecking Ball.”
Now, it’s time for JLo to do her thing, which is lots of sexy silhouetting. This woman knows her way around a wind machine and some sparkly fringe. Hair whips abound! Playing to her strengths, she stops the song for a fast-paced dance interlude that closes the performance.
Caleb returns to the stage for a performance of “Love Gun” and “Shout it Out Loud” with Kiss. He totally rocks out with them and his brother gets a chance to meet his favorite band. There’s lots of face paint and good times.
In an attempt to interject some humor into the episode, we are treated to a bad lip reading of American Idol. It’s mercifully short.
Aloe Blacc & The Idol Guys then perform Blacc’s song, “The Man,” and he’s briefly joined by this season’s contestants Caleb, Sam, Dexter Roberts, Alex Preston, C.J. Harris and Ben Briley.
A montage gag about the contestants having complicated riders leads into them learning that they each won 2015 Ford Mustangs. The blatant Ford commercial continues with Jena talking about her mentor, her choir director. Caleb cites his guitarist. Each mentor gets an invitation to the finale “on behalf of Ford” and they learn they are getting 2015 Ford Fusions. I’m still waiting for Oprah to show up and give everybody cars.
Demi Lovato has returned to Idol to sing her songs “Don’t Really Care” and “Neon Lights.” For the second song, she’s joined by former contestants Majesty Rose, Emily Piriz, Jessica Meuse, Kristen O’Conner, my girl Malaya Watson and finally, Jena. Jennifer’s super into it and I can’t get enough of Harry’s awkward dancing.
Jena Irene takes to the piano for a performance of “Decode” with Paramore. “Ain’t it Fun” It ends with giant yellow balloons everywhere and generally looks like a lot of fun.
John Legend is the next performer, doing a rendition of his single “You & I” which transitions into “All Of Me.” He’s joined by Malaya, who looks and sounds great. Her braces are finally off and she can’t stop smiling.
A reminder montage poses the following question: Remember when we flew a bunch of people to Hollywood to make them sing in an airport hangar only to send them back hours later? Jerks.
Alex Preston and Jason Mraz sing Jason’s song, “Love Someone.” They sound lovely together, I have to say.
Somehow, Ryan was coerced into singing “Right Here Waiting For You” by Richard Marx. It’s delightfully off-key and he does it with such conviction, I have to give it to him. From there, it segues into the real Richard Marx at the piano taking over for Ryan.
Darius Rucker takes center stage to perform his song “True Believers” and is joined by Dexter and C.J. for “Alright.” They make quite a trio together. Afterwards, Lady Antebellum takes to the stage for “Bartender.”After the song, Ryan quizzes the finalists’ parents just before the big reveal of the night. The excitement is clearly building.
Now it’s time for the judges to perform together. Randy, Harry, Keith and Jennifer all take to the stage for a combo performance. Of course, Jennifer has on yet another beautiful sparkly dress, sitting atop Harry’s piano with Keith on guitar and Randy on bass. They start with”True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper and segue into “You Can Go Your Own Way” from Fleetwood Mac.
Finally, the results are about to revealed. We find out that Caleb’s definitely going to Jena’s prom as her date, which is quite adorable. After that, the golden envelope is presented to Ryan to read aloud. The lights dim, Ryan opens the envelope and it’s Caleb who won the whole thing. Jena graciously embraces her prom date in a big hug. He seems totally blown away. Congratulations to Caleb!
To celebrate, Caleb gets ready to belt out a song, but is overwhelmed and opts instead for a group hug from his fellow contestants. Finally, Caleb finds his voice to perform his single, “As Long As You Love Me.” And with that, the confetti rains down from above.
‘Til next season, which I’m confident will be here before we know it. Adios for now!
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