And the real winner is ...
The fanatic female vote pulled through and pushed Lee DeWyze to an American Idol win.
I slowly converted to Team Lee but after the final performances, I really questioned if he would win because of his weak showing.
It looks like that didn't matter. Lee is America's (and especially teenage girls') Idol.
As far as Crystal Bowersox is concerned, I'm certain she has a great career ahead of her. Bowersox is a developed artist and plenty of labels will compete to sign her.
In some ways I'm glad it turned out this way because Crystal will move forward regardless, but without this win, I'm no so sure Lee would.
Lee's struggle this whole season has been his confidence. Hopefully with this win, he can put that fear behind him and work on believing in his talent and drawing his audience in.
Other highlights of the night included lots of tribute to Simon Cowell. American Idol royalty showed up to sing for him including Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia Barrino, Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard (to name a few).
Paula Abdul also showed up which just turned awkward. She stood up on the stage to pay tribute to Simon, but her jokes weren't funny and her thought process was disjointed at best. You couldn't help but be embarrassed for her. She tried to make fun of Simon but it was definitely obvious that she got more enjoyment out of it than anyone else.
"Is Simon a flirt?" Abdul asked, laughing at her own setup. "Yeah, if you're a mirror."
Abdul's line about her fictional love child with Simon was even worse. I breathed a sigh of relief when it ended.
Along with Simon tributes, celebrity after celebrity showed up. Crystal performed a duet with Alanis Morissette which was fabulous. Their voices blended beautifully. Lee DeWyze performed with Chicago — the band named after the city he's from. Other notables included Bret Michaels, Janet Jackson and Joe Cocker (I probably missed a few, there were many).
Larry Platt brought "Pants on the Ground" to the stage which was hilarious. Larry auditioned for American Idol and was of course turned away (he's 62 and the age limit is 28). Simon said after the performance he had "a horrible feeling that song could be a hit." He then told Larry he thought he would see him again and low and behold, he did at his farewell.
Larry came out on stage with a crew of backup dancers and it was awesome. That's something I'd pay to see. American Idol is great for discovering fabulous singers like Lee and Crystal, but all the unexpected discoveries along the way add a flavor to it that keeps America coming back and I'm glad this was featured in Simon's tribute.
See Larry Platt's original performance of "Pants on the Ground" below: