‘American Idol’ Has a New Champion

Ryan Seacrest prepares to announce the Season 12 winner during the season 12 "American Idol" finale (Ray Mickshaw/FOX)

Spoiler alert: We have our new “American Idol,” and it’s a lady!

Oh but you already knew that. For the first time in six years, the confetti fell on a female contestant, and that contestant was Candice Glover!

In a season with few surprises, the breaking of the guy-with-guitar cycle had been predestined for the last six weeks when the last of the men was voted off. Actually, as Jordin Sparks pointed out during a very funny video, none of the top 5 guys played guitar to begin with, so basically, they were all screwed since day one. (Candice is also the first person of color to win since Jordin Sparks six years ago.)

Though Angie Miller dominated in social media popularity and appeared to be the front-runner since Hollywood, Candice Glover turned out consistently great performances week after week, and seemed like a major contender early on. With Angie out of the way, the crown was hers to take. Especially since her competition, Kree Harrison, didn’t really seem to want it.

So it was all very exciting, those last moments, but this is “Idol,” and the results don’t come easy. First, we had to get through two hours of celebrity appearances, group numbers and car commercials before we got to the goods. This is a long recap of a long show, so bear with me.

The show opens with a peak at Candice and Kree, both back in their comfort wear of blazers and loose tops, respectively. Immediately, the Top 12 emerges in all white outfits to sing “Glad You Came,” and it’s as wonderfully, nauseatingly cheerful as you think.

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We scan the audience. There’s Adam Lambert! There’s Taylor Hicks, in his one public appearance allotted to him per year! It’s the annals of “Idol” history right there in the Nokia theater.

The judges emerge, and I’m wondering—why does a disembodied voice introduce them and not Ryan Seacrest? Isn’t this his job? Then the voice introduces Ryan, even though we already saw Ryan says “This is ‘American Idol’” before the credits. This is all just occurring to me for the first time.

Ryan tries to chat up the girls but they can barely give him more than one syllable at a time. Candice apologizes and says they’re out of it, which is unfortunate, because she’s still got one hour and 56 minutes more of this to go.

The Band Perry is the first real-life recording artist cameo. They do “Done,” and are joined by Janelle Arthur. Janelle’s great, she’s loose, flipping her hair around, and fits right in with the band. I’m actually bummed she didn’t make it farther than fifth place. She’s way more into this stuff than Kree ever was.

The best “Idol” segment ever is a video about the five guys, and their suspicions about not winning this year. They reveal it was all because of sabotage by the girls. For instance, Candice stole Burnell Taylor’s lunch money to make him too hungry to perform, and Janelle changed the notes to “Close to You” on Lazaro Arbos’s sheet music. Ok, I find that actually hilarious. The video continues: Jordin Sparks was the mastermind behind it all because she’s lonely being the last girl winner. “The good news,” she tells the boys, “is that ‘Idol’ leftovers have been doing really well on ‘The Voice’!” Hahahahaha!

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The Top 5 guys perform a Four Seasons medley for what feels like an eternity, and are joined by Franki Valli. No, it’s not the guy who plays him in “Jersey Boys,” it’s really him. The guys are all in suits, and spin around their mic stands, and there’s a part during “Walk Like a Man” where they march in place and hop, just fyi. For some reason, those backup boys they’ve been using to sing with the girls on group numbers to mask the absence of male vocals are all there, still singing, still masking.

Mariah Carey then stands in place and waves her arms around violently as she moves her lips to no more than 10 seconds each of her hit songs, from “Vision of Love” to “#Beautiful” (ugh I HATE that I have to write it that way). Randy plays bass.

Amber Holcomb emerges to sing “Next to Me” with Emeli Sande, even though that was Candice’s song last week. It’s an adorable duet, and actually a lot more fun than Candice’s. But then, Candice is always glaring and looking like she wants to punch/aggressively hug someone, so maybe that’s why.

This week’s Fiesta mission as to choose your favorite past Fiesta mission. The video begins with Candice saying, “It was so fun being a Fiesta movement agent.” A what? Why is she doing corporate speak? Then their real final mission is to choose among everyone they know to come to the “Idol” finale and get a free car. Candice chooses her grandma, and Kree chooses some guy.

Psy is here. Way to go “Idol” on being six months behind the viral curve. His new song is called “Gentleman,” and consists of him repeating the words “gentleman,” “rehab” and “wet.” Wonder why no Idols are singing with him…

Keith Urban does a cutesy summer country song, “Little Bit of Everything,” and he’s actually so super adorable. Don’t go, Keith, don’t go.

Candice’s celebrity duet is with Jennifer Hudson. Now, I know Jennifer Hudson is black, used to be plus-size, and has a huge voice, but those things don’t make her a good match to sing with Candice, who is all of those things also, and yet she is nothing next to Jennifer Hudson. Hudson wiped the floor with Candice. I know it wasn’t intentional, but still, it was embarrassing. Candice basically wiped the floor with everyone else on this show, so maybe it’s nice to pair her with someone for once who is better than she is. But this was just crazy. They sang “Inseparable,” and I thought for sure Natalie Cole was gonna come out. Especially because I can’t imagine why Jennifer Hudson still keeps showing up here at “Idol,” the show that did not appreciate her fine talents so many years ago. So it was a surprise. Jennifer’s performance is one I’ll remember forever. Candice probably went in a hole and cried in the fetal position for at least a commercial break, though. No one should ever duet with Jennifer Hudson; it’s just not fair to them.

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Angie Miller’s surprise duet partner was…dun dun dun… Adam Lambert? Here I am feeling all bad for her, because she all but pleaded with the universe to send Jessie J her way, and she got Adam Lambert. They do “Titanium” with Angie on piano, and it’s really lovely. And wait! There’s Jessie J, whose onesie is missing its front. They pair up for “Domino” and you know Angie’s in heaven. At the end, Ryan asks Jessie for some good news, and she says she picked the name for her new single. Umm, ok. Ryan asks her for some MORE news. And it’s that Angie had to give up singing “You Set Me Free” so she could duet with Jessie J, so Jessie J wants to fly her out to the UK to sing her song in concert with her, OR to make a YouTube video together. Angie answers immediately that she will take the free trip to Britain. “Adam, great to see you, too,” Ryan finally says.

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A video montage roasts the judges, and the contestants make fun of Mariah never standing up because of her tight skirts; Keith only wearing tshirts; Randy Jackson saying the same thing over and over (Candice: “It feels special when he says it to you, but then when he says it to everyone after you it feels kind of stupid.”); and Nicki Minaj wearing wigs and having a huge butt.

Keith and Randy are back on stage with Kree to perform Keith’s song, “Where the Blacktop Ends.” Does this mean Nicki and Mariah are going to sing with Candice, because OMG amazing, please please please? And, no.

A video tribute to Randy Jackson features dogs sitting around a conference table barking. Then some archival footage of Randy and Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul to make me sniffle a little. It’s even a little sweet to see Kara DioGuardi for a second. Randy sounds like he’s talking into a box as he talks about what “Idol” meant to him. Back in the the-A-ter, he’s in the best pink floral jacket ever.

It gets weird from here on out. Aretha Franklin shows up via video feed from New York and tells us that a month ago she was there, but didn’t see Candice perform, but that Candice is a winner and that she (and Kree) have promising careers. Me and I think everyone is just sort of stunned and confused for a minute by what she’s talking about, but then Ryan fills us in. “You don’t have the results, do you?” Aretha actually says yes, she does. So, oh, ok, Candice wins. Well that takes care of that.

The girls find out that the audience can vote on more than their futures and what Carly Rae Jepsen wears. They’ve also voted on which Ford car they get. It’s an SUV, which makes Kree incredibly excited, because what else would she go shopping for comfort tops in?

We see another video montage, this time of people who have been kicked off of “Idol” this season, which is everyone but Kree and Candice. But we also get to revisit the great Kez Ban and the wonderful Zoanette, so it’s not all bad.

There’s more. Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull do her new single “Live it Up,” which requires a heck of a lot of dancing for poor JLo, who looks tired. When it’s over, she’s panting and sweating. It’s great. I know if I did what she did there, I’d be much worse off than that. But it’s so cool to be reminded that even someone like JLo has to catch her breath now and then.

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A final duet between the two girls is a revisit to that seminal Burt Bacharach/Hal David medley of “One Less Bell to Answer” and “A House is Not a Home.” Kree still has a problem duetting on these inane small group exercises, still refusing to turn toward her singing partner and act like she’s there at all.

Finally, a guy from Telescope, the same company that screwed up “The Voice”s votes last week, comes out to deliver Ryan the envelope. Do they really want to use that firm still? Anyway, Ryan teases it out as long as he can, till it’s time to tell us that Candice won. Well, that’s a relief, Kree is thinking.

Candice is a crying mess. But she can still cry-sing better than Angie. She fights her way through “I Am Beautiful,” confetti streamers and all, and marches on as our American Idol. Yay Candice! And that’s a wrap!

Thanks to all my readers for sticking it out with me this season. As predictable as much of the season was, it was also one of my favorites, and Candice was definitely my pick to win. I hope you enjoyed watching with me. I’ll be continuing to recap Season 4 of “The Voice.” But nothing can replace my beloved “American Idol.”

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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