Lock the doors and turn the lights down low, America. The teenager with the baritone is your new Fox-crowned superstar.
After four months and ten million “in it to win it!” pronouncements from Randy Jackson, “American Idol” named Scotty McCreery as the winner of season 10. The 17-year-old topped fellow teenager Lauren Alaina in the finale, winning the most votes out of the 122 million-plus cast.
Once Ryan revealed the news — which came after the scheduled 10 p.m. finish, despite his promise to get the results out in time to avoid messing up DVRs — McCreery got mobbed by the rest of the finalists. He went down to hug his family during his coronation performance and then tried to catch some of the confetti on his tongue.
That was an appropriate finish to a season dominated by the new. From the two first-year judges to the lowering of the age limit for auditioners to 15 to the decision to advance less traditional contestants out of Hollywood, it was a year that tried to reset the “Idol” brand from the dour sarcasm of Simon Cowell to the more uplifting serenade that Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler offered every week.
Both the winner and the runner-up reflected the youth and vitality the show was looking to recapture (Tyler’s age notwithstanding). Judging by the season’s ratings, it succeeded. The two finalists don’t fit what usually winds up winning this competition, but both McCreery and Alaina should be fixtures in the country music scene for a long time to come.
Rating the duets
Continuing the tradition of recent “Idol” seasons, the top six finalists got to sing duets with some of their musical inspirations.
Two of the most interesting performances came from the guys. James Durbin fit in rather well with Judas Priest, though his outfit left a lot to be desired. His goal of bringing metal back to the radio is still a tall order, but he did nothing to hurt the cause on Wednesday.
Later in the show, Casey Abrams sang a duet with Jack Black. Could Black be auditioning Abrams for a berth in Tenacious D? The former contestant could join Black and Kyle Gass, and the trio could call themselves Tenacious 3. And if they do, I want a T-shirt.
(Or of course, it could have just been a way to get the “Kung Fu Panda” voice exposure to promote the release of the next installment in that series. But the folks at “Idol” would never do crass promotional tie-ins like that, would they?)
The “Idol” finalists themselves weren’t quite as memorable in their own numbers. Carrie Underwood was a natural pairing for Alaina, but did anyone really believe that the 16-year-old would know anything about shooting whiskey or bathroom cologne like the protagonist sings about in “Before He Cheats”? It also didn’t help that her voice sounded more hoarse than it did during Tuesday’s show, so perhaps the strained vocal cords were to blame.
As for McCreery, the problem was that Tim McGraw never seemed to be in sync with him, and the duet didn’t flow as well as anticipated. McCreery acquitted himself well, which is a good sign for his future prospects on country radio.
In addition, “Idol” brought in the usual group of legends to take the stage. Tony Bennett was back to sing a duet with Haley Reinhart, and Tom Jones performed with the male finalists. Among the other musical acts were Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Marc Anthony, Gladys Knight, Kirk Franklin, TLC, Bono and The Edge.
The latter two, along with Reeve Carney, performed a song from the Broadway disaster musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” Given the drama surrounding that production, it should count as a success that nothing fell onto any of the singers.
There were a ton of costumes to worry about, so the "Idol" crew was bound to misfire on a few of the outfits. But let’s just say there were some looks the singers would like to take back.
Thia Megia, for example. Her outfit for the “Born This Way” group act looked as though someone swiped it out of Bjork’s closet.
And Durbin looked like the newest Village Person when he was onstage with Judas Priest. To his credit, he eventually ditched the hat during the course of the song.
Next on ‘SNL’ ...
The taped comedy bits with the contestants were highlights during the season, and the two clips in the finale were no exception.
The first featured Abrams and Durbin arguing over the most shocking elimination of the year. Abrams, noting that “America must really hate me, because they eliminated me twice,” argued for his doctor-inducing exit that caused the judges to use their save. Durbin thought his own was more stunning, especially since Randy said he was in it to win it, which shows he doesn’t pay attention to anything the judge says to anyone else.
Then Pia Toscano walked up in a tiara with a “Most Shocking” sash and a tiara, ending the argument.
The second clip featured the others discussing how they felt about having two teenagers in the finale, and the hits just kept on coming.
“We have two sixth-graders in the competition, and they’re kicking everyone’s a--,” Stefano Langone said.
“They still have Similac on their breath,” Naima Adedapo added.
Maybe, but McCreery can buy a lot of mouthwash to cover up that baby formula now that he’s the “American Idol” champion.
Craig Berman is a frequent contributor to TODAY.com. Join him on Thursday, May 26, at 3:30 p.m. ET for a live chat to discuss the finale.