Dozens of superstar celebrities and almost all of the former “American Idols” were on hand on Wednesday night as the FOX reality show crowned its Season 9 winner and judge Simon Cowell said goodbye to the show he launched and helped make a hit.
Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and last season’s winner, Kris Allen, were among the “American Idol” winners who saw Lee DeWyze beat out Crystal Bowersox for the title.
The Mount Prospect, Ill. singer actually dropped to his knees, unable to stand, just moments before show host Ryan Seacrest announced the news.
“Oh my God,” Lee gasped after learning the news. “This is amazing, thank you guys so much for everything… I can’t believe this… This is amazing. I love you.”
“I’m just happy man. I’m so happy right now. I’ve never been happier in my life,” he said before he sang one last time – a fitting song – U2’s “Beautiful Day,” which he will now release as a single.
Another recent reality show winner, Bret Michaels, who became “The Celebrity Apprentice” this past Sunday, was also on hand for the moment, having dueted earlier in the night with this season’s second-runner up, Texas cutie Casey James.
In addition to Casey’s duet with Bret – to Poison’s “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” - the Top 12 group dueted with a host of superstar singers. Aaron Kelly and Siobhan Magnus performed “How Deep Is Your Love” with the BeeGees, Michael Lynche was joined by Michael McDonald on “Takin’ It To The Streets,” Christina Aguilera joined the Top 6 female contestants on a medley of “Beautiful” and “Fighter” (before singing a new ballad from her upcoming album), and the Top 6 men were joined by Hall & Oates as they performed a medley of “I Can’t Go For That” and “Maneater.”
Crystal Bowersox got the chance to duet with the similar-sounding Alanis Morissette, an artist she had previously covered during the season. Crystal began signing “Ironic,” before the two sang “You Oughta Know” together. Lee’s superstar pairing found him performing alongside “Chicago,” the band named after the big city he grew up near, on a collection of the band’s classic hits.
Paula Abdul made a return to the “Idol” stage for the finale – to lead the emotional send off to her friend, departing British judge Simon Cowell.
“My darling Simon, I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years, hot cheerlearders, big movie stars, world famous recording artists, but if I’m being truly honest, none of them holds a candle to you my friend,” she said, choking up a little.
”‘American Idol’s’ not gonna be the same without you, but as only I can tell you, it will go on,” she said as Simon laughed and clapped, a reference to how life went on, on “Idol” without her.
All of the former “Idol” winners, with the exception of Season 7’s David Cook who was elsewhere (click HERE to find out where), hit the stage to lead a musical tribute to Simon. The group, led by original American Idol Kelly Clarkson, was joined by dozens of other past contestants made famous on “Idol’s” stage, including David Archuleta, Blake Lewis, Kimberley Caldwell, Justin Guarini and Ace Young. Like David, however, Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert, was also conspicuously absent. Click HERE to find out why.
There may have been a few faces missing, but the most emotional face in the crowd was definitely the man of the hour, Simon Cowell.
“I didn’t think I was gonna be this emotional, but I genuinely am,” Simon said
“The show goes forward,” he said, echoing the words Paula had to say earlier. “It will be different, but I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the support, the fun and your sense of humor — that’s what’s been the best part.
“Seeing these contestants back, that’s what made the show and you know what? The truth is, everyone asks who’s gonna replace me?…. Who’s gonna be the next judge? The truth is, you guys are the judge of this show and you’ve done an incredible job over the years,” Simon continued before turning Ryan. “And even you… I’m gonna honestly, honestly miss you… It’s been a blast.”
While the show featured plenty of stellar performances and memories of Simon, there was one moment that seemed to be unscripted.
During an original song consisting of Simon’s best insults, performed by comedian Dane Cook, the funnyman was joined on stage by a host of “Idol” rejects, one of whom decided to make the moment his own. Ian Bernardo grabbed the microphone off of Dane’s stand, a move which the comedian’s expression hinted was not supposed to happen. Ian then proceeded to take over.
“It’s all about Ian Bernardo,” the “Idol” reject screamed. “I wanna say I’m replacing you Simon Cowell because I’m more entertaining.”
Producers quickly cut the microphones as the camera panned away and the show cut to commercial.
General Larry Platt, who was cut in the audition rounds in Season 9 (not that he could have made it through anyways, as, well, he was way too old), also came back, performing his now infamous audition song, “Pants on the Ground,” with a hip-hop dance troupe. He too was joined by a star – Season 3’s most famous reject William Hung.