"American Idol" 2013 Finale: And the winner is...


And finally, the finale. The show opened with the Top 10 all dressed in white, lipsynching to “Glad You Came” by The Wanted. I honestly barely remembered that Devin and Paul existed. And Curtis Finch Jr. is seriously the worst lip syncher. It’s just so weird that this is a singing competition, and the finalists were paraded around lip synching in multiple cheesy "performance" numbers.

The rumor has it that the show will undergo a massive overhauling next season, with everyone but Ryan Seacrest gone, including several of the producers. Something really does need to be done. I think this season ended up being interesting -- I mean, the Lazaro arc and the all-female Final 5 were oddly compelling. And we certainly had a very talented Final 3/4. But the show overall has become so stale and lame. There is literally nothing cool about “Idol” anymore. The ratings are down something like 25 percent from last season. It’s a mess.

Frankly, I’d even get rid of Seacrest. He’s toned down his more obnoxious qualities this season, I’ll grant you, but he’s on autopilot. As evidenced when he tried to do a little banter with our finalists, Kree Harrison and Candice Glover. He lobbed a few softballs at them, but neither girl was taking the bait and the whole thing felt forced and uncomfortable. Candice and Kree were likely done with jumping through hoops, but that falls on Ryan for letting that segment just die on the vine.

The first performance of the night came from The Band Perry, which came out for a high-energy number that I quite liked. They were eventually joined by Janelle Arthur, who is a much better fit for this band’s music than fellow country contestant Kree. This bordered on rock and, at one point, jazzercise. It was over the top and ridiculous but I dug it. Janelle got completely lost both in terms of the performance and the vocal.

And then a package on the “conspiracy” about how all the guys all went home first this year. This is a theory that was actually floated, seriously, by Lazaro after his ouster. So I actually think it was pretty smart of the show to take advantage of it by doing this bit where the girls sabotaged the guys one by one. So, Kree convinced Curtis to wear his terrible jacket, and Janelle was the reason Lazaro sang offkey. The “mastermind” ended up being the last female winner of this show, Jordin Sparks, who got in a couple good shots: the guys were easy to take out since none of them played guitar, and “Idol” castoffs have been doing well on “The Voice.” That was a surprisingly self-effacing segment for “Idol.”

The boys came out to sing Four Seasons medley, which again appeared to be prerecorded. Frankie Valli joined them, singing quite well for a guy who is nearly 80. And seriously, if you want an indication of the current demographic of this show, there you go. This segment went on seemingly forever. Like, the entire song “Grease is the Word” was performed. Of all the Four Seasons songs, you sing THAT in its entirety?

And then, confusion: Mariah Carey appeared on the stage. But at first I thought it was clips from a previous performance. Because the whole thing was crazy disjointed, the background kept shifting, and she kept doing fast-forwarded bits of her various hit songs. Except, that WAS her performance. But I think Mariah was lipsynching, too. The lips sure as hell did not seem to be lining up with the lyrics. And yet, the mic was obviously live, and she fiddled with her ear monitor toward the end. I don’t know. Regardless, she looked incredibly uncomfortable. I don’t understand. Say whatever else you want, but Mariah is a freaking legend. She should not in any way feel nervous about singing on “American Idol.” She ended the set with her new song, “#beautiful.” (Yes, the hashtag is part of the title.) I really dig that track. But the segment as a whole felt very weird to me, much like Mariah’s tenure on this judging panel. No T, no shade, but I hope Mariah does not return next season. I cannot imagine that she will.

This show’s baffling fixation on Emeli Sande continued with Amber Holcomb singing “Next to Me” along with Sande herself. We seriously just heard Candice sing this song last week. Frankly neither Amber nor Emeli came off well here. Compared to The Band Perry performance earlier it seemed sloppy and poorly rehearsed, and very light on content. They even had a full back-up choir which seemed to be there solely for “woo-hoo.” I couldn’t understand a goddamned word Amber was singing, and that’s not usually a problem with her. After the number petered to an end Ryan announced that Emeli’s album is out now. Someone involved with this show HAS to be financially involved with this girl. I am more convinced than ever.

And then…PSY?! What? Did I fall into a timewarp and arrive back in October 2012? PSY performed his new song, “Gentlemen,” which is basically the exact same song as his first one. And while watching his performance I realized that he is essentially the 21st century version of Robert Palmer, but minus any musical ability whatsoever. The whole thing was so tacky and already felt outdated. PSY was a novelty act half a year ago. You do not trot out a novelty act after it is no longer a novelty. This show is so done it has become a parody of itself.

Not wanting to be left out, judge Keith Urban then took the stage. I think Keith performed on this show no less than a month ago. (Sidebar: did Nicki Minaj perform on the show even ONCE this season?) At least he actually appeared to be singing live. What a concept! I really came around on Keith over the course of the season. I thought he was terrible during the initial auditions, but once we got to the Top 10 he became one of only two members of the panel (the other being Nicki) who regularly had anything of worth to contribute. I wouldn’t be upset if he came back next season, but I think the show needs to clean house completely.

And then finally, almost an hour into the show, we got a performance from one of the two people still in the competition, as Candice sang “Inseperable.” I typically hate it when the judges mention the contestants’ clothes and styling, but why is Candice always dressed so casually? This is the finale. I want glamour! Anyway, Candice was joined by S3 contestant Jennifer Hudson, still looking great. The two of them were fantastic on this song, although they had zero chemistry. When they hit the key change I totally did the gay finger wag from my couch. And I loved the quieter moments toward the end. That was lovely. Almost made up for PSY.

Then third-place finisher Angie Miller took on “Titanium” at the piano, along with S8 runner-up Adam Lambert. These two sounded terrific together with some lovely harmonies. Weirdly, Angie kind of outsang Lambert on this, and I was not expecting that at all. It was all a bit melodramatic, but, well…look who we’re working with here.

And then, Jessie J! I love her. She is apparently bald now? That was new. She sang “Domino” along with Angie (so that’s two duets for Angie thus far, and she’s not even a finalist; wonder who the show wanted to make it to tonight?). Anyway, I loved this. I love the song to begin with, I really dig Jessie, and they were both having a ton of fun up on the stage. It did kind of devolve into a drunken karaoke night, but I don’t even care. I enjoyed myself. Personally I would love to see Jessie on the judging panel of this show -- she’s on “The Voice” in the UK. And then there was an interesting bit, where we found out Angie had to give up singing her single on the show in order for Jessie to perform. So Jessie asked Angie to fly to England to sing the song in concert with her, put it on YouTube, etc. Again: is anyone getting the feeling that Angie is kind of coming out the winner tonight, despite being eliminated last week?

After the break, we got a segment on the judges and a vague reference to the media scrutiny of the Mariah/Nicki dynamic that was ultimately pointless. Mariah was parodied for her super-tight skirts, her “dahlings,” and her general inability to speak actual words. Did you know that Keith likes to wear t-shirts? Lord… Randy Jackson was called out for being obnoxious and totally repetitive and nonsensical. Yeah, we got that memo 10 seasons ago. Nicki Minaj’s wigs, nasal tone, and her no-holds-barred comments were brought up. All true, and all reasons that I loved Nicki. I’m sad to hear she will likely NOT be back.

Then Kree finally got to come out to sing a song with Keith Urban backing her on guitar and Randy Jackson on bass. I guess it was called “Where the Blacktop Ends”? After the past few performances we really got a sense of how weak Kree’s vocals are compared to Angie and Candice. I do like Kree, and I think she’s very marketable, but that was not a particularly good vocal, and it surely wasn’t strong -- she was getting overplayed by Keith’s guitar and even the drums.

BLESSINGS: a farewell salute to Randy Jackson. That means it’s officially over. It has been far too long. Goodbye, Randy. Now…how can we miss you when you won’t go away?

And then Aretha Franklin! Yes, hunties! Coming in to us via satellite from New York. She sang with the Top 5 girls on a medley led by “Natural Woman” and “Respect.” Aretha can still sing (but again: a clear sign of this show’s primary demographic). The “Idol” girls were almost totally lost in this segment -- the camera kept cutting back to the studio where ReRe was performing back in New York. But can Nicki Minaj please give Aretha a call and give her some tips for her wig game? Because that thing on her head was not becoming of the Queen of Soul. Aretha deserves better!

So auditions for Season 13 start in July. That means we should be finding out about the new judging panel in the very near future, no?

The season recap gave us a few precious, beautiful moments of our goddess Zoanette. I still treasure her.

And then freaking Jennifer Lopez, with Pitbull performing her new single, “Live It Up.” We cannot escape the Jennifer Lopez self-promotion machine. Dear Pitbull: find pants with better lining, because I could see your underpants. On a related note, call me. There was a weird goddess/Olympic-ring thing going on here. I like several of Lopez’s recent dance hits, but this was crap. And the performance went on forever. Do you think Pitbull was lipsynching there? The mic was so close to his mouth, and we never saw his lips moving. That’s like the absolute nadir of performing. You can’t even stand on stage and speak live.

At 9:58 p.m. the Final 2 took the stage. I assumed it was to announce the winner, but no, it was to sing a sad duet about men (oh, show...). On the plus side, Candice looked STUNNING. And they both sounded really good.

Finally, at 10:01 p.m. the results were handed over. I was a bit torn here. Candice is clearly the superior singer. But Kree is the one likely to benefit the most from winning this show -- country is super marketable. But my gut and my heart was with Candice.

And the winner of “American Idol” Season 12 is: CANDICE GLOVER! Yay, Candice! I really think she’s a gifted vocalist and has performed astonishingly well over the course of this season. I expect that Kree will end up having a significant career in country music, and I would put money on Angie Miller breaking through into the mainstream as well. I worry about Candice’s post-show career, especially since I don’t think her coronation single is particularly strong. But I believe in her, and I want only the best for her. Go Candice!