In what many considered an upset, Lee DeWyze won the ninth season of American Idol on Wednesday night, beating out folk singer Crystal Bowersox in a night filled with star-studded performances and tearful goodbyes for departing judge Simon Cowell.
“This is amazing…I’ve never been happier in my life,” said a shocked DeWyze who was close to tears upon hearing the announcement. After all, it was a tight race leading up to the finals, with only two percent of America voting for DeWyze over Bowersox.
The Illinois native gave one of the most memorable performances of the season when he sang Hallelujah two weeks ago. But on Tuesday night, things seemed to fall apart. After his last Idol performance, the judges told DeWyze that he’d need to "punch harder" to beat out season-favorite, Bowersox.
Immediately after earning the Idol title, the crooner sang his first single, U2 ‘s Beautiful Day. But the night wasn’t just about who came out on top. It was also about the creator of the show that changed the face of American pop music.
There were heartfelt montages recounting Cowell's most absurd (and critical) moments and a surprise return by Paula Abdul who called Cowell a mentor. Before saying a few words, Simon was serenaded by some of the people he’s made popstars including Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Jordin Sparks, Fantasia and Ruben Studdard.
Later, Janet Jackson (sporting a short, cropped do) hit the stage with force singing Nasty and her latest single Nothing, while Christina Aguilera belted out a new song from her forthcoming album. Other star-studded performances trickled in throughout the night from the likes of Dane Cook, Alanis Morrisette and Alice Cooper.
Who will replace Cowell on the Idol-stage? Fox has yet to name a replacement, but let’s just say he better be a winner!