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American Idol

American Idol 2011 Finale Recap: America Loves Scotty McCreery This Big!

Tonight, Season 10 reached its obvious conclusion — the one we’ve all been marching toward for weeks — as Scotty McCreery was crowned the 2011 American Idol in a storm of confetti and kisses from Lauren Alaina. But before we found that out, we had a little over two hours of performances, reminiscing, and Tom Jones(!) to get through.

Judge fashion check, for the last time this season! Randy Jackson in a white jacket with a black shirt and bow tie with silver piping (it was weird), Jennifer Lopez in a bedazzled flesh-tone ensemble (it was fabulous), Steven Tyler all in white (it was, y’know, Steven).

After saying a quick hello to Lauren and Scotty, it was time for the Top 13! They performed Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” in snazzy white and silver outfits. It was entertaining, but Glee did it better a few weeks ago. It was nice to see everyone again, though, and Naima’s fierceness — which was in full effect — is always appreciated.

Next on stage was James Durbin, dressed all in black with lots of spikes and studs, performing with Judas Priest on “Breaking the Law.” James was clearly having the time of his life. There was serious pyro (we’d missed it!) and a standing ovation from the judges, and The Durbz happily soaked up all the love from the crowd.

Then came the first of three segments sort of “roasting” the judges. The first of the night was a tribute to Randy Jackson, which ended with a long, long, long sequence of clips of him saying people are “IN IT TO WIN IT!” Apparently everyone ever has at some point been IITWI (we should’ve adopted that acronym way earlier in the season, it would’ve saved us a lot of recapping time), in case you weren’t sure.

Lusky Stank! Next up, Jacob performed “I Smile” with gospel star Kirk Franklin (who looked quite dapper in a bow tie) and Gladys Knight. Just like James, Jacob seemed completely thrilled to be performing, and it was really nice to see. Aw, finale squishy feelings! It kind of felt like the last day of school; we suddenly loved everybody.

Credit: Ray Mickshaw/FOX    

Speaking of love, the next performance was an absolute riot: Growly Bear was back in the house, and he brought Jack Black with him! Casey and Jack performed Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls” in matching jacket-and-tie ensembles, and the performance was complete with dancing girls in skimpy neon outfits. Haha! We loved every minute of it.

After some slight awkwardness with Ryan stalling because things weren’t quite ready to go, out came the “ladies of Idol” on a Beyonce medley. All the girls looked gorgeous in red and black, but we have to give extra props to our Little Pony — Haley looked smokin’ hot in a little red dress and a single black garter. Also: Wow, we’d almost forgotten some of these gals existed! (Sorry, Ashthon.) Beyonce came out and joined the girls for “Crazy In Love,” and was every bit as fabulous as you’d figure she would be.

At this point, we realized Beyonce and Gaga were both in the house and started fantasizing about a performance of “Telephone,” but we were denied. Instead, it was time for Steven’s “roast,” which featured lots of clips of him saying crazy things, inappropriate things, and curse words. We’ve just gotta love him!

Credit: Michael Becker/FOX    

The next perfromer was the legendary Tony Bennett, who is 84 years old. Whoa. That’s 64 years older than Haley, with whom he sang “Steppin’ Out With My Baby.” It was terrific, and we know Tony’s a legend, but we would’ve liked for Haley to have a performance that allowed her to let loose a little more. Or else for her to sing the new single she recently recorded, like her parents had said she was going to do. Oh well. We’ll take our Idol girlfriend however we can get her!

The third and final judges’ “roast” was of J.Lo, and she didn’t really get mocked at all — it was just a segment about how much everyone (including lots of awkward auditioners) loves her. We’re going to take a wild guess than Jen might not have enjoyed jokes made at her expense.

The evening’s next performance sort of bummed us out. First of all because it began with Lil Jon (why?!), but mostly because it was the now two-member TLC (the third member, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, was killed in a car accident in 2002). The good news is, T-Boz and Chili looked and sounded incredible, and a number of the Idol girls seemed thrilled to share the stage with the remaining members of the iconic R&B group.

Next came Scotty’s turn for a duet, and his performance of “Live Like You Were Dying” with Tim McGraw was a definite high point of the night. Scotty’s rarely sounded better, and who doesn’t like Tim McGraw? If only that could be Scotty’s single, but alas, “I Love You This Big” is still going to be a thing.

A segment about bad auditioners allowed time for the stage to be reset for Marc Anthony’s performance, which featured showgirls with giant pink feathery fans, Sheila E, and our very own Jennifer Lopez in a skimpy white fringe outfit, committing to some serious, SERIOUS booty-shaking. If there was voting tonight, we’d vote for Jen... yowza!

The second-cutest filler segment of the night came in the form of a video in which the contestants talked about being eliminated, with James and Casey arguing over whether Casey’s almost-elimination in 11th place or James’ actual elimination in 4th place was the season’s most shocking. The argument ended abruptly when Pia sauntered up nonchalantly in a tiara and a sash that read “Most Shocking Elimination.” Hee!

Next up, the Idol guys performed a Tom Jones medley. You haven’t lived, we realized suddenly, until you’ve heard James Durbin singing “What’s New Pussycat.” (We especially like him tapping Casey on his “pussycat nose” while he sang.) The guys were joined by Jones himself, who sang “It’s Not Unusual” while Jack Black danced The Carlton in the audience (and we danced it on the couch). It was relatively awesome, but seriously... the girls get Beyonce, and the guys get Tom Jones?

After an overly cutesy Ford commercial remembering the season, there was a really cute bit in which Lauren and Scotty each got to invite their favorite teacher to the finale and then present them with the keys to a new Ford Focus. Yay, using the powers of product placement for good! Oh, and Lauren and Scotty each get a shiny new Ford, too.

Probably our favorite guest performance of the night came next, as Lady Gaga sang her new single “The Edge of Glory” in a studded black leather bikini and giant headdress while standing on a huge rock formation. Yes, it sounds insane. And it was, a little. But the song is incredible, it featured Mark Kanemura from from Season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance, and at the end they dove off a cliff together. Gaga ooh la la!

Credit: Michael Becker/FOX    

When Lauren showed up on stage next singing “Before He Cheats,” we knew it was inevitable that Carrie Underwood would be joining her. And sure enough, a few seconds later Carrie appeared, looking incredible as usual in white shorts and a silver top. While it was really sweet to see Lauren’s blatant joy at performing with her idol, we have to say it — Carrie was clearly holding back, and she was still obviously much better than Lauren.

Earlier we mentioned the night’s second-cutest filler segment — at this point came the first-cutest, which had the other Idols talking about how proud they were of Lauren and Scotty for making the Top 2, and then tons of jokes about how young they are. “They can’t vote, they can barely drive!” They can’t see an R-rated movie!” “They’re just learning cursive!” Very cute, very funny. We’d missed Casey’s great comic timing.

Beyonce again! Bey looked utterly gorgeous singing her new single, a torchy ballad which is apparently titled “One Plus One,” although the most frequently repeated lyric was “make love to me.” We doubt she’d really have to ask that many times, we’re just saying. She’s Beyonce, for crying out loud!

Next up, Bono and The Edge performed with Reeve Carney, the star of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Spoiler: Nobody died! Whew. The song itself was actually a little underwhelming, but Spidey swung from the rafters, which was fun, and ended up hanging upside down in front of Jennifer Lopez at the end. She tugged at his mask as if they were going to re-enact the famous kiss from the movie, but apparently Jennifer doesn’t want to make out with random stuntmen. Prude! Hee. (Were we the only ones hoping she’d pull the mask off and it’d be Casey? Unlikely, we know, but it would’ve been hilarious — she did enjoy his smooch earlier this season.)

Steven Tyler managed to secure himself tonight’s pimp spot, performing “Dream On” minus the rest of Aerosmith. He started on the piano and then proceeded to rock out on the classic track, which was Aerosmith’s first major hit, by the way. And in case you were wondering: Steven’s still got it.

Credit: Michael Becker/FOX    

And then... “It’s now time for the most important moment of our season,” Ryan said. (“Oh yeah, that’s right, we’re still waiting for results,” we said.) And there were our babyfaced Top 2, both looking nervous, with Lauren in a frilly yellow dress and Scotty in a gray suit.

The envelope, please! And the winner was... Scotty McCreery! Duh. Lauren kept it together incredibly well, so kudos to her. Scotty got swarmed by the other contestants for hugs, and by Lauren for a whole bunch of kisses. Like, a lot of kisses. We’re just saying! (Maybe Lauren took not winning so well because the winner is her boyyyyfriend! Ooh!) Ahem. We’re just kidding. We think.

After Scotty extricated himself from his fellow Idols, it was time for his musical victory lap, a reprise of “I Love You This Big.” Scotty blew off most of the first half of the song, half-singing a few lyrics as he made his way off the stage to hug his family in the front row. (Jack Black had his arms out for a hug and was denied, ha!) He finally made his way back to the stage, hugged his fellow finalists some more, and finished the song, as sparklers, confetti, and streamers rained down from the ceiling. In the last seconds of the broadcast, as the credits rolled, an emotional Scotty could be heard yelling “thank you so much!”

Well, that’s our show, kids. Congratulations to Scotty McCreery on his victory, to Lauren Alaina for an incredible achievement of her own, and to all of you readers out there for making it through this rather lengthy recap! Let’s do it again sometime, shall we?

So now we turn it over to you — did the right person win? Which performances tonight were your favorites? And are you already going through Idol withdrawals? Let us know in the comments!

05.26.2011 / 09:34 AM EDT by Tracy Fusaro
Related: American Idol, Recaps

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