Well, it seemed pretty obvious to us who would win tonight, but we still had to wait two hours to find out for sure whether it was early favorite Tessanne Chin, or if it would be an upset with Jacquie Lee (or an even bigger one with also-ran Will Champlin). 180 minutes later, Carson announced that Jamaican backup singer Tessanne Chin was indeed the Season 5 winner, with Jacquie coming in second and Will coming in third.
Leading up to the big announcement, we were treated to a barrage of live performances — some good and some less than stellar. We kicked things off with the whole Top 20 performing "Tonight is the Night". We're thinking that one could have used some more rehearsal, but hey... live television! Anything can happen (including mics not being turned on and lyrics being sort of just... insinuated).
The smaller "bring back" group performances were better. Jacquie chose to sing "Bohemian Rhapsody" with castoffs Matthew Schuler, James Wolpert, Caroline Pennell, and Cole Vosbury. The middle was definitely rough, but it was still fun despite the mistakes. Later, Will sang "Wagon Wheel" with Caroline, Cole, Austin Jenckes and Jonny Gray. Nice to see those guys again, but can we retire that song for a little while? Tess brought back James, Preston Pohl, Olivia Henken and Grey for a strong rendition of "Hold On (I'm Comin)" by Sam and Dave.
Our favorites were the star-studded duets. Tessanne got to perform with Celine Dion, which might have been enough of a win in itself. She was in tears when she found out she'd be paired with the legendary singer, and they sounded amazing together. The fact that Tess could stand shoulder to shoulder with the Quebecois superstar should be proof enough she's the winner. Jacquie, for her part, had an entertaining duet with Paramore, led by Hayley Williams. Rounding out the star-studded duets, Will sang "Wake Me Up" with Aloe Blacc. Credit to Will: he sounds great alongside just about everyone we've heard him sing with, and we'd download that duet in a heartbeat.
Add to all that performances by Lady Gaga and Christina and Celine Dion with Ne-Yo and it was a very full two hours! Finally we got to the reason for the evening: the announcement of the Season 5 champion: Tessanne Chin!
After learning she had won, Tess struggled through tears to perform her first single, penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder. Luckily she regained her composure and proved why America chose her as the winner.
What do you think of tonight's results?