"Tonight it is the battle of the acoustic rocker versus the glam rocker. Conway versus California. 'The guy next door' versus 'the guyliner.' It comes down to Kris and Adam," American Idol host Ryan Seacrest teased before Allen, 23-year-old who currently resides in Conway, AR, and Lambert, a 26-year-old who currently resides in Los Angeles, CA, began performing.
Each finalist performed three times during the broadcast: once singing their favorite previous performance from the season; a second time performing a song selected for them by Idol creator Simon Fuller; and a third and final time singing "No Boundaries," a new song, co-written by Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, that will serve as the winner's debut single.
Beginning tonight at 8PM ET/PT, Idol's eighth-season champion will be crowned based on home viewer votes that were cast immediately following last night's episode.
However, last night Seacrest also warned viewers that despite having two hours to make a brief announcement, the finale is expected to -- similar to previous Idol finales -- run over its expected 10PM ET/PT conclusion.
"[The finale] is packed with so much great stuff that we're scheduled to go a little long," Seacrest said. "So I'm warning you now, if you're not going to watch it live... plan on it going a little long. Set your DVR appropriately."
The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the finale went down. Also included are comments from each of the four judges -- Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, and DioGuardi -- as well as additional information about each performance.
Performance Round 1 (Each finalist's favorite song from the season)
Jackson said: "This is it, we're down to the wire. I love that you're singing something that you sang during the season and I love that you're showing you sensitive side to come up here and start this great duel, dude. Right now, that performance, I loved the long coat, you're rocking the long coat, I loved the fog. I'm going to give an A+ on that one dude, an A for Adam!
DioGuardi said: "I am so happy that you chose that performance because from the first time you did that song I knew not only were you an extraordinary singer but you were an incredible artist and you changed the game up for every other contestant. [You] made them think about what they were going to sing and how to sing it in a way that they could compete with you. You rocked it again tonight!
Abdul said: "I just want to tell you how unbelievably proud I am that you are standing on that stage right now. It's unbelievable. Long journey. Adam, bask in it, this is your moment. This is a great song for you, I loved when you performed it [the first time] and you gave it a more subdued, introverted performance of it [now]. Still haunting, but right now you gave the theatrical taste of what we're going to be able to see [from you]. I thought you did a brilliant job. Way to start the show."
Cowell said: "I always thought this was your best performance throughout the shows. For some reason, maybe it was the coat, it was a little bit over theatrical. IT just reminded me of Phantom of the Opera. Look, I'm just saying that... you know what, it was the dry ice, the long coat, [having] Ryan at your side."
Jackson said: "What I love so much about you is that I can tell exactly what kind of artist you are, what kind of record you're going to make. And I think, me personally, I haven't heard the rest of the night [yet], but dude, you saved some of the best for last. That was one of your best performances ever on the stage!"
DioGuardi said: "I've gotta agree with Randy. If you can't feel a Kris Allen performance and he doesn't move you there's something wrong with you. You have a way of creating an intimate bond with everybody in the audience. You make us feel like you're singing it to us, and that is so hard to do and in incredible skill that you will kill on your album.
Abdul said: "Kris, you awaken the spirit in all of us and with your unique way of 'Allenizing' you trademark all over. Not only an inspirational song but every song that you sing, and that's the true marking of a great artist.
Cowell said: "Well, Kris, look, I think we just have to remember right now that this is a competition, right? I'm going to be honest with you, when your name was announced last week I wasn't sure whether America had made the right choice. I'm being honest. But I absolutely take all that back now after that performance.
Additional Round Notes: Jackson and DioGuardi both vocally disagreed with Cowell's comment that Lambert's performance had been "over theatrical." Cowell "scored" the first round for Allen.
Performance Round 2 (American Idol creator Simon Fuller's choice for each finalist)
Jackson said: "That song is an amazing, amazing R&B classic by the great Sam Cook. And let me tell you something man, you showed that the real reason you're here -- and I've been saying it since Day 1 when you walked in -- [is because] you can song your face off. That was unbelievable.
DioGuardi said: "Adam, that may have been your best performance and interpretation of a song from the beginning of this competition. The combination of the high notes and how you pulled it back and showed the emotion in the show, that's your winning combination, using both sides of yourself.
Abdul said: "Adam, that was the best I've ever heard you sing. Ever, ever, ever. Unbelievable. Not only that, [but] you looked like a superstar up there and whatever happens I'm in awe of your talent. Whatever happens with this Idol journey I know with every fiber of my being that you are going to be iconic. Yes you are.
Cowell said: "Paula's sitting on the fence a little on that one, I think. Adam, all I would say after that is you are 100% back in the game, congratulations."
Jackson said: "So you know what's crazy man, we're got ourselves a real-live duel competition going on here and I love it, right. Listen, it's a great song choice for this time that we're living in and what's going on in the world and stuff. My only thing is that it's a little bit light for this big old room and this point in the competition. I mean you sang it great, it was just a little light for me. Man I don't know, you know what I'm saying?"
DioGuardi said: "You know Kris, what I love about you is you've been true to yourself from Day 1 and you have not wavered. You have not tried to play to the competition and I like that Simon Fuller picked a socially conscious song for you because you're the kind of artist that can deliver that message and uplift people. Make them think make them feel, and make them change."
Abdul said: "Kris, I know what's going on -- you tore that song up and made Marvin Gaye proud!"
Cowell said: "Well I loved the song but if I'm being honest with you it was like three friends in their bedroom strumming along to Marvin Gaye. You did not, in my opinion, grab hold of the song [and] make it your version. And I thought it was too laid-back for a night like this, sorry.
Additional Round Notes: Jackson, DioGuardi, and Abdul all disagreed with Cowell's comments. Cowell "scored" the second round for Lambert by "a million percent."
Performance Round 3 (Each finalist singing the new DioGuardi co-written song that will be the winner's debut single)
Jackson said: "Listen, I said it before, I'll say it again. Dude, you can sing anything, you can sing the phonebook. But that was not one of my favorite Adam performances, it was just alright for me to be honest with you. It was a little pitchy in spots for me."
DioGuardi said: "Adam, I think I speak on behalf of my co-writers, Cathy Dennis and Mitch Allan. It is amazing when someone with your level of talent sings a song that we've written and I'm loved and I'm proud and I thank you for giving me that moment here at the end."
Abdul said: "Adam, adjectives can't express what you brought to this show, Season 8. It has been truly remarkable, I'm in awe. You can sing whatever you want to sing and I will be a fan forever, front in line."
Cowell said: "I'm not going to judge that song, I'm going to judge you. Over the entire season you have been one of the best, most original contestants we've ever had on the show. And the whole idea of doing a show like this is that you hope that you can find a worldwide star. I genuinely believe with all my heart that we have found that with you, congratulations."
Jackson said: "Let me just say this... you should be very proud of what you've done in this competition. I know that key was a little high -- you probably couldn't hear yourself well enough or whatever -- a little bit at the start of that. But let me tell you something, you are an amazing competitor, you're done amazing in this competition and I actually think, I was just saying to KAra, I actually think that song kind of fits your voice even better for me than Adam's so good luck baby."
DioGuardi said: Kris, I don't want you to be judged on that song, I do think it was too high. I want you to be judged on the fact that you are a compelling artist and you have been an incredible person to watch week-to-week. You've come into your own and I congratulate you for an incredible season. And I hope people vote [based] on the season!"
Abdul said: "Yeah, I think standing up there you should take it in, you've done an amazing job to end up where you are right now and I think that this has been one of the most compelling finales and final showdowns. I wish you the best of luck, you deserve where you are in that spotlight.
Cowell said: "Kris, look again, I think that your highlight tonight was the first song you sang, really. But I think watching you tonight on this stage has been incredible because I could remember your first auction where you came in no confidence [and] weren't sure how good you were. Your mom and dad's face tells me everything -- they're very, very proud of you, as they should be -- and you have thoroughly, thoroughly deserved to be standing on this stage tonight, congratulations."
Additional Round Notes: Cowell gave DioGuardi a hard time for the song's "the mountains and the hurricanes" lyrics before giving his feedback to Lambert's performance. "I know, I know," DioGuardi replied.