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'American Idol' crowns Candice Glover twelfth-season champ over Kree Harrison


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/17/2013 

American Idol has crowned a female singer its champion for the first time since the sixth season of the reality singing competition.

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Candice Glover, a 23-year-old from St. Helena Island, SC, was declared Idol's twelfth-season winner during Thursday night's live finale broadcast on Fox. She is the first female finalist to take home American Idol's title since Jordin Sparks in 2007. This season also marked the first time two women have faced off in an Idol finale since its third season.

"I can't even -- oh my God. Three years!" Candice said with tears streaming down her face upon her victory, referencing how this was actually the third time she had auditioned for American Idol.

Candice defeated Kree Harrison, a 22-year-old from Nashville, TN, after she received the majority of home viewer votes cast immediately following Wednesday night's performance broadcast which featured the Top 2 finalists each singing three songs. 

Candice joins original Idol champion Kelly Clarkson, second-season winner Ruben Studdard, third-season champ Fantasia Barrino, fourth-season winner Carrie Underwood, fifth-season champ Taylor Hicks, sixth-season winner Jordin Sparks, seventh-season champ David Cook, eighth-season winner Kris Allen, ninth-season champ Lee Dewyze, tenth-season winner Scotty McCreery, and eleventh-season champion Phillip Phillips as the recipient of a million-dollar recording contract.

On Wednesday night, Kree and Candice battled it out for America's vote. Round 1 -- which was themed "Idol creator Simon Fuller's choice" -- featured Candice performing "Chasing Pavements" by Adele, and Idol judge Randy Jackson made it clear he preferred Candice's performance over Kree's choice.   

"Listen, I must say I got to give the edge in Round 1 to Candice. At least she took the song and tried to make more of it. It had some interesting choices and [I liked] seeing more of her lower register because it's so rangey," Randy noted.

Round 2 featured each finalist singing the single that would be released if they were to win American Idol. Candice's song is entitled "I Am Beautiful," and Idol judge Nicki Minaj raved about the performance.

"I loved Candice's song because it makes so much sense for her to sing it... It's so meaningful. I love that song," Nicki said.

"It fits her like a glover," fellow judge Keith Urban joked.

Round 3 featured the ladies each singing their favorite song of the season. Candice sang a rendition of "I Who Have Nothing" and blew the judges away.

"You're such a powerhouse singer Candice. And that song, God, it's just like a planet exploding to life. It's amazing," Keith noted.

"I loved that performance... I think what comes across from you is superstar, commands the stage. And this is a big stage. This is a big place for you to perform in. And the fact you always walk on there and own it immediately, salute," Nicki said.

"This is how you do it! That's like the winning performance. You just shot this night to a whole other level, and that's what I've been waiting on because it's about singing, and baby, you got it all!" Randy exclaimed.

"It doesn't matter if we heard you sing this particular song every single night of this competition. What you have is the ability, the innate ability, to take any song and turn it into a vehicle for that amazing voice, that nobody can deny. You have an undeniable talent. It just surpasses what I could have ever even imagined I'd see here [on Idol]," Mariah explained.             

All of Idol's Top 10 twelfth-season finalists participated in Thursday night's finale, as they all opened the show as a group. Afterward, the Top 5 male finalists performed a medley with singer Frankie Valli, while the Top 5 female finalists performed a variety of classics with Aretha Franklin.

The filler-packed finale broadcast also included the twelfth season's fifth-place finisher Janelle Arthur performing "Done" with The Band Perry, fourth-place finisher Amber Holcomb performing "Next To Me" featuring Emeli Sande, Candice singing "Inseparable" in a duet with Jennifer Hudson, third-place finisher Angela "Angie" Miller performing "Titanium" with Adam Lambert and then "Domino" with Jessie J., Kree performing "Where the Black Top Ends" alongside Keith and Randy on guitar, and Kree and Candice singing one last duet together.

Several more famous artists were highlighted. Mariah sang a medley of some of her most memorable hits, leading into her new single "#Beautiful." PSY performed "Gentleman." Keith sang his new song "Little Bit Of Everything," and former Idol judge Jennifer Lopez returned and performed "Live it Up" with Pitbull.

During Thursday night's broadcast, a video montage was also shown re-living some of Randy's best moments on American Idol throughout its 12 seasons on the air. Randy, the only original judge remaining, shared some final words since he's leaving the show after this season. 

"Randy, I think I speak on behalf of a lot of people in America and our producers when I say the door is always open my brother," Idol host Ryan Seacrest told Randy.

"Yo, appreciate you, Ryan. Love all my fans. Love everybody that's worked on this show. Love, love you. And hopefully all these amazing contestants over 12 seasons -- I'm so blessed and so honored and so lucky -- hopefully I touched their lives a little bit. They certainly touched mine!" Randy replied.

Viewers also saw a video montage in which Kree and Candice asked their own personal music mentors from home to attend the finale. During the live broadcast, the two finalists each handed their mentors the keys to a brand new Fiesta vehicle, after which Kree and Candice were each given their own Ford vehicle selected by America.

American Idol's final twelfth-season episode concluded with Candice taking the stage and singing "I Am Beautiful," her new single.

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