Scotty McCreery, a 17-year-old student from Garner, NC, was crowned Idol's tenth-season winner during Wednesday night's live finale broadcast on Fox. He is the fourth-straight male finalist to take home American Idol's title.
McCreery defeated Lauren Alaina, a 16-year-old student from Rossville, GA, after he received the larger portion of the "over 122 million" home viewer votes that were cast immediately following Tuesday night's live performance broadcast that saw McCreery and Alaina each sing three songs. The teens were the youngest matchup in Idol history to compete in the season finale.
"It's been a year since me and Lauren Alaina tried out now. Me and her have been together since Day 1 and we're going to stay together. This is just -- ever in my wildest dreams -- I gotta thank the Lord first because he got me here," McCreery said after American Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced his victory.
Although McCreery and Alaina both had minimal bottom-three finishes throughout the season and come across as neck-and-neck to many viewers, Alaina had been considered the frontrunner to take home the season's title based on the judges' reviews of their final performances on Tuesday night.
McCreery and Alaina each performed three times during Tuesday night's final tenth-season performance episode -- singing their favorite previous song from the season; a song selected for them by a country star; and a new song written for each finalist ("I Love You This Big" for McCreery, "Like My Mother Does" for Alaina) that would serve as the winner's debut single.
The judges offered their comments after the performers finished their second songs, and Idol judge Randy Jackson believed the first round went to McCreery, while the second round was Alaina's. Lopez agreed, however fellow judge Tyler expressed his belief that Alaina had won both rounds "because she's prettier." Jackson then claimed they were both "in it to win it."
The judges gave the third round to Alaina as well, but all three professionals still agreed that McCreery had been fantastic as usual after he performed "I Love You This Big."
"Wow, man. Let me tell you something. I'm just marveling in the fact that we got our two youngest finalists ever. They're both from the country genre, you're up there singing this song that really was -- [producer Jimmy Iovine] was finally right -- I'm not sure if it was the perfect song for you, but the range was great because you sang low and you sang the song really high," Jackson told McCreery following his third and final performance.
"That end note? I was like, 'Whoa!' Scotty, you are here. You're in it to win it. It is game time! And dude, you know what? I'm proud of you because you've grown doing this contest and that was a brilliant vocal."
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"It really was," Lopez added. "I've always said from the beginning that you are a storyteller. You're our great storyteller on this show, and that's what it takes. You have to do that when you're singing a song that nobody's ever heard before. I think you did an amazing job with that song -- a really amazing job with that song."
"Yeah. Scotty, man, you've come a long way. At the beginning, we were worried about your range, getting up there and not, but you proved it right here again. By that shot you took in that video [a previously shown clip of the contestants' behind-the-scenes Idol material], you proved that you can make a three-point shot from under the net. You've taken chances, you ran with it, and you've got it. You nailed it again," Tyler said.
All of Idol's Top 13 tenth-season finalists participated in the finale, singing Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" as a group. The Top 6 female finalists also performed a medley with singer Beyonce, while the Top 7 male finalists performed a variety of classics with Tom Jones.
The filler-filled broadcast included the tenth season's thirteenth-place finisher Ashthon Jones, twelfth-place finisher Karen Rodriguez, eleventh-place finisher Naima Adedapo, and tenth-place finisher Thia Megia performing with rapper Lil Jon -- who recently starred on The Celebrity Apprentice -- and the group TLC.
In additoin, the show featured fourth-place finisher James Durbin performing "Living After Midnight" with Judas Priest, fifth-place finisher Jacob Lusk singing "I Smile" with Kirk Franklin, sixth-place finisher and "The Judges' Save" recipient Casey Abrams performing Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" in a duet with Jack Black, third-place finisher Haley Reinhart singing "Steppin' Out with my Baby" in a duet alongside Tony Bennett, Alaina singing "Before He Cheats" with Underwood, and McCreery performing "Live Like You Were Dying" with Tim McGraw.
The broadcast also highlighted several more famous artists. Lopez danced while her husband Marc Anthony performed, Lady Gaga sang her "Edge of Glory" single, Beyonce performed a solo when she sang "One Plus One," Bono and The Edge sang "Rise Above," andTyler belted out "Dream On" without the rest of his Aerosmith bandmates.
In addition, the finale episode featured numerous video montages including a tribute to the judges and their "key phrases" of the season; Idol's "unsung heroes," a collection of entertaining but unsuccessful tenth-season auditioneers; a mock battle between the most shocking eliminees of the season -- "jazzy" double eliminee Abrams, "shocker rocker" Durbin, and "most shocking" ousted contestant of all, Pia Toscano; and messages to McCreery and Alaina from Idol's tenth-season previously eliminated contestants.
Viewers also saw a video montage in which McCreery and Alaina asked their favorite school teachers to attend the finale. During the live broadcast, the two finalists each handed of their teacher the keys to a brand new Ford Focus vehicle, after which McCreery and Alaina were also surprised with two 2012 Ford vehicles of their choice.
The finale broadcast concluded with McCreery singing "I Love You This Big."
According to Seacrest, the finale's vote total is a new all-time Idol record and nearly 750 million votes were cast during the season. However this season's revamp also included the addition of online voting, so direct comparisons to the vote totals of prior seasons are difficult.