There are few times when I was overwhelmed with emotional, feel-good nostalgia, but watching the very last live episode (ever!) of the iconic reality singing competition American Idol was one of them.
Viewers of the mostly no-frills live shows this season were rewarded for their patience as the finale was souped-up with all the trappings and spectacle of the Grammys. Past contestants, both famous and forgotten, returned to croon and capture our hearts again with their voices and the stories we remembered them for.
Below: I don't know about you, but I felt a lot of nostalgia listening to this set.
As I watched and was reminded of all the years this show has been on, I was shocked to learn that Idol has actually been a bigger part of my life than I realized.
The last season I watched was the year Scotty McCreery took home the title, yet I somehow remembered watching Ellen Degeneres as a judge, Katy Perry having a spat about "girl power" with Kara DioGuardi, Steven Tyler making a limerick about @#$%-ing a duck, and the time Jennifer Hudson and Daughtry went home unexpectedly. In terms of winners, raspy, silver-haired Taylor Hicks was not my pick, yet he somehow ended up taking home the title, David Archuleta almost beat my man David Cook, and Adam Lambert got robbed by Kris Allen. Sanjaya, William Hung, and "Pants on the Ground" became hits for being, well, both catchy and terrible, and we got a chance to relive those moments during the final broadcast, which was heartwarming, in an odd way.
Below: re-watch Sanjaya's best moment on the show and how J-Lo swooned at his pick of "Besame Mucho."
And then there were Simon, Paula, and Randy. When Paula and Randy came out to announce Simon couldn't be there, the cantankerous Brit himself emerged from the shadows surprising everyone. It was nice to see him again, especially with the original cast (minus the awkward season one co-host Brian Dunkleman who ended up an audience member after his squirm-inducing opening "comedy" act). Simon had (almost) nothing but nice things to say to everyone, and I now feel glad that he'll be replacing Howard Stern on America's Got Talent this season because for some reason, I kind of missed him.
An emotional Ryan Seacrest was gifted with a large, American Idol sign as a souvenir and each of the current judges performed a song for the show, which completed the show by showcasing their involvement.
Below: J. Lo performs a Grammy-worthy set of her greatest hits.
And then of course the end of the night culminated in the nail-biting seconds between the final two contestants and the mystery as to who would ultimately be crowned the last American Idol. Either La'porsha or Trent would be the bookend to Kelly Clarkson.
Below: And the winner is —
The happiness I felt at seeing Trent win was so rewarding and the perfect end to a series that re-programmed television for a generation. I noticed Trent for the first time during Hollywood week, and he impressed me with his ability to perform while suffering from mono. He stole my heart with his sensitivity, heartfelt performances, and the effort he put into improving week after week. He deserved to win!
Congratulations Trent, and congratulations American Idol for fifteen years as a landmark television show! We'll miss you!