Last night, after 15 years, the singing competition to beget all singing competitions came to an end. Who was crowned the final American Idol? Would it be La’ Porsha Renae or Trent Harmon? Viewers found out… after the break. Kidding! They found out after the 2 plus hours of jukebox karaoke with vaguely familiar faces, appearances by Idol judges past and present, and even a message from President Obama himself (because voting!) And also, many, many commercial breaks.
The finale was just as entertaining for those who hadn’t been watching the current season. The finale was more of a tribute to American Idol the show than American Idol: Season 15. Remember any of the finalists over the past 15 seasons? Good news! You probably saw them last night.
3500 people filled the Dolby Theater one last time and saw everything that made Idol great and not so great. The cheesy original group numbers (La’Porsha and Trent paid homage to original final two Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson by singing “It Takes Two”), awkward judge/ host banter (hey, Brian Duncleman was available!), and covers of your favorite songs.
While ratings have been on the decline over the past several years, last night’s hodgepodge musical spectacle gained 12.94 million viewers- the best ratings Idol‘s had since 2013. Plagued by falling ratings and a need for relevance, the show tried a revolving door of hosts (the one thing Ellen Degeneres, Steven Tyler and Nicki Minaj all have in common) before settling on Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban for the last 2 seasons.
Though the fans have dwindled and flocked to other singing shows like The Voice, American Idol is a television institution to which its contemporaries owe their existence to. Even if you weren’t a fan, you’ve probably seen at least some of American Idol, whether it be the stars who took off afterward or the plethora of viral videos spawned from early audition rounds.
The biggest stars of Idol also graced the stage. Kelly Clarkson performed a medley of her many hits. Carrie Underwood sang her 2014 “Something in the Water” and a duet with Keith Urban. Perhaps the most shocking moment of the night was when the infamous Simon Cowell joined fellow original hosts Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul on stage.
But all things must come to an end. As the show entered its final minutes, La’Porsha and Trent stood side by side with Seacrest, waiting for him to read the name. “Trent Harmon!” The crowd cheered. Trent and La’Porsha embraced. The final American Idol collected himself and give the final performance. The other contestants joined him on stage as confetti rained down on all of them. “Goodnight, America,” Seacrest said one last time.