(Year-old spoiler alert: Please do not keep reading if you haven’t seen the Season 15 finale of “American Idol”)
“American Idol” crowned its would-be final victor last April when host Ryan Seacrest declared 25-year-old Trent Harmon from Mississippi the winner of Season 15.
Of course, now that ABC has closed its deal to broadcast “Idol” again, 2016’s finale on Fox suddenly seems… not so final.
Here’s a look-back on the final-not-final “Idol” finale:
The two-hours preceding, the 2016 finale paid tribute to the hugely successful 15-season run of the Fox singing competition show with dozens of performances and guest appearances.
Past winners, contestants and judges returned to the stage at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood both to perform and to say goodbye to one of the most influential TV shows in history.
The jam-packed, nostalgia-filled, emotional finale had no shortage of great and memorable moments, but here are the five best:
A tribute to Kelly Clarkson
Season 3’s Jennifer Hudson went on to win an Oscar, Katharine McPhee is currently starring on a network TV drama and Carrie Underwood is an undeniably huge country powerhouse, but the title of “American Idol’s” most successful alumni has to go to Season 1 victor Kelly Clarkson. The only winner to successfully crossover into pop stardom, Clarkson is the model to which all subsequent singing competition hopefuls aspired.
Though she could not attend the finale in person due to her pregnancy, the show allowed its first ever winner to take the stage with a flawless pre-taped performance.
The reunion of the “Three Divas”
During its 15-season run, “American Idol” showcased some of the best vocal talent to ever grace television. The series finale served as a great reminder of that, with dozens of performances from the show’s most notable alumni. But few could compare to the stunning rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Season 3’s “Three Divas,” LaToya London, Fantasia Barrino and Jennifer Hudson.
Season 4 champ Carrie Underwood has come a long way since winning the “Idol” crown, transforming herself into a true-blue country super star. Delivering the final performance before the season’s winner was announced, Underwood took the stage to perform a medley of her hits. A far cry from the shy contestant who auditioned for the show over 10 years ago, Underwood demonstrated a commanding and confident stage presence of a seasoned vet.
The return of Simon, Randy and Paula
Nostalgia was the theme of the night, with dozens of performances from “Idol” alums, but no moment proved as emotional as the reunion of the show’s original three judges, Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell. One could argue that “American Idol” owes its success to the strength of the trio, who served together on the show for the better part of a decade. To longtime fans of the show, Cowell calling Jackson, Abdul and Seacrest his “best friends” was surely a highlight.
Crowning the 15th and final winner
Though the night mainly looked back on “Idol’s” highly successful past, there was one bit of forward-facing business to take care of come the final minutes: Crowning the Season 15 champ. Trent Harmon beat out La’Porsha Renae to become the final American Idol, bringing tears to the eyes of the judges and audience.
Seeing the crowd cheer on an emotional Harmon as he launched into his final victory performance served as a memorable reminder of what made the show such a huge success in the first place.