In addition to crowning a winner, Caleb Johnson, in the last three minutes of its two-hour time slot, the Season 13 finale of "American Idol" had a lot of other business to attend to, namely, welcoming a host of performers onto its stage, in many cases for both solo performances and to duet with this season's returning Top 13 singers.
"So many epic surprises," Ryan Seacrest, wearing a black tuxedo this time around, promised at the show's outset.
Seacrest probably wasn't talking about the fact that Harry Connick Jr. (also in a tux that was black, but velvety), who had remained glued to his seat all season, finally felt it was fitting to rise to his feet when the mood struck him. "The competition is officially over," Connick explained. "I can now stand up."
Here are a few other highlights -- some surprising, some merely memorable -- from Wednesday night's "American Idol" finale:
-- Phillip Phillips back on the "Idol" stage, doing his crazy-legged, crazy-eyed thing on his song "Raging Fire," while Sam Woolf strummed along, looking a little overwhelmed.
-- Jessica Meuse sounding great but appearing as reluctant as ever to move around onstage while performing "Wrecking Ball" with Jennifer Nettles.
-- Jane Lynch (yes, Sue Sylvester) from "Glee," also on Fox, in the audience. In the audience as well: "Idol" Season 10 alumni Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart.
-- Randy Jackson's hot-pink jacket.
-- Jennifer Lopez, still carrying off clothes like that and dancing like that at age 44, after two kids.
-- Johnson's little brother, Houston, sporting a Paul Stanley makeup star (and, unlike during his previous "Idol" appearance, he had on pants), coming onstage to embrace the members of KISS, his heroes, who had just performed with his bro.
-- A "Bad Lip Reading" treatment of "American Idol," which featured judge Keith Urban saying, in a helium-high voice: "There's a tutu and its, um, I tickled the florist and her horse, and you know how, like, there's a trail of corn and … you don't really want a robot for the train."
-- Seacrest, gushing like a teenybopper after Paramore performed with Jena Irene amidst a flurry of big yellow balloons: "Oh my gosh, we are having you back every night -- that was so fun!"
-- Alex Preston, performing with his idol Jason Mraz and reminding us why we liked him so much all season long.
-- Seacrest singing (for lack of a better word) "Right Here Waiting for You" with Richard Marx, the musician he saw at his very first concert as a kid. Now we know why we've never heard the "Idol" host sing (or whatever that was) before. But he was brave to give it a shot. And when he thanked Marx for providing him with his first concert, Marx replied deadpan: "Glad it wasn't Bryan Adams."
-- A "poker face" montage of Connick sitting stone-faced through performances -- looking even a little dyspeptic -- as Lopez and Urban jumped around in ecstatic appreciation.
-- The three judges and Jackson kicking out with "True Colors" and "Go Your Own Way," like some kind of "Idol" supergroup.
-- The genuine display of friendship between Johnson and Irene before the results were read. "You da bomb," she said. "No, you da bomb," he countered. It was also kind of them to reassure us, prior to Seacrest dropping da bomb about which of them had won, that, no matter what happened, they would still go together to Irene's high school prom.
Oh, and Aloe Blacc, Demi Lovato, John Legend, Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum also performed.
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