Candice Glover won the 12th season of "American Idol" Thursday night. Kree Harrison was the runner-up.
Candice, 23, is a former excursions coordinator from South Carolina. This was the R&B singer's third time auditioning for "Idol."
When asked how she felt after winning the title, Candice simply said, "Three years." She closed the finale by performing her first single, empowerment anthem "I Am Beautiful."
Did she deserve to win? Absolutely. Country singer Kree was a strong contender, but Candice was arguably a frontrunner since the season's early stages.
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She delivered powerful, emotional performances packed with big notes. Heck, I even rooted for her last season. Not to sound like Nicki Minaj, but I'm still obsessed with Candice's group performance from season 11.
Thursday's two-hour finale ran seven minutes overtime and ended a season surrounded by criticism. Major changes are likely on the way for "Idol," and Candice's marketability will probably play a major role in future perceptions of the show's contemporary relevance.
Overall, Thursday's finale was pretty entertaining. My top moments: Angie Miller's duets with Adam Lambert/Jessie J, Candice's duet with Jennifer Hudson and Aretha Franklin's video appearance.
Want more "Idol" news? Listen to me talk about the show Friday at 7:15 a.m. EST on 103.7 Lite FM. Click here to listen online. I'll also live-tweet Candice and Kree's conference calls with reporters Friday afternoon. Follow me on Twitter: @ssorich
Here's a full recap of Thursday's show
The show kicks off with the top 10 contestants performing "Glad You Came." It reminds me how much I've missed Lazaro Arbos' compelling vocals. NOT.
Finalist Janelle Arthur joins The Band Perry for a performance of "Done." It's fairly enjoyable and I appreciate the excessive hair flipping. Remember, The Band Perry plays in Columbus June 22.
In a pre-taped segment, the male finalists "joke" about producer sabotage to ensure a female champion. Too bad this isn't entirely a joke. In interviews, Curtis Finch Jr. and Lazaro Arbos have hinted at conspiracy theories. Jordin Sparks makes a cameo in the segment and jokes that she engineered the whole sabotage. She takes a hit at "The Voice," telling the eliminated male singers that "Idol" also-rans "have been doing really well on 'The Voice.'" Ouch?
The male finalists perform a Four Seasons medley...and are joined by Frankie Valli on stage. Yep, this is doing wonders for the show's contemporary appeal.
Mariah Carey sings a medley of hits, including "Vision of Love," "Make It Happen," "My All," "Hero," "We Belong Together" and "#Beautiful." Fun fact: This performance was reportedly pre-taped. Randy Jackson joined her on bass.
This isn't the first time we've heard "Vision of Love" on an "Idol" finale. Remember this?
Finalist Amber Holcomb duets with Emeli Sandé on "Next To Me." It's fair to assume Amber wasn't too thrilled with how the finale turned out.
Here's some footage of the "Idol" top two surprising their "hometown mentors" with tickets to the finale. Candice chooses her grandma, while Kree chooses her brother figure. Surprise! They also get cars.
On a less inspiring note, PSY takes the stage and performs "Gentleman." Did the judges really give him a standing ovation? Yes they did.
Keith Urban performs "Little Bit of Everything." Then, Candice Glover sings "Inseparable." Jennifer Hudson joins her on stage. AMAZING. Now this is a performance that deserves its standing ovation from the judges.
Angie Miller sits at the piano and sings "Titanium." Adam Lambert joins her for the performance. It's intense and theatrical and I love it. But Angie isn't done. After "Titanium," she performs "Domino" with her idol, Jessie J -- who invites Angie to the UK so they can sing Angie's original song together. Wow. Angie's performances are definitely my favorite part of the show so far. I hope we hear more from her after "Idol."
On another note, is anyone else surprised Jessie J didn't have a wardrobe malfunction?
Time for a pre-taped segment with the finalists spoofing the judges. Why didn't they make fun of Mariah's obsession with hashtag pow?
Kree Harrison sings "Where the Blacktop Ends" while joined by Keith Urban and Randy Jackson and bass. And for a slightly random touch, Travis Barker joins them on drums.
YIKES. Randy's pink floral print jacket is outrageous -- and so is this pre-taped segment bidding him farewell. Evidence the producers no longer care about Randy: His goodbye tape is set against the musical backdrop of Daniel Powter's "Bad Day." Perhaps that also means Randy should've left the show in 2005.
Seacrest tells Randy "the door is always open." Not sure if I agree.
Here's Aretha Franklin, on tape from New York because she doesn't like to fly. Now, it's time for an Aretha medley. The top five women sing on the "Idol" stage while Aretha sings on tape from New York. This idea probably sounded a lot better on paper. Still, I love Aretha. Standing ovation from the judges.
Another quick promo for next season's auditions. Remember, they'll be in Atlanta July 26.
Then, Candice and Kree get new cars!
Here's a tribute to the season set to Phillip Phillips' "Gone Gone Gone." I'm surprised Phillip doesn't perform it live. UPDATE: According to Twitter, he's been sick.
Wow, I had forgotten about Kez Ban...but not Zoanette Johnson. I still wish Shubha Vedula would've advanced to the top 10.
After that, Jennifer Lopez performs her new single "Live It Up" with Pitbull.
With two minutes left, Candice and Kree duet for "One Less Bell to Answer/A House is Not a Home." Sort of a strange way to end the show, but whatever.