American Idol Finale Recap: Did the Right Singer Win Season 16?


ABC crowned its first American Idol on Monday in a two-hour finale that also welcomed a wild assortment of celebrity guests, both human and Muppet.

But before we break down the biggest moments of the night, let’s get to the results:

With 45 minutes left in the broadcast, Ryan Seacrest revealed that Gabby Barrett placed third and would not be moving forward in the finale. We weren’t given the kind of extended goodbye these contestants have deserved all season, but at least we got to watch her fully walk off stage, which is… something, I guess?

This left Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Maddie Poppe — who are dating (!), but we’ll get to that later — as the final two singers of Season 16. And the winner is… Poppe!

Read on for a breakdown of the finale’s standout moments, for better or worse:

* First and foremost, I’ve decided that we all take Lionel Richie for granted. We, the viewers, We, the Americans, We, the humans. I’m not saying I haven’t been loving him this season, but a new appreciation washed over me during that opening performance of “All Night Long.” Bless this man.

* Nick Jonas’ duet with Jurnee (“Jealous”) was kind of perfect, and it felt very natural. She could go on the road with him tomorrow. I felt similarly, though not quite as strongly, about Barrett’s duet with Luke Bryan (“Most People Are Good”).

* Perry freaking out over new Bachelorette Becca Kufrin — begging to have a chance to win her heart, even though she’s already in a relationship — was a weird little moment, no? (Also, a confession: When she referred to herself as “not single,” my out-of-touch fingers immediately began typing “Katy Perry boyfriend” into Google.)

* And then… there was Sanjaya.

* He may not be the new American Idol, but Noah “Wig” Davis emerged this finale a winner, finally getting the alpaca of his dreams. That said, did anyone else do a Marge Simpson-style groan when Ryan Seacrest revealed that the alpaca in the studio was merely the “Hollywood stand-in” of the one Davis is getting? That doesn’t even count!

* Sure, Poppe and Kermit the Frog’s “Rainbow Connection” duet was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen on TV in recent memory — but I couldn’t stop fixating on Kermit’s new voice. Does that make me a bad person?

* Let’s say I was only allowed to download one song from this season of American Idol — dark, I know! — I just might choose Perry and Catie Turner’s long-awaited duet of “Part of Me,” which was just as beautiful as I anticipated.

* I have no idea how I’m supposed to feel about Hutchinson and Poppe “dating.” Is this the real deal, or just the best marketing stunt since Mountain Dew genetically engineered a Puppy Monkey Baby? Either way, I lost my damn mind when those crazy kids started holding hands during that gorgeous mashup of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “What a Wonderful World.”

* Just when I thought the Idol finale gave us all had to give, it served up Ada Vox and Patti LaBelle doing “Lady [expletive] Marmalade”?! That. Was. Everything.

Your thoughts on ABC’s first American Idol winner? Drop ’em in a comment below.