The dramatic 12th season of American Idol has officially come to an end. After auditioning for the show three times before making the finals, contestant Candice Glover beat out Kree Harrison during Thursday's (May 16) finale held at Hollywood's Dolby Theater.
Glover, a 23-year-old hailing from St. Helena Island, S.C., was an early fan and judge favorite routinely delivering powerhouse performances week after week. To her credit, Harrison also put up a staunch fight. Both contestants performed three songs Wednesday (May 15), one picked by Idol executive producer Simon Fuller, another of their own choosing, and the last of which will become the winner's debut single.
The finale featured a bevy of guest performances from the likes of Aretha Franklin (via satellite), Psy, Jesse J and Scottish songstress Emile Sande. There was also a mash-up of Idol alumni; Jennifer Hudson teamed up with Glover for a duet of "Inseparable," and Adam Lambert took the stage with second-runner up, Angie Miller to sing "Titanium."
Ex-judge Jennifer Lopez also returned to her Idol digs, showcasing a dance-heavy performance of her latest Pitbull-assisted track "Live It Up." The 43-year-old went on sometime after rumored rival Mariah Carey, who refused to give her a standing ovation.
Outgoing veteran judge Randy Jackson was given tribute with a video montage, and host Ryan Seacrest assured him that the "door is always open." The 56-year-old announced his exit earlier this month. "I love everybody that walked on this show," Jackson said just before Glover was announced as the winner. "Hopefully, I touched their lives a little bit. They certainly touched mine."
Decisions on remaining judges, Carey, Keith Urban, and Nicki Minaj have not yet been disclosed by the network.
Season 12 concluded with Glover tearfully performing her new single, "I Am Beautiful" amid ovations from the entire room. Her debut album, Music Speaks will be released in July. She will head out on the American Idol summer tour June 29, in St. Louis.
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(Photo: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)