The ninth season of American Idol came to a sensational conclusion tonight as Lee DeWyze was crowned the winner during the live two-hour season finale on Fox. DeWyze, 24, from Mt. Prospect, IL, emerged as America's choice in a competition that began with more than 100,000 hopefuls who auditioned in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and Orlando.
DeWyze capped his coronation on Wednesday's finale by singing "Beautiful Day," which is available for download exclusively on AmericanIdol.com and iTunes.
The broadcast from the NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE in downtown Los Angeles featured appearances by Alice Cooper, The Bee Gees, Michael McDonald, Dane Cook, Christina Aguilera, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Alanis Morissette, Bret Michaels, Chicago, Janet Jackson and Joe Cocker.
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In addition, former Idol winners Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks and Kris Allen performed "Together We Are One" as part of a special tribute to Simon Cowell. Former Idol judge Paula Abdul also returned to bid farewell to Cowell.
The evening was highlighted with performances by the Top 12 finalists and special musical guests. DeWyze took the stage with Chicago to sing "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" and "If You Leave Me Now"; and Crystal Bowersox rocked the house with Alanis Morissette on "Ironic" and "You Oughta Know." Casey James performed "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" with Bret Michaels, and Michael Lynche sang "Takin' It To The Streets" with Michael McDonald. Aaron Kelly and Siobhan Magnus joined The Bee Gees for "How Deep Is Your Love," and the Top 12 finalists performed a medley of "Again," "Nothing" and "Nasty" with Janet Jackson. To cap off the night, DeWyze and Bowersox joined Joe Cocker on "With A Little Help From My Friends."
Additionally, last season's winner, Kris Allen, performed his latest song, "The Truth," and comedian Dane Cook joined former Idol contestants for "Simon Said." Season Four winner Carrie Underwood wowed audiences with her hit "Undo It." Reunited for the first time this season, the Top 12 joined Alice Cooper for "School's Out." The Top 6 girls joined pop superstar Christina Aguilera on the chart-topping songs "Beautiful," "Fighter" and "You Lost Me," while the Top 6 guys performed "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)," "Maneater" and "You Make My Dreams" with legendary duo Daryl Hall & John Oates.
On Tuesday night's final performance show, Bowersox and DeWyze each sang three songs. Bowersox performed "Me and Bobby McGee," "Black Velvet" and "Up To The Mountain (MLK Song)"; and DeWyze sang "The Boxer," "Everybody Hurts" and "Beautiful Day."
DeWyze is the ninth finalist to win the coveted American Idol title and a record contract with 19 Recordings. He joins past winners Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks and Kris Allen.
Auditions for Season 10 of American Idol will be held this summer in Jersey City, NJ; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; and San Francisco, CA. Other audition cities and more information to be announced.
Additionally, American Idol will revolutionize its audition process by adding an online component via MySpace to the auditions for the first time ever. Hopefuls from across the country will have the opportunity to submit video auditions. Sign up now at MySpace.com/AmericanIdol to stay apprised of details as they are announced.
American Idol is created and executive-produced by Simon Fuller, founder of 19 Entertainment; and executive-produced by Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO, FremantleMedia North America; and Ken Warwick, executive producer, FremantleMedia North America.