Lee asks, “What would you do if I sang out of tune?” Answer: Let you win American Idol

During the American Idol 9 finale, Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze performed a duet of “A Little Help From My Friends” along with Joe Cocker, and Lee got the line, “What would you do if I sang out of tune?” The answer from viewers who vote was clear: We’ll make you the winner.

Yes, season nine is finally over, and as the perfect end to the show’s worst season yet, Lee DeWyze won, despite being rather awful during the final performances. When Ryan Seacrest declared him the winner, Lee was so surprised he looked like he was going to puke or pass out or both, and barely was able to transition into his coronation song, U2’s “Beautiful Day,” although in fairness, he couldn’t really sing it last night, either.

Although his win is a travesty, Crystal Bowersox ends up in the runner-up spot, and while she’s no Adam Lambert or even Clay Aiken, she’ll probably benefit from not being the winner, producing music that doesn’t have to pander to a wide audience. And the vote was close: less than two percent of however many people voted; Ryan Seacrest didn’t mention the total number of votes received, probably because it’d be even more embarrassing than the discrepancy in the number of votes received over the past few weeks.

While the finale ended on time–hallelujah!–it was mostly a mess, a series of packages saying goodbye to Simon Cowell until he returns on Fox in basically the same show next fall that were interrupted by performances from this season’s finalists, which were interrupted by performances from people who were once actual idols. Executive producer Ken Warwick and his staff showed their age and/or their inability to book anyone relevant with the parade of people some viewers may have thought were no longer with us, from Joe Cocker to the Bee Gees. Nursing homes everywhere erupted in applause throughout the night, I’m sure.

There were some good performances: Carrie Underwood, Janet Jackson, Bret Michaels, and Alanis Morissette, to name four. Crystal sang a duet of “You Oughta Know” with Alanis, who remains awesome, although it did turn comical when Crystal sang “Would she go down with you to the theatre,” instead of “down on you in the theatre.” This was a bad call, I think, because rather than at puritanical and shelter its viewers, American Idol needs to teach its tween and teen viewers about sex so they will have some and then stop directing their sexual energy at people on TV and voting for Lee for crying out loud.

But besides Alanis, we had crap like Larry “Pants on the Ground” Platt, who was the best this season could offer despite being nowhere near as memorable as bad auditioner William Hung, who showed up right about the time that Platt’s back-up dancers dropped their pants and swung their packages around. Apparently viewers can handle penis outlines but not references to oral sex.

Dane Cook did some kind of song incorporating Simon’s insults, but was thankfully interrupted by auditioners who clashed with Simon, one of whom actually interrupted whatever was planned and the producers cut to a break early. Dumbass Ian Bernardo grabbed the mic and said, “Who cares? It’s all about Ian Benardo tonight!” and later added, “This is a Kanye moment” before his mic was cut. Dane Cook later tweeted, “That was not staged. Weirdo hijacked the song. Just glad he didn’t hit me in the face w/the mic or Americal [sic] Idol would b American Beatdown.” MTV News has more details if you care.

Simon Cowell’s goodbye ranged from a montage of him fondling his breasts to a rambling, awkward speech/attempt at stand-up from Paula Abdul. She should have stopped when she was ahead, because in the pre-taped stuff and somewhat while she was live, she was kind of funny. At one point, she referred to departing from the show, and said, “After years of sitting between two men with bigger boobs than me, I’d had enough.”

Ricky Gervais showed up “via satellite” and was genuinely funny, joking that Simon was responsible for “producing some of the biggest international singing stars of a generation, and you only take 80 percent of their wages. What a guy!” The celebrations for Simon ended with all of the American Idol winners except David Cook (who was at a charity event) singing on stage, where they were joined by some runners-up and other finalists, though there were notable absences, including Adam Lambert, Chris Daughtry, and Clay Aiken.

Ultimately, the night was more about Simon than this season, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you missed the minute by minute mockery, or just want to relive it to kill 127 minutes, replay the live blog here.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.