Reality Rocks (New)

And the Season 12 ‘American Idol’ Winner is…

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

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Candice wins! [photo: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP]

The third time was the charm for Candice Glover on "American Idol." After trying out for the show twice before (and getting cut in Season 9's Hollywood Week and Season 11's Vegas Week), the 23-year-old South Carolina soulstress was crowned the new "Idol" champion this Thursday, on Season 12's finale.

"Three years!" was all a flustered, weeping Candice could say when Ryan Seacrest asked her for her reaction.

Candice joyously sobbed, surrounded by her fellow Season 12 contestants on the stage of Los Angeles's Nokia Theater, as she belted out her coronation song, an empowerment anthem titled "I Am Beautiful." I'm still not feeling the song myself, but it was a beautiful moment nonetheless. Candice deserved this victory. She worked hard for it.

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photo: Ray Mickshaw/Fox

Candice was arguably the best female vocalist of this entire season, the one with the most standout performances overall. A Season 12 highlight reel would practically be just a Candice Glover reel. It's almost unfathomable that she didn't make it to the live rounds in Season 9, considering what a weak overall season that was; when she was cut in Season 11 after receiving substantially more screentime, avid "Idol" fans were understandably outraged.

Thankfully, once "Idol" producers wisely put Candice through to this season's live shows, those fans finally had a chance to vote her through — all the way to the winner's circle.

Candice is the first female "Idol" champion since Season 6, but we all knew a woman was going to win this year, since the last male contestant standing, Lazaro Arbos, was eliminated more than a month ago, leaving the show with an all-female top five. This week's finale, in which Texan country crooner Kree Harrison placed second, was the first girl-vs.-girl "Idol" finale since Season 3. Perhaps the bigger news here is that Candice is the first R&B singer, male or female, to win the show since Fantasia Barrino triumphed that season…nine long years ago.

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Angie Miller & Adam Lambert [photo: Fox]

"Idol" Season 12 finale highlights included Angie Miller's back-to-back duets with Season 8 superstar Adam Lambert and Brit sensation Jessie J (followed by Jessie's personal invitation to fly Angie out to play with her in the U.K.); a Candice Glover/Jennifer Hudson duet that blew minds, and speakers, with its sheer diva-on-diva force; a truly lovely Emeli Sande/Amber Holcomb duet of "Next to Me"; and Keith Urban, Randy Jackson, Blink 182's Travis Barker, and Kree Harrison jamming on "Where the Blacktop Ends."

There were also three surprisingly funny skits: a tribute to exiting judge Randy "The Dawg" Jackson starring actual dogs; the top 10 contestants modeling Nicki Minaj-inspired wigs (and posterior prosthetics); and a conspiracy-theory-laden video about how the top 10's boys were sabotaged…by Jordin Sparks!

Lowlights included a Mariah Carey hits medley that seemed more poorly lip-synched than a rejected "RuPaul's Drag Race" audition; a performance by PSY that should have been on a finale taking place in 2012, not 2013; a remote-satellite performance between the top five girls and a video-screened Aretha Franklin that just did not work; and a cheesy, shackled, hairography-overloaded performance by ex-judge Jennifer Lopez that made Mariah's performance look credible.

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The top five girls & the satellite Aretha [photo: Fox]

But anyway, congratulations to Candice for a hard-earned and much-deserved victory! Now...can we get this girl a better coronation song?

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