And the 'American Idol' Season 10 winner is ...
The winner of "American Idol" Season 10 is … Scotty McCreery.
It was a tough choice for "Idol" voters. (One Showtracker commenter said she wanted both Scotty and runner-up Lauren Alaina to win -- and she surely wasn't the only one to feel that way.) And after Tuesday's show, it seemed like it was anyone's game. But after a record number of votes rolled in -- more than 122 million votes after Tuesday night's performances, and nearly three-quarters of a billion for the season, which host Ryan Seacrest told us was "two votes for every man, woman and child living in America" -- the fans proved they love Scotty this big.
Photos: 'American Idol' Season 10 arrivals
The country boy next door who hit the low notes and sank the three-point shots, and whose quiet confidence and good-guy ways captured his fans' hearts, prevailed over the beautiful Southern belle with the easy laugh and shimmering vulnerability whom we watched mature and gain confidence (and lose weight) as the weeks wore on.
But Scotty remained gallant to the end. When Ryan asked him, after the results were revealed, how he felt, Scotty said: "It's been a year since Lauren Alaina and I tried out now." They'd been together throughout, he said. "And we're going to stay together."
Then, after handing his "Idol" trophy over to pal James Durbin for safekeeping, Scotty sang his "coronation song" -- "I Love You This Big" -- one more time, laughing with disbelief, hugging his family (but not Jack Black), telling his dad he loved him. Then returning to hug his fellow contestants and the judges. He seemed to reserve the biggest hug for Lauren, who looked like nothing so much as his prom date in her pretty yellow dress.
After the song's final note, Scotty sank to the floor, awash in confetti. I briefly worried that he was collapsing, Casey Abrams-style. But no, Scotty then rose up. Mouth open to catch the confetti as if it were snow. Like a kid. Like the kid he is.
(Best jab at Scotty and Lauren's youth came from Naima Adedapo -- "They both still have Similac on their breath!" -– just barely edging out Casey's gripe that the final two are just learning cursive.)
So after a night of "Idol" superstar matchups -- James and Judas Priest; Jacob Lusk with Kirk Franklin and Gladys Knight; Haley Reinhart and Tony Bennett; Casey Abrams and Jack Black (and several "fat-bottomed girls"); Scotty and Tim McGraw; Lauren and Carrie Underwood; judge Jennifer Lopez and husband Marc Anthony -- and star turns by everyone from Beyonce (twice) to Bono to Lady Gaga to TLC to Tom Jones to judge Steven Tyler, a new superstar was minted.
Yes, the cute-white-boy winning streak continues. (The last female "Idol" winner was Jordin Sparks in 2007.) But it's hard to begrudge a sweet boy like Scotty a win. And he's given us hope for more Lauren-Scotty duets. If that happens, that means we all win.
What do you think of the results? Did the best contestant win?
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: Lauren Alaina, left, Ryan Seacrest and Scotty McCreery at the "American Idol" finals Tuesday. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox