LOS ANGELES -- They were "Dancing on the Ceiling" for the opening of the "American Idol" season finale.
Judge Lionel Richie got the crowd and the top 10 up on their feet from the very start of the three-hour music-filled extravaganza.
Alejandro Aranda, Laine Hardy, and Madison VanDenburg sang their hearts out trying to win the title. And in between, there was plenty of all-star filler.
Laine was first up and he sang "Home" by Marc Broussard. Judge Katy Perry said he's on his way to being one of the biggest stars ever. Luke Bryan said he's earned his place in the finale.
Madison sang the Oscar winning tune "Shallow." Luke complimented her on her growth and how she's been showing them she has a "next level" voice. Lionel reminds everyone Madison is only 17 years old and already has such power.
Alejandro sang an original song, "Millennial Love." Lionel said he's a sucker for the singer-songwriter, and it felt like "love at first sound," and that he's been captivated by Alejandro from the beginning. Luke agreed and said he'll never forget the first time they met and that the young singer has been spoiling them with his talent all season. Katy said there is something other-worldly about what Alejandro can do.
We get a recap of all the hometown visits with parades, city officials, marching bands and signs of support for all the finalists, from Louisiana to New York to Pomona, California. In the live performances after each visit, we saw Laine sing "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" by Hanks Williams; Madison sang season one "Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson's hit "Breakaway"; and Alejandro did another original, "Tonight."
Almost half way into the three hour show we learned which artists were voted into the top two: Alejandro and Laine.
That left plenty of time for the all-star concert: Adam Lambert, Dan + Shay, Daddy Yankee, Jon Pardi, Kane Brown, and Weezer, to name a few. And the judges all performed as well.
Alejandro took the stage to play a third original song, "10 Years," this time fronting a full orchestra. Laine's third song was a duet with country star Jon Pardi, "Dirt on My Boots." The judges did not offer comments after a third performance.
For the two finalists last performances, we saw Laine return to his country guitar roots to sing Sam Cooke's "Bring it on Home." Luke thanked him for returning and going for a second chance on the show; Lionel praised Laine's attitude and perseverance; and Katy said he's always been authentically Laine and now he is ready for what's ahead.
Alejandro did yet another original: "Out Loud." The crowd went wild with an extended ovation, including the chant of "Homie". Luke said sometimes it's best to let the fans talk, and added that he wanted a postcard from the planet Alejandro came from; Lionel said Alejandro has an instant identity, and Katy said it's been an honor to have the opportunity to give him a boost and find his place in the music world.
Host Ryan Seacrest asked the crew to dim the lights one last time. And in the end, fans voted Laine Hardy as the next "American Idol."
'American Idol' finale: Who won -- Alejandro, Laine or Madison?
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