LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- “American Idol” has crowned its second ever country singing winner.
North Carolina’s own Scotty McCreery is the new “American Idol.”
At just 17, Scotty becomes the second youngest winner of the competition, alongside Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks, who was the same age when she picked up the title in 2007.
He now joins Carrie Underwood as the second winner with a country music style.
As he was announced as the winner, a shocked Scotty bent over toward the ground, while runner-up, Lauren Alaina, smiled.
After he composed himself, Lauren — in a yellow dress — quickly turned to embrace him and the two shared a hug – and a kiss. (She also kissed him on the cheek several times as the credits rolled.)
He was then joined by his fellow Top 13 contenders, who hugged the young man and rubbed his longer hair, still not cut as Jennifer Lopez previously requested.
“It’s been a year since me and Lauren Alaina tried out now. Me and her have been together since Day 1 and we’re gonna stay together and this is just… Never in my wildest dreams…,” Scotty said to Ryan Seacrest after learning the news, quickly turning to give thanks.
“I gotta thank the Lord first, he got me here,” Scotty said as the camera panned to his parents, who cheered their son on for his shout out above.
Scotty then went on to sing his original song, “I Love You This Big,” heading out to the audience to embrace each of his family members and his fellow contestants including James Durbin, Casey Abrams and Lauren, all of whom he told he loved.
Those first few moments of his win were joyous for the teen, who seemed to leave Tuesday’s final convinced his competitor (and now runner-up), Lauren had won America over with the original ballad “Like My Mother Does.”
Backstage after that show, Scotty even told a group of reporters that Lauren’s performance left him misty eyed.
“I was about to cry when she was singing because both of our moms have been here through the whole thing ‘cause we’re minors and we had to have a parent [here],” he said on Tuesday night. “So that song, it was touching to me and it was touching to her, I’m sure. She was crying I was about to, I was watering up.”
But the young man didn’t fully admit he was giving up… at all.
“I went out there and I did my best and I just left everything on the stage,” he said.
Beyond Scotty’s win, the “American Idol” Grand Finale, held at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre, was packed with celebrity action, including pop stars Beyonce and Lady Gaga, U2’s Bono and The Edge, legends like Tony Bennett and Tom Jones, and metal gods Judas Priest, as well as Marc Anthony and Lil Jon.
James Durbin, who was eliminated before the semifinal round, joined Judas Priest – including singer Rob Halford – for a medley of “Living After Midnight” and “Breaking The Law.”
Gospel-loving Jacob Lusk got to perform with Kirk Franklin on “I Smile,” dedicated to the tornado victims, and during the rendition, Gladys Knight came out to lend her pipes too.
Another highlight of the evening was the Top 12 ladies performing a Beyonce medley featuring “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” and “Irreplacable,” before Lady B joined them for “Crazy In Love.”
Beyonce came back on stage later too – alone — to sing “One Plus One,” which she called her “favorite song,” performing it with her trademark passion and emotional delivery.
While Marc Anthony wasn’t joined by any “Idols” when he hit the stage for a Latin number, he did have one of the judges in his corner – his wife, Jennifer Lopez, who hit the stage in an embellished body suit.
As she danced around her main squeeze, stroking his face, Marc seemed to lose himself in the moment, dazzled by his sexy wife.
The superstar-packed final also welcomed Lady Gaga, a mentor earlier in the season, who hit the stage with “Edge Of Glory.”
Judge Steven Tyler was the last performance of the night, before winner Scotty, of course. The Aerosmith rocker performed “Dream On” at the piano.
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