We have a winner, folks.
And also a controversy.
On Sunday night, Chayce Beckham, Grace Kinstler, and Willie Spence took to the American Idol stage one final time in order to compete for the love and affection of both the judges and viewers across the nation.
Kinstler, who has been compared for weeks to Kelly Clarkson, dazzled early on with a rendition of “All By Myself,” earning serious praise from the panelists.
“You did not just take that one higher than Celine even sings it! … Celine is going to have words!” Katy Perry joked.
“Only you can create another song out of a standard song. You’re a storyteller with a great voice. Amazing performance,” added Lionel.
Spence didn’t exactly disappoint with his version of “Georgia on My Mind” after that, as Luke Bryan quipped he could “smell magnolias” afterward and Richie comparing it to a “religious experience.”
As for Perry’s take?
“Willie, hallelujah! I needed my hanky.
“The sky is the limit for you, sir.”
For his judges’ selection, Beckham sang “Blackbird,” putting an especially original twist on the classic track.
“You have an identifiable voice, to the point where I was wondering how you were going to pull this out. Where was the punch going to be? At the end, you gave us that identity-sound of yours, with that wonderful, raspy voice of life,” raved Lionel.
Perry them chimed in as folows:
“I think we chose that song for you because it’s a classic small-but-mighty song. You do that so well, Chayce the ace.”
Following two more performances by each aspiring artist, Grace was sent home and we were down to Chayce and Willie.
And the winner was… much to the chagrin of millions of fans…
Beckham went on to sing his first single immediately, the self-written track 23, that focused on his challenging journey to sobriety.
And Twitter users went on to wonder what the heck happened.
How did we get here?
How did Chayce win?
“Wait. We’re supposed to believe that American Idol is not rigged after tonight? We’re supposed to believe that Chayce beat Grace AND Willie? LOL,” one viewer wondered.
He/she wasn’t alone, either.
“America must be deaf bc how did Chayce just win idol,” someone else said, while a third added:
“Now I’m not trying to in no way downplay chayces talent but to beat Willie, nah this show is rigged!”
It wouldn’t be American Idol of course, if a white guy with a guitar didn’t win the title and if tons of viewers didn’t react in shock and anger as a result.
That’s just how this show rolls and, if we’re being honest, it’s sort of how America rollls as a whole.
Nothing is rigged here. It would perhaps be more comforting if it were.
Instead, this kind of result is far more reflective of who millions of Americans feel comfortable voting for, either at the Presidentiall ballot box or for the winner of a reality TV show.
“When you’re sober for the first time, performing for a long time, going in, I was a broken person. I came out the other side just a little bit more healed,” the 24-year-old told mentor Bobby Bones on Sunday’s finale.
During his emotional hometown visit, he even returned to the site of his drunken car carr — the rock-bottom incident that made him get sober for good — and confessed:
“I think before the crash, I was just a loose cannon, doing whatever I wanted to, until I suffered the consequences. That was the worst night of my life.
“Following that were some of the worst days of my life. … It was a self-realization moment. I needed to turn my life around.”
And now he has.
Congratulations to Chayce Beckham.
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