You lucky folks on the east coast are watching the final even as I type, but it's still a couple of hours away here in California, which means I've got just enough time to slip in the annual end-of-year awards for the best and the worst of the season. As always, only performances from the Top 10 on are considered.
Best performance: Candice, "Lovesong"
performance: Lazaro, "Close to You"
Runner-up: the rest of the Lazaro Arbos songbook, really, but in the interest of sharing the wealth, we'll give it to Burnell, "You Give Love a Bad Name"
Voted off too soon:
(though it should be noted both of these are much smaller offenses than we get in most years; with one glaring exception, Idol voters pretty much got it right this year)
Lasted too long:
Lazaro (and there's our glaring exception)
Burnell. At this point in the show's history, there's no excuse for not knowing what probable theme nights are likely to trip you up, and not having something prepared for them.
Most pleasant surprise: Candice. Sure, it was obvious from the beginning that she was good, but she kept getting better, spinning gold from unlikely straw ("Straight Up"? Really?) and singing songs you'd never have expected from her ("Come Together," for instance). At this point, it's clear that she's one of the two or three best singers Idol has ever produced.