Meet the new American Idol! Candice Glover makes it third time lucky as she triumphs in emotional finale
Former judge Simon Cowell scathingly told her she would never amount to more than a lounge singer.
But Candice Glover proved him wrong when she was finally crowned American Idol at the third attempt on Thursday.
The jolly singer could not believe it when it was announced she had triumphed over sob story candidate Kree Harrison.
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Canny Glover: Candice's determination paid off as she became American Idol at the third attempt on Thursday
The sobbing South Carolina administrative assistant said: 'It took three years, oh my god.'
In a victory run Candice, who is known for her vocal range and powerful ballads, wept while performing her new single I Am Beautiful which has the lyrics: ‘It don’t matter that I’m not perfect I am beautiful.’
The 23-year-old ‘southern gal’ won against another big-voiced diva, country-pop artist Kree Harrison.
Kree, an orphaned 22-year-old, from Nashville, Tennessee, was graceful in her defeat, smiling and hugging Candice in what appeared to be genuine fondness.
Gritted teeth: Kree Harrison wore a smile of mock delight while Candice looked completely shell-shocked
Emotional: The exhausted duo hugged after their journey finally came to an abrupt end
Sharing his spotlight: The show's classy MVP Ryan Seacrest was happy to let the girls get some of the attention
Overcome: She could not contain her emotions as her achievement finally began to sink in
Saluting their Idol: The judges stood up to give Candice a standing ovation when the result was announced
Live in front of a 7,000 strong audience the two girls came face-to-face in the finale of the competition, which has been dragging on since January.
The predicable public decision followed a feisty performance by Jennifer Lopez and rapper Pitbull. Wearing a white bustier and gold gladiator sandals the 43-year-old mother-of-two danced a raunchy routine to her club track Live It Up.
The two-hour special kicked off with the top ten Idol contestants, all dressed in white, singing The Wanted’s pop song Glad You Came.
Country music three-piece The Band Perry ramped up the pyrotechnics for their lively track Done, with some hair-flicking backup from Janelle Arthur.
Singing up a storm: The new champion warbled a tuned as confetti streamed down from above
Loser: But Candice's vanquished rival Kree Harrison will surely bounce back with a series of lightly regarded country pop albums
Living up to his name: Randy Jackson seemed to be enjoying getting to grips with Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj
Gimme five: Country favourite Keith Urban held hands with the departing judge, who has appeared on every series so far
In a competition that has been weighted towards the females from the start the boys made a tongue-in-cheek montage blaming the girls for an Idol ‘conspiracy.’
Jordin Sparks, the last female to win, played a jokey role as the ‘mastermind’ of the supposed plot.
‘Sorry guys it’s been five years since we had a female winner,’ joked the tattoo singer, 23.
‘It was easy to stop you, none of you play guitar,’ she continued in a nod towards the ongoing gag that Idol is only won by WGWGs (white guys with guitars).
The top five boys dressed in colourful suits to perform Let's Hang On (To What We've Got) by the Jersey Boys.
The new James Bond? Super smooth Ryan Seacrest was the image of the suave secret agent in his tuxedo
An Oscar worthy appearance: Jennifer Hudson received a wave of applause when she stepped onto the stage
Watching like a Hudson hawk: Show alumni Jennifer watched in awe as Candice belted out a tune
A shining example: The new Idol will be hoping her career is more like Jennifer's than that of the actual series three winner Fantasia Barrino
At 79-years-old Frankie Valli brought the house down with his 1960s hit Can't Take My Eyes Off You and a medley of classics.
Wearing a white ball gown and dripping with jewels Mariah Carey took to the stage to perform Hero, We Belong Together and Beautiful. The multi platinum diva, who was reportedly paid $18million for her role on the show, did not move from her pedestal while Randy Jackson played guitar beside her.
‘Sing along with me,’ the mum-of-two shouted to the crowd, who were artfully waving glow sticks.
Saucy Scottish singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé sang Next To Me with leggy runner up Amber Holcomb.
Kitschy Korean star Psy, probably bored of performing Gangnam Style, pulled out some new moves for his other global anthem Gentleman.
It's only rock and roll but she likes it: Kree was surely pinching herself as she performed with Keith and former Journey bassist Randy
Not bursting her bubble: The judges humoured Kree by acting like she could still be champion
Not one to be left out of the festivities Keith Urban sang his love song ‘Little Bit of Everything’.
Wearing a skintight black ensemble Oscar/Grammy-winner Jennifer Hudson belted out the Natalie Cole track Inseparable with Candice.
Then top-three finalist Angie Miller played the piano for a romantic duet of Titanium with Season Eight winner Adam Lambert, 31.
Former contestants were given the opportunity to have a dig at the judges who helped eliminate them.
‘Mariah wants to stand up to clap but her skirts are always too tight,’ said chronic stutterer Lazaro Arbos.
So close: Angie Miller thought she was going to win but had to settle for performing with Adam Lambert and Jessie J
Dream duet: Angie had long harbored ambitions of performing with her personal idol
Making her mark: Scottish chart topper Emili Sande outsung fourth place runner up Amber Holcomb during their duet
‘Sometimes Keith is a little too into the performance, like for my audition,’ quipped Burnell Taylor noting the country star’s propensity to close his eyes, hum and sway along to the music.
‘Randy says ‘in it to win it’ waaaay too much,’ Candice groaned.
‘It’s not special when he says it to everyone,’ she added.
Nicki got a pasting for her quick temper and outlandish sense of fashion.
‘The best compliment I got from Nicki was, you irritate me,’ lamented Paul Jolley.
Devin Velez stuffed some leopard print trousers in the derrière, as a nod to Nicki’s famously robust rear.
Who needs American Idols: Korea's finest Psy showed them how it should be done with a glorious performance
Interesting vantage point: A dancer slid between his legs as he lived up to his reputation for off beat choreography
Well deserved: The classy pop favourite saluted the crowd as they lavished him with loud applause
Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker bashed out some beats with Kree, Randy and Keith for the track Where The Blacktop Ends, which Keith wrote.
After twelve seasons as Idol judge Randy Jackson recently announced that he will not be returning to the ratings-starved show for another year.
As homage to the producer a group of dogs were enlisted to bark their appreciation - with subtitles to translate.
The obligatory montage tape collated Randy’s best bits from the last twelve years – including a time he accidently punched a girl in the mouth.
Singing for her supper: Mariah Carey will be hoping her performance will help her retain her judging role
Dripping in diamonds: Mariah seemed to have invested some her massive salary in a decadent mic stand
Last stand? Mariah will certainty feel she went out on a high note by delivering a medley of her hits
‘Idol has helped me grow immensely,’ said the emotional music mogul, who was wearing a hot pink and baby blue jacket with rose embellishments.
As filler for the long show blooper reels exposed the funniest moments from the auditions, including flirty quotes from Nicki such as: ‘I wanna have your babies’ and ‘do you have a girlfriend?’
‘So many great memories,’ gushed host Ryan Seacrest.
Before the night ended Kree and Candice purred out a duet to the mournful Barbra Streisand ballad One Less Bell To Answer.
Show pony: But she will be fuming her old rival Jennifer Lopez overshadowed by donning this racy ensemble
Big comeback? Show bosses will be hoping she can be tempted back after her memorable performance
Youthful: The 43-year-old will be the envy of women half her age thanks to her toned physique
Rubbing it in: Mariah had to sit and watch as Jennifer gave her show stealing performance
Despite wilting ratings Idol is set to continue for another year and the audition dates and locations for Season 13 were announced.
Music legend Aretha Franklin, 71, made a video speech to American Idol from New York, with the pensioner almost giving the game away about the winner.
‘Candice, tonight you are a winner, win or lose you are a winner, you and Kree both have promising careers,’ she said.
Urban cowboy: Country star Keith made sure he had a chance to promote himself by performing also
Authentic: The only way the singer's performance could have been better is if he wore a ten-gallon hat
'You don't know the winner already do you?' Joked host Ryan Seacrest.
'Otherwise what are we going to do for the rest of time?' He added.
'I know but I'm not telling you,' breathed the Queen of Soul who was wearing bright blue and purple make up with a metallic tunic dress.
Via the live video link with Aretha the top five girls then performed a medley of her hits - including (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and Respect.
Spilling the beans: Naughty soul legend Aretha Franklin almost let everyone know who the winner was early
Forget big brother: It was more a case of big mother as Aretha spoke via a gigantic screen above the stage
Gone but not forgotten: Fans will be counting the days until the dashing DJ's triumphant return