Michael Becker/FOXCaleb Johnson was crowned the new American Idol champion on Wednesday night. The 23-year-old rocker from Asheville, North Carolina, received more of the viewers’ votes than runner-up Jena Irene.
After host Ryan Seacrest made the announcement, Caleb received hugs from his fellow season-13 finalists. He then performed his new single, “As Long As You Love Me,” as confetti fell from the ceiling.
Caleb will be awarded a recording contract. He’ll release an album on August 12. You can pre-order it now on iTunes.
Caleb and Jena, a 17-year-old resident of Farmington Hills, Michigan, both received a 2015 Ford Mustang.
As was previously planned by the two, Caleb will accompany Jena to her high school prom.
This was Caleb’s third stint on American Idol. He previously competed on season 10, when he reached Hollywood Week, and season 11, when he advanced to the top 42. As a finalist this season, he never fell into the bottom three.
Candice Glover won American Idol in 2013 on her third try as well.
Jena was only the second wild-card selection in series history to reach the finals; Clay Aiken was the other.
Throughout the show, the American Idol finalists performed alongside various musical guests. Caleb joined KISS on “Love Gun” and “Shout It Out Loud.” Afterward, Caleb’s brother — a big fan of the band — walked onto the stage wearing KISS makeup and met the guys.
Jena sang Paramore‘s “Decode,” then teamed up with her favorite band for a rendition of their song “Ain’t It Fun.”
Demi Lovato performed “Really Don’t Care.” She was backed up by the show’s female finalists — sans MK Nobilette, who missed the finale due to illness — on “Neon Lights.”
Aloe Blacc and American Idol‘s male finalists sang, appropriately enough, “The Man.”
Finalist Sam Woolf took on “Home,” by American Idol season-11 champ Phillip Phillips. He also played guitar as Phillip presented his recent single, “Raging Fire.”
Sugarland‘s Jennifer Nettles performed “That Girl.” She then welcomed finalist Jessica Meuse onto the stage for a cover of the Miley Cyrus hit “Wrecking Ball.”
John Legend played “You and I.” Afterward, he and finalist Malaya Watson collaborated on a live version of his tune “All of Me.”
Jason Mraz and finalist Alex Preston partnered on Jason’s just-released song, “Love Someone.”
Darius Rucker sang “True Believers,” and teamed up with finalists Dexter Roberts and C.J. Harris on “Alright.”
In addition, Lady Antebellum performed their new single, “Bartender.”
The judges got into the act, too. Jennifer Lopez entertained the crowd with “First Love.” Later, she shared the stage with fellow judges Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr., as well as mentor Randy Jackson, for Cyndi Lauper‘s “True Colors” and Fleetwood Mac‘s “Go Your Own Way.”
Even Seacrest handled the microphone, duetting with Richard Marx on the latter’s hit, “Right Here Waiting.” Ryan was predictably bad.
The two-hour-plus broadcast opened with Caleb singing Queen‘s “We Will Rock You,” Jena taking on No Doubt‘s “Just a Girl,” and the both of them sharing vocals on “It’s Only Love,” by Bryan Adams and Tina Turner.
This season’s finalists will embark on a 41-show American Idol Live! tour this summer, beginning June 24 in Binghamton, New York. Visit AmericanIdol.com for more info.
Season 14 of American Idol will premiere on Fox early next year. The judges’ panel is expected to remain the same.
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