American Idol: Whoa, Scotty!

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Before we finish off this season of surprises, I would like everyone to give it up for my stunning record of predictions -- I was wrong nearly every single week. And very wrong about the finale. I was sure poor Scotty was toast; not enough bubble-gum pop in his voice, not enough dancing, way too country. But whadya know -- Americans decided they'd pick the one with the actual talent.

And I must admit, I was surprised by the show. Two hours to handle a 30-second announcement (that didn't even happen until five minutes after 10, delaying the 10 O'Clock News -- but hey, what's more important?) and I figured it would be a deadly rancid soup of old photos and emotional messaging.

But no: It was, I have to say, one of the best episodes of American Idol ever. They brought back the top 11 and mixed them up with some surprising stars, and the results were too much to believe.

Out comes James to sing with Judas Priest. Rob Halford is showing some hard years, but still: A metal god. And James sang him under the fucking table. A final chance for us all to see who the real star of this year's show was.

Casey gets to sing  "Fat Bottom Girls" with the always-amazing Jack Black. Haley does a crooner piece with ... Tony Bennett. Yeah, he's still around. Yeah, he can barely sing anymore. But still: Tony Bennett. Didn't expect THAT on American Idol.

Scotty got to sing with Tim McGraw -- and I have to say, held his own with a country legend. A bunch of the guys sing a Tom Jones medley, then out comes .... Tom Jones. It's not unusual (but yes it is) and the guy still has the pipes.

Lady Gago does a death-defying leap off an artificial cliff. Spiderman swings above the audience while Bono and The Edge sing the Spiderman broadway theme song. Mark Anthony does a rockin' spanish number and J-Lo joins him and dances. Can anything top all that?

Actually, Yes. At the very end, My Man Steven Tyler gets up on stage, sits down at the piano and plays and sings "Deam On." Complete with the high notes at the end. I didn't think he could do that anymore. I'm not sure he did, either.

Scotty's first single ("I love you this big") sucks, but it hardly matters. The kid who worked in a grocery story is now a certified star, and will have a long career in country music. Lauren Alaina is young; she'll be fine. James will have a recording contract by next week, if he doesn't already. Casey's such a character that something good will happen to him. Jacob may even make some money on the gospel circuit. Too bad about Pia. Too bay about Haley. Life goes on.

And so does the show. We'll see you next year.