American Idol: The Top Five Finale Performances

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As many suspected (and Matt Drudge claimed to know), Scotty McCreery won the tenth season of American Idol. But the last results show isn’t really about the winner (especially not when there are two hours of programming to fill): It’s about the performances! And the finale had them in spades, including not a few surprises. Here’s what you missed:

5. Steven Tyler “Dream On”

The judges had varying levels of involvement in the finale performances. Randy Jackson made sure Gladys Knight joined the fantastic Kirk Franklin-Jacob Lusk duet “I Smile”, while Jennifer Lopez was content to dance as her husband Marc Anthony performed his salsa cover “Aguanile” (with Sheila E. killing it on the timbales). But Steven Tyler took the stage to perform his first hit with Aerosmith, and proved that his voice is as strong as ever (and that the song holds up just as well).

4. Lady Gaga “The Edge of Glory”

We may be sick of the Born This Way promotional cycle but it’ll be a long while before we’re sick of “Edge of Glory.” Even barring the bizarre setpiece (Amanda Dobbins was pretty proud of her Guts reference at Vulture, but Jim Cantiello beat her to it in his MTV liveblog) and the simulated-sex dance at the summit, we were still way into the performance.

3. Scotty McCreery and Tim McGraw

Scotty McCreery may come across as a pretty boring dude, but he didn’t win American Idol for nothing. Lauren Alaina, his last remaining competitor was, frankly, overwhelmed by Carrie Underwood in their take on the earlier idol’s mega-hit “Before He Cheats,” but McCreery had little trouble matching Tim McGraw on “Live Like You Were Dying.”

2. Beyonc? “1 + 1″

After supporting the top female contestants in the show-opening medley, Beyonc? returned to belt out a new song from the forthcoming 4. This ballad was our first look at another side of the album, about which we are more excited every day. What’s to say? It’s a really tender love song, and the “don’t know much about algebra” line situates its mathematics firmly in the world of Sam Cooke (and outside the world of 2Gether).

1. Casey Abrams and Jack Black

To a large extent the show felt like Lady Gaga Night. In addition to Gaga’s own performance, the Top 13 contestants performed “Born This Way” and James Durbin leathered up to join likely Gaga favorites Judas Priest on “Living After Midnight” and “Breakin’ the Law.” Even still, she was probably at least a little annoyed that someone else sang a Queen tribute, and even stole the show with it!