(CBSNews.com) After a record-breaking 122.4 million votes, the American Idol crown went to Scotty McCreery.
It was not preordained as thein Tuesday's performance finale. Lauren's final performance on Tuesday, which included a choreographed moment when she left the stage in mid-song to hug and sing to her mother before returning to the stage for some final big notes, made Scotty's final effort seem tepid.
JLo said, "With that song you may have just won." Steven agreed and called her his "American Idol". "Lauren has it hands down," he added for emphasis.
As the all-country finale got underway, the two finalists entered the arena both dressed in pure white, with some country styling, as were the top 13 eliminated contestants who started off the show with a rendition of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way."
It wasn't clear if the wardrobe color choice was to signify the purity and innocence of the young finalists or just a fashion statement. Even judges Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson sported whitish outfits.
The American Idol producers managed to make the two-hour marathon finale an entertaining variety show of performances from this season's contestants and an array of music industry stars including Beyonce, Gladys Knight, Tony Bennett, Bono, Mark Anthony, Lady Gaga, Tom Jones and judge Steven Tyler.
Idol heavy metal rocker James Durbin, who was an early favorite to win the competition, performed "Breaking the Law" with Judas Priest, the entire ensemble dressed in black leather in contrast to the opening outfits for Lauren and Scotty.
Big-voiced Jacob Lusk, who made it into the top 10, took the stage with gospel star Kirk Franklin, soul legend Gladys Knight and a big chorus. Jazzy Casey Abrams rocked out with "School of Rock" and "Gulliver" and the forthcoming "Kung Fu Panda 2" Jack Black. The contingent of female competitors, sans Lauren, combined with Beyonce for a sexy number.
Haley Reinhart strutted her stuff with the legendary, 85-year-old Tony Bennett, singing and dancing to Irving Berlin's "Steppin' Out with My Baby." It was a major highlight of the entire season...or of all ten seasons.
Scotty, now dressed in black, took the stage with country star Tim McGraw, singing "Live Like You Were Dying." He showed that he belongs on that stage--he just needs some seasoning, the kind you get after leaving the familial nest.
JLo's spouse Mark Anthony livened up the finale with his Latin beat, which included JLo herself shaking her booty and dancing, while leaving the singing to the superior voice of her husband. Another major Idol finale highlight in what will go down as one of the year's best musical variety shows.
The top six men, all in black, performed a Tom Jones medley, and as expected the classic ballad singer joined them for a brief rendition of one of his many hits.
In an interlude from the musical acts, Lauren and Scotty were shown inviting their respective high school principal and chorus teacher to the finale. As part of the extensive product placement during the program, the two finalists presented the each of the educators with the keys to a Ford Focus. And to top it off, host Ryan Seacrest told Lauren and Scotty that Ford would give them the vehicle of their choice. You can imagine the two country singers choosing a Ford Bronco or F-100 as their ride.
The car presentation was followed by the exotic Lady Gaga performed her new hit, "The Edge of Glory." And following Lady Gaga, Lauren and Carrie Underwood teamed up for a rousing "Before He Cheats," followed by Beyonce debuting her new single, "One Plus One."
Bono and The Edge gave a lift to their troubled, performing one of the features songs as a Spidey flew on wires above the crowd and judges at the Nokia Theater.
The final performance was Steven Tyler showing off his vocal skills with his Aerosmith hit "Dream On," a fitting theme for end of the 2011 version of American Idol.