Thursday night's (Dec. 20) "X Factor" finale seemed destined to be a nail-biter following a too-close-to-call competition show during which all three finalists turned in some of their best performances of the 2012 season.
The final results didn't disappoint, with Tate Stevens emerging victorious over Carly Rose Sonenclar, previously the favorite to win the $5 million recording contract.
But as many of these singing competition finales go, receiving the overall results was by far the most interesting aspect of the night, despite a star-studded cast and multiple opportunities to hear one's favorite finalist sing. Nothing bad, just not necesarily packed with the kind of WOW moments that stick with viewers for .
Let's relive the top moments of the finale:
5. "Kiss You" - One Direction
The "X Factor" alums visited the USA stage to perform their newest single, "Kiss You." If you hadn't heard the song already, you probably found it to be, well, the group's usual -- upbeat and about getting yourself a nice girl that you want to kiss because she's got that one thing that makes her beautiful. Or something. Anyway, we also discovered, as per the video game screens behind the boys, that Zayn is the best gamer of the bunch. And Harry is the worst. Zayn4Eva.
4. Britney Spears's Horrified Face Montage
YOU JUST KNEW THESE MONTAGES WERE COMING. Anyone who's seen Simon Cowell's other shows could've guessed there'd be something of him "not being rude" while comparing performances to a dog sounding like it was laying an egg, and "X Factor" didn't disappoint... I guess? But at least we got basically a collection of GIFs of Britney Spears making weird faces, which later included a reaction shot of Britney looking mildly horrified in the bottom left corner. Britneyception!
3. "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" - Fifth Harmony
Each finalist got in the Christmas mood with solo performances, each song apparently tailored to the 'my homeslice isn't here for Christmas but that's who I want here for Christmas' crowd. Prior to the girls' elimination, Fifth Harmony did a commendable "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," the five-piece's vocals meshing well and presenting a cover that could have been a nice Christmas single if Christmas wasn't in a few days anyway. Oops.
2. "The Climb" - Carly Rose Sonenclar and Tate Stevens
Hey, speaking of possible singles! The Miley Cyrus song is apparently a great choice for young singing competition entrants who need a semi-inspirational song that's not too difficult to sing and can get judges to lather on some praises (see: Hollie Cavanagh, "American Idol" 2012). Sonenclar was spot-on with her performance, with Stevens adding a country twang that recalled what would happen if Miley and daddy Billy Ray Cyrus would duet on it. A nice final performance before the results.
1. Tate Stevens Wins "The X Factor"
Like I said in the beginning, nothing could top the crowning of the eventual winner -- and why should it have, anyway? After trading the top spot and therefore certified favorite status over the course of the season, the 37-year-old Stevens took one back -- for himself and for country music -- with his victory, following in the footsteps of "American Idol" 2011 victor Scotty McCreery, even though Stevens is over twice McCreery's age. In the case of Stevens vs. Sonenclar, the former probably has the chance to get on the radio quicker, while the latter will undoubtedly make it there -- after a few more years and subsequent maturity added to her already great voice. Many love pulling for the underdog, and once Sonenclar pulled back ahead, Stevens was certainly that.