In a flurry of thank yous and literal sparks, 17-year-old Jordin Sparks was crowned the sixth season winner of “American Idol” tonight (May 23). Competing against 25-year-old Blake Lewis for the crown, the young Glendale, Ariz., native brought in the most of 74 million votes after Tuesday night’s final performance show.
As part of the finale broadcast on Fox from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Sparks scored a recording contract within the RCA Music Group as her prize.
Sparks wowed judges and voters with her powerful takes on Martina McBride’s soulful “Broken Wing” and Christina Aguilera’s punchy anthem “Fighter.” She was also moved to tears at the end of “This Is My Now,” a song chosen as the winner of the “American Idol” songwriting contest online, which she performed once more at the end of the ceremony.
Lewis, from Bothell, Wash., and Sparks performed the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” at the show’s inception. In fact, the Fab Four’s legacy was a running theme throughout the night as former Idols sang a tribute to “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and Green Day performed John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” which they covered for the upcoming “Instant Karma” charity compilation.
A number of former “Idol” finalists, including Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Hicks, Sanjaya Malakar and Carrie Underwood performed during the show. Sparks had a duet with season two winner Ruben Studdard on Marvin Gaye’s “You’re All I Need to Get By.”
Other show highlights included a beatboxing showdown between Lewis and Doug E. Fresh, a collaboration between third-place finisher Melinda Doolittle with CeCe and BeBe Winans, Bette Midler singing her famous “Wind Beneath My Wings” and a song from Gladys Knight with the six top female finishers.
Sparks’ rendition of “This Is My Now,” her first single, can be sampled at AOL Music.
Sparks shares her new winning title with prior “Idol” champs Hicks, Underwood, Clarkson, Studdard and Fantasia Barrino.
For more “American Idol” coverage, visit the Billboard blog at JadedInsider.com.