The last "American Idol" winner has been crowned and the massively successful reality program has signed off for the last time – we presume, though "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest did bid America goodnight "for now."
The final episode of "Idol" ended with singer Trent Harmon winning season 15 and included various past "Idol" winners and contestants performing onstage, including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
Even President Obama popped up during the episode in a taped segment, an indicator of how big the viewing audience was sure to be. Mr. Obama took the opportunity to encourage viewers to vote in the presidential election.
The "Idol" winner was set to receive a recording contract from 19/Big Machine Records, and Mr. Harmon will indeed be signed to one, but Big Machine Label Group founder and chief executive office Scott Borchetta recently stated that runner-up La'Porsha Renae will be signed to one, too.
"I can’t think of a better way to bring this American institution to a close," Mr. Borchetta told Billboard.
The end of "Idol" after 15 seasons signals the end of a pop-culture dominating franchise. The show experienced incredibly successful ratings and brought singers such as Ms. Clarkson, Ms. Underwood, Chris Daughtry, and Phillip Phillips to national prominence.
But often contestants didn't need to win the competition to become household names. After famously departing "Idol" in 2004, singer Jennifer Hudson starred in a 2006 film adaptation of the musical "Dreamgirls" and won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role. Singer Adam Lambert, who placed second in 2009, has toured with the band Queen, among other projects.
New York Times writer Edward Wyatt reported in 2010 that contestants who made the top five could earn close to $100,000 from their time on the program and even more so if they get a record deal from those behind "Idol."
The popularity of "Idol" was such that some singers didn't need to win to have received enough attention from being on the program to become a success.
"[Hudson] did not win the third season of American Idol but she is one of the most memorable and successful contestants to date," International Business Times writer Alicia Adejobi wrote.