At the beginning of its reign, Fox’s “American Idol” raked in the ratings, topping out at over 38 million viewers. However, those ratings had been steadily declining since season 12, dropping below seven million viewers. In response to this, Fox announced in May of 2015 that season 15 would be the show’s last.
Surprisingly, after the ratings slump of previous seasons, this final season premiered at around 11 million viewers. The series finale followed that same trend, topping out at over 12 million viewers. There was one aspect that was present in all parts of this finale: nostalgia. It seemed to be one of the factors that contributed to the jump in ratings, and the show’s producers used that to their advantage. The two-hour finale was jam-packed with appearances and performances by members of the extensive Idol family. There were at least five different genre medleys, one David Bowie tribute, two duets and so much more.
Beginning the episode was a touching performance of Barry Manilow’s “One Voice” by past and present Idol contestants. Following this was an alum-studded collection of pop, rock, acoustic, soul and country medleys. Kelly Clarkson even performed a medley of her greatest hits, further proving why she still remains one of the most successful Idol winners. Not to be outdone, season 4 winner and highest-selling Idol Carrie Underwood showed her superstar talent in a performance of her hit “Something in the Water.”
Besides the stellar performances, this finale welcomed back some of the shows past judges and even a past host. Ryan Seacrest’s season 1 co-host Brian Dunkleman returned to give Ryan a good-natured hard time about “stealing his job.” Ryan was later honored when the original panel of Idol judges made an appearance. Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell presented Ryan with his own “American Idol” sign to recognize his stellar hosting of the show for the past 15 seasons. And, of course, Paula couldn’t resist taking one last dig at Simon for old time’s sake.
The battle to take the title of season 15 was between Trent Harmon and La’Porsha Renae. Because of her powerful voice and extensive range, everyone pegged La’Porsha to win. In the end, though, Harmon was crowned as the winner of Idol’s final season. This was a complete shock to some, but not so shocking to others. In the final round of performances, Harmon did an incredible rendition of Sia’s “Chandelier.” The performance was impossible to ignore and it was a testament to both his skill and development since the beginning of the season.
This finale was a great way to end the long, successful run of this show. Then again, maybe fans haven’t seen the last of Idol. There has been talk about the show returning at a later date. When asked about this being the farewell season, judge Keith Urban joked, “I think the Eagles have had at least three farewell tours.”
Plus, in an interview for “The Hollywood Reporter,” the show’s creator Simon Fuller said, “The next generation of Idol — and Idol will certainly be coming back for sure — will have a youthful glow and it will be pioneering again, just as it was when we first began.” So, as it says in Fuller’s interview, it would seem that “American Idol” will indeed be back “after the break.”