Warning! The following contains spoilers for the American Idol Season 19 finale. Read at your own risk!
American Idol's Season 19 finale was a full three hours of songs, surprises, and sappy moments, but as fun as that all was, viewers really wanted to know who was going to win by the end. It was a tight race between finalists Grace Kinstler, Willie Spence, and Chayce Beckham, and unlike past seasons, it wasn't so readily apparent who was the favorite going into the finale. Of course, a winner was revealed at the end of the night, though the winner may not have been who many expected.
The first big shock of the night came when the first elimination was announced, and Grace Kinstler was awarded third place. Kinstler had kicked off the night with an epic rendition of Celine Dion's "All By Myself," and she seemed poised to make the final push to win the entire competition. Unfortunately for her and her fans, she was the finale's first cut, which put it all in Willie Spence and Chayce Beckham's hands. Both men looked thrilled to be standing side by side, and confirmed to Ryan Seacrest they'd be happy with the other contestant winning.
After that, audiences heard from past competitors like Murphy, Alyssa Wray, paired with celebrities like Chaka Khan and Luke Combs, but finally, the time had come. Ryan Seacrest kept the fans in suspense as long as he could, but after a dramatic pause for suspense, Seacrest revealed that Chayce Beckham was the winner of American Idol Season 19.
In what can be described as a stunning upset, Chayce Beckham did the unthinkable. While it's true all three finalists were super-talented, Willie Spence seemingly had the Idol crown practically on his head from his first audition. Both Spence and Beckham were poised to have a successful career regardless of who won, which might be why there was no love lost between them in those final moments before and after the winner was announced.
The Season 19 finale put a bow on what has been one of the roughest seasons for American Idol in recent memory, thanks in some part to the slew of controversy partially beyond the producers' control. If nothing else, I would expect the screening of contestants to be a little more stringent in Season 20, so that there will be less of a reason for contestants to decide to drop out after making it into the later rounds. Beyond those kerfuffles, this was one of the best seasons in terms of vocal talent, and I would be very surprised if Chayce Beckham is the only one of these finalists with a bright future ahead.