Lee DeWyze bests Crystal Bowersox to become ninth 'American Idol'

After a ninth-season finale that was by turns sentimental, silly and surreal, the American Idol results are in, and Lee DeWyze is this year's winner.

DeWyze, of Mount Prospect, Ill, wins a recording contract, and his first single will be a cover of U2's Beautiful Day .

DeWyze appeared so stunned that he looked as if he could barely remain standing.

"I'm just happy, man," DeWyze said to host Ryan Seacrest. "I've never been happier in my life."

As much as Seacrest said the night was about DeWyze and runner-up Crystal Bowersox, just as much of it was about departing judge Simon Cowell, who was the subject of many tributes that mixed sincere appreciation with tongue-in-cheek remembrances of his caustic attitude, ego and flirtatious ways. Former judge Paula Abdul, a longtime Cowell foil, returned to lead the lengthiest of the tributes, which featured former Idol winners, including Burleson's Kelly Clarkson, serenading Cowell.

"I didn't think I was going to be this emotional, but I genuinely am," Cowell said.

The night was stuffed with returning contestants from this and past seasons, as well as with guest stars performing with them.

The night started on a weird note when this season's top 12, dressed in school uniforms, did a version of Alice Cooper's School's Out that climaxed with Cooper himself singing the final choruses.

Parker County's Casey James performed Poison's Every Rose Has Its Thorn along with Poison singer Bret Michaels, making his second reality-show appearance this week after winning The Celebrity Apprentice and recovering from serious health problems. Duncanville's Tim Urban was featured when the male finalists sang Hall and Oates' Maneater, followed by Daryl Hall and John Oates themselves performing their hit You Make My Dreams Come True.

Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872