If the world does end Friday as predicted by the Mayan calendar, the second season of "X Factor" sure went out with a bang Thursday (December 20) night as it crowned its new champion.
The producers pulled out all the stops with a performance-packed, holiday-themed, two-hour finale that ended with the news that after 35 million votes cast, America chose soulful, sensitive country crooner Tate Stevens as the contestant with the x-factor and is most deserving of the show's very lucrative grand prize, a $5 million recording contract.
"First and foremost I have to thank the man upstairs for taking care of me," Stevens said, trying to catch his breath. "To my family all the county music fans, God bless you. Thank you so much for the votes. This is the best day of my life!"
Stevens' coach LA Reid was beaming with pride and happiness for his contestant.
"Congratulations to you. You deserve this," Reid said to Stevens. "I'm proud to work with you. I think you represent 'X Factor' really well, on behalf of myself and 'X Factor' judges, congratulations!"
Rounding out the top three finishers this season were 13-year-old Broadway baby/diva-in-the-making Carly Rose Sonenclar in second place and the little engine that could, girl group Fifth Harmony in third place.
Performance-wise, the two-hour finale was a swan song of group and solo performances by the three final acts, which included the Beatles classic "All You Need Is Love" that opened the show, and a few seasonal selections, holiday-themed favorites "Please Come Home For Christmas," "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)," and "All I Want For Christmas Is You." The final joint performance from the contestants was a duet between Sonenclar and Stevens who sang Miley Cyrus' "The Climb," and then Stevens closed out the evening and the season with "Tomorrow."
Naturally the most enthusiastic and sonorous audience reaction came during the special guest appearances by One Direction. The superstar boy band, which got its start on the U.K. edition of "X Factor," brought the house down with their performance of their latest hit "Kiss You," which they sang from atop a giant pair of red lips. We were also treated to a little Latin flavor via Mr. Worldwide a.k.a. Pitbull, who performed his single "Don't Stop The Party."