When Lee DeWyze was crowned the ninth American Idol on Wednesday night, you could practically hear people across the country exclaim, "So what?"

The victory for the 24-year-old paint-store clerk from greater Chicagoland capped the most lackluster (and least-watched) season in some years.

Both DeWyze and runner-up Crystal Bowersox are good singers but markedly deficient in charisma. Neither improved significantly over the course of the competition, the hallmark of the best Idol winners.

2010 may well be most remembered as the Idol swan song for Simon Cowell, who has served as the acrid anchor of the judging panel since the show began.

Idol bade the bilious Brit farewell with an awkwardly and endearingly halting testimonial from castoff Paula Abdul and a musical tribute sung by seven of the eight previous winners. (Where was David Cook?)

It was an evening of truncated performances by singers on the senior circuit, from Alice Cooper to two-thirds of the Bee Gees.

The lowlight was a desecration of Hall and Oates' "Maneater" by this year's male contestants. The highlight was Michael McDonald schooling Mike Lynch on "Takin' It to the Streets."

We were also treated to the best reality-show crossover ever as Bret Michaels, recent winner of Celebrity Apprentice dueted with Casey James on Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn."

The night was primarily devoted to flogging the summer Idol tour by the top 12. It will need help. When this dreary dozen took the stage last night, it made you seriously question why you watched Idol at all this season.

Near the end, a choked-up Cowell said goodbye, concluding: "It's been a blast."

Well, until this year, it has been.

- David Hiltbrand