If the winner of season 9 of 'American Idol' were to be determined by who performed best, Crystal Bowersox would be the victor. She outperformed winner Lee DeWyze hands down during Tuesday’s finale.

However, that is not the case – nor was it last year when Kris Allen trumped front-runner Adam Lambert for the title.

"American Idol" history has shown that the best doesn’t necessarily take the prize. It hasn’t been that way in the past, so why change now?

At Lee’s best, Crystal is better. She made a few poor song choices and sported dreadlocks, perhaps alienating some. That said, I, along with the majority of my family and friends, correctly predicted a Lee DeWyze win. We liked both singers, however, and admitted that we would be OK with either winning.

It was important for Lee DeWyze to win, as it was for Kris Allen during season 8. From the start, it was quite evident that Crystal Bowersox and Adam Lambert would succeed despite their "runner up" status.

Undoubtedly, Lee DeWyze emerged as the contestant who showed the most growth during season 9. He started out as this really shy guy with a very commercial voice who could sing up a storm. He knew he had it within himself to win, and he just had to accept that truth and act upon it.

Throughout the season, he managed to stay true to himself, putting emotion into his songs, and in the process, he accumulated a very loyal fan base.

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The judges told him week in and week out to be more confident and embrace that he could really win this contest … and to SMILE. They dubbed him the season’s "dark horse."

His biggest fan was Simon Cowell, who gave him a parting gift which, in our opinion, helped him clinch the title – the Leonard Cohen song "Hallelujah" (one of Simon’s favorites).

Lee, being very emotional, displayed his vulnerability during the finale in the moments before Ryan Seacrest announced that he was the winner. He looked like he was going to get sick, only to be comforted by a caring Crystal, who whispered to him that he would win and that she loved him. She’s a class act for sure.

The morning after the finale, Crystal revealed in an interview with Ryan Seacrest on his radio show that she had just broken up with her boyfriend, Tony, who she had previously described as being very supportive during her "Idol" stint. "It's cool though, we're both logical, grown adults," Bowersox said. "He's a small-town guy and that's fine, I'm a small-town girl, but I want this. I want this more than anything, this career, this lifestyle. I didn't think he was up for it ... he didn't think he was up for it."

Here’s the nitty-gritty as to the rest of my group’s thoughts. Tweens Nicky and Deanna T., whose faves Aaron Kelly and "Big Mike" Lynche respectively were eliminated, decided to root for a Crystal win, if for no other reason than that the name of their school is E.W. Bower Elementary School in Lindenhurst.

And I’m proud to say that my 3-year-old granddaughter Alex correctly predicted that Lee DeWyze would win. Since the finale was way past her bedtime, she was told by mom Tracey the next morning that Lee had won.

She was so excited and exclaimed to her dad, Dennis, "Daddy, daddy … Lee won and Crystal lost, just like Kris won and Adam lost." She has a mind like an elephant and never forgets a thing!

The bottom line is that both Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze will have floodgates open to them that would not have been possible were it not for being contestants on "American Idol." In fact, according to Billboard.com, both Lee and Crystal have signed record deals – Lee with 19 Recordings Limited and RCA and Crystal with 19 Recordings Limited and Jive Records.

Yes, it is "A Beautiful Day" for both of these young performers as they emerge from the "American Idol" bubble and prepare for the new life that lies ahead of them.

PHOTOS: See what everyone wore on the "American Idol" finale | Lee, Crystal and Casey go home | "Idol" top 12 party with "Glee" stars

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REWIND: See the winners and top finalists from each season of "American Idol"

MORE: Read all of our other "American Idol" posts

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