So, there was a two hour plus finale, and during that finale, a bunch of kids performed to show the world (and the music industry) what they could, and in some cases, could not do. Also during that finale, a bunch of veteran performers, some extremely veteran, showed the country that they could do it better, and also to push whatever movies, tours or albums they had coming up in the near future. And a winner was declared that surprised no one at all, and wouldn’t have surprised them two months ago.
We begin with the top 13 all in white – this seems to be the tradition. And they’re singing a somewhat censored and chorus-less “Born this Way”, and they’re not doing a bad job. No one is messing up the choreography, everyone is more or less in tune, and I think I hear some harmony, even. And it’s nice seeing Ashthon and Naima and Thia and Karen again – the women of color, the ones who went first.
This leads into something I never thought I’d see on Idol, and I’ve seen Live and KISS and even Queen on that stage. Last year, Bret Michaels, fresh from brain surgery and Celebrity Apprentice, sang a duet with Casey James (best thing of THAT night, or one of them). But seeing Judas Priest rock it on the Idol stage? That’s SURREAL. And, yes, they have a tour coming up, and yes, they have street cred to BURN so it’s not going to be hurt by this, but it’s still weird. Of course, James joins them on the stage, and he screams and sings and he’s having more fun than he ever has in his entire life. He absorbs the cheers that are, in all liklihood, meant at least in part for him.
Then there is a package on Randy and his verbal tics.
And now it’s Jacob’s turn, and he’s singing a gospel type song called “I Smile” with Kirk Franklin, and this is where Jacob belongs, where his voice and oversinging and passion shine instead obscure the song he’s singing. And then Gladys Knight (appearing at the Tropicana) appears and joins them as they sing about the tornedos and the destruction they caused, and a number to text, but mostly it’s Jacob finally allowed to be Jacob again.
Casey gets his turn next, and he’s singing “Fat Bottomed Girls” with Jack Black, and this one is just for fun, just for the laughs, and to publicize Kung Fu Panda 2. And it is fun – the two guys are having a blast together, even when some decidedly not fat bottomed dancers come out with bicycles. Here, again, is someone just enjoying himself. And I have realized something – in this season of angst and power and quiet, steady competence and consistency, what we have missed is fun. Except maybe for James, who got pyro and marching bands and how would that not be fun?
This is followed, after Ryan fills some time, with the top thirteen women (minus Lauren, who was probably saving her voice) singing a medley of Beyonce hits. They’re all wearing red, they all look lovely, and even if the songs don’t fit all the singers, at least they tried hard and it was fun. And then, Beyonce herself shows up and there is NO ONE else on the stage. Oh, the lady Idol are still there, and there are dancers now, too, and she dances and sings with them, but the stage belongs to Beyonce because SHE is a star and someday one of these girls may be, too, but not now.
At this point, I’m thinking this is very front-loaded – all these big pair-ups and medleys happening in the early part of the show – what are they doing this for? What are they saving for the end? I’d’ve thought they would have ended with Judas Priest or maybe Beyonce.
Steven package now – and he was so much better during the audition process before he became a marshmallow.
Haley gets her duet with Tony Bennett, who is 84 years old. And it’s fun, and she looks gorgeous, and he’s pushing an album, but we were expecting Haley to sing a new single. I guess not. She just lets loose and there’s that joy again.
Now Jennifer gets her package, and it’s about how everyone loves her and how Randy won’t let her get complimented. Poor most beautiful woman in the world.
TLC (sort of, since Left Eye is gone, and replaced by Lil John – and I only know that from reading other recaps. I am sorry.) sings songs I don’t know with Naima, Thia, Karen and Ashthon. I don’t remember much of this, but the girls feel like an afterthought. This should have been a clue, maybe.
Ryan tells us we’re going to hear the singer of the hit “Live Like You’re Dying” and for a moment, just for a moment, I wonder, but no. It’s not Kris Allen, it’s Tim McGraw, who has a song with that name, and he’s singing with Scotty – finally, a finalist duet. It’s a song about living like you were given a death sentence by your doctor. Just the right song to sing with a seventeen year old boy. They sing well together and Scotty is, well. Scotty. He’s always Scotty, I think.
We get the bad audition package.
And then things start to get strange, because this is not my Idol Finale. The idea is that the big name artists are there to entertain and maybe to push something but the point is to celebrate these kids, who have gotten as far as they’ve gotten, and ten of whom (eleven this year) will be touring the country and who will have careers in music no matter what, but maybe one or two will be famous, will maybe achieve stardom. And so you have past winners, and you have big names, and they sing WITH the kids, or at least the kids sing a verse or a chorus, or something. And we’ve had that until this point.
But now the show changes, and I’m not happy. Because at this point, Marc Anthony – Jennifer’s husband – takes the stage. I don’t know the song, but he’s great and handsome and he sells it, and then Jennifer comes out and dances very suggestively and there isn’t an Idol in sight. And you know Marc’s only there because Jennifer wanted that. I don’t even think he’s selling anything, although Jennifer is.
And this? Is followed by a cute package where Casey and James argue about whose elimination(s) were the bigger shock, and it’s funny and gets brilliant when Pia walks on with a sash and a crown and shuts them up.
Wasn’t she supposed to debut a single, too?
And then the boys come on, doing an endless medley of Tom Jones hits, except for Stefano who belts out Prince like he was meant to do it, to be joined by Sir Tom Jones (yes, he’s been knighted) himself. And maybe I’m just old, but to me, he’s still sexy as ever. More than most of those boys right now. And it’s fine.
So I’m fooled here. Marc Anthony was the anomaly, wasn’t he?
The finalists have asked their favorite teachers – Lauren’s principal and Scotty’s very pretty choir teacher – to come to the finale, after they do a Ford-sponsored fund-raiser. Did they do the same for Haley’s old high school, too? Now that they’re in Hollywood, the kids give the keys to Ford Focuses. And then these two children, who are barely old enough to drive if they even know how, are given the Ford car of their choice.
And then we get Lady Gaga. Who is singing “Edge of Glory” on the top of a mountain and wearing her costume until she takes it off and she’s in a bikini. And then a gorgeous mostly naked dancer comes up the mountain and he dances with her and then simulates sex with her as Clarence Clemons plays the sax. And this is supposed to be wholesome, family, mostly sex-free Idol, where Adam Lambert was mostly shot from the waist up and they censored Gaga’s own lyric at the beginning of this very show (and where two men held hands on the red carpet before the show, but that’s a different story.) But they jump off into a blue volcano at the end and we’re all…wow. This is not Idol, nor was there an Idol in sight.
And okay, they’re alternating because now it’s Lauren’s turn for a duet, and she’s singing with Carrie Underwood – “Before He Cheats.” Also not that age-appropriate, and I will never understand the logic of vandalizing someone’s car and signing your name. This is not the sort of work that needs a signature, EVER. But it’s fun and up and utterly not morbid and the two ladies sing it out, and Lauren even keeps up.
So maybe big name and Idol performance alternate until the kids have their own duet? I can live with that.
There’s a package again – this time on how young the kids are. Casey is hilarious – they’re in grade school, they can’t read, they’re learning cursive, while he himself learned it five years ago. Because we forget that Casey was nineteen when this whole thing began and so is only a couple years older than Scotty.
And now Beyonce sings again,and I’m not happy. Oh, she’s gorgeous and can sing (although I find this song not so great) but why does she sing twice? And alone? We already knew Lee wasn’t getting a song even though he won last year, and it feels like this was what his song was sacrificed for. He could at least have done a charity single, as David Cook did for S8.
Because she’s followed not by anything with the kids, but with Bono and The Edge plus Reeve Carney singing a song from “Spider-Man”, which makes Beyonce’s look up and cheery. And, yay, Bono and the Edge on the Idol stage, but it’s just to revive a musical that’s become a joke.
And then there is Steven at the piano, and he’s singing “DreamOn” and I can’t be angry because this is wonderful – this is Steven showing who and what he really is, and that’s NOT a judge, or a writer or anything but a performer and he’s more alive there than he has been all season. Although my Twitter feed decides they want to see Danny Gokey come out and sing, and while he doesn’t, he DOES trend on Twitter. That would be five performances with no Idol at all.
He also ends it too fast because this IS a results show and there are two children waiting to find out their fates. Ryan gets the envelope and milks it, but Scotty wins as he was always going to win. He doesn’t actually sing as cry and hug people, although he scorns Jack Black. He also thanks the Lord, because that’s who Scotty is.
And this season that began in such promise ends with a terrible song and a shower of confetti on a boy too young for the songs he sings.