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Thursday May 21, 2009 6:03 pm

American Idol 8: Finale!

American Idol

Weeks of auditions, eliminations and memorable performances would finally culminate in a single evening of music and melodrama. Yes, it’s the finale of 8.

Various celebrities sat in the crowd as warmed up the episode. Almost 100 million votes were logged after Tuesday’s performance round.

A montage of Randy Jackson clips served as the dog’s intro, he who, for reasons quite beyond me, wore a bow tie for the evening. Kara DioGuardi moments followed, and I never realized she had such a tendency to use the word “sweetie.” She looked great for the evening, at least. The same can’t be said for Paula Abdul, who wore a hideous ensemble. Her clip showed her saying a lot of words, the meanings of which she likely doesn’t understand. Simon Cowell’s video tribute was, of course, the most entertaining of all.

The host then introduced the two stars of the evening: Kris Allen and Adam Lambert. The judges stood up for the men as they took the stage. Each wore white; both looked very different. The sound equipment was hardly functioning when the two touched based with Seacrest.

A gaggle of girls stood in Conway, Arkansas (Kris Allen country) to hear the results. Carly Smithson reported from Symphony Hall (what a sad gig), where Lambert fans gathered to await the final vote count. But each camp would sit through many more video clips, performances, and general hoohah before they would find out what they most wanted to know: who won?

The Top 13 then stepped on stage to sing “So What.” All wore white, which has been used before, and everything sounded utterly horrible. It wasn’t a good song for them to sing, either. Boring choreography and bad sound just ruined this one totally. The fact that it went on for ever - seriously, I’m sure I slipped into an alternate reality for a couple of hours - didn’t help matters at all.

then appeared to sing “Permanent.” It’s an Idol tradition for last year’s winner to turn up on the current season’s finale, but I would have expected Cook to get better billing (really? The second performance of the evening?). The song was good and David sounded great, and that’s coming from someone who never was a fan. It was, all told, a really wonderful performance. The performance of Cook’s song is available on iTunes. The proceeds of this arrangement will go to fund cancer research. This is a reference to Cook’s recently-departed brother (this is also why he was wearing a black armband).

It was then time for the Idol awards, a funny little presentation they work up every year to honor audition standouts from the early weeks of the show. I waited anxiously for Tatiana Del Toro to be featured. But first, Idol paid tribute to the men. A clip of amazingly bad auditions followed. Nick Mitchell (Normund Gentle) was the big standout from this group. I still absolutely adore him. He was, of course, a shoo-in for the award.

I desperately wanted a performance from Mitchell, who delivered an acceptance speech and then launched into the most amusing performance of the night. Nick Mitchell is fabulous - with a capital F.

Lil Rounds performed “Cue the Rain” with - a huge coup for Lil. Nothing bad could ever be said about anything Latifah does, and her mere presence made Rounds a thousand times better. It was a fantastic performance, even following Normund Gentle’s immensely pleasing number.

Anoop Desai began the show after the commercial break. He was joined by Alexis Grace and Jason Mraz so the three could sing “I’m Yours.” The other Idols showed up after the first chorus to add more to the performance, but it was still pretty awful.

‘s clip played next. He auditioned in Louisville, Kentucky (the same place where this article is being written) and impressed the judges early in Hollywood Week. I barely noticed Kris until he was surprisingly voted into the Top 13. Again, I feel the need to point out the correct pronunciation of the city. For some reason, people are still getting it wrong. Ahem. Loo-uh-vull. Not Looeyville, not Loo-iss-ville. Loo-uh-vull.

Allen performed “Kiss a Girl” with country superstar Keith Urban. With their guitars, worn jeans and classic good looks, this number was going to be an easy sell regardless. That they both managed to sound great (and at the same time, no less) was just an added bonus. I have to admit, it was enjoyable watching.

The ladies of the Top 13 - Megan Joy, Lil Rounds, Jasmine Murray, Allison Iraheta, Alexis Grace - then started a performance of “Glamorous.” Megan still can’t sing, Alexis is no loner a darling of the judges and the costuming was terrible. Iraheta announced Fergie, who strutted out on stage to sing the rest of her song. She looked great from head to toe - especially toe (did you see how fantastic those heels were?).

The Idols then cleared the stage for the Black Eyed Peas, who turned up the heat with their performance. The FCC got a little button-happy during the beginning of the number, cutting out most of Fergie’s first lyrics. The rollicking show pumped the crowd into a frenzy.

The awards presentation continued after the exciting performance. Best Attitude became the next category. The nominees included Bikini Girl Katrina Darrell, who of course was the winner. She appeared on stage in a sexy bikini, naturally, while came to his feet to applaud her. She then performed, proving again why she didn’t make it into the Top 13…or even the Top 24.

suddenly appeared on stage with Darrell, a funny treat for viewers who watched the judge square off against Darrell early in the season. Just as she knew she could, DioGuardi absolutely out-sang Katrina - then unbelievably ripped open her dress to reveal a black bikini!

Y’all, it was the highlight of the night.

, the Top 4 finisher, sang “Time After Time” with none other than Cyndi Lauper. This was a great song and a great pairing for Allison, whom I still say is going to have an incredible career. It was a beautiful performance.

Top 3 finisher had his time to shine next. He gently crooned the Lionel Ritchie joint he performed earlier in the year. Gokey is a strong singer, highly likable and good-looking…and he’s going to have quite a nice career even before the Idol bloom starts to wear off. Gokey then introduced Lionel Ritchie (Nicole’s dad) to the stage.

This was another perfect pairing, and together these two lovers melted the heart of every woman in the audience. Proof in point: was on her feet and swaying almost from the word go. Together they sang “Just Chill,” and offered up another great musical moment for the finale. The pair quickly launched into “All Night Long,” and I’m wondering if Gokey shouldn’t make a few guest appearances on Ritchie’s next tour (should there be one).

’s tribute clip then played. He auditioned in San Francisco. Lambert offered up surprising performances - and wild fashion - all year long, gaining early media attention and immediate judge idolatry. Many in the crowd came to their feet as he appeared on stage in an extremely weird getup. It reminded me of Edward Scissorhands, and I wasn’t at all sure what he was singing. I think the song might be named “Beth” - since the word was repeated about twenty-five times, it’s a safe assumption.

He introduced KISS - WOW! - and the strange getup became a bit more clear. This was the most awesome moment in all of Idol history, for me personally. Amid pyrotechnic wonders, the band worked the song to a frenzy with Adam’s strong rock vocals on display. “Detroit Rock City,” and you’d better believe it.

This quickly turned, of course, into KISS’ anthem song. Gene Simmons made the song hot, Adam set it off. It this wasn’t the YouTube moment of the season, then I don’t know what was. Lambert definitely got the best number, and I’m ready to call it the best finale in eight years.

Carlos Santana had the unenviable task of following the act. He strummed out some of his famous licks, which felt very slow-paced after the unbelievable energy KISS brought to the theatre. Matt Giraud appeared out of nowhere to sing the lyrics of “Black Magic Woman,” before he ran up on stage for a more upbeat lick (where he was joined by the other Idols). Everyone had the opportunity to sing a few bars on this one. This performance of “Smooth” was one of their better group numbers on the year, but you’ve got to give a lot of that to Carlos Santana himself, for the choreography was uninspiring and I wasn’t even that big on the singing. I was actually screaming to see more KISS by this point.

The final Ford music video of the year followed, featuring Kris Allen and Adam Lambert singing as clips of their past videos played. It was a little sappy and more than a bit under-produced, but whatever.

David Cook then came on the screen to introduce a “big surprise” for the year’s Top 2. He met up with them outside Idol headquarters to present them with brand-new 2010 Ford Fusion hybrids. This was more of a commercial than anything, but hey, they got free cars. Sweet.

Megan Joy, Michael Sarver and Steve Martin performed a delightful little ditty for the crowd after these videos aired. I still just love Michael Sarver. Still can’t stand to hear Megan sing - but, as always, she looked quite lovely. I just wish she’d be quiet. Okay, so the performance was horrific, with Sarver serving as the only saving grace. I couldn’t figure what Steve Martin was doing there, and I kept waiting for him to do more. Evidently the song is called “Pretty Flowers” and it’s on his new album.

That programming blip now out of the way, it was time to get down to more group performances. The male Idols again took the stage, wearing suits, this time to sing Rod Stewart (of all things). All this is really promotion for the Idol summer tour, which features the Top 10 and will be heading to a state fair near you just as temperatures rise to unbearable levels. Speaking of unbearable, pretty intolerable number.

Rod Steward of course appeared, looking quite wild in his very loud jacket. Crooning “Maggie May,” Rod can still carry a tune. Is he big enough for the Idol stage? Who knows. I guess he hits someone’s demographic. I wonder where KISS was at this point on the show. I pretty much thought about that number until Rod finally cleared off the stage, which he did after some pretty bad dance moves.

The last award was then presented. I was thinking of only one name: . As suspected, the last category was for Outstanding Female, and Del Toro has pretty much had this in a lock from her first thirty seconds in front of a camera. I still love, love, love Tatiana, and only have this to say: more.

After the nominee clip, my favorite Idol took the stage - after breaking through security. A very cute skit followed, with Del Toro running about the stage as guards tried to grab her. I wish she’d been given more time, because I just can’t get enough. If she’s not doing a regular vlog somewhere, she’s missing an opportunity.

Adam Lambert and Kris Allen sang together at last, another Idol tradition. Their song was “We Are the Champions,” which I absolutely loved. Of course, members of Queen appeared as support for this huge number. As Kris and Adam belted it out, the judges came to their feet and the smoke machines set the atmosphere. It was a great number. With the other members of the Top 13 looking on, the two stars of the night lit up of the stage.

But by the end of the evening, one would stand alone. Ryan Seacrest stood on the stage with Kris Allen and Adam Lambert for the final time. He threw the cameras over to .

“I thought you were both brilliant. Unusually incredibly nice people. And I think that both of you should be very proud of what you achieved last night, and the future’s all yours,” Simon seemed sincere for once, but for once his words wouldn’t carry a whole lot of weight. There is no more voting. There is no more counting. There are no more nights. What’s done is done, and even Cowell can’t change it now.

Ryan Seacrest called for the results, which were brought forth in an envelope. The certified result was passed to the host, and a world record for Idol votes declared. “What a number,” Seacrest sighed, and called for the house lights to dim.

As Allen and Lambert stood shoulder to shoulder, the name was announced: Kris Allen. The theatre exploded and the Top 2 embraced. Conway, Arkansas went nuts. This was, of course, the only result which would do. Kris is the perfect Idol, just as I said before. He was presented a trophy (silver microphone) as he received pats on the back from Seacrest. Which one’s more marketable to the masses? I guess now, we know.

“Thank you,” Allen stammered happily into the microphone (but not the trophy). Kris then took the spotlight to sing “No Boundaries,” which we can now call his winning song. He will officially join the pantheon of reality royalty, the winner of .


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