American Idol – My final thoughts on the Finale

American Idol – My final thoughts on the Finale

Before I go through all of the performances from last night- – just let me say that I really enjoyed the show.  It struck the right balance between irreverence and respect.  Were all of the performances great?  No.  But, on balance, I thought it was a solid show.

I also want to congratulate Lee on his win.  He came a long way over the course of the season –and his voice, when recorded, was one of the better this year (live is another story…).  I’m anxious to see what kind of record he is allowed to make.  I also want to congratulate Crystal.  She came in as an independent musician and stayed that course.  More importantly, though, she had fun.  She was able to embrace the Idol experience and strike the right balance between making the most of it, and staying true to herself.  She proved that you CAN be an artist, with a strong sense of self, and not be consumed by the machine that is American Idol.  I hope she opens the door for more artists like her next year.

So, all in all, not the best year for Idol ever – but still not bad.  It came on stronger in the last few weeks and, as I’ve said before – I’m still watching.  I can’t wait to see what type of music Lee, Crystal, and Casey make (I’ll be sure to review their records once the come out).  For now, you can find my full review of each of the performances from last night after the jump.  Until next season, The Word Zombie out…

School’s Out – Alice Cooper / Top 12
The show started out with the top twelve singing “School’s Out”.  With Orianthi leading the way with some stellar guitar playing, the top twelve looked only slightly stiff as they started the number (although it was clear that Siobhan was having far too much fun…).  I particularly loved “we-don’t-need-no-education-we’re-wearing -Alice-Cooper-make-up”  children’s choir.  Idol’s come a long way.  Alice himself was not bad – getting a little long in the tooth, but the number was a good way to start the show.

The Truth – Kris Allen
Next up was reigning American Idol winner Kris Allen with his new single, “The Truth”.  I liked Kris on the show, but whoever put his album together did him no favors.  There is only one song I care for on the record –and this isn’t it.  It doesn’t fit his voice, or the style of music that helped him win the title.  Not a good showing for Kris.  (It didn’t help that Ryan’s mic was left open at the start of the song, and you could hear him chatting with one of the judges).

How Deep Is Your Love – The Bee Gees / Siobhan Magnus / Aaron Kelly
I was stunned at just how GOOD Siobhan and Aaron sounded together at the beginning of this song.  Their voices worked so well together – I wish they could have done the entire song by themselves.  But, lest we forget, this was the finale, and chock full of musical acts.  Barry Gibb sounded okay, if a little older – but it wasn’t until the final note of the song that he broke out the falsetto warble that melted a million polyester covered hearts back in the 70’s.  Robin Gibb looked uncomfortable and slightly overwhelmed by the entire spectacle.  Siobhan seemed genuinely excited to be there, and put her all into the performance.  I have to wonder is Aaron even knows who the Bee Gees are…

Taking It To The Streets – Michael McDonald / Big Mike
It really looked to me like Mike didn’t want to be there last night.  He seemed as cocky as ever, and this song really didn’t fit him.  Mike’s problem was always that his voice just didn’t have the substance and depth to match his physical appearance.  His voice was very small for the type of singer that he wanys to be.  Now – take that and put it next to Michael McDonald, and you just exacerbate the problem.  McDonald has a huge, rich, soulful voice – everything that Mike’s voice isn’t.  Not a great pairing.  (Also – if someone has Michael McDonald’s e-mail – send him a message and let him know that he forgot his mustache last night.  He looked like C. Everett Coop…)

Simon Says – Dane Cook
I guess it’s possible that I could care less about one of the songs from last night, than I do about this one – but not likely.  It was marginally funny, marginally in tune, and bringing out the “best of the worst” former contestants was a train wreck.  This was the low point of the show.

Beautiful / Fighter – Top 6 Girls

Instead of getting to sing “with” Christina Aguilera, the top 6 girls got to perform one of her songs on their own, then back her up for a few bars (without actually getting too close to her on stage) on the other.  Evidently the show got a deal at “Tramps-R-Us” for the costumes last night, and put them to use on this number.  It was the only chance for Lacey, Didi, what’s-her-name, and what’s-her-name to have a little taste of the spotlight for the night.  Still, when it was said and done, the girls did a good job on the song, and definitely brought the attitude.

You Lost Me – Christina Aguilera
After “Fighter” was over, the girls where quickly ushered off of the stage, and Christina took her place in the “circle-of-spotlights-which-signify-that-I-am-awesome-and-this-song-is-really-important”.  The song itself didn’t do anything for me.  In fact, appropriately enough, it lost me.  Luckily, I woke up long enough to hit the fast forward button on the Tivo – and it was over, just like that.

Rick Gervais
Said some funny stuff about Simon, said some more funny stuff, I got up to get a drink – and he was done.

I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) / Maneater – Top 6 Guys
Time for the guys to do their medley.  This was the only chance for Tim and Andrew to take the mic all night, and I was quickly reminded how vastly overrated Andrew was on the show.  Tim smiled a lot.  As with most of the group numbers all season, Lee and Casey looked like they were being tortured, Andrew showed up, Aaron looked a little lost – but tried to look serious, Big Mike was overly dramatic, and Tim was at his “High School Musical” best.  For all of that, though, I still think they sounded okay.

You Make My Dreams – Hall and Oates
The guys were relegated to backing vocal status on this one, much as the girls were with Christina.  Daryl Hall and John Oates both looked great and sounded phenomenal.  Hall has a big, and often underrated and overlooked voice.  They really rocked the place – great performance.

Ironic / You Oughtta Know – Alanis Morissette / Crystal Bowersox

Alanis Morissette?  Really?  This is the best that they could come up with for Crystal?  No Alison Krauss?  No Melissa Ethridge?  Crystal seemed to be having a good time, and sounded great on her vocals.  Alanis – not so much for me.  It really scares me that it’s been long enough now that mid-90’s acts like Alanis Morissette can be looking to stage a nostalgic comeback.  (As an aside – go back and watch Alanis’ entrance.  The last back-up singer on the right is ENTIRELY too excited that she is there).  Not my favorite moment of the night.

Undo It – Carrie Underwood
At this point, we had just hit the halfway mark of the broadcast.  Lucky for us, it was time for Carrie Underwood.  Of all of the past winners, she seems to be the most grateful to the show for what it did for her career.  She is always happy to come back and support the show, and I really respect her for that.  She looked great last night and sounded great as well.  Her new single has a nice edge to it, and will surely be a hit on tour with the audience.  Great performance.

Every Rose Has It’s Thorn – Brett Michaels / Casey James
Hands down my favorite moment of the evening.  First, I’m a huge Poison fan.  Second, it’s hard not to be moved seeing Brett Michaels come out on stage after all he’s been through over the past few months.  He looked 10 times better than he did at the Celebrity Apprentice finale (and hey – between that and this performance, he’s had a pretty good week…).  You could see the audience leaping to its feet as they caught site of Brett getting ready to come out on stage.  It gave me chills.  He and Casey both sounded great, and they finally let Casey cut loose a little on the electric guitar.  As a child of the 80’s and fan of all things hair metal – this was a tremendous performance.  Now, they just need to have a Poison night next year, and have Brett on to mentor…

Chicago Medley – Chicago / Lee Dewyse
After Brett and Casey brought down the house we get – Chicago?  I’ll repeat what I said for Crystal.  This is the best they could do?  For the guy with one of the most current and radio friendly voices in the competition we get Chicago?  Did one of the associate producers just have an epiphany one day and say – “I know – Lee is from Chicago, right?  Why don’t we – wait for it – what don’t we get the BAND Chicago to play with him?  Am I right? “  Lee sang well, but it was all just a little strange.  This was the point in the night when I turned to my wife and said, “Aside from Brett Michaels and Alanis Morissette, do you think that will have any artist under the age of 50 on the show tonight?”

Pants on the Ground – Larry Platt / William Hueng
This was my kids’ favorite part of the evening.  They loved this song and, much to my chagrin, sang it for what was left of the night.  Thankfully, this and Dane Cook where the only two comedy bits of the evening.  I’ll say it again – God bless Tivo.

Paula Abdul
I was very glad to see that they brought Paula back to help send Simon off.  It was the right thing to do.  Did she ramble on a bit?  Yes.  Did she take a few bitter shots at the show?  Yes.  But, in the end, I think that she really wanted to say thank you for 8 great years, and pay her respects to the man that helped make her relevant again.  Well done Paula.

Together We Are One – American Idols
When I saw Kelly Clarkson out on stage, I had a thought – this might be something special.  When I saw Reuben Studdard coming down the stairs (looking much thinner, and sounding great), I started to get excited.  Next came Fantasia – but luckily she only had a few lines, so I stuck with it, because I knew Carrie was coming out next.  Jordin, Talyor, and Kris followed.  (I REALLY wish that David Cook could have been there – that would have put the cherry on top).  Then, the stage filled up with familiar faces from past seasons.  Bo Bice, Ace Young, Constantine Mauroulis, Allison Iraheta, Melinda Doolittle, Jason Castro, Michael Johns, Brooke White – they just kept coming.  As they all sang, it was hard not to think about how many lives this show, and Simon Cowell, have impacted over the years.  For all of those former contestants to come back and pay tribute to Simon speaks volumes as to what he has meant for them.  It was the PERFECT way to acknowledge Simon’s contributions to the show and to their lives.  Well done American Idol – well done.

Nothing / Nasty – Janet Jackson
After using the bottom 10 Idols as props by deigning to walk slowly past them while singing a few lines, Janet Jackson took the stage.  It was a little creepy at times.  Has she always sounded this much like her brother Michael?  Wow.  I’ll have to admit, I’m not a huge Janet Jackson fan, so I put my Tivo to good use again.  I’m sure she sounded great.  I’m sure she didn’t lip synch any part of the performance.  The dancing looked really impressive in fast-forward…

With a Little Help From My Friends – Joe Cocker / Crystal Bowersox / Lee Dewyse
Lee and Crystal sounded great on this song (although I half expected Fred Savage to come out on stage for a quick montage – but I digress.)  Joe Cocker still has some pipes.  He looks like your creepy, drunk, uncle Louie – but the man can still sing.  Crystal really cut loose and worked the power range of her voice, and you could tell that she was genuinely honored to be performing with a legend like Joe Cocker – (kind of puts the whole Alanis Morissette thing in perspective…).  It was a great way to end the musical portion of the show and usher in the results.

Beautiful Day – Lee Dewyse
As I said yesterday, I really don’t get this song choice.  Lee was obviously overcome with emotion as he sang.  I do like Lee, and am glad to see him get this opportunity.  I just want to hurry up and get to some original music from he and Crystal to see what they can do.

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