What an underwhelming, uninspiring, and generally disappointing final performance show for American Idol this year. After a season of great promise and reinvigoration for the American Idol franchise, last night left me – well – flat.
The Internet was all a swirl with rumors before the show that Lauren had lost her voice and would be unable to sing. Hailey was reportedly brought in to rehearse in the event Lauren had to withdraw from the competition (dodged a bullet there, didn’t we…) Luckily, she was okay and the producers were able to drum up a ridiculous amount of drama (and sympathy for Lauren), by bringing stylish-black-scrubs-doctor-guy out to tell us “just how bad is was”. Think they want Lauren to win?
The songs last night were one from earlier in the season, one picked by the contestants’s Idol (although we never got to see either George Strait or Carrie Underwood), and the eventual singles both Scotty and Lauren will release. (Believe me, no matter who wins, both songs will be released – notwithstanding Ryan’s repeated assertions otherwise.) We also got performances from David Cook and Taio Cruz – one good and one bad (more on that later). If there was one saving grace, it was that the show was over quickly – almost too quickly. At any rate – let’s dive in with a few random observations and then on to the songs…
- Celebrities in the audience – David Archeletta, Camryn Manheim, and Rick Schroeder. I guess the A and B list celebs held out for tomorrow night in hopes of an entertaining evening.
- Anyone else notice that Hailey was sitting next to Casey in the audience? Holding hands perhaps?
- Jennifer looked great, wearing something that looked like it would have been more in place at a dancer’s convention in the merry old land of Oz.
- I know the auditorium was much bigger, but the sound quality really suffered on the broadcast as a result.
Scotty McCreery – “Gone” by Montgomery Gentry
Scotty won the coin toss last week, but deferred to Lauren (awe…what a nice guy.) She, of course, chose to sing last, so Scotty got to open the show. He chose to reprise “Gone”, one of his better-received numbers from earlier in the season. Rock-and-roll-fiddle-guy was back in all his glory. Scotty actually worked the big stage pretty well, but seemed to be trying much to hard at some points in the song. (He raised his mic for the crowd to sing the line “bang, bang” at one point and it was pretty clear no one got the memo ahead of time. It was an anemic response at best…) After he finished up, Ryan came out and went to…a commercial? No judges’ comments. Very interesting.
Lauren Alaina – “Flat On The Floor” by Carrie Underwood
Lauren countered Scotty with her reprisal of “Flat on the Floor”. It was another high-octane country number that gave rock-and-roll-fiddle-guy even more airtime. Lauren sounded good, although I kept waiting for her voice to explode like a pigeon meeting a windshield in oncoming traffic after all the dramatic build-up before the show. I guess even the most jaded viewers are not immune to the manipulation of the producers. Both Randy and Jennifer gave her a standing ovation (although both would later say Scotty out sang her on the first song). Ryan again came out and – threw it to commercial.
Scotty McCreery – “Check Yes Or No” by George Strait
Scotty’s idol was George Strait so the producers ostensibly asked him to pick a song for Scotty to perform. He chose his own hit “Check Yes or No”. It’s a decent song, but it’s never been one of my favorites. On the plus side, Scotty performed with his guitar again, which always seems to ground him a bit and make him more watchable. On the minus side – the song was ordinary and very forgettable. It didn’t feel like a performance you would want to see from the top two.
Lauren Alaina – “Maybe It Was Memphis” by Pam Tillis
Lauren’s idol was Carrie Underwood, who she chose “Maybe It Was Memphis” for her. I’m not familiar with the song, but Lauren seemed to do a good job with it. She got to use rock-and-roll-fiddle-guy, so it couldn’t have been that bad, right? Not as forgettable as Scotty’s George Strait song, but also not much to write home about. At this point, we were already halfway through the show and I began looking forward to bedtime.
After both Scotty and Lauren had performed their second songs, Ryan finally went to the judges for a little reaction. Randy called round one for Scotty and round two for Lauren. Jennifer followed along in Randy’s footsteps. Steven gave both rounds to Lauren – telling Scotty it was “only cause she’s prettier than you are.” Other than Randy letting us know both were “in it to win it”, that may have been the most insightful comment by the judges all night.
Before the break, the winning song from the Coca-Cola Perfect Harmony contest was debuted by Taio Cruz – “Positive”. Co-written by folks on the Internet I can honestly say the only thing I was “positive” of was – the song sucked. No wonder Coke had to give away free downloads of the track after the show. Note to self – don’t let people from the Internet help co-write your song.
Scotty McCreery – “I Love You This Big” by Scotty McCreery
The song Jimmy found for Scotty was “I Love You This Big”. He didn’t do him any favors. The song sounded like it could be a hit – if this were 1987. It started out okay, but quickly devolved into something more reminiscent of Taylor Hicks and “Do I Make You Proud”. The lyric “I Love You This Big” felt more like something from a Wiliam Hung greatest hits collection. I almost felt bad for Scotty. It lacked emotion and even an American Idol key change special in the middle couldn’t bring any drama or engagement to the performance.
Lauren Alaina – “Like My Mother Does” by Lauren Alaina
Don’t think the producers want Lauren to win? Just compare her original song to what they saddled Scotty with. Hers was contemporary, meaningful, and emotional. Add onto that Ryan helping her down the stairs and Lauren singing to her Mom while sharing an embrace with her? The phone practically dials itself to vote for Lauren. It was a close to a “moment” as the night had, and even then, it fell a bit short. Out of all six performances, I like the song itself the most. When the judges heaped praise on her, she looked genuinely moved and somewhat overwhelmed by the moment.
That was the end of the performances. Randy gave the night to Lauren, Jennifer refused to pick, and Steven also landed in Lauren’s camp. I could hardly believe the show was over. The entire production felt rushed – like the crew had dinner reservations at Nobu. There was no fanfare, no real moment – nothing. To be honest, it was all a bit anti-climactic. The only saving grace was David Cook performing “(Don’t You) Forget About Me” live as the show ended. David’s a class act and tremendous performer. Always good to see him back on the Idol stage.
Hopefully, tomorrow night will end the season on the high note it deserves. I’m about 95% sure Scotty’s going to walk away with the title, but they sure have set Lauren up to have a potential fairytale ending, haven’t they? Honestly, I’m less concerned with who wins, and more anxious to see the surprise guests and performances of the rest of the top 13. Will Steven perform with James? Will Hailey duet with Casey? Will we see the return of Backflip-Guy from the auditions? We’ll have to wait and see. Until then – Word Zombie out.
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