At long last, the moment had arrived. The finale of American Idol, season 10. It was a long and enjoyable journey and last night provided the capstone on the entire affair. Two hours of celebrity appearances, guest artists, retrospective clips, and ultimately the crowing of this year’s American Idol.
It was apparently a night of extremes. On one hand it was the lowest rated American Idol finale show in history. On the other hand, there were a record 122MM+ votes cast – so whoever WAS watching, voted and voted often. The real question was – who did they vote for, Scotty or Lauren. There’s really only one way to find out. Let’s go to the big board and see…
- Celebrities in the audience included Adam Lambert, Michael Johns, Laurie Loughlin, David Cook, Harold Perrineau (Michael from “Lost”) and Lee DeWyse. What, no Ellen?
- In the show intro, Lauren had a good turnout in her hometown, but it appeared Scotty filled an entire arena in Raleigh. Not a good start for Lauren.
- The first group number of the night was Madonna’s “Express Yourself”… I mean Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. Evidently the theme was all white – Thia looked like she was wearing something designed by Bjork, Pia looked classy, and Karen looked like an extra in a Donna Summers video. The guys all wore solid white versions of their “look” from the season. Bonus points to James for throwing the horns at his first opportunity in front of the camera. Overall, it was a decent way to start the show, but I prefer the mash-up with “Born to Be Wild” from earlier in the season.
- The first individual performance of the night was James, who performed with Judas Priest. That should tell you just how big Idol has gotten. 5 years ago, Judas Priest wouldn’t have been caught dead on the show. (They also, coincidently, had a farewell summer tour to plug. The plugs would keep coming all show long…) I would have preferred to see James perform with Steven, but he sounded great jamming on “Livin’ After Midnight” and “Breaking the Law”. I’ve never been a big Judas Priest fan, but James and Rob Halford sounded great together – that last note between the two was epic. It wasn’t quite Bo Bice with Lynyrd Skynyrd cool – but it was cool. (As an aside, at one point when James was singing, my daughter piped up with this gem – “Ewwh, you can see his armpit hair”. Nothing gets past her.)
- Next was a montage celebrating Randy Jackson. When strung all together, you really began to see how repetitive Randy actually was this season. I was happy, though, that after 10 seasons, Randy finally has a catch phrase with “In it to win it.” The problem is – he’s already worn it out.
- Next to perform was Jacob Lusk along with Kirk Franklin (looking like Louis Farrakhan’s little brother), and surprise guest Gladys Knight – performing “I Smile”. First the good – props to Idol for giving viewers a chance to donate to the Red Cross for victims of the recent tornados. Now the bad – I was quickly reminded how annoying Jacob became late in the season. He was obviously having a blast, and that’s great, but the awkward dancing and swaying lost me. Oh – and Gladys Night has a show in Vegas…plug, plug…you should go see it.
- Casey Abrams was the next performer, along with Jack Black, singing Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls”. Black was lying behind a sofa at the start of the song, only to be revealed when Casey pushed the couch out of the way. Halfway through the song my daughter said – “That man should go back behind the couch”. In many ways, this was the perfect song and celebrity partner for Casey (Black made Casey look skinny). I’m not sure he did much to burnish his “legit musician” cred, but he obviously had a whale of a time. He and Black mugged for the camera and played the song to the hilt. I wasn’t crazy about the girls on bicycles who came out towards the end of the song. Literal much? Oh – and Jack Black’s film “Kung Fu Panda 2” opens tomorrow…plug, plug…go see it.
- The girls (sans Lauren…) were up next with a Beyoncé medley. The color had shifted to red, and all the costumes changed. Karen looked like she was wearing a diaper, Hailey looked ready to start taking tips in her garter, and Ashthon Jones showed off her new, straight hair – looking a bit like Beyoncé herself. The medley went on FAR too long before Beyoncé came out and joined them. It looked like Beyoncé brought Karen’s family and their big hair to be her back-up dancers. I’m sure if you were a Beyoncé fan it was all great fun. Me? Not so much. Oh – and Beyoncé didn’t have anything to plug. Strange.
- Steven Tyler was the next judge to get the montage treatment. It was nice to relive some of his great moments from the auditions – but it only served to remind me how bland and Paula-ish he became as the season wore on.
- Hailey somehow got to perform with Tony Bennett (glad to see Idol is still going after the over 90 demographic.) He sounded great– and Hailey also sang. To be fair, she kept the growling and vocal gymnastics to a minimum, but the whole thing just felt a little creepy. Oh – and Tony Bennett has a new duets album coming out this fall…plug, plug…you should buy it.
- Finally it was Jennifer’s turn in the montage spotlight. Clip after clip of everyone heaping praise on her for being beautiful. We get it – Jennifer is hot and Marc Anthony is a lucky man.
- Thia, Ashthon, Karen, and Naima were up again next with Lil’ John and TLC. Tony Bennett to Lil’ John – makes perfect sense to me. TLC did an admirable job lip synching their way through their “hits” and projecting the illusion of relevance. I did an admirable job of using the fast forward button. Oh – and TLC (shockingly) had absolutely nothing to plug.
- Tim McGraw took the stage next to sing with Scotty. They did “Live Like You Were Dying” – a tremendous song. Scotty actually sounded really good, as long as I kept my eyes closed. He still had a tendency to over-emote while singing the song. He would do well to watch how McGraw gave an understated and powerful performance, letting the song tell the story. Still, it was a good moment for Scotty.
- It was finally time for the montage of terrible singers from this season. Narrated by Creepy Announcer Wannabe guy we had a chance to revisit Ruddy Huxtable in Siberia, Falling Down the Stairs Girl, Weird Noises Woman, and my personal favorite (and friend of thewordzombie.com) – Epic Backflip Fail Guy, Tim Willy.
- Marc Anthony treated everyone to what has to be a typical Wednesday night at his house. Hot Latin music, dancers with giant feather fans, Sheila E. on the drums, and his wife Jennifer Lopez doing a hot Latin dance. As I said before – Marc Anthony is a lucky man.
- The next montage covered shocking eliminations. Casey and James argued back and forth about who’s elimination was more shocking (with Casey throwing out my favorite line – “It’s like, hey – you suck. And then, oh, you know what, we’ll give you another chance. Oh no – you suck again.”) The piece was a little long, but the payoff was well worth the wait when Pia showed up wearing a “most shocking” sash and tiara. Well played.
- It was finally time for the guys to take the stage (including Scotty). When Stefano lit into the open verse of “Kiss”, I thought – “Prince is here?!?” That didn’t last long. As soon Paul rolled in to “She’s a Lady” I realized in horror that it was Tom Jones, not Prince. I guess they didn’t want to ignore the 70 year-old demo either. The guys all seemed like they were having fun with each other, but I still found myself looking fondly at the TiVo remote and it’s incredibly useful fast forward button.
- The final Ford Music video of the season was a look back at all the other videos from the year. They weren’t any better the second time around. After the video, Ford gave a new Focus to Scotty and Lauren’s favorite teachers. Then they gave Lauren and Scotty the keys to ANY Ford car the want. I think the teachers got the short straw on that one.
- Lady Gaga was next on the stage, performing her new single. She was in her best Queen Amidala inspired headdress, standing on a rock outcropping worthy of Mustafa and Simba. She quickly morphed into a glam metal headband and studded bikini. Clarence Clemmons jetted in from the future (it’s a Bill and Ted reference…look it up) to play sax on the song. Gaga proceeded to faux copulate on the stage with one of her dancers, then proceeded to fall of the edge of the cliff to the rocks below on the stage. It was by far the most dynamic performance of the evening. It’s clear she’s this generation’s Madonna – and I may be starting to like her just a bit…
- Lauren finally made an appearance after the break, duetting with Carrie Underwood. My wife and I were both surprised to see that Lauren was taller than Carrie. They sounded tremendous together and ripped through “Before He Cheats”. It was gratifying to see Carrie continue to come back and support the show that gave her her start. Very classy.
- The next montage was all about the other contestants and their thoughts on Lauren and Scotty. Stefano summed it up best – “We’ve got like two 6th graders in the competition and they’re kicking everyone’s ass.”
- Beyoncé got the chance to perform again – singing her new single “One Plus One”. It included the profound line – “One plus one equals two”. Here’s another news flash; Saturday comes after Friday. Rebecca Black would be proud. Oh – and Beyoncé’s new single is available now…plug, plug…you should buy it.
- I was shocked to see that Bono and The Edge actually appeared live to perform one of the songs they composed for the Broadway show – “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark”. The show has been plagued by accidents and injuries while getting ready to open, but this performance went off without a hitch. It almost made up for the time Bono “mentored” the contestants a few years ago, but took most of the time to pitch his charity and didn’t bother to show up to perform.
- At long last it was finally time for Steven to perform. It was no surprise they saved him for last. He threw down with “Dream On” featuring a full orchestra. It was an electric performance that had the entire auditorium on their feet. He still sounds as good as ever and proved why rock-and-roll will always be king. It’s too bad the other guys from Aerosmith decided not to join him. Maybe next year…
- FINALLY it was time for the results. Scotty and Lauren both looked nervous as Ryan received the envelope and read the results. Scotty was named this year’s American Idol. As he sang his victory song, he took a page from Lauren’s performance last night and went down to hug each member of his family as he sang. The BEST moment of the night came when he got to the last of his family. Sitting next to them was Jack Black, who opened his arms for a hug too, just as Scotty turned and walked away. It was legend…wait for it… dary.
And that was it. The confetti fell, the stage filled up, and Scotty was overcome with emotion. After a season where he was never in the bottom three, Scotty claimed the title. It was somewhat of a foregone conclusion, with the internet reporting he received upwards of 60%+ of the vote. I guess the country music loving teen and tween girl vote is a potent force indeed.
Never fear. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, you don’t have to win Idol to reap its benefits. Just ask Chris Daughtry, Constantine Maroulis, Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, Adam Lambert, the list goes on. I think Lauren, James, Pia, and maybe even Stefano will be just fine. It may take a year or more, but I fully expect to see albums from them in the future.
It’s been a fun ride this season. The addition of Jennifer and Steven breathed new life into the show, and the talent this year was impressive. There were some stumbles, and I took my shots at times, but all in all – I still enjoy this show. I come back every week and watch like clockwork, so they must be doing something right. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing them with you. Until next season – Word Zombie out.
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