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We have to admit, we're surprised to be saying that this was one of the most entertaining "American Idol" finale shows ever. And, perhaps, the only performance show in recent memory that came in on time. After Ryan Seacrest warned us on Tuesday to set extra time on our DVR's because the show was going to run over, it actually ran just the 2 hrs. and 7 min. it was supposed to. It speaks to the entire season. Whereas in past seasons the show rarely ran past its allotted time except for the finale, Season 8 turned out to be the anomaly right down to the very last episode.
There were very few unwanted or slow moments in the finale, and most of the musical performances were as electric and enjoyable as we had hoped. Segments we could have lived -- happily -- without, included the always stupid Golden Awards Awards (well, perhaps except for the Katrina "Bikini Girl" Derrell one) and Rod Stewart, who has no voice left but doesn't know when to say "no" to an invitation to
Ryan tells us there were just under 100 million votes -- the most ever -- though the David-David 2008 duel garnered 97.5 million votes, so the difference this year doesn't seem overwhelming. More interesting: Billy Bush tweeted that a source high up told him that the voting, in spite of what DialIdol.com showed, was not close, while AT&T reports that about 38 million votes came from Arkansas, Kris Allen's home state. Unreal. Those people know how to back their hometown hero.
Before the opening number, Ryan brings out Adam Lambert and Kris Allen dressed in white suits. We see shots of their hometown parties, with Mikalah Gordon hosting in Conway, Ark., and Carly Smithson in San Diego. Carly says she couldn't bring it home for San Diego last year, but hopes Adam will this year. The city will be disappointed for the second year in a row. The opening number has the Top 13 all dressed in white as well to sing Pink's anthemic "So What." It is in the best cheesy "Idol" Group Song tradition, though poor Scott MacIntyre still looks like he's out of sync and lip-syncing. Gah, what's the tour going to be like with things like that?
Watch video of the Top 13 singing "So What"
Season 7 winner David Cook takes the stage to sing "Permanent" in tribute to his late brother Adam. He looks and sounds good. After he finishes, he tells Ryan, who looks slightly uncomfortable with the discussion, that the performance will go up on iTunes with all money being donated to research to end cancer. Cook tells Ryan that he's met broth Kris and Adam and that not only as both great singers, they are great guys, ending with, "I don’t know that America can get this wrong." During the past year, Cook has proved himself to be an Idol in every sense of the word and we applaud him.
Watch video of David Cook singing "Permanent"
The first moment we could have lived without arrives: the return of the Golden Idol Awards. The first award goes to Nick Mitchell/Normund Gentle who performs again. Sorry, it's not funny the fifth time. It's wasn't even funny the fourth time. Hit the fast forward button for the first time Wednesday night.
Lil Rounds joins Queen Latifah for the night's first duet, "Cue the Rain." It's not really our cup of tea, and in spite of who she's singing with, Lil still isn't being what the judges hoped all season she would turn out to be. Plus her vocals leave much to be desired. How could this woman have started the season as Idol's great female hope?
Watch video of Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah singing "Cue the Rain"
Back from commercial with Anoop Desai and Alexis Grace joining Jason Mraz to sing his hit "I'm Yours." We love this song, even if it was played about a thousand times on "Idol" this season, between the auditions and Hollywood Week. Unfortunately, Alexis, no longer dirrrty looking now that she's not competing on the show or even going on the tour, isn't sounding too good either, and Anoop certainly doesn't sound like he's at the top of his game. Are they overtired from too many rehearsals or is this just confirming that this season's crop of finalists were less than stellar with a few exceptions?
Watch video of Anoop Desai, Alexis Grace and Jason Mraz singing "I'm Yours"
When we first heard that Jason Mraz was going to be on the finale, we'd figured that he would be a natural matchup with Kris on a duet, since Kris is so often compared with him in style. So we were somewhat surprised to hear that Kris' duet would be with Keith Urban. But they fit -- and sang -- together perfectly. Their rendition of "Kiss the Girl" was one of our favorite segments of the evening. Kris seems a natural as a country star. More! More!
Watch video of Kris Allen and Keith Urban singing "Kiss the Girl"
The Top 13 girls sing "Glamorous," with painful solos by (especially) Megan Joy and Jasmine Murray. C'mon, why thehell were these two Wild Card choices? They s-u-c-k. This is all to introduce Black Eyed Peas with hot-looking Fergie to sing a censored version of "Boom Boom Pow."Watch video of Black Eyed Peas with Fergie singing "Boom Boom Pow"
Yes, yes, we know we said we hated the Golden Idol Awards, and we particularly hated "Bikini Girl" Katrina Darrell from her first smug appearance on Season 8. But having her back for the finale was worth it, if just to see Kara DioGuardi humiliate her. Sure, she was in on the joke, but it was still worth it. After they show Kara critiquing Katrina's audition and "Bikini Girl" tells Kara that *snap* "your demonstration wasn't any better," Ryan announces that Derrell has won the Best Attitude award. She bounces onstage in her bikini and new pair of knockers, courtesy of the Kellie Pickler School of Makeovers. She kisses Ryan and tells us, "And he kissed back this time." Seacrest then says to Derrell, "I was going to ask you what's new, but I think I know." Ryan asks her to take another shot at singing "Vision of Love." We hope she was intentionally singing that badly, but as she does, the curtain behind her opens and Kara begins to belt out the song. At the end, DioGuardi rips open her dress (for charity we find out later) to reveal a black bikini. Props to DioGuardi for the sketch and for the killer vocals. It's the most enjoyment she's provided all season.
Watch video of Bikini Girl Katrina Darrell face off with Kara DioGuardi
Allison Iraheta and Cyndi Lauper team up for "Time After Time," with Allison once again proving why she was the last female left standing. Lauper mostly plays the autoharp while Iraheta handles the majority of the vocals. It was a terrific and memorable pairing. How about bringing Lauper back as a mentor?
Watch video of Allison Iraheta and Cyndi Lauper singing "Time after Time"
Another pairing that works really well is Danny Gokey and Lionel Richie. Danny opens by singing "Hello." It's OK, but it ain't gonna make anyone forget David Cook's amazing Season 7 rendition, and why even remind them. It's isn't doing Gokey any favors. Richie comes out to join Gokey for more of Lionel's hits, ending with a fun and rousing version "All Night Long." Richie looks and sounds excellent and would also make a great mentor. It's another More! More! moment.
Watch video of Danny Gokey and Lionel Richie singing a medley of Richie songs
Next came THE singing moment of the night. Adam takes the stage to sing in a jacket with metal angel-like wings and HUGE platform shoes. Forget guyliner, he's got the whole guy makeup box on his face, complete with glittery guy shadow. Frankly, he looks fabulous. He begins to sing "Beth," but this is just a lead-in for his medley with KISS. They're decorative background as Adam breaks free and soars, almost literally bringing down the house on his last note of "Rock and Roll All Night." It leaves us breathless. The audience goes ber-serk. We wonder if Kris wins, are they gonna boo him? Yikes!
Watch video of Adam Lambert singing with KISS
Carlos Santana takes the stage for "Black Magic Woman." When the song hits the verse, Matt Giraud does the honors, later joined by the rest of the Top 13 for "Smooth." It is their best moment as a group for the night.
Watch video of the Top 13 and Santana performing "Black Magic Woman"
It's time for the last Ford commercial of the year, featuring highlights of ads from this season with Adam and Kris singing "I Will Remember You." They sound good together and hopefully will duet on tour. There's then a video of David Cook surprising Adam and Kris with the keys to their new Ford Fusions. Can we have one, too?
Watch video of Ford Commercial "I Will Remember You" and Kris Allen and Adam Lambert receiving Ford Fusions from David Cook
Michael Sarver and Megan Joy sing "Pretty Flowers" accompanied by Steve Martin on the banjo. The music is much better than the singing. He sounds OK but unimpressive, her voice is not only off key, but harsh sounding, as well. Just don't understand these two as Top 10 contestants when there were so many better than them in the Top 36.
Watch video of Megan Joy, Michael Sarver and Steve Martin singing "Pretty Flowers"
And then, the moment we coulda and shoulda lived without. The Top 13 guys sing "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" Answer (with a few exceptions): "No." This is a lead-in to guest performer Rod Stewart, who should be resting on his laurels rather than proving that his has no voice left. But, of course, if you've heard any of his standards CDs, you already knew that. He barely makes it down the stairs without falling (this is sad), then croaks his way through "Maggie May." And, oh, god, please stop trying to do dance moves. Between that and his horrid plaid tux jacket, he looks like a caricature of your drunk uncle from the worst family wedding video. He gets to the line: "You made a first-class fool out of me," and we're thinking, "Er, no, Rod, you did that to yourself," as Carrie Underwood, sitting prettily in the audience, graciously claps along to the beat. Man, Stewart actually made the Top 13 sound good. Scary.
Watch video of the Top 13 boys singing "Do You Think I'm Sexy?" and Rod Stewart singing "Maggie May"
Enough of the lowlights, it's time for another highlight, as Kris and Adam begin to sing "We Are the Champions" together, then are joined by Queen. Cool.
Watch video of Adam Lambert and Kris Allen singing "We Are the Champions" with Queen
Finally, it's the moment of truth. For the last time this season, Ryan calls for the lights to be dimmed. We're sure the majority of people watching thought that Adam had it in the bag, so we can't even imagine their shock when Ryan said "Kris Allen." Kris was so stunned, he started laughing, then told Ryan, "It feels good man, but Adam deserves this." Ha! No Idol ever said that before.
Must've really pissed off Simon, who was seen in one shot looking like he was really stewing over the call. He was rudely petulant, not even standing with the other three judges to applaud the newest Idol. Oh, well, Simon. There's always next year.
Watch video of Kris Allen winning American Idol
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