Tuesday, May 19, 2009

American Idol Season 8
The Finale Performances

BREAKING NEWS: According to TMZ, "Extra" correspondent Terri Seymour, who is also Simon Cowell's former girlfriend, was choked after attending the "American Idol" finale last night. It happened at L.A. Live, a complex that includes the Nokia Theatre where "A.I." was broadcast. A 33-year-old woman walked up to Seymour and asked if she was Cowell's girlfriend. The suspect allegedly attacked her and attempted to choke her. The suspect was booked on felony battery. Seymour apparently refused medical treatment.

Wow! An "Idol"-related felony and it wasn't committed by one of the contestants? LOL

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Kris won the coin toss after last week's show and chose to sing last.

SONG ORDER FOR EACH CONTESTANT

Adam Lambert:
"Mad World"
"A Change Is Gonna Come"
"No Boundaries" (coronation song)

Kris Allen:
"Ain't No Sunshine"
"What's Goin' On"
"No Boundaries" (coronation song)

Simon gives Round 1 to Kris
Simon gives Round 2 to Adam
Kara's "coronation song" sucks. Adam does better with it than Kris.
The night is somehow anticlimactic by the end.

Kris is currently 1.47 percentage points ahead on DialIdol (11:37 p.m. Tuesday Eastern Time). We'll update later.

It is now Wednesday morning. Everyone has finished voting except in Hawaii, where they still have 2 hours and 40 minutes to go. Although with the margin of error the contest could go either way, Kris Allen is leading Adam Lambert on DialIidol by 1.1 percent. If there were at least 100 million votes last night (and we're sure there were) that means that Kris could be leading Adam by a million votes. Not a lot in a contest like this. This could be the closest vote tally and biggest upset in "American Idol" history.

The performance show was very straightforward, very pedestrian and, frankly, a bit underwhelming. The electric charge that fills the Nokia Theater on such occasions may have been felt in Hollywood, but was largely absent on the other side of the TV screen, in spite of the 7,000 screaming fans in attendance, including Katie Holmes and daughter Suri Cruise, and actor Anthony Hopkins. The show's ending was a bit dull and anticlimactic. Presumably that will all change tonight, when anything can -- and probably will -- happen.

In a video preceding the first performance, Adam Lambert's parents talk about how their son was a screamer from birth. Adam adds: "I was very talkative, very hyperactive. I was bouncing off the walls all the time." He pauses and smiles, "Not much different than I am now, really." Ryan Seacrest introduces Adam's favorite song from the season, Tears for Fears' (actually it was the Gary Jules version of) "Mad World." The setting is very dramatic and theatrical. Adam, wearing slouchy boots, a full-length overcoat and little makeup, descends Idol's Stairway to Heaven in a blue-lit dry-ice fog-mist. He is a shadow figure enshrouded in blue mist for the first 32 seconds of the song. Finally, we see his face. He once again sings the song beautifully and perfectly, yet it isn't quite as stunning as the first time around, perhaps because we've seen it before.

Randy Jackson
loves the long coat and the fog and tells Adam, "I'm going to give you an A+ on that one, dude. An 'A' for Adam. " 'A.' "
Kara DioGuardi says, "From the first time you did that song, I knew not only that you were an extraordinary singer, but you are a creditable artist. And you changed the game up for every other contestant; made them think about what they were going to sing, and how they were going to sing it in a way that could compete with you. You rocked it again tonight."
Paula Abdul says "Hi Adam." He tells her, "You look beautiful." She: "Thank you. You look astonishingly handsome. I just want to tell you how unbelievably proud I am that you are standing on that stage right now. It's unbelievabe. Long journey. ... This is a great song for you. I loved when you performed it first and you gave a more subdued, introverted performance of it, still haunting. But right now, you gave a theatrical taste of what we're going to be able to see. I thought you did a brilliant job. Way to start the show.
Simon Cowell tells Adam, "I always thought this was your best performance throughout the shows. For some reason, maybe it was the coat, it was a little over-theatrical (the other judges and audience boo him, Adam smiles), it just reminded me a little bit of "Phantom of the Opera" (the judges start again, Randy screaming, "No, 'Twilight,' 'Twilight,'"). Adam says, "They told me they had dry ice and a thing to get me out of the stairs ..." Simon: "Dry ice, the long coat (pointing and laughing) Ryan in the sides ..." Yes, Simon is right, it was like "Phantom." Heh.

Watch video of Adam Lambert singing "Mad World" by Tears for Fears

In his preperformance video, Kris Allen tells us he was a shy singer as a child and that his family had to pay him a quarter to sing to them. His mom says Kris then started charging more. But a few years ago, Kris started giving her song coupons for her birthday that she could redeem when she wanted to hear him sing. "That was the best gift e-vah," mom says. We are happy to hear that Kris' favorite song choice is Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine." Allen accompanies himself on the piano, dressed very casually in a white T-shirt, vest and jeans. Although we hate the circling camera angles as he performs, this rendition is even better than the first time he sang the song. It is intense and soulful and arranged incredibly. Super impact. He just beat Adam in Round 1! A shock! His wife smiles broadly and nods approvingly in the audience. The camera pans to Simon. He is applauding, with a somewhat surprised look of his face, as if to say, "Kris just beat my boy."

Randy: "What I love so much about you is that I can tell exactly what kind of an artist you are, what kind of a record you're gonna make, and I think, me personally, I haven't heard the rest of the night, but, dude, you saved some of the best for last. That was one of your best performances EVER on the stage!" He then has a Kara-like orgasm: "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
Kara: "I gotta agree with Randy. If you can't feel a Kris Allen performance, if he doesn't move you, there's something wrong with you. You have a way of creating an intimate bond with everybody in the audience. You make it feel like you're singing it to us. And that is so hard to do, and an incredible skill that you will kill on your album." Randy in the background saying, "Yeah, yeah, yeah."
Paula: "Kris, you awaken the spirit in all of us and with your unique way of "Allenizing" your trademark all over -- not just this inspirational song, but every song you sing. And that's the true marking of a great artist." And, no, we're not going to clean up Kara and Paula's babbling. We're just typing it verbatim.
Simon: "Kris, look, I just think we've got to remember right now that this is a competition, right? And I like the fact. I'm going to be honest with you. When your name was announced last week, I wasn't sure whether America had made the right choice. But, but, (boos) I'm being honest. I absolutely take all that back now after that performance." Kris holds his head down and clenches his mouth. Is he trying not to cry?

Ryan asks: "Simon, Round 1 who wins? Simon: "I'm going to call that one for Kris."

Watch video of Kris Allen singing "Ain't No Sunshine" by Bill Withers

For Round 2, "Idol" creator Simon Fuller selected the songs for Adam and Kris. For Adam, he chose the wonderful Sam Cooke classic, "A Change Is Gonna Come." Dressed is a light gray suit and blue tie, Adam grabbed and held us from the beginning -- until the shrieking began. It killed the emotion and impact of the song -- you couldn't even understand the words in the latter half. It was the same mistake Adam made with U2's "One" last week. He's gotta learn to temper and finesse his use of that scream, because the rest of the song was just awesome. The judges, however, disagreed with our opinion.

Randy: "What you did right there, is you showed that the real reason that you're here, and I've been saying it from Day 1 that you walked in, is that you can sing your face off, and that was unbelievable."
Kara: "Adam, that may have been your best performance and interpretation of the song from the beginning of this competition. The combination of the high notes and how you pulled it back and showed the emotion in the song, that's your winning combination: using both sides of yourself. Great."
Paula: "Adam, that was the best I've ever (standing, circling her arm in the air) heard you sing, Ever, Ever, Ever, Ever. Unbelievable! Not only that, you look like a superstar up there, and whatever happens -- I'm in awe of your talent -- whatever happens with this "Idol" journey, I know with every fiber of my being that you are going to be iconic. Yes you are."
Simon: "Paula's been sitting on the fence a bit with that one, I think. Adam, all I would say after that is: You are 100% back in the game. Congratulations."

Watch video of Adam Lambert singing "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke

Fuller also selected a consciousness-raising song for Allen, Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On." On one hand, we loved the understated acoustic performance. Again very casually dressed, Kris, on guitar, was joined onstage by another guitarist and a couple of guys tapping drums, which were silenced during certain segments of the song. On the other hand, as Randy and Simon correctly pointed out in their critiques, the whole thing was a bit lightweight -- and too happy at times -- for the relevance of the song. Vocally, though, the performance was very good, but not as good as Kris' first song.

Randy: "Listen, it's a great song choice for this time that we're living in (er, yeah, but Kris didn't make the song choice), with what's going on in the world and stuff, but my only thing is, it's a little bit light for this big 'ol room and this point in the competition. I mean you sang it great, it's just a little light for me. I don't know, man. You know what I'm saying?" (How can we know when you say, "I don't know"?)
Kara: "You know, Kris, what I love about you is that you've been true to yourself from Day 1, and you have not wavered, you have not tried to play to the competition. And I like that Simon Fuller chose a socially conscious song for you (what did she think "A Change Is Gonna Come" is?), because you're the kind of artist that can deliver that message and uplift people, make them think, make them feel and make them change."
Paula: "Kris, I know what's going on: You tore that song up and made Marvin Gaye proud." Well, as proud as a dead man can be, anyway.
Simon: "No, I love the song, but if I'm being honest with you (no, lie Simon), it was like three friends in their bedroom strumming along to Marvin Gaye. You did not, in my opinion, grab hold of the song, make it your version. And I thought it was too laid back for a night like this. Sorry."

Ryan: "Simon, at the end of Round 2 -- last round you called it Kris -- at the end of Round 2, who does it go to?"
Simon: " Oh, million percent Adam, Round 2."

Watch video of Kris Allen singing "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye

All seasonlong, we've been told that Kara is a top songwriter. Tuesday was her chance to prove it. She co-wrote the so-called "coronation song" with Cathy Dennis (you might recall her as the singer of "C'mon and Get My Love," "Touch Me" and other hits) and Mitch Allan. Well, this "coronation song" sucked as badly as any we've heard and, like most, suited one singer -- in this case Adam -- much better than the other. Last season, because there was a songwriting competition, David Cook and David Archuleta each chose the song that suited them best. This year, we were back to both singers having the same bad song forced down their throats. Since Adam has the higher voice and wider range, he was able to "elevate" the mountains and hurricanes in the lyrics (thank god we were spared the rainbows). Trouble was, it was hard to understand the lyrics that Adam sang.

Randy: "Listen, I said it before, I'll say it again: Dude, you can sing anything, you can sing the phone book. But that was not one of my favorite Adam performances, it was was all right for me, to be honest with you. It was a little bit pitchy in spots, for me."
Kara: "Adam, I think I speak on behalf of my co-writers, Cathy Dennis and Mitch Allen, it is amazing when someone with your level of talents [sic] sings a song that we've written. And I'm moved and I'm proud and I thank you for giving me that moment here at the end." Adam lies tells Kara, "Thanks for giving me that song. It was beautiful."
Paula: Adam, adjectives can't express what you've brought to this show, Season 8. It's been truly remarkable. I'm in awe. You can sing whatever you want to sing, and I will be a fan forever, front in line."
Simon: (laughing) "It's the mountains and the hurricanes ..." Kara: "I know, I know." Simon: "I'm not going to judge that song, I'm going to judge you. Over the entire season, you have been one of the best, most original contestants we've ever had on the show. You are. And, you know, the whole idea about doing a show like this is you hope that you can find a worldwide star. I genuinely believe with all my heart we have found that with you. Congratulations." Hmmm, wonder who Simon's rooting for?

Watch video of Adam Lambert singing "No Boundaries"

With Kris, on the other hand, you could understand almost all of the lyrics, but with this piece of dreck we're not sure that that was an advantage. Unfortunately, Kris lacked the vocal range to make the treacly song soar the way the producers love these horrible created-for-finale songs to. He seemed to struggle through most of it. But even Kara realized that the song was foisted on him and that Allen shouldn't be judged by her piece of crap but rather by his body of work throughout the season. Kris looked a bit exasperated as he stood before the judges waiting to be judged. He knew it wasn't even close to his finest moment.

Randy: "You should be very proud of what you've done in this competition. I know that key was a little high and you probably couldn't hear yourself or whatever, a little bit at the start of that, but let me tell you something: You are an amazing competitor, you've done amazing in this competition, and I actually think, I was just saying this to Kara, and I actually think that that song even fits your voice a little better for me than even Adam. So good looking out and good luck, baby."
Kara: Kris, I don't want you to be judged on that song. I do think it was too high. I want you to be judged on the fact that you are a compelling artist and you have been an incredible person to watch week-after-week. You've come into your own and I congratulate you for an incredible season. And I hope people vote on the season."
Paula: Yeah, I think you standing up there, you should take it in, you've done an amazing job to end up where you are right now. And I think that this has been one of the most compelling finales and finals showdowns. I wish you the best of luck. You deserve where you are in that spotlight." Well, we already know how Simon feels and Kris gets consolation critiques from the other three judges. Can he still pull it off?
Simon: "Er, Kris, look, again, I think your highlight tonight was the first song you sang. Really. But I think watching you tonight on that stage has been incredible. Because I can remember your first audition where you came in: no confidence, weren't sure how good you were. Your mum and dad's face tells me everything. They're very very proud of you, and so they should be. And you have thoroughly, thoroughly deserved to be standing on this stage tonight. Congratulations." But what was left unsaid by Simon spoke volumes.

Watch video of Kris Allen singing "No Boundaries"

The show closes with Carrie Underwood taking the stage for the second time this season to reprise "Home Sweet Home," the music the show has used as background for each departing contestant's journey video. For all they showed of Carrie, they might as well have played a recording. There were brief flashes of her, but the camera mainly stayed on the clip show of contestant auditions and moments from throughout Season 8.

Watch video of Carrie Underwood singing "Home Sweet Home"

Ryan Seacrest has already announced that tonight's finale will run over its allotted two hours and to set your DVR accordingly. Some of the guests appearing include Steve Martin, Jason Mraz via his Web site, Cyndi Lauper, Queen Latifah, Black Eyed Peas, Lionel Richie, Carlos Santana, David Cook and Keith Urban.

Kris will duet with Keith Urban, Allison Iraheta with Cyndi Lauper and Danny Gokey with Lionel Richie. No word yet on who Adam will do a duet with, though earlier rumors were of David Bowie. However, Bowie's appearance has not even been confirmed. Santana will perform with the Top 13.

And according to the Our Lady Peace Web site, David Cook will perform "Permanent" in honor of his late brother Adam, with proceeds of the iTunes performance going to charity.


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© 2009

2 comments:

greenbande said...

I really hope Kris wins. He has made it so far - he's not about to stop now!

vin said...

American Idol is awesome. Thanks for sharing the videos on your blog.