Wednesday, May 13, 2009

American Idol Season 8
Top 3 Results Show

Going to the Finale:
Adam Lambert
Kris Allen

Danny Gokey

There you have it folks. Who would have predicted this just a week ago? We'd wager not even Kris Allen, who seems the person most surprised in the universe by his ascension to the finale. Regrets? We have a few. Though we disliked what appeared to be a veneer of arrogance on Danny Gokey, his amazing blue-eyed soul voice can't be denied. We teared up listening to him repeat his great rendition of "You Are So Beautiful." And, in truth, he was the most consistent of all three finalists Tuesday night. Many we spoke to felt his rendition of the Joe Cocker classic was the highlight of the evening, and he did a good job on Terence Trent D'Arby's "Dance Little Sister," as well.

Who'll ever be able to figure out why Kris Allen and Adam Lambert are singing next week instead of Danny? Adam's been a juggernaut all season, but failed to have a moment on Tuesday. Though the judges praised him lavishly, we didn't speak with one person who liked his screechy version of U2's "One." All said if he had continued singing the song in his low range, he might have been amazing. And Aerosmith's "Cryin'" was just same-old same-old Adam.

As for Kris, his performance of OneRepublic's "Apologize" was at times pitchy and at best mediocre. It paled next to David Archuleta's finale version in '08. What shined though was his "Heartless" (Kayne West). Like us, most people we spoke with thought "Oh, no!" when they heard what he was planning to sing. But from great risk comes great reward. Kris turned those "Oh, nos" into votes of affirmation and a ticket to tomorrow. Let's not underestimate his impact next week either. He could keep this upset going all the way to the win.

The show opens with a shameless and long "comedy" sketch promotion with Ben Stiller and other cast members from 20th-Century Fox's "Night at the Museum" sequel, which opens Friday. It has nothing to do with "Idol" and everything to do with making money. When the show really begins, Ryan Seacret tells us there were more than 88 million votes, but the Top 2 contestants were only about 1 million votes apart. Yikes! The show is going to be filler, filler, filler until the final five minutes. The wait will be long and tedious. There is no "group" song, but, of course, the sponsors have to be represented. Set to Matthew Wilder's "Break My Stride," the Ford commercial, whose quality has degenerated during the season, features Danny, Adam and Kris briefly becoming animated superheroes. The song is OK, the animation looks quickly and cheesily done.

(Note: some of the videos are not loading the first time, but they are there. If they don't come on, reload the screen)

Watch video of Ford commercial to "Break My Stride"

And because the producers suddenly want to appear charitable -- but not enough to stage "Idol Gives Back" -- we have another mini give-us-money appeal. Alicia Keys appears to rep "Keep a Child Alive." To emphasize its importance, she brings on Noah Mushimiyimana, a Rwandan kid who wants to be singer. Keys tells us he has learned his song in English in just one week. Though Noah is filled with joy onstage, the song is barely tolerable. About one in four words can be understood and Noah's voice is drowned out by the chorus singing behind him. At least he dances better than Megan Joy did. It's nice that Noah got to come to the United States, but a video explaining the charity's work would have had more impact raising money.

Watch video of Alicia Keys charity appeal

It's time for footage from the three finalists homecomings this past Friday. First up is Danny Gokey's return to Milwaukee, which he says is bittersweet homecoming after what has transpired over the past 10 months, going from tragedy to triumph. Little girls scream, big girls scream. They make the heart sign with their hands. They're gaga for Gokey. Danny reunites with his buddy Jamar, who made it to Hollywood, but not to the semis. Danny tears up during his parade.

Watch video of Danny Gokey's homecoming

Next, it's Kris Allen's turn to return to Conway, Ark. Though he says he's a little nervous he is met by huge crowds everywhere, but a lot more kids for Kris than Danny. Must be that puppy-dog smile, which gets almost goofy looking he's so happy. He goes to visit his parents at their home. His family is almost as huge as the crowds. There's a tearjerker moment as he and his dad hug forevah and his dad tells him how much he loves him and how proud he is of Kris. We dare you not to cry watching it. The video segues beautifully from this to Kris singing "Falling Slowly." Scenes of Kris and his wife in the parade car, more family crying, Kris thanking the crowd for changing his life. Sweet.

Watch video of Kris Allen homecoming

OK, it's time to take a breather and cool down the emotions. Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks is here to sing her latest single, "Battlefield," accompanied on piano by the song's co-writer, OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder. The song is good, not great. It gets better as it goes along. Jordin looks sensational and so much older since her victory. She's a real woman now. Love the dress, love the highlights in her hair.

Watch video of Jordin Sparks singing "Battlefield" accompanied by Ryan Tedder

Adam Lambert returns to his hometown, San Diego. He looks so much better without all that pancake stage makeup he's always wearing. He normal skin tone is actually not ruddy like it shows up on TV. He goes to the local morning news show, where the correspondent meeting him is more hysterical than the girls/women in the crowd. Than lame weathergirl is equally groupie-ish and asks Adam to put eyeliner on her the way he does it. Do they really think they can convince him to switch teams? Heh. Adam is a natural with the newspeople. He was born for this. He visits the Met theater group at the Power Performing Arts Center where he first started acting as a child and chats with the kids, some very young. More crowds and a female streaker takes off her blouse and tries to jump on the stage. She, also, apparently hasn't gotten the Adam memo. Adam cracks up and tells her, "You rock."

Watch video of Adam Lambert's homecoming

There's still time for another musical number before the results. It's Katy Perry singing "Waiting in Vegas," with a very Vegas-y troupe with her. On the back of Katy's white cape it says "Adam Lambert." Hmmm, wonder who she's rooting for? It's a good number. Paula Abdul's really into it, but then she's into everything. Nuff said. We like you Katy, but get off the stage, we're dying to hear the results.

Watch video of Katy Perry singing "Waiting in Vegas"

FINALLY! It's 3 minutes to 10 and Ryan Seacrest tells us it's time for the results. Ryan reveals the first person competing in the finale is ... Kris! There is shocked delight on his face, but not as shocked as last week. Simon looks a bit surprised but not necessarily upset. Paula looks stunned, her mouth hanging open. Kara DioGuardi says "Oh my god," Randy Jackson gives "we are not worthy bows" to Kris from the judges' table. Kris' wife is ecstatic in the audience. His parents cry. Kris hugs Danny, then Adam (much longer). Danny and Adam hug each other. Ryan then announces the person appearing with Kris in the finale is (long pause) ... Adam! Danny has never been in the Bottom 3, but didn't make it to the finale. Has that ever happened before? Does anyone out there know?

We get teary watching Danny's journey. He then sings "You Are So Beautiful." It's even better than Tuesday. It's damn near perfect. We feel sorry for him. Even though Kris was good Tuesday and had gotten better week-by-week, we're not sure it should be him instead of Danny. But America has spoken.

On Tuesday Kris and Adam face off for the championship.

Watch video of Danny Gokey's elimination

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