American Idol: A Finale Worth Watching

You never know what to expect with an American Idol finale. In the past, they have been long and boring, finally culminating in a confetti shower for the tearful winner. This year was a bit of an exception. This season’s finale was a star-studded extravaganza. We saw one musical superstar after another.

Yes, we were still subjected to those dreaded group songs, including all 13 finalists, all the males, and all the females. But several of the duets and group songs were warm-ups used to introduce the bigger stars.

Some highlights, very good, good and bad:

Adam and Kris doing a duet of We Are the Champions, by Queen
– The truth is, these guys sound great together. Almost as good as Adam and Allison sounded together singing Slow Ride a few weeks ago. Then they introduced Queen and sang with them. As I commented to a few people already, Queen is looking for a new lead singer now that they’ve parted ways with former lead singer, Paul Rodgers. Adam would be a great addition to the band, who he happens to be a big fan of. Just sayin’.

Adam singing Kiss’s rock ballad, Beth – while Adam was singing Beth, I said, don’t tell me Kiss is coming out, and sure enough, there they were, in all their made-up glory. I felt like I was watching a concert from 1978. They looked and sounded like they did 30 years ago. Adam joined them in signing Detroit Rock City and Rock and Roll All Night, and he sounded like he was definitely in his element.

All of the finalists singing Black Magic Woman and Smooth with Carlos Santana – After several moments of Santana playing the first part of Woman, Matt Giraud led off the singing by doing the first few lines solo. He sounded great and reminded us all why he was in the top 5 finalists. Then the rest of the finalists joined in and it sounded pretty good. I kinda wish that Matt had sang the whole song himself, with Santana wailing on his axe in the background.

Allison doing a duet with Cyndi Lauper
– Who knew Cyndi Lauper could still sing after all these years? The duet they did of Time After Time sounded as good as it did when it first came out over 20 years ago, before Allison was even born. Allison showed once again how much talent she has, and seemed to keep Lauper well grounded. At least, until the end, when Lauper started doing some very strange gyrations (which was hard, because she was sitting down) that made her look like she was trying to do a snake charming routine.

Danny singing Lionel Richie’s ballad, Hello – This song was perfect for Danny. The hoarseness of his voice added some depth the song that it previously lacked. I wonder why he never sang it during the competition. Then, Richie came out and they did a duet of All Night Long that fell a little flat. The truth is, Danny sounded better than Lionel Richie did.

David Cook singing his new song, Permanent – This was a very emotional song, made even more so by the fact that Cook just lost his brother a couple of weeks ago to cancer. But, it was a very strong way to open the show. By the way, Cook also announced that the song was now available on ITunes and that all proceeds would go to cancer research.

Kris singing a duet with Keith Urban – OK, I’m not a country fan by any means, and to that point, I’m really not all that familiar with Keith Urban’s music, but that being said, I thought they sounded pretty good together. I’m not saying that Kris should stop singing the Jason Mraz/Jack Johnson type music that he excels at and jump over to country music. I’m just saying that it sounded pretty good.

Ryan announcing the Golden Idol Award for Best Attitude – I really thought that this award would go to Alexis Cohen, who came back this season and hilariously flipped Simon off again. But, it went to Bikini Girl, Katrina Darrel. This prompted a couple of pretty funny moments. The first was when Ryan saying he’d ask her what’s new, but he already knew, looking at her newly augmented boob job. This was actually the second time Seacrest used the joke. He used the exact same line on former contestant Kelly Pickler earlier in the season when she came to perform. It was still funny. The second fumy moment was when Darrel was singing, 4th judge Kara DioGaurdi came out on stage and started singing with her. Kara blew her away. She may not be a great judge, but she has one hell of a voice. After they were done, Kara ripped open her dress to reveal herself in a bikini, showing up Darrel yet again. If Kara is through after her one season stint, she’s going out with a bang.

The male finalists joining Rod Stewart in Maggie May and If You Want My Body
– This sounded allright until Rod Stewart came out and totally dismissed the group. He sounded flat and a little bit bored.

Michael Sarver, Megan Joy singing Pretty Flowers with Steve Martin – Michael and Megan both sounded good. Megan’s voice was always very different, and even a little weird, but in this song it seemed to work. It was funny seeing Steve Martin strumming along on the banjo. I kept waiting for him to break out some comedy. This song is from his new album, “The Crow: New Songs For the Five-String Banjo”. As strange as it was, he sounded good. Scott MacIntyre also joined in on the chorus, but he was barely noticeable and for some reason, didn’t even have a solo.

Lil Rounds sings with Queen Latifah on her new single, Cue the Rain – This was a good song for Lil to sing, and she and Queen Latifah sounded good together. I’m normally not a fan of Queen Latifah’s music, but it’s more of a function of the type of music and not her voice, which I think is very good. This song was no exception to that.

All the finalists singing So What by Pink
– Part of the reason that this was so bad is that it’s just an awful song. Ever since the first time I heard it, I always thought that it could have been something that The Spice Girls could have sang, and hearing it in group format only reinforced that notion. I was once again pissed off that Jasmine Murray made it to the Top 13 and Kristen McNamara didn’t.

The female finalists singing Big Girls Don’t Cry with Fergie – It may not have been so bad if Megan Joy didn’t have a solo in it. This was not a good vehicle to showcase her voice. She was very off-pitch and sounded like she was singing a different song all together. Then the Black Eyed Peas came out and they all sang Glamorous (also horrid) and Boom Boom Pow, which happens to be the number 1 song on Billboard’s Top 100 Pop Songs. The former was terrible, the latter, was OK. At least the Peas livened it up a little. For some reason, we were treated to a several second break with the Idol logo on the screen. I wondered if Fergie had a costume malfunction.

Golden Idol Awards – One of the stupidest moments of the night (actually, it was two of the stupidest moments) came when Ryan announced the Outstanding Male Performance and Outstanding Female Performance. Sadly, we were once again subjected to the ridiculousness of Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle and yes, we had to see Tatiana Del Toro yet again. At least this time we didn’t have to witness her histrionics again. It reminded us all how poor a job the judges did during the audition and semi-final rounds, since they allowed both of these lunatics to go through to the top 36, knowing full well they had no chance in hell of going any further. I hope this isn’t a sign of what’s to come in future Idol seasons. I think most people (including yours truly) would prefer it if they let the actual singers go through to the final 36. The biggest problem with letting posers like Del Toro and Mitchell in is that it robs someone who’s actually deserving of the chance to go further in the competition. OK, I’ll come down off the soapbox now.

The end of the show gave us a couple of very nice, sincere moments. When Kris Allen was announced as the new American Idol, he seemed quite shocked and actually said, “Adam really deserves this. I’m sorry.” There is no doubt in my mind that he meant it. The other great moment came when the two finalists were embracing. Adam looked genuinely happy for Kris. And he should be.

Actually, I really think Adam is better off by not winning. Now, he’s not encumbered by any contract telling him that he has to perform certain songs (like the horrendous coronation song, No Boundaries). By the way, Kris’s performance of No Boundaries during the finale show was about a thousand times better than during the last round of competition on Tuesday night. Yeah, it’s still a lousy song, but he sounded better singing it the second time.

So ends what is probably the best Idol season to date. There is little doubt in most people’s minds that all of the Top 5, Matt Giraud, Allison Iraheta, Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert, and Kris Allen, have brilliant careers ahead of them. We will be seeing all of them again soon, gracing the Billboard charts.