Tuesday, June 09, 2009

American Idol: Finale Recap! (Finally.)

TRACY: So we made it, Troy. We’re actually recapping an American Idol finale, instead of mysteriously disappearing around the top 3 or 4. Go, us!

TROY: It truly is a festivus miracle (except that this is two three weeks too late-- my bad, all!). A moment of silence for a momentous occasion…


On with the snark!

TRACY: I know I said last week that I was going to be happy as a clam if either Kris or Adam was crowned the winner, but I still couldn’t help but feel at the end of Wednesday’s show that something was not right with the universe.

TROY: Because Michael Sarver and Megan Corkery were allowed to return to the Idol stage?

TRACY: Mmmmmmmm ... well, there's that. Strangely enough, that's not it.

I adore Kris. He grew on me faster than a bad fungus, and he also happens to perform the kind of understated, acoustic music I tend to personally gravitate toward, particularly as background music for work and writing. But here’s why his winning it all left me a bit sad:

1) I thought Adam sang a SMIDGE better on Tuesday.

TROY: Really? Adam’s “No Boundaries” was a hot mess on Tuesday (not that that’s saying much with THAT song--more on that later).

TRACY: Kris couldn't even hit the notes, though--not his fault, but still.

2) I read a bunch of stories about how the segment of Crazy Christians who were voting for Danny Gokey were guaranteed to go for Kris, which made me backlash back to Adam out of a sense of justice and a need to support the non-crazy Christians out there.

3) Kris is a wonderful, wonderful musician, but it was Adam who drove the entertainment factor of each and every episode of this season into the stratosphere.

4) Kris MUST make his own kind of music to be successful, and I’m afraid 19 Entertainment is going to suck the fun out of him and “This is My Now” him to death. Adam, on the other hand, is so unique, that I think he would be able to drive the process more.

So … I’m having the vapors over this end result, Troy. Talk me down, please.

TROY: You like Kris! Kris is a nice guy! His cover of “Heartless” was ah-may-zing! He never talked back to the judges!

TRACY: I like Adam! So is Adam! So was "Mad World" and Zeppelin! Adam didn't either! Ugh! Ugh! ::::vapors::::

TROY: Uhm … Ummm …


TRACY: I feel suddenly better.

Anyway, onto our very last AI recap of 2009!

I don’t know why Simon let himself get so distracted by a little dry ice and the Vampire-Lestat-meets-the-Matrix coat, but I loved ADAM LAMBERT’s performance of “Mad World”—perhaps even more than the first one, which practically had me sobbing into my husband’s shoulder. There was just something loose and cool and—dare I say?—understated about it this time around. Dude didn’t need a bunch of dry ic e to be smoking, but I loved how it gave the whole performance a brand-new vibe. If Adam hits Broadway sometime in the future, I’m so getting tickets. Les Miz revival, anyone?

TROY: I didn’t love it as much as the first go-round, but Adam OWNS this song. Vocals, as always, were killer. And yes, I own the mp3 now (NERD).

TRACY: I downloaded it ages ago. (Bigger nerd.)

TROY: Still … it didn’t have the magic of the first time he performed it. It’s like the second time Fantasia sang “Summertime”--vocally proficient and flawless, but missing just that feeling from the first time.

TRACY: Which is totally why they should be able to pick a new song!

KRIS ALLEN knocked it out of the park with his second try at “Ain’t No Sunshine,” but I didn’t think it was the total KO Simon felt it was. Not that I didn’t think Kris was absolutely perfect, but I loved Adam’s first performance just as much. That said, I thought he made some gorgeous adjustments to his original arrangement of this song, and he dropped it like it was hot.

TROY: I thought this was miles better than Kris’ first performance of the song (which was also strong). Maybe it was the fact that he didn’t have to keep pegging it as his “moment,” but he saaaang it.

I still gave round one to Kris.

TRACY: I called it a draw.

At first, I wasn’t sure about Simon Fuller handing Sam Cooke’s Civil Rights anthem, “A Change is Gonna Come” to Adam, but my boy quickly dispelled any and all doubts with a masterpiece of a performance. I loved that song so much, I want to write it creepy fanmail, then go to Hollywood and stalk it. And really, with all that “Is he or isn’t he?” crap going on, the choice makes sense to day.

TROY: Perfect choice, but I’m biased against this version. Why?

See, I had just seen Seal flawlessly perform this song live and in-studio on Oprah (JEALOUS?).

TRACY: (I saw him do a full concert. So, no.)

TROY: That man OWNS “A Change is Gonna Come.”

I kept comparing the two versions and Adam’s manic screaming just couldn’t compare to Seal’s smooth a capella version.

TRACY: Apples and oranges, grasshopper. Adam was the bomb.

I thought Kris did a lovely job with “What’s Going On?” and didn’t deserve as much wrath as he got from the judges because HE DIDN’T CHOOSE THAT SONG. I mean, I don’t think even Adam the Musical Flash Grenade couldn't have made much of that song, so the judges ragging on Kris for being too understated made zero sense. Of course, the bongo arrangement was perhaps a little too reminiscent of his arrangement of “She Works Hard for the Money,” but whatever. Dude still rocked what he was given.

TROY: Ha! I’m flashing back to, “It’s a song … about how she works hard … for money.” Oh, Kris Allen.

Yeah … really didn’t love this, but it wasn’t Kris’ song choice (attempted Idol sabotage?). Kris’ vocals were great, but the weird stoner arrangement didn’t really work.

TRACY: I called that round for Adam, but it was REALLY close and not even Kris's fault, really. And finally …


TRACY: OMG, that song. That horrible, horrible song. I thought that when they announced Kara had co-written “No Boundaries,” we might actually be in for a marginally likeable American Idol single. After all, this IS the woman who wrote “Ain’t No Other Man,” “Sober,” and “Walk Away.” But THIS? This travesty is a piece of chewed-up gum on the bottom of Katy Perry’s bedazzled shoe. WTF?!?!

I thought both Adam and Kris did the best they could with the flaming bag of dog poo that Kara left on their figurative doorsteps, but damn. Both needed an archeological team to come in and excavate a discernable melody, and the lyrics were straight out of the collection of rhyming poetry my high school stalker sent me freshman year. Or perhaps she was inspired by one of those Hallmark cards with the sunsets and foil seagulls on them.

TROY: Jeez, Tracy … What’s wrong with climbing mountains? Making it through the pain? Weathering the hurricanes?

TRACY: Nothing! Go ahead and climb those mountains. Just don't sing about them in simplistic rhyming couplets to a non-discernable melody. Head. Hurts.

TROY: To be honest, I don’t hate the song (Don’t hurt me)!

TRACY: :::incredulous, google-eyed stare:::

TROY: It’s become an ear worm that’s I’ll sporadically burst into singing (much like … ”Here Come the Sun.”)

TRACY: I hated that earworm! That earworm was the devil! This one is worse than the devil! Back away slowly from your iPod so I can douse it in holy water and exorcize this song off of it!

TROY: However, the finalists might as well have sung “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus--basically the same concept with much deeper lyrics and an easier-to-reach key.

TRACY: And you wonder why I'm still musically stuck in the '90s.

Speaking of the key, Squeaky Fromme Dioguardi even admitted that the key was too high “for Kris.” (NB: It was too freaking high for both of them. Adam may have the range, but it’s not at all pleasant to hear anyone but Barry Freaking Gibb singing up in the stratosphere for that long.) Another WTF moment—Ricky Minor and the band can transpose any song in the Idol catalog to suit any contestant, but they can’t tamper with Kara’s unholy pile of barfness?

TROY: They managed to fix the studio version, but the Idol performances were horrifying. I STILL think this is better than “This is my Now” or “Inside Your Heaven.”

There! I said it!

TRACY: I think that last exchange caused me actual, physical pain.

GOD!!!!! WHY does Idol keep doing this to us? The WHOLE FREAKING WORLD thinks that the finale should be 1) best past performance, 2) song chosen by Simon Cowell ...

TROY: (He did choose “One” for Adam though, which…yeesh)

TRACY: (I know, but at least I'm curious about what he'll pick, and it has never, to date, been a Terrence Trent d'Arby song.)

... 3) whole new song chosen by finalist. But NOOOOO. They have to bring crusty old Simon “My-heart-is-still-in-the-sixties” Fuller in to pick a song, and then they saddle the contestants with a musical root canal. I don’t get it.

TROY: I really don’t get the Simon Fuller choice--it’s ALWAYS terrible. Sixties music is NOT making a comeback right now. Stop trying to make them happen!

TRACY: I hope "No Boundaries" is Kara’s final shot at ruining the show, because I am SO done with her.

Anyway, poor Kris being forced to sing that “song” again in the finale was the only major blemish on an otherwise really entertaining two hours on Wednesday.

First of all, going slightly out of chronological order, I have to stop the presses to say: All hail the Queen! I LOVED Queen Latifah’s new single, “Cue the Rain.” Even Lil Rounds couldn’t spoil it, and I thought she was one of the more generous celebrities when it came to sharing the stage with the Idols, allowing Lil equal time even though homegirl wasn’t exactly in equal voice.

TROY: So I didn’t get home until after midnight the night of the Idol finale. As such, I fast forwarded through everything that looked boring. This was one of them.

Queen Latifah in Dana Owens mode AND with Lil Rounds? Pass! (Still haven’t heard the song, but it’s not exactly burning up the hit charts).

TRACY: (Don't be such a musical sheep. Remember, top 40 is currently bringing you "If You Seek Amy," which is a horror show. You're a MOM, for heaven's sake. Show some dignity!)

Oh, and the sound mixing on the Latifah/Lil duet! Two big, booming voices, and the band still overpowered them? I think it’s time for another letter to American Idol’s sound mixer:

Dear Sound Mixing Guy,

You suck.

Respectfully yours,


TROY: Can we give him an award? Congrats to you, suckiest sound mixing guy on the planet!

TRACY: Anyway, I’ve already downloaded the Lil-free version on iTunes, which is going to be an excellent addition to the warm-up portion of my workout mix.

David Cook did a nice job with the 47th single from his new album, “Permanent.” He looked so sad, I probably would say that even if I didn’t mean it, but I really do.

TROY: I agree, but he sounded great and has really eradicated my haaaaatteee from last season. I bought the mp3 on iTunes (it’s for a good cause!) and also “Come Back to Me,” which I’m loving.

TRACY: iTunes OWNS you now, doesn't it?

Oh, and Norman Gentle … AGAIN. Thank God, we got to see him flog that “And I am Telling You” schtick for the seventh time, because it was so hilarious the other six times. (GOD, Ju’Not Joyner and Jesse Langseth were dissed for THIS?)

TROY: They may as well announced his performance as, “BECAUSE NO ONE DEMANDED IT ... NORMAN GENTLE!” No one voted for him, Idol. Stop trying to make Norman Gentle happen.

Instead, they should have had a “Here’s why you suck, America” segment where Jesse and Ricky Braddy could have rocked it out.

TRACY: And Ju'Not! And Tami Gosnell from last season, because I'm still not over that one.

Jason Mraz looked bored, so I’m not spending any more time on him.

TROY: I normally like his music, but ZZZzzzzZzZZzzzzZz….

TRACY: At first, pairing Kris Allen with Keith Urban seemed a little odd, but then I realized how utterly perfect it was. Their voices blended together seamlessly, and they were similar enough that Keith’s example showed how an understated but gifted performer could appeal to the masses. I’m not a country music fan, but I was kinda off my head about this duet. And hats off to Keith for also being generous about sharing the stage with Kris.

TROY: I had to watch this on YouTube because I originally fast-forwarded through it the first time. I was wrong because as Kris and Keith sounded fantastic together and showed how versatile Kris can be. Kris can do country! Kris can do acoustic rock! Kris can rap!

Maybe not the last part, but you get the idea.

TRACY: In the not-so-generous department, we have Fergie and the Black-Eyed Peas, and Rod Stewart, who apparently thought it was all about them Wednesday night. (Here’s a freebie from the clue factory—it was not.) Fergie, if you are not going to do backflips, I am done with you. That said, I liked “Boom Boom Pow” performed live, but there’s something pulsing in the studio recording that makes my left eye throb every time I hear it on the radio.

TROY: Hey! Would you really want to duet with Megan Corkery and Jasmine Murray? I think not!

TRACY: No, but how about poor left-by-the-roadside Matt Giraud? More on that later.

TROY: Loved BEP (not Fergie singing a song that’s two years old--way to be relevant, Idol), but was weirded out by the 5-second pause and cut to the Idol logo mid-performance. Subtle editing, team.

TRACY: Oh, and Bikini Girl was back. Thank God, because my inner feminist really wanted to curl up into a ball and have yet another hysterical crying jag.

Ryan had his first non-cheesy-and-actually-funny moment on the show with his “I’d ask you what’s new, but I think I know,” comment. Too bad he already used that one on Kellie Pickler, but hey, I’ll take any non-cheese moment I can get from the guy, right, friends?

TROY: I’m over Ryan--he’s been an epic fail this season with the creepy banter, recycled jokes, and inflated ego. Bring back, Dunkleman!

(except … not)

TRACY: I don't know. Maybe watching Dunkleman fall on his face every night would be more entertaining than Ryan's sixth-grade-lockeroom homophobe jokes.

Anyway, I was starting to wonder why they let Bikini Girl's off-key-and-mostly-naked booty on stage to sing for so long, when Kara appeared and nearly made me fall off the couch in surprise. I have to say, I think Kara had a moment there. I almost liked her, for about half a second. Then she ripped her dress open. …

… And my inner feminist shriveled up and died.

Kara does have a really good voice, though. If they insist on keeping her next season, I think she should be a contestant.

TROY: This was my favorite moment of the finale--I haven’t laughed this hard at a performance since the Clay Aiken/Michael Sandecki duet.

I normally feel bad for contestants who get epically humiliated on stage, but this was a karma boomerang for Bikini Girl. You could tell she was PISSED and I loved every moment of it.

TRACY: Oh, the schadenfreude. It was beautiful.

TROY: And after a season of being an utter trainwreck, it was nice for Kara to have a moment when she shined. I didn’t even mind the bikini reveal (it was for charity!).

TRACY: Whatever.

HOLY CRAP, Allison Iraheta and Cyndi Lauper were amazing. Like stunningly, gorgeously, immaculately amazing. I tell you, it is a crying shame that Madonna continues to churn out albums while Cyndi’s career is relegated to rehashing her 80s hits on imitation Lilith Fair tours. Because that woman is a freaking brilliant songwriter and musician. I’ve always thought that “Time After Time” was one of the most beautiful songs ever in the history of ever, but that duet rearrangement cemented that for me. Wow. Allison was stunning. Here’s to a successful Iraheta album in 2009, free from any and all Kara Dioguardi originals.

TROY: Even though they should have performed “The Goonies R Good Enough,” this was, hands down, best performance of the night (sorry Adam and Kris). Allison SCHOOLED the sucktastic version that Cyndi put out with Sarah McLachlan years ago and made my dark, tiny heart grow three sizes. Mp3 now … please.

Why this girl wasn’t in the top 3 is beyond me.

TRACY: Then we had Danny Gokey and Lionel Richie. And everyone we meet, was upchucking in the street. All night long.

TROY: And in a case of WTF IDOL, Lionel Richie? Is he even relevant today? Do kids listen to him?

Survey says … HELL to the no. And its moments like these that make Idol finales failures.

TRACY: Geriatric KISS creeps me the hell out. Paul Stanley, put a freaking shirt on, and Gene Simmons, put that nastyass tongue back where it came from. Seriously.

They sounded horrifying, too, until Adam swooped in to save them. He was stunning and perfect. I’m not sure I’m totally on board of everyone’s wish for him to bring back hair-band rock, but if he can spin it into something original and fresh, he might really have something. He totally SCHOOLED the KISS singers.

TROY: Rock legend and all, I wanted Gene Simmons to STFU. He sounded SOOO bad and for a second I thought they were one of those Kiss “tribute bands” that visits places like the Random Lake Fireman’s Picnic.

Thank GOD Adam was able to interfere and rock it out. He sounded FANTASTIC, transcending those stupid bubble wings he was wearing (apparently also worn by Lady GaGa--seriously!).

TRACY: (Huh! Who knew?) I loved hearing the contestants sing with Carlos Santana ...

(Is it just me, or should Kris TOTALLY have performed “Smooth” during his Idol run?)

TROY: (They were probably concerned he wouldn’t match up to Chris Richardson’s rendition in season 6 - Ha,)

TRACY: But did the Idols really have to skip around Santana in a jaunty little circle like that? I mean, seriously, all that was missing were some spirit fingers and jazz hands. It takes a lot to suck the cool factor out of a 1970s icon like Santana, but Cecile Frot-Coutaz managed it.

TROY: Are you really shocked? Taking the cool out of songs is an Idol staple. They could turn Nirvana’s “Come as You Are” into the The Brady Bunch’s “Sunshine Day.”

TRACY: :::shudder::: That calls for another letter.

Dear Courtney Love,

I don't care how broke you are or how bad the shakes and night sweats get. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT open up Nirvana's song catalog to 19 Entertainment to score more meth, or you will send all of Generation X into a depression spiral. And while we make excellent music when we're depressed, the world doesn't need that much flannel inflicted upon it again.



Moving on.... For the love of God, why does Steve Martin keep inflicting his “bluegrass” on the masses like this? (See also his SNL 2009 performance—ugh.) I mean, that would be a sweet little background ditty for an episode of Max and Ruby, but SNL and American Idol? I actually love bluegrass and I love Steve Martin, but together, they suck the cool factor that “O, Brother, Where Art Thou?” strove to provide this musical genre and send it reeling back to 1970s Hee-Haw episodes.

Having Michael Sarver and Megan CAWkrey lend their dubious talents to said “bluegrass” didn’t help here.

TROY: My ears are STILL bleeding (and I fast forwarded through most of this). Would it kill Megan to stay on key for at least 4 consecutive notes?

TRACY: You know ... I think it might.

TROY: And, side note, MEGAN AND MICHAEL had featured songs while poor Matt Giraud only received about 5 seconds of screentime during the Santana medley. WTF, IDOL?!

TRACY: I KNOW! Sick and wrong!

My five-year-old Maggie REALLY enjoyed hearing Rod Stewart singing “Maggie May” (which I’ve now started singing to her in the mornings when I want her to wake up for school--"Wake up, Maggie, I think I've got something to SAAYYYY to YOOOOUUUUU!!!"). But again, we want to hear you WITH the Idols, not all by your tiny little lonesome in your crappy-looking jacket.

Oh, and Danny Gokey and Scott McIntyre, the answer to the question of “If you want my body” is no. Just no.

TROY: I just threw up a little in my mouth.

TRACY: Hey, I watched it real time and couldn't even fast-forward!

Adam and Kris were bloody brilliant with Queen. Even though I am heartily sick of “We are the Champions” (thank you, high school basketball games), I did really enjoy hearing them sing together. (Let the record show that Kris can, indeed, rock when he chooses to.)

TROY: Loved this (and so much better than the normal cheesy finalist duet: Please see Kelly Clarkson/Justin Guarini--“It Takes Two” and Fantasia/Diana DeGarmo--“I Knew You Were Waiting For Me”).

TRACY: Some of my pain over not seeing Adam win was soothed by Kris’s so-adorably-humble-I-want-to-squeeze-him reaction at taking the Idol crown. I mean, how can you not love a guy who reacts with, “I don’t even know what to do right now. Adam deserved this. I’m sorry.” And when he started crying into his 12-year-old wife’s shoulder? SO sweet.

He TOTALLY shouldn’t be sorry—he mega-talented and deserves all of his success and, as you pointed out in last week’s recap, perhaps needed it a little more than the show-stopping Adam. (Who was the very picture of grace and humility and deserves monstrous success as well.) I thought he did a little bit better of a job singing “Kara’s Flaming Pile of Dog Poo,” even, but I am still feeling anger over the fact that he’s been saddled with that mess.

TROY: “Made it through the pain/weathered the hurricane…THERE ARE NO BOUNDARIES!” Ear worm! I’m actually listening to it as I write this. 

TRACY: I'm a little scared of you now.

TROY: Since I’m in 100% agreement with what you said above about the finale results, I’d like to take this time to award the HOT MESS OF THE WEEK Award to …

JANICE DICKINSON! Seriously...how drunk was she and how much of her face was falling off?

TRACY: Very drunk and very much. Painful.

Here’s wishing both finalists better songwriters and mucho success.

TROY: And that Megan Corkery, Michael Sarver and Scott McIntyre fall off the face of the planet.

See you next season!

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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