Archive for the ‘American Idol’ Category

What a Year a Difference Makes

May 23, 2007

Man…this time last year I was near heart-attack frenzied with excitement and anticipation. Kat? Taylor? Kat? Taylor? Commenting like a fiend at Gray’s. Giving a play-by-play in chat about the American Idol Season Finale.

But this year…I got home late from work…completely nonplussed about the night’s event. I was more eager to dig into the leftovers I had brought home from the catered lunch at the office…complete with banana pudding…mmmmmm.

So, to be honest, as Ryan gave his signature intro…”This…is A-MER-ican Idol”…all I could think was…meh…as I put the pudding in the fridge and sat down to watch the show.

I think back to the beginning of Season 6 and have to wonder…how much more vested would I have been if the likes of Tammy Gosnell or Sean Michel had staid in the mix?

Don’t get me wrong…the battle of the divas had me tapping my toes more than once this season…but there was nothing that truly wowed me…nothing that made me clamor for a blog on either LaKisha or Melinda or hunt down all their tracks for downloading as soon as the show was over.

And though I’m extremely grateful to one Mr. Gray Charles for his interim here at Monkbot this week (the fawning gratitude post will come later)…I can’t find it within myself to support his belief in Jordin. To me she was all over the map all season. Her ballads were heartfelt…but, man, anything that had a tempo above a waltz was pretty much a fiasco.

And then there were the guys. If only they had performed with half the chutzpah they had during tonight’s finale…maybe the season would have had more za-za-zing. But, sadly, they didn’t…and hence…the season didn’t.

As for sweet little Blakeypoo. Okay…so he had consistency issues, too. But he also gave some of the more memorable performances outside of Sanjaya (though I hope he doesn’t put that on his resume). Whether folks liked it or hated it…his “You Give Love a Bad Name” was a total show stopper. And it speaks highly of him that his cover of Maroon 5 had more than one person thinking that maybe the band should 86 their current lead and offer the job to Mr. Lewis.

So with all this sawing of logs this season…we entered the finale tonight with little curiosity or wonder about the outcome. Partly because everyone knew Jordin would win…and partly because…who really cared?

Even the asinine “hosts” of Idol’s horrendously self-indulgent red carpet show (which, by the way, made me long for Billy Bush…something I thought would never happen) were thirsting for original questions for the stars on the carpet because no one wanted to “buzz” about who would win…well…except for Simon who was so pompous that he gave Jordin a congratulatory kiss in advance. Cheeky monkey.

Though this was the worst red carpet show I’ve ever watched, I will say the jewel of the interviews was when Paula admitted that, through this past season, she was not ever able to remember the performances and songs after each week’s show…which pretty much summed up how the nation viewed the show, too.

The theme of the night seemed to be “The Beatles,” and Jordin and Blake started the show with a duet of “I Saw Her Standing There.”

Poor Blake. Poor, poor Blake. As if it wasn’t bad enough he was congratulated on the red carpet for “making it this far” instead of “good luck” for the win…he had to serenade Jordin with the first song of the night…chosen, I’m sure, with her in mind.

“She was just 17…and you know what I mean…”

I will say, though, Jordin and Blake were tons better than Kat and Taylor’s “You’re the One that I Want” last year. Probably because the chemistry between the Season 6 finalists was so much more exuberant than the Season 5 finalists.

The first guest spot of the night went to Gwen Stefani, telecast from her tour concert stage. She looked great and sang “4 in the morning”…but I could swear she was lip syncing.

Next up…Kelly Clarkson, singing her new song, “Never Again.” Um…I didn’t quite get it. She sounded good…but the song was pretty rough, in my opinion. Oh well.

Again this year, AI used the ruse of “Golden Idols” to make a mockery of those who were previously mocked on the show. This year’s awards went to:

Margaret Fowler for “Best Presentation.” This woman grosses me out beyond belief…dressed all in yellow with feathers flying. However, the kiss she planted on Ryan that knocked him to the stage was a side-splitter.

Sholandric Stallworth for “Most Original Vocals.” Zzzzzzz….

Jonathan and Kenneth for “Best Buddies.” I wanted to care…but then I decided to not.

Finally, we got a performance from some of this year’s offed finalists. The top six guys came out in white suits and sang a harmony so tight that it could fit in a Sucrets box. I was amazed at Sanjaya and Chris Richardson. And I was even more thrilled when Smokey Robinson walked out and all the guys danced in unison behind him. It was truly a beautiful thing.

Blake followed that performance with one much different…but just as impressive. He beatboxed with Barry B and Doug E Fresh. Now, I have to admit, this isn’t my preferred choice of music, but I found this piece to be incredible. Plus it really made me appreciate Blake even more. Hearing how talented he is with this beatboxing and realizing that he made it to the finals in the country’s biggest singing competition shows that he’s a pretty savvy guy…and one heck of an entertainer.

The top six girls came out next and sang with Gladys Knight…and I slipped into a coma. Sorry…I refuse to recap this…it was bad. Almost as bad as the disgusting faces Constantine kept making in the audience all night. (Will someone please hand that dude a few coupons to Chuck E. Cheese or something so he’ll have something else to do but attend every single Idol function?)

Please allow me to clarify…I was speaking about the girls’ number as a whole…it stunk like the pile of wet fish I keep by the computer. The arrangement was terrible. The pacing was awkward. The girls didn’t gel anywhere near as well as the boys did.

However…Melinda, Gladys and Lakisha were great…I totally agree. (I had actually written an entire paragraph about how much I love Gladys…but then thought it would take away from how much I disliked the girls’ medley…so I deleted it.)

Tony Bennett sang next and I zoned out again. But then the guy wailed at the end of his song and I actually perked up. He was pretty amazing…and he’s what…150? That’s a true entertainer, right there.

Finally…we got to hear a song by the Season 6 American Idol…I mean…by Melinda Doolittle. She sang a trio with BeBe & CeCe Winans (with whom she used to sing back-up). She looked thrilled and was in great form. All three sounded fantastic, and I loved it. She was so robbed this year!

The Ford commercial…a montage of bloopers and outtakes from all the rest of the Season 6 commercials…was the best of the season. And after the commercial, Jordin and Blake were each awarded their Ford mustang.

Carrie Underwood came out and sang “I’ll Stand by You”…but I really hope she won’t stand by me if she continues wearing that incredibly awful prom dress/blue jean combo. Hideous. I guess she’s allowed to wear such atrocities since, if you haven’t heard, she’s the biggest selling Idol artist ever (6 million U.S. albums). Clive Davis certainly doesn’t mind if she stands by him…that is…as long as she’s earning him money.

And after Idol finished patting itself on the back for a job well done for earning millions of dollars and selling millions of albums…we were treated to a performance by some of the poorest people on Earth (irony or just bad judgement…you tell me). The African Children’s Choir ran onto stage with more jubilant glee than I’ve ever seen on any Idol stage. These kids were the highlight of the show, in my opinion. Not only did they sound wonderful…they were smiling and singing with joyful abandon. And all I could think was how torn I was. On one hand, it pained me to think these kids live in country where desolation and illness and poverty and death are a part of every day…so I wanted for them to be here, in America, where they would have a shot at a good life. But then I thought…look at them. They are beautiful and joyful (or at least putting on a good act). It would be a sin for them to come over here and become as jaded and sullen as the rest of the nation.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to agonize over the children for long because the next act was up…and it was a doozey. Sanjaya, Joe Perry, and the crying girl made their finale appearance together. This was possibly the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen…and I couldn’t take my eyes of the T.V. Perry was wailing on his sexy guitar while the new Toxic Twin, Sanjaya, sang “Girl, You Really Got Me Going” to a 12-year-old blonde cry-baby…who was sobbing just as hard as she did the first time on the show (one has to think Nigel Lythgoe must have stuck a thumbtack in her seat or something because, really, no one can cry that much over Sanjaya…no one).

Back to the Beatles…or at least John Lennon…with Green Day covering “Working Class Hero” to save Darfur.

Now I have to stop here and say something bold…something outrageous…but something totally true. American Idol’s Season Finale may be largely fluff and silliness…but it’s becoming a music event that, in my opinion, truly rivals the Grammys or AMAs or even MTV awards. Part of the appeal of this show is in NOT knowing who will be performing…just like the Green Day tribute song (which was absolutely wonderful)…not having expectations in the finale makes it almost impossible to be disappointed in the show. Plus, the variety is unparalleled…Tony Bennett, the Winans, Joe Perry, Green Day, AND Sanjaya? That’s a pretty radical mix…but it worked.

Back to the recap…

It only took forever, but Taylor Hicks finally made his way back to the Idol stage…singing his new single, “Heaven Knows.” He did great. I love the song. I thought he looked great. He sounded great. He was energetic and infectious. He played his harp. He interacted with the band. He did his trademark dancing, and he even gave a shout out to the Soul Patrol. We really couldn’t have asked for more…well, except for Bama who texted me, “I want Taylor to win again.” But, now, I feel I’ve watched him come full circle and I have nothing but enthusiasm for his next recording project…since he’ll be somewhat untethered by the whole AI shebang.

Jordin and Ruben Studdard came out and sang “All I Need to Get By” and did a great job. It was a little weak in parts…but it definitely trumped Meatloaf and Kat’s debacle last year.

Whoa…from out of nowhere…Bette Midler showed up, singing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” But, I don’t know, dawg, she was a little pitchy…I think Tony B. brought it more than the Divine Miss M tonight. (But it was obvious that Jerry Springer loved it…dare I say…he was this year’s Hasselhoff?)

And in what I’m sure was supposed to be a major coup…all the previous Idols (except for Fantasia because she was unavailable)…took part in a tribute to the Beatles’ “Sergeant Pepper.” However, other than Kelly’s knock-out performance with Joe Perry and Taylor’s wonderful input in this piece…it all kind of fell flat at the end. Carrie and Ruben were boring…and the Season 6 Idols who took the stage were all a bit lifeless. I think last year’s appearance by Prince FAR outweighed this number…but what do I know.

Finally…the moment arrived that no one was waiting for…the announcement of Jordin as this year’s winner. She sang “This Is My Now,” and Blake looked happy for her. Her parents looked happy for her. Everyone in the audience looked happy for her. Heck, I guess even I looked happy for her…but then I realized the real cause of my smile…

I still had a serving of banana pudding in the fridge.

So, I got up, turned off the t.v., and headed to the kitchen…knowing the madness would all happen again, starting in January…and knowing…(my smile growing bigger)…it would all happen again…but without me.

Entertainment Weekly’s Write-Up