Finale “live” bloggin’

8:00- Ryan’s opening salvo

8:04- The final 13 sing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”. Everyone looks terrific, and they kept it together really well. This is a really good song, with a hook (19, pay attention) and a commercial melody. Scotty and Lauren came to the front at the end of the song and did a Rowan and Martin routine, jokingly fighting over the spotlight. Ok, it’s a Hope/Crosby thing; hell, maybe it’s an Adam/Eve thing. I don’t go that far back.

8:11- James with Judas Priest, singing “Living After Midnight” and “Breaking the Law“. Who dressed JD? He looks like one of the Village People. Metal fans (Bobbi?) I’m sure loved it, and I enjoyed it. Rob Halford is one of the best metal vocalists ever, if not THE best. JD could learn some things from him for sure. I noticed how Halford really bites his words off, and gives some extra power to his notes. JD doesn’t have that trick yet. He’ll learn, if he takes the time in the woodshed.

8:15- Some fun at Randy’s expense (in it to WIN IT!!!! About 15 times…)

8:17- Jacob with Kirk Franklin, singing “I Smile” (I think, I’ve never heard it so I did some googling and that title came up). Gladys Knight (!!!!!) walked on the stage unannounced and joined in early in the song.Franklin looks like a black James Carville, but he makes it work. I liked the song, though I’ll never go looking for it. Not my cup-a tea, but it was nice, fun and uplifting.

8:26- Casey next, singing the opening verse of Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls”, sitting on a couch. At the end of the verse he kicked the couch away to reveal Jack Black hiding behind it. Jack called Casey “Stacey”, but whatever. I kept thinking that we were watching Will Ferrell and John Belushi doing a takeoff on the “Blues Brothers”, singing in a gay bar instead of behind the chicken wire. They even brought out some girls riding bicycles and shaking their moneymakers. That would have been epic, these 2 maniacs trying to sing “Bicycle Race”. It was fun, manic and strangely poetic. Casey could be a Jack Black kind of guy, couldn’t he?

8:29- Ryan has to vamp some while they get set up for the next song.

8:30- The Idol Ladies singing Beyonce. Wow, you can really see the difference when these kids get some time to rehearse, can’t you? This performance was really ambitious, and they were all over the place like one of those old Carol Burnett finale blow-offs (I know, I’m old). It was tight, dynamic, and the girls all did themselves proud. I might have to add this to my top 40 performances when I do my recap. Karen, in particular, sounded amazing. I’m happy for her, getting her “moment” since she didn’t make the tour. Haley continues to show herself as a terrific harmony singer and a performer who makes everyone around her better. If I had one bummer about the performance it would be that Naima didn’t get a chance to shine anywhere. I assume she’ll get her moment later in the show.

8:40- Steven’s turn in the barrel. It was a fun reminder that, while he wasn’t much of a judge, he was a ton of fun on the show.

8:41- Haley with Tony Bennett. Tony is amazing, still out here kicking butt at 85 years old. Haley took a few lines of her own (beautifully done), while mostly working off of Tony and letting him drive the train. The biggest thing that I noticed, not for the first time, is how expressive Haley’s face is. She can really project her emotions and her feelings with subtle movements in her eyes, her huge smile and her body language as well. Don’t be shocked if she does some acting, just saying.

8:44- J-Lo’s turn. The angle was how beautiful she is, and how much men love her, but I preferred to think that what comes out most with her is her genuineness, her sweetness, and her natural and honest sense of humor. I haven’t been much of a fan of her judging choices, but I’ve always been a fan of her love for the contestants. She gets performers and performing, and she honestly loves the kids who are laying it on the line for her. She couldn’t be tough and fair because she’s too much of a softy, and she took having to give rejections much too hard, so I don’t know if she’s coming back next year. The other two judges are signed for next year, but Jen purposely took just a one year contract.

8:46- The Idol Ladies again, with Lil’ John and the 2 remaining members of TLC. I was kinda hoping that they would let Naima do Left Eye’s rap on “Chasing Waterfalls”, but they just sang the song.

8:50- Scotty with Tim McGraw, singing “Live like You Were Dying”. I could go on for pages about Tim McGraw; his Dad was a big part of my childhood and Tim himself was a big part of my own music career in the early to mid 1990’s. I wonder if he still sings Indian Outlaw? I doubt it. That song was, to his career, like Stallone doing that porno film before he made it big, or maybe a better comp would be Kevin Bacon getting stabbed in the neck in a horror movie and getting stomped to death in “Animal House”. I saw him (Tim McGraw, not Kevin Bacon) in concert twice early on, and he was obviously already sick of the song. I’ll talk about Scotty plenty later on, so I’ll just say that he sang really well as usual, and Tim took some time to have a conversation with him as they left the stage. Tim and his wife Faith Hill areNashville royalty.Nashville knows Scotty is coming.

8:57- Joe Repka, who you might remember as the likable but not particularly talented singer/radio DJ from the auditions, introduced a blooper reel. I agreed with that Mom who kept telling them to get away from her kid. She said “she’s 15, leave her alone”. She must have allowed them to show the footage tonight, though. I’m pretty sure that they have to clear that kind of thing with the parents of a minor.

9:00- Marc Anthony. I don’t know much about him other than that he’s married to J-Lo. From this performance, I am guessing he’s the new Dezi Arnez. That makes J-Lo Lucille Ball.

I was asking myself during the performance; “Is that Sheila E doing percussion on the side?” It was!!!! For those who don’t know (or remember, it was a long time ago), she was with Prince during his glory years and had a couple of minor hits on her own. She was famous for kicking her cymbal instead of hitting it with a stick. I was looking for her to do it, but I don’t think she did.

9:05- Some discussion about the most shocking elimination. It started out between JD and Casey. I assume that they’ll eventually get to Pia here, but the back and forth between the “rocker” and the “maniac” is funny. Yes, they did. Pia walked up on them arguing with a sash that said “most shocking” and asked them what they were arguing about. They both said, “Nothing”. Pia walked away after saying, “That’s what I thought”. Well done.

9:07- Casey ABRAMS isn’t getting much respect tonight, is he? Jack Black called him “Stacey”, and now Ryan just called him “Casey James”. Priceless. Oh, next up are the Idol Guys doing something or the other…..

Oh, that’s right. Tom Jones is on the show tonight. Stefano was fairly amazing on the first song (You don’t have to be Rich), really good. Paul was, well – Paul on the second one, and apparently JD drew the short straw and had to sing “What’s New Pussycat”. That short video is going to haunt him for the next fifteen years while he tries to get some street cred in the metal circles. Scotty got “Green Green Grass of Home (of course)”. Jacob got some luck with “Love me Tonight” (I think), a song that fits his voice. Casey got “Delilah” and smoked it; that was funny, silly and cool. Casey then introduced Tom Jones himself.

He sang “It’s Not Unusual”; sue me, I had to look. Either he stills uses the sock or he has a hernia. Lets all hope it’s a sock, for his health. He is so tanned from decades in Vegas tanning booths that he is starting to look like Red Foxx, or actually the actor that played Grady on “Sanford and Son”. They kept showing Jack Black dancing, but I don’t think he knew they were doing it. He wasn’t mugging for the camera like he usually does. He was just grooving and enjoying the performance.

9:17- Ford Video. I know, just move on, but I really liked how Lauren and Scotty’s voices meshed this time. I’m always a sentimental slob about each season’s cadre of contestants, so I always enjoy seeing them together doing just about anything.

The finalists brought their teachers (one principle, one chorus teacher who is probably young enough to audition for Idol herself) to the finale. In a cool twist, the teachers each got the keys to their own new Ford Focus. Of course the finalists got cars too, and they get to choose from any car Ford makes. My guess is that Scotty will get the biggest truck that they have, and Lauren the top of the line Mustang. Is that sexist? I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Lauren got the truck and Scotty the Mustang. I can’t help remembering that Lauren was too young to drive when she auditioned. Does she even have a Drivers’ License? Scotty ain’t all that older, so this is a huge deal to them. Hell, in our state (Washington) minors can’t even own a car. Both of them are still minors.

9:22- Lady Gaga. I can’t really get into her music, I’m too old and too small town for her to aim her music at me, but how good is she? She didn’t lip sync, despite some ridiculous demands on her attention, other than a short passage in the middle of the song. She got ahead of the beat a little when she was playing the keyboard, and she lost some of the dynamics of the dancing part when she was singing late, so she was clearly live.

She just gets it, and while I don’t personally get a charge out of her artistry I have a world of respect for this very talented and driven performer. She gets a lot of crap for being a Madonna clone, and some of it is probably deserved, but Madonna never committed to the show like Gaga does. Madonna experiments. Lady Gaga dives in. Madonna licks the edge of an envelope. Lady Gaga eats a box of envelopes and spits it out in our face. Madonna is a sexy woman who likes to act weird for effect. Lady Gaga is a weird woman who likes to act sexy for effect. The art world (music is art too) is lucky to have both of them, and so are we. Now if we can just talk Gaga into being the mentor next season…..

9:31- Lauren singing with Carrie Underwood. Lauren is a fantastic harmony singer and she nailed it on the first chorus. Carrie is a proud harmony singer herself, so she returned the favor on the second chorus. This is the kind of finale performing that I love the most; 2 singers harmonizing and really singing a song together. I loved it. A couple of notes:

– Why do they keep putting Lauren in those huge heels? She is really tall for a female already, 5-9 or 5-10 at least. Ok, I know why, but does Lauren know why? If so, I’m fine with it. She’s in the real world now, not at junior prom.

– Lauren’s voice is shot. She might have to miss the tour, or at least be very careful about what she sings, if she is going to be able to handle her own tour next summer. This could be a serious issue. The kid is stuffed full of steroids now, but what happens later? I would hate to think that she blew out her voice on Idol, and couldn’t take advantage of the Idol push to get her career going. I like to compare Idol contestants to baseball pitchers. Lauren is, right now, a “pitcher” with a serious arm problem. I’ll delve deeper into that in my recap.

– They showed Ryan out in the crowd and Jennifer Love Hewitt was right behind him, cheering and clapping for Lauren and Carrie. She didn’t look at the camera once; she was just enjoying the show.

– Carrie is really skinny again. This worries me. She developed a really bad eating disorder after Idol and got really skinny, but I thought she had gotten over it. She looked terrific last summer.

9:34- Some fun with the ages of the finalists. Casey just turned 20, so it’s not like he’s an old man. Naima does a pretty good old woman act.

9:36- Beyonce again. Great song, great performance, but why? I want to hear the Idols. This is Idol’s night, not Beyonce’s night. Let’s hear Naima, or Stefano, or Paul, or Thia, or Haley again, or James again. Common guys; don’t shill for the stars. Let the contestants carry the night.

9:45- Oops, my DVR skipped past this.

9:54- Steven singing “Dream On” the Reader’s Digest condensed version. That’s ok. The old man can still hit the scream, can’t he? I love it.

10:01- Results. Scotty is the season Ten American Idol. Sorry for the lack of buildup, but there wasn’t much drama, was there? Lauren was dry eyed and quick to congratulate Scotty, and the rest of the show was mostly a bunch of hugging and more hugging. What I’ll take from the last few minutes of the show is that:

– Scotty is a worthy American Idol. The kid had it won three months ago, but to his enormous credit he never took anything for granted. He worked his butt off to get better every single week, and the end result is that we have an Idol that we can all be very proud of.

– This was, in the end, one of the deepest crops of contestants that Idol has ever seen. They have a chance at a rewarding career, all the way down to Karen who finished in the 12 spot, and some of the semifinalists (Kendra, other Lauren, Brett, Robbie Rosen, etc.) and even some of the fodder (Colton, Jacee, Carson Higgins, Hollie Cavanagh, etc.). There are literally dozens of contestants from this crop who have a chance at making a living in the entertainment field. The Idol Tour is going to be terrific this season, with a deep group of diverse and talented performers.

I’ll have my final recap done by the end of this weekend, and I’ll send that on. I wasn’t as happy about the endgame as I wanted to be, and I kind of think that Idol lost their sense of community a little bit in the name of insecurity. This was the first year post Simon, and Idol acted like the beaten wife. They tried too hard, and they got themselves in denial of some of their basic credos. Simon’s show won’t get the ratings that Idol gets, so when that is over by January the hope (my hope) is that Idol will relax, and go back to doing what they do best: Find great singers, and let them sing great.