Finale

Lee Dewyze is our season nine American Idol. I predicted that Crystal would win last night, but I knew from DialIdol.com’s prediction process that Lee was almost certainly going to win. Last season Kris held a tiny advantage over Adam on DI, and won by less than one percent. Lee had a commanding lead on DI, so he most likely won going away. I don’t know the actual voting totals but I would guess that Lee received over sixty percent of the vote.

The show hasn’t started yet. Before I get to the show, here is a short recap of the season:

Idol went to Boston (Siobhan, Ashley, Katie, Tyler from the semis and Andrew the future serial killer), Orlando (Skiboski, Guitar Girl and Larry Platt, along with our favorite hick chick Vanessa Wolfe. Jermaine, Paige, Aaron, Janelle, Michelle and Big Mike from the semis), Chicago (both Lee and Crystal, along with John Park and Katelyn from the semis; they started the show with “Welcome to Chicago, F U”), Los Angeles (Andrew, Didi, Joe Munoz), Dallas (Todrick, Lacey, Alex, Tim), and Denver (Casey, Haeley, Lilly).

The first round of Hollywood featured command performances from Didi (Terrified), Lilly (Lullaby of Birdland), Andrew (Straight Up) and Crystal (Natural Woman). We lost early faves Mallory, Justin and hick chick Vanessa. Group night saw the demise of early personal favorites Leah, Kelsey (the little red haired girl) and Kimberly Kerbow and gave us our first glimpse of Siobhan as part of Todrick Hall’s “Bad Romance” group. The final Hollywood round featured commanding performances from Todrick, Soibhan, Crystal and the (later) ousted Thaddeus Johnson.

The semis started off with a couple of surprise ousters in Ashley and Janelle, then the second show was fairly predictable. The final semi show was a bloodbath for some early frontrunners and momentum building dark horses as Lilly, Alex, Todrick and Katelyn all got the boot. Lacey and Paige left in the next two weeks, respectively, as the show pared down to the top ten, and set the roster for the Idol Tour. Siobhan, in particular, was spectacular in this period with four consecutive strong performances capped off with her “Paint it Black” moment. Andrew fell out of his early front running position, while Crystal established herself as the one to beat with a couple of moment-worthy performances.

Top 10– Didi was bounced, while Lee gave a command performance and made his way up the power rankings. Siobhan had a disastrous week, singing out of key and getting trashed by Simon. Crystal played the piano.

Top 9– Mike finished last, but got the save. Crystal (Come Together) was terrific, and Casey (Jealous Guy) had his moment.

Top 9/8– Andrew and Katie were tossed, and nobody sang all that amazingly. Casey was probably the best of the night with a cool re-arrangement of Lawdy Miss Clawdy, but none of the judges knew the song so they hammered him. Siobhan sang beautifully, but the arrangement of her “Suspicious Minds” was horrible.

Top 7– Tim Urban finally got the boot despite singing very well (for him, anyway). Lee had a signature moment with “The Boxer”, and Crystal was fantastic on “Get Ready”. Siobhan sang well, but got hammered for wearing clothes, or something. By then she was so sideways with Simon that her moments in front of the judges were getting really uncomfortable.

Top 6– Siobhan was bounced despite the judges giving her the positive reviews (that she should have gotten several weeks before), and didn’t really earn with her horrible performance of “Any Man of Mine”. Crystal, for the first time, wasn’t brilliant. Casey was praised for a turkey of a song, after getting hammered two weeks before after pulling off a brilliant song.

Top 5– Aaron Kelly was bounced, and nobody sang very well. Lee was praised to the rafters despite a sloppy performance.

Top 4– Mike was bounced after a technically perfect but emotionally bankrupt performance. Crystal brought life to an amazing but dated song (I’m Alright) and absolutely killed her duet with Lee (Falling Slowly). Casey had a very good week, with “Mrs. Robinson” and his half of the duet with Mike. Lee was fine, but he didn’t stand out.

Top 3– Casey was bounced despite a terrific performance night. Crystal and Lee were both brilliant in their second performances, after mediocre openers. Apparently none of the judges, or Mike Slezak and his crew, have ever heard of Shinedown.

And now we get to the finale. From here I am going forward in blog format:

The Finale-

8:04– What in the heck is Crystal wearing? That looks like a Catholic Schoolgirl uniform. Lee looks like he is about to broadcast the 1972 Super Bowl along with Frank Gifford and How.word.Co.Sell. Where the hell is Bob Eucker and his ape suit when we need him?

8:05– Ok, now I get it. Alice Cooper!!! All of the finalists came out for “School’s Out”, in those wonky/creepy school outfits. Crystal and Lee obviously didn’t get time to rehearse the dance moves, as they just moved around in the middle. Casey got to do the introduction. Orianthi, the chick with the guitar, was on Idol earlier in the season and is the opening act for Adam/Allie’s summer tour. Siobhan and Didi, in particular, were really animated for the song and dance.

8:11– Kris Allen with “The Truth”. This is his latest single. If his pop career fizzles, he could have a future in country music as a pop/country crossover type. I’ll be honest; this style of music generally bores me. I love acoustic guitars, or driving guitar licks. I love harmony vocals, powerful melodies and massive dynamic changes. This song, and this style, just seems to be in the middle, with no edges or dynamic power. It’s just a-ight. I think I owe Randy 6 cents now.

8:16– Simon is leaving after the show, as everyone knows. This first tribute segment was sort of a roasting, pointing out some of Simon’s less than flattering moments. It was a reach, to get 2 minutes of this.

I am serious about this. To pick just one thing would take a week of weeding out the lesser evils, and setting up a 256 moment tournament of bile, manipulation, inconsistency, ignorance coupled with arrogance, and outright nastiness and spite. Hell, I am not even sure that his attempt to dismiss Kelly Clarkson in Hollywood during season one would make the tournament. He wasn’t nasty enough about it. Paula wouldn’t let him.

8:18– Siobhan and Aaron. This is probably it. I have been looking forward to Sha-Von’s last performance for weeks. Bee Gees!!!! Siobhan and Aaron sang beautifully together, and I am impressed with Aaron’s harmony singing. Hell, I love it when I get to hear any real singer sing harmony. It’s the most beautiful part of music, to me.

It sucks to see the Bee Gees without Maurice, who passed away in 2003. I was a huge Bee Gees fan growing up, and I always wanted Barry Gibb’s hair and his voice. For you musicians out there, try something: take any one of their songs, and play it just with an acoustic guitar. Yep. Amazing, isn’t it? My only regret here is that they didn’t do one of their early, pre-disco songs. How cool would it have been for them to do “Run to Me”? Note to self: Go find a good youtube version of that song…

8:26- Big Mike and the Doobies. Ok, Michael McDonald, but that’s fine. Mac doesn’t have the huge power that he used to have, but man does he have great hair. When I hear the term “blue eyed soul”, I always think of McDonald first. He looks like my own Dad did late in his life, doesn’t he? I’ll be thrilled to age that gracefully.

8:28– Wow, that was a short song, wasn’t it? More Simon. Dane Cook singing a song full of Simon’s critiques. This was really funny, and Simon took it all gracefully. My favorite:

“Simon, you have the all honesty of Abe Lincoln, and all the charm of the guy that shot him”

They brought out a few of the more outrageous bad auditioners. I recognized Tatiana, Normund Gentle and the girl who thought that she was going to win because she won on the Idol video game.

Let me be Simon for a second, and give my take on that song. “It started out brilliantly, but the last part was TERRible. Your performance was fine, I guess, but the song choice was horrific, and I am not sure that I am going to be seeing you next week. Sorry. (rolls eyes and takes a drink from his coke glass)”

8:34– Lacey started off Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful”, and the rest of the female finalists joined in. Crystal got most of the glory notes, as she should. Siobhan admitted, in her exit interview with Slezak, that she wasn’t allowed to wear heels on stage because she kept stumbling in them. Idol actually made a rule about it. She is wearing some ridiculous heels tonight, they have to be at least 3 inches. She almost fell on her butt going down the stairs beside the judges’ table, so that rule was probably a good idea.

The girls came back up on stage and Siobhan, Katie and Paige took a turn on Christina’s “Stronger”. Paige in particular sounded terrific on this, as did Katie. Siobhan was Siobhan, and they were all very animated. It was terrific, and I rewound it to listen again. Christina came up late in the song, and then the lights dimmed for Christina’s next song. It was “You Lost Me”.

Christina was, when she came out, compared to Britany Spears. That’s a ridiculous comparison in hindsight, but that’s how it works. She went through a musical “slut” stage, pushing the envelope and getting a lot of flack and jokes told about her. She has come out of that and I think that she has established herself as the new Mariah, not that the old Mariah is gathering dust. She is a consummate performer, a brilliant songwriter and a force on the stage. She wouldn’t be the worst choice to replace Simon as a judge.

As long as Idol can get the true superstars like Christina to show up for their little talent show, they should be ok. It was beyond pleasing to see the energy and passion that the Idol contestants gave to this performance. While some of us can get jaded at times, this is one of those little things that makes Idol special. This is the local talent getting to sing with the superstar, and both of them are happy to be there. It’s Pygmalion winning the lottery. It’s the best, most accomplished artists of our culture mixing with kids from towns that don’t even have a 7-11. In America, anything is possible. That was what I was taught in school. Idol represents a form of that, with the added spice of instant gratification that allows us all to be interested in the process.

8:42– Rickey Gervais took a moment to give Simon some grief by satellite, as if he was in England, but the shoot was actually taken from less than a mile away. I’m not kidding. You could see the Nokia Theater over his shoulder, in the background.

8:47– It’s the men’s turn to take the stage, singing some Hall and Oats. Surprisingly, Tim Urban sounded the best of all of them. Lee got to introduce the guys, and Casey got a few glory notes. We should see him again later, I hope, with his own stage turn.

I was hoping for “Rich Girl”, but “You Make My Dreams Come True” is fine. I grew up in H&O’s heyday of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. I had 45’s of “Rich Girl”, “She’s Gone”, “Sara Smile”, and “You Lost That Loving Feeling”. Bill Frizzell and I sang that last one at Karaoke together for years and years. I was Hall, he was Oates. Oates looks like a dark haired Ron Cey, with one of the more famous disco mustaches of the era. They didn’t sound great tonight, but who cares? They look good, and they had plenty of energy for a couple of guys who have to be at least pushing 60. Screw current. Idol IS current, by crossing every generation in search of musical beauty and greatness. To understand the future, it’s helpful to understand the past. Right? RIGHT?? Ok, I’m reaching, I know it….

8:52– Hey, a Janelle Wheeler sighting!!! Janelle is reporting from Toledo, Chrystal’s hometown. I just found out tonight that Janelle used to date Tim Tebow. I’m not sure which one I should be high fiving. Their kids would go for big bucks on the open market, I’ll tell you that.

8:53-Crystal sang a verse of “Ironic”, and then introduced Alanis Morrisette!!! They dueted “You Oughta Know”. They changed the words on the racier passages, so the censors can relax. I leaked some, it was soooo good…..Crystal was commanding, and Alanis was great as she always is. “Jagged Little Pill” has to be on the shelf of any serious collector of the seminal albums of rock and roll, doesn’t it?

Idol is a beautiful thing. People like me get to say whatever we want to say about it. Youtube is full of bile and vitriol about the show; how dumb it is, how stupid the producers and the judges are, and how bad the singers are. People with no other qualification than a modem get to tell millions of people in various forums that the show stinks, and that it should be canceled, and that they PERSONALLY want so and so shot. This is all fine, and very American, very human. Not everyone kills the show. Some are positive, and even the most angry of them will say something nice once in awhile.

Then, tonight, Alanis Morrisette, Christina Aguilera, Alice Cooper, Hall and Oats, the Bee Gees and several others to come take time out of their own lives to show up and sing with these amateurs. Everyone from the top of the business to the bottom of the food chain are involved in the process. The show isn’t about the superstars so much as it’s about the contestants and the hometown supporters. The naysayers and the bloggers have their own role, whether they appreciate the platform or not. With 9 seasons in the tank, Idol has a history, and an illustrious alumni. It has a cache in the business of TV, the business of music, and the business of theater. It has a cache on youtube, facebook and it is followed by literally millions of internet gadflies.

In a bad year it was the number one show on TV, with just under 24 million watchers per show. It’s a simple talent show, but its talent base is an entire country, 300 million people. There are literally billions of others available as interested parties, with satellite/cable TV and internet access. Sitcoms get tired because they run out of ideas. Idol is a show that sells current events, more in line with “Meet the Press” or “SNL” or “The Today Show”.

It’s interactive, and it’s always current because the script is always written live with no cue cards for the true main characters (the contestants), who change every season. The audience gets to judge along with the show’s judges, by going on the internet. There is some talk about the show losing its mojo, jumping the shark, but I don’t see why this should happen. The show is a renewable resource. There is no real reason why it should end.

9:01– Carrie Underwood, singing her latest single. Vintage Carrie, her style completely. I’ve heard it before, it’s a terrific song. A couple of things that I noticed: ONE: Carrie has a backup singer that looks just like Carrie did when she was on Idol. That got me to noticing TWO: Carrie, over the years, has gone through a transformation physically almost as remarkable as she has vocally. On Idol she was a little bit chubby and mousy. Once she got going with her career she got so skinny that I was expecting her to end up in rehab for an eating disorder. She had no butt at all, her legs were pipe cleaners, and she was just a stick. Now, she looks healthy as you can look. She even seems to have grown a couple of inches, but that’s probably an illusion, from some serious heels. Also, I have to go find Carrie’s “Last Name” from last season’s Idol. It was amazing live, with so much female attitude and head bobbing that I could feel her channeling everyone from Tammy Wynette to Aretha Franklin. I’ll try to find and send that one on later.

That song was a co-write between Carrie and Kara. I don’t know about you, but I love that kind of thing. How cool is that? Kara also wrote “Terrified”, so can we all give her a pass for “No Boundaries”? No? Ok…. That was pretty bad….

9:05– Ford video finale, when they present the finalists with their own cars. The editing was horrible, to misquote Simon. They both were probably going nuts, but they edited that out and left them looking almost like it was no big deal. I looked harder, between the lines, and I could see the beginnings and the endings of their excitement. Why would they edit that out? I don’t get it. If it’s me, I want to film the screaming and the jumping up and down. I did love the song, and they showed Siobhan with her fangs one more time. Crystal’s harmony was tuning fork. She won’t win the title, but she has certainly won a lot of important fans with her musicianship. She sure as hell won me.

9:07– Casey James, singing “Every Rose has its Thorn”, with an acoustic guitar in his hands and an electric guitar strapped to his back. Halfway through the verse someone else came in with another acoustic, way out of rhythm with Casey. Casey grimaced, but he kept on going and everything came back in rhythm eventually, right before Brett Michaels walked up to him on the stage. Brett told Casey “sorry man, it’s hard to hear up here” and Casey laughed and said “it’s the game, man, right?” I was trying to read lips there so that ain’t a quote, but I’m pretty sure that I got it close to right.

I’ve been there. Dale Sampson used to get so mad at me when I made him play my original songs. He’d say “Dammit Terry, I don’t know that chord. I’m a singer, not a frigging guitar player”. I wouldn’t tell him that I made the chord up. I’m not a guitar player either.

Brett Michaels has had an eventful month, to say the least. Brett suffered a brain hemorrhage April 22, just ten days after having an emergency appendectomy. He came back just a few days ago to Celebrity Apprentice, and won the title.

Casey switched to his electric and played lead when Brett joined him. I don’t know about you, but it’s just cool to see a guy who is like me and my own peer group playing along with a star like Brett Michaels. Casey held his own, playing some cool licks on the guitar. I kind of wish that he’d sung some harmony, but that’s just me being greedy.

9:14– Lee and the band Chicago. Terry Kath has been dead for over 30 years, and Peter Cetera left in 1985. Their amazing drummer Danny Seraphine left in 1990. While they still have most of their original horn section and their original keyboardist Bob Lamm, this is not really “Chicago” to me. I was, and am, one of Chicago’s biggest fans and I’ll enjoy this, but no exclamation points. Terry Kath and Peter Cetera were to Chicago like Lennon and McCartney were to the Beatles.

Chicago remains a formidable band, but without a formidable lead singer. Like Queen when they propositioned Adam last year, Chicago might be trolling for a leader from the Idol pool. You know who would fit them very well? Clay Aiken. I am not kidding. He can be Cetera. There is only one Terry Kath, though.

9:18– More Simon. Paula came back to poke some fun, and Simon took some time to film some footage, poking fun at himself.

9:21– General Larry Platt with his “Pants on the Ground”. William Hung (famous bad auditioner, sang Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” and became a cult hero there for awhile) joined him later, and the whole thing was a mess, but I couldn’t get over how cool Larry was, this 62 year old guy busting move after move. He was all over the place. As far as the song itself, the best version was the first one, just Larry on the stage at the auditions in Orlando. It was reported back then that Larry wasn’t getting any money for his song. I hope that this has been rectified, and that this very cool man is getting paid for his contribution to our culture, no matter how cheesy it was. The guy who invented the pet rock got paid. William freaking Hung got paid. Larry should get paid.

9:28– Simon, the journey. This segment was long, emotional, and it summed up 10 years of Idol history. I am going to just table my take for now, and move on. I’ll write about it as one article. Simon deserves his own article. To throw a couple of paragraphs at the Simon Cowell dictatorship (oops) era would be an injustice.

9:44– Siobhan!! I can’t let the finale go by without naming my favorites of the season. Obviously Siobhan was my personal favorite of the season, and I’ve written several thousand words about her so I won’t go into that. Just a few favorite moments, from the pre-semifinal portion of the season:

– Didi singing “Hey Jude” at her audition

– Leah Laurenti singing “Blue Skies” at her audition

– Christian Spear at her audition, recovering from Leukemia

– Vanessa Wolfe jumping off of bridges and getting to ride in an Aero-plane and eat some pea-nuts

– Andrew Garcia channeling his inner Stevie Wonder at his audition, even if he never could do it again

– Lee Dewyze humming the guitar part in between the vocals at his audition

– The contrast between Soibhan’s geeky look with the granny glasses and her singing when she did “Living For the City” at the end of Hollywood Week

– The Little Red Haired Girl (Kelsey Madsen) finally getting some airtime and singing beautifully on group night

– Lilly’s “Lullabye of Birdland”

– Janelle Wheeler in Hollywood, her one perfect song

– Ashley Rodriguez, Charity Vance and Michelle Delamore on group night, with perfect harmonies

-Shelby almost making it to the semis with “Carry on Wayward Son” (Simon wanted her in). She had nerve damage that made one side of her mouth droop. I especially loved her for cussing in her audition when she screwed up her words, then grabbing her mouth and saying “oh my God, I’m SO sorry!!!”…

– -Thaddeus Johnson just destroying “Man in the Mirror”, in the final Hollywood Round, after the band started out with the wrong song. It was better than all but a few final performances. He was probably tossed because he is fat as a cow and his mother was obnoxious as hell. The kid can sing, though; better than Casey, who finished third.

– I am probably missing a couple of dozen, but it’s getting late.

9:44– Is that Janet Jackson????? Wow…..

Janet Jackson is fascinating. She is everything that she isn’t. She isn’t anything like who she is. She is everything that nobody knows, and nothing that everybody knows. She screams softly, and she growls sweetly. She is a tiny girl, with an almost vulgarly curvy body. She is shy and demure, yet she changed the rules of a major network by brazenly showing off her breast in front of several hundred million people. She has been one of the top 30-40 papparazzi targets for 30 years, yet she kept her marriage secret for almost a decade. Only the fact that her own brother was so famous and so polarizing kept her from having her secrets revealed in bright lights. I almost think that she planned it that way. Is there anyone in pop culture today who is more of an enigma than Janet Jackson?

Oh, and she is an amazing performer. She is a better dancer than even her hand picked troupe, and she is able to whisper with more power than anyone this side of Adam can scream. She has had 34 number ones singles, the most in rock history. The Beatles had 20, Elvis 17, her brother 16. Madonna is the defining star of her generation, but Janet has been the better hitmaker. Nobody knows, though. Janet probably wants it that way.

She was the best of the night, on a night of amazing performances, and she made it look easy. How hard does this girl work? That body, that performance, and everything is just perfect, tightly produced, and powerful. Idol hopefuls should be paying attention. This is how it’s done, if you want to be the BEST. Only Fergie can compete with her, in my mind, and Fergie is well below her level. Fergie would be, to Janet, like Lee would be to Jon Bon Jovi or Crystal to Joni Mitchell. Grasshoppah, meet your master.

9:51– Crystal and Lee together, “With a Little Help from My Friends”. Oh, with a little help from Joe Cocker!!!!! Crystal was all over it, enthusiastic and animated. Lee was into it too, but something happened to his mic so we couldn’t hear him. Joe is getting old, but he is still the master of the almost orgasmic turn of a note that nobody can identify without forensic tools. Woodstock was 41 years ago, and ole’ Joe can’t really hit the notes anymore, but the man can still preen, can’t he?

10:02– Lee is the next AMERICAN IDOL!!!!!!! Crystal knew, I think, like I did when I saw the DI result. She was congratulating Lee before Ryan even opened the envelope, laughing and slapping him on the back while Lee looked terrified. I don’t think that he was actually terrified, he was just thinking about having to sing that mess of a U-2 song that he picked for his single and worried juuuuuust a little that the voting would go the other way. Crystal was deserving and she had to know it. Adam handled his loss gracefully last season, and Crystal handled her loss gracefully this season.

Lee is a good guy, and he can sing with that tree trunk of a voice. He might not have the career of David Cook, but he’ll handle himself with class like David always has. Crystal didn’t get her confetti shower, but she will get her fame and fortune. It’s ironic that the best singer of the season ended up being the only one who didn’t get to sing herself off at the end of her run.

Note to Crystal:

I won’t forget that song last night, girl, or all of the amazing performances that you shared with us. You were, like Adam last season, the standout. Winning isn’t everything. Being great is a nice consolation prize, and we will be enjoying you and your music for many years. Watch the ole’ blood sugar, ok?