American Idol 9 Finals: The Final Singoff (Week 11)

Prelude

Here we go.  The final that Idol has wanted all along is upon us.  And, of course, everyone thinks this is Crystal’s show to lose.  However, as torontoist.com’s Christopher Bird reminds us, “you have to be careful because you never know how far middle America will go to defend its ears from anything even slightly offbeat”.  Crystal’s definitely offbeat. Lee isn’t.  Keep that in mind… and don’t count out the power of the Worsters.  VFTW is backing Lee tonight.

I still think Crystal will win, unless she blows up tonight (not literally, I hope).  It’s a three-song night (not to be confused with a Three Dog Night).  Crystal won the coin-flip after last week’s results show, and elected to sing second.  Personally, I can’t wait to hear this year’s coronation song, because there is no way it can possibly suck as badly as “No Boundaries”… can it?  Update: there’s at least one report that each singer has their own coronation song.  That can’t be good news.  Second update: Confirmed right before showtime by MJ’s Big Blog.

The rumor mill has been working overtime on Finale Week: here’s what the blogs think we know:

  • Singing tomorrow (reasonably confirmed): Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Kris Allen, Enrique Iglesias, Elliot Yamin, Taylor Hicks, Michael Johns, Will Young (some reports say Young might be signing tonight).
  • Also possible: Melissa Etheridge duetting with Crystal; Joe Cocker singing with both finalists; group song featuring the Touring Ten; Janet Jackson; more Idol alums (Kristy Lee Cook, Brooke White, and Bo Bice were mentioned).
  • Rumors: Paula Abdul appearing in a Simon Cowell sendoff; Chicago; the Bee Gees; Hall & Oates; the male finalists doing “Pants On The Ground”.

Quick tangent: The precursor and spiritual mentor of American Idol, the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest, takes place this week.  The first semifinal was earlier today, the second semifinal is Thursday at 3 PM Eastern, and the final is Saturday at 3 PM.  You can watch the shows live at www.eurovision.tv, where today’s semifinal is already posted for on-demand viewing.  Did you know that, at one time, NBC owned the American rights to the Eurovision format, and would have done an Americavision singing contest if it hadn’t been for a little reality show on FOX?

The final week of Simon Cowell’s stay in the judge’s chair starts… TONIGHT~!?

Showtime – 8:00 pm Eastern

The opening montage asks “What does it take to be an Idol?” with footage of Crystal and Lee’s first on-camera tapings (Chicago auditions) through last week.  Two remain.  Only one can be the 9th American Idol.  From a packed Nokia Theatre LA Live (7,000 in attendance!)…

THIS… is American Idol! *cue the music*

Before we get to the singers, we get the judges who have done so much to wreck influence this season.  Then… a standing ovation for the two survivors as they enter through the crowd – Crystal apparently got miscued and stopped halfway through the walk… our finalists have that deer in the headlights look as they’re sent off to get ready to sing.  Tonight’s songs – contestant’s choice from the songs they did this season; Simon Fuller’s choice (which is often idiosyncratic); and the song “they’ll release if they win” (not called a coronation song this year).  Lee’s first song… after…

The break.

The first round is contestant’s choice:

Lee – “The Boxer”, Simon & Garfunkel (Inspirational Week) – We get his parents’ memories first, sponsored by a product placement bug… he’s on guitar… either his nerves or the size of the venue have gotten to him… he sounds a bit tentative… his voice has drifted a bit high… OK, but he needed to do more… Crystal can blow this away. 

Crystal – “Me and Bobby McGee”, Janis Joplin (Billboard #1 Week) – We get Crystal’s dad, also sponsored by that same product placement bug… on guitar, with the lucky mic stand… there’s a strength in her performance that was missing from Lee’s… and, I think, the passion that Simon noted was missing from Lee’s performance.  Then again, Crystal doing Joplin is the closest we have to a slam-dunk tonight.  Solid performance, and a great start.

ROUND ONE: Crystal 10-9 (yes, I’m stealing boxing’s 10-point system)

And we head off to…

The break.

Round two is Simon Fuller’s choice.  Batten the hatches…

Lee – “Everybody Hurts”, R.E.M. (first time on Idol) – Do I have to mention the guitar? I don’t know if Fuller did him any favors with this choice… although Lee finally found another gear about midway through the song… and I can hear the Worsters pointing out that the choir drowned him out a bit (great audio mixing, NOT)… still kind of tentative, definitely seems a bit nervous, but better than the first song.  Cowell challenged him to nail the third song, implying that he doesn’t feel Lee got the first two.  Cowell’s right.

Round two continues… after the break…

Back with a tour reminder… and then…

Crystal – “Black Velvet”, Alannah Myles (2nd time on Idol, Nikki McKibbin sang it in season 1) – No guitar! I like the choice… Crystal swung for the fences by focusing this on herself… and hit it out.  Energy, passion, emotion, a glory note… a very Idol performance, in the best way (even a bit of a Siobhanesque shout at the end)… this may be the one everyone’s talking about tomorrow.  She seems to understand that this is the final of a competition. 🙂

ROUND TWO: Crystal 10-9

We move to coronation songs projected first singles… next.

But first, a break.

Lee – “Beautiful Day”, U2 (first time on Idol) – No guitar! It seems to be a synth-heavy version…and I think it may have helped Lee to put the guitar down.  He’s got a smile that wasn’t there earlier, and the energy is back in his voice.  It’s definitely his own take on the song (took a second to realize it was a cover!)… if he had put this much into the first two songs, it’d be a different night.

The final competitive song of season 9… after the break…

Crystal – “Up To The Mountain (MLK Song)”, Patty Griffin (first competitive appearance, sung by Kelly Clarkson on IGB 2007) – back on guitar… good song to highlight the strength of her voice, albeit a bit of a contrast to Lee’s protosingle… and it’s another solid performance by the performer who, if this were a singing competition, would be the guaranteed winner.  The lady is a star, no matter what insanity the texters cause tomorrow.

Crystal and Ryan both give Simon a bit of a sendoff before the real sendoff tomorrow.

What’s amazing is that “No Boundaries” was such an awful song that Idol didn’t even try to do a separate coronation song this year.  I’m curious who decided on the songs to cover for the “first singles”, though.

ROUND THREE: Draw 10-10.  Crystal wins the night 30-28.

The big finish: Crystal should win.  I’d like to believe that Crystal will win.  She certainly did enough tonight to earn the title.  But since I got the last two finale predictions wrong, I’m not sure… oh, hell, congratulations to Crystal Bowersox, the 9th American Idol.  There, I’m on record.  Go ahead, America, make me look stupid tonight.

We go out with the send-off song, “Leave Right Now”, performed live by onetime Pop Idol Will Young (guess that’s one rumor sorted out) over the traditional full-season montage, ending with the Top 12 on stage.

Glee – the show that I predicted wouldn’t last – continues its monster run by doing Lady Gaga and KISS in the same episode, next!  If pop music survives that onslaught, we’ll convene tomorrow at 8/7c for an announced 127-minute (but absolutely guaranteed to go longer) finale that will include everything but the kitchen sink.  And I wouldn’t rule out the kitchen sink, either.  It’ll be long.  It’ll be drawn-out.  And it’ll be Simon Cowell’s last appearance on Idol.  See you then. 🙂

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Author: Rob Hoffmann

Occasional blogger, full-time computer techie, radio producer (basketball, mostly), improv tech guy, generally nice person (if you ask me).

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