American Idol: It's Finally Over!
A deeply frustrating season of American Idol is over now, having discovered exactly zero future stars, and last night we got the massive glitzathon finale, an annual event that reliably has little or nothing to do with the rest of the season. Scotty McCreery barely even looked surprised to win the thing, and he only wisely half-bothered to sing "I Love You This Big," his dog-ass first single. Still, this turned out to be a shockingly fun results show, especially given how boring the last few weeks have been. Scotty could have a career, or he could not; it doesn't even really matter. What matters is the show managed to pull its shit together for its final night of the season.
At the outset, we got a montage of the judges saying tortuously nice things about Scotty and Lauren Alaina, something they've been dutifully doing all season. When that was over, Ryan Seacrest told us that the season racked up damn near a billion votes, so someone at AT&T is swimming through a giant bank of texting fees, just like Scrooge McDuck. Seacrest wore a classic, well-tailored black tuxedo; Randy Jackson wore an ass-ugly clown tuxedo; Steven Tyler wore a bunch of chains around his neck and just looked real extra Geico Caveman. This was a big night!
Pretty soon, Scotty and Lauren, angelic in all white, descended from an onstage staircase while the camera found Maria Shriver, in the audience, clapping and grinning vacantly and generally acting like the massively humiliating public scandal that just ended her long sham of a marriage was no big deal at all. (At least, I think that was Maria Shriver. It might've been Uncle Jesse's wife from Full House.) A pair of crowd shots of the kids' respective hometown sports arenas revealed that Scotty is, like, a million times more popular; the upper deck at Lauren's shitty little Chattanooga basketball gym wasn't even full.
After that, we got a big don't-forget-about-us group-sing with the entire top 13 pulverizing Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" into a cacophonous mess. We hadn't seen one of these massive group-sing things in a minute, so I'd forgotten how godawful these kids' group harmonies were and how they could only handle the most basic of fist-pumping choreography. Also, they never got around to singing the "You're Lebanese, you're Orient!" part of the song, that track's still-funny unquestionable highlight. Lebanese and Orient people all over America must've been very disappointed. Also, it's only been a couple of weeks, but goddamn if I haven't been missing Jacob Lusk's dancing.
In the crowd: Michael from Lost! Can you believe they got Michael from Lost to show up?
Next segment: James Durbin, who sang a Judas Priest song way back in the season's early going, got to sing "Living After Midnight" and "Breaking the Law" with Priest themselves, rocking Rob Halford's biker hat and everything. Halford, meanwhile, wore a truly dazzling assemblage of vinyl and spikes; he would've been the fucking king of the Columbia, Maryland mall-punk scene back in 1996. "Living After Midnight" and "Breaking the Law" are just awesome songs, and it was a lot of fun to see Priest in all their ridiculous glory on a massively rated TV show. And as much as I've hated on James for most of the season, he did just fine, never looking out of place with all these guys who should've looked ready to bite his head off. I heartily enjoyed everything about it.
Next up: Montages of Randy Jackson asking dumb rhetorical questions and saying "In it to win it!" over and over again. At least, I think that's what was happening; I couldn't really hear over the grinding of my own teeth.
Then, another star/contestant pairing, as Jacob got to sing "I Smile" with gospel exhortation hypeman type Kirk Franklin and Gladys Knight. It was fun to see Jacob again, but it's hard to pay much attention to anything when Kirk Franklin is bellowing all over everything. That guy is essentially the Lil Jon of gospel. From what I could tell, though, Jacob acquitted himself really nicely, and there's no reason he couldn't have a future on that particular circuit. That's a good thing! Gospel music pays a whole lot of people's bills!
Casey Abrams apparently drew the short straw in the dream-collaboration competition; he ended up singing Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" with Jack Black, of all people. And seeing Casey next to Black actually put his entire season in a new context--as in, of course this goofy motherfucker had already set a precedent for Casey's specific brand of silliness. Black sort of killed it. I always forget that being able to sing isn't just part of Black's persona; he can actually do it. There was a scat-off and everything.
Every year during the finale, the Idol women and the Idol men all gang up to sing big hits from a couple of respective artists, and the people involved are usually semi-forgotten canon-fodder like Donna Summer or George Michael. Not this time. This time, all the female contestants got together to sing "Single Ladies," "Irreplaceable," "Get Me Bodied," "If I Were a Boy," "Deja Vu." "Irreplaceable" featured some godawful-boring solo moments from the still-terrible Thia Megia. They all actually sounded pretty great together on "Get Me Bodied," a track that works really well for big group-sings. Haley Reinhart got some really nice solo moments on "If I Were a Boy." But, I mean, I haven't had a chance to forget about any of these songs yet; it was nobody's idea of a rediscovery. You didn't have to be a genius to figure out what was about to happen. Beyoncé emerged to belt out "Crazy in Love" and generally outshine everyone else onstage. Beyoncé's backup dancer also came out with her, which relieved the Idol kids from having to look dumb dancing next to her. Surprisingly, this did not segue into Beyoncé singing "Run the World (Girls)"; I guess everyone has already justifiably given up on that song.
Next montage: Steven Tyler cussing, kicking gibberish, drooling over underage girls, making animal noises. That's what he contributed this season. Earning his money over here.
Tony Bennett, still alive and still perfectly willing to show up for any goddamn thing, sang "Steppin' Out" with Haley and danced awkwardly with her. It was Grammy-night bullshit, and I got through it just by remembering how awesome it was when she sang Zeppelin with her dad last week.
Final montage: People creepily drooling over Jennifer Lopez. You know, through most of the season, J.Lo was actually the only halfway competent judge on the show. She fell into overpraising just like everyone else, but she did bring something to Idol other than being hot. Just saying.