American Idol: The Big Ding-Dong

Flashbacks remind us that once upon a time, Adam Lambert and Kris Allen were two people nobody gave a shit about. In Olde Audition Tymes, Adam didn’t wear eyeliner, while Kris sported an ill-conceived cabbie hat. Then they got famous. Kris embraced the cuteness. Adam embraced the Maybelline. I embraced the idea of tonight being the final night of performances. This is American Idol. Carrot cake, carrot cake, have ye any nuts?

Seacrest gives us the heads-up. “This is the final showdown,” he says. Oh, is that what’s happening? Then he reminds us that the Results Show will run long tomorrow, so don’t y’all bitches come crying when you don’t see who wins. Set your DVR accordingly. Mine shows an end-time of 10:07, so I’m giving it an extra 15 minutes. Wouldn’t want to miss a glorious moment, would I?

The judges are in their finest. Randy is a clash of patterns…dots, checks, a vaguely plaid pattern to his blazer. Hey, it beats last year’s Captain Kangaroo outfit. Kara is ready for prom–in 1978. Paula, in a silky lime-green concoction, looks like she rolled out of bed, then rolled down the stairs, then got rolled over. And Simon found himself a button-down shirt, but has yet to decipher how those pesky buttons actually work.

Tonight, the Idol boys are singing three songs apiece. The first is their personal favorite of the season. The second is a song chosen by Simon Fuller, the series’ creator. And the final song will be the Finale Song, written by our own Judge Kara. You know, “A Moment Like This is My Now is the Time of My Life.” That thing. No songwriting contest this season. Sorry, Christian-rock composers. Maybe next year. We got DioGuardi, so back the fuck off.

Adam Lambert. Song One. “Mad World,” which he sung that time the show ran long and nobody saw it. He walks down the long staircase, blind from the smoke machine smoke and dressed like Kate Beckinsale in Underworld. He’s prettier than Paula tonight. That’s messed up. The performance is okay. A little less punchy than the first time. I can’t tell if that’s because it’s not as good, or if it’s an issue of familiarity because we’ve heard it already. He makes shmoopy faces at the camera, but generally, restrains himself from hysterics. S’okay. The judges love it, love it, love it. Randy gives it an ‘A’ for ‘Adam.’ Kara babbles as if she’s getting paid by the word. Paula is proud. Simon says it was a little like Phantom of the Opera, and Adam goes, “Ya gotta play dress up, Simon!” Somebody better call Ryan. He’ll cry if he’s left out.

Dudes, Hannibal Lecter is sitting in the audience! You’d think he’d be too fancy for this show, but there he is, applauding like plain folk. The people that show up to this thing…

Kris Allen. Song One. “Ain’t No Sunshine,” from ’60s Night, maybe? Was there a ’60′s Night this year? All I remember is the Rat Pack thing and Disco Night. Watching this show is like studying for finals. It stays in your brain till the end of the semester, and then it’s gone. Kris plays the piano, cute as a button, singing his song and sounding just plain lovely. I can’t say much about the performance, so let’s talk about his facial hair. That’s some patchy shit, right there. He’s hit puberty, right? I know he’s married, but who knows what passes for legal in Arkansas or wherever he’s from. He’s got the beard of a 14-year-old boy. I hope he shaves for the finale, otherwise, the show will be ruined. Roo-eeend. The performance goes over well. Randy likes that Kris has an identity. Kara hollers that there’s something wrong with you if you’re not moved by a Kris Allen performance. You’re a loser-dumbass! Why does Kara always shout into the microphone like she’s gonna slap the shine off it? We can hear you, lady. Chill out. Did Paula fall into a vat at the Crayola factory? She looks like Burnt Sienna. Simon gives Round One to Kris, because Simon is the decider of such things as Rounds.

Speaking of which, I saw Lil Rounds sitting in the audience with the other ex-Idols, and honestly could not fucking remember her name. I was like, LeToya? Kitty-Kat? Not a clue. See what I mean? Finals.

Adam Lambert. Song Two, chosen by the mysterious, unseen Simon Fuller. “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. This is a song? I mean, I know it’s a song. But it’s so un-melodic. Just a bunch of sounds and blues-y guitar riffs. Adam is really getting into it. You can tell because he sings “a change is goan come.” Like he’s from the South or someplace, where people say, “goan.” Oh, Lord, he’s shrieking again. He sounds like I did that time when I was six and I realllly needed to possess my aunt’s Twiggy fashion doll. Like I had to have it or I would absolutely die, in the way that six-year-olds prioritize things. I howled like a demon from hell until my face was a slick mess of tears, sweat, and snot. But I got the doll. I realize that after telling that story, I should probably think twice before making fun of Adam. Um…right…moving along..Adam is wailing away, and pulling his knees together, in a semi-pee-pee dance. Now he’s baying, like somebody is trying to put something in his bad place without lube. How is this appealing to the eardrums of human beings? How? If Match Game was still on, I’d totally support putting Adam in the Charles Nelson Reilly spot. But I don’t want to hear him sing. Randy thought it was fantastic. Kara says it was his best ever, loving the high notes and emotion of the performance. Paula repeats that, but standing and screaming and waving an imaginary lasso in the air going “woo!” I am not making that up. Simon is too busy unbuttoning the rest of his shirt to say anything more than “congratulations.”

Kris Allen. Song Two. “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye, also chosen by Simon “Ha-Ha, You Can’t See Me” Fuller. This time, Kris is playing his little guitar. His Mrazification of old songs is an impressive thing. He takes songs that I’m not crazy for, or flat-out dislike, and turns them into catchy, accessible tunes. He doesn’t have a miraculous vocal range, but I can sing along to his stuff without tearing my voice in half. That counts for something. This song, though. I know it’s a classic and all, but…ehh…not so much. The judges, Kara especially, because she’s become more deranged as the season progressed, talk about the social relevance of the song and how Kris is really making a statement and reflecting the times or whatever. But what’s messed up, regarding the original recording, is that I can’t understand half of what Marvin Gaye is saying. I always thought the first two lines were “Marvin, Marvin/There’s too many of you, child.” As if that even makes sense. And I’m not, like, some deaf guy. The whole thing is jibberish but for the “picket signs” part. Bitch needed to pronounciate. Anyway, somehow, suddenly, Kris has become the Barack Obama of this show. It’s not enough that he can sing. Now he’s gotta change the world and “deliver that message.” Oy. Simon is the only one who’s lukewarm on the performance, describing it as “three friends in their bedroom, singing Marvin Gaye.” If Kris were in my bedroom, there would be no singing. This is my promise to you.

Adam Lambert. Song Three. “No Boundaries” by Kara. This’ll be interesting. Adam is relatively low-key for the start of this song, which despite possible efforts to the contrary, is yet another in a long series of “inspirational songs.” Sample lyric: “With every step you climb another mountain/with every breath it’s harder to believe….you make it through the pain/weather the hurricane/to get to that one thing.” Weather the hurricane, people. It’s a metaphor for trying. Adam is able to vocally power-up by the time the chorus comes ’round, but the song isn’t really designed for him to lose his marbles, as he normally would. I think that’s a good thing, although I know you Lambert fans like your share of Theater. Randy thought it was just alright…pitchy in spots. Wow, really? Kara name drops her co-writers on the song, one of whom is Cathy Dennis, who once wanted us to touch her all night long. Paula has no adjectives to express her words. Simon openly scoffs at “the mountains and the hurricanes,” then says they’ve found a star in Adam. Maybe if they pull the star out, he’ll stop screaming. Stars are pointy.

Commercials. Glee is up next. It was so good!! Go watch it on Fox.com and then tune in for the next episode in…September?! That is like the opposite of “glee.” Way to go, Fox. Way. To. Go.

Kris Allen. Song Three. “No Boundaries,” etc. Kris gets off to a rocky start. He’s singing in his lower register and it doesn’t come together very well. At the chorus, as with Adam, things start falling into place. He’s definitely straining at points, but overall, it’s a very commercial performance, and I have no doubt that the iTunes, in-studio recording will iron out these pitchy kinks. Flaws and all, I think I prefer Kris’s version to Adam’s, although I think both guys suffered from being saddled with a sketchy song. The judges, disturbingly, don’t have much to say about the performance. Kara even says out loud that we shouldn’t judge Kris on the song, but on his skills as an overall artist. Paula admits that tonight we are watching a competition of some kind. Simon congratulates Kris for being confident and growing over the course of the season. Not by much, though. He’s still shorter than Ryan. Interesting that they didn’t really critique the performance. Would such criticism garner sympathy votes? Or is the lack of negativity a way to ensure a level playing field? This way, Kris and Adam are both good, and the judges aren’t directing viewers in either direction. Ah, who knows? I’m ready for Adam to win, but if Kris gets the prize, I will do a happy dance.

Then, for some random reason, Carrie Underwood shows up to sing a vaguely familiar song as the show spits Season 8 flashbacks in my eye: Blind Scott. Megan Joy at auditions. That girl with the mother who cried in that one episode. Alexis Grace and her long-suffering child. Aw, Von Smith. That day the screen fell down behind the judges. The chick with the tattoo arms. Bikini Girl giving Seacrest the lip-herpes. Weird guy drinking out of Paula’s cup. Weirder guy in a bunny suit, lifting up Simon. That dirty hippie girl who never wore shoes and who totally smelled like armpits. Rose…something? Normund Gentle. (Want to place bets on a Normund/Tatiana duet tomorrow night? There will be plenty of time to kill.) That guy forgetting his lyrics in Hollywood. The Fierce Girl who accused that other girl of “being drama,” and then telling her to fuck off. Hey, it’s Jackie Tohn! Remember that time Jackie got home late from Lisa Oleano’s Sweet 16, and her parents locked her out, so she climbed up the side of the house and crept in her bedroom window, except when she got inside and fell into bed, she realized it wasn’t her bedroom or even her house, and she’d accidentally snuck into Mr. and Mrs. Krugelmier’s bedroom, and Mr. Krugelmier started screaming “rape,” and Mrs. Krugelmier ran out into the street in her granny panties, and Jackie laughed so hard she wet their bed, like, a lot, and by the time the cops showed up, Jackie was asleep right where she fell, pee and all, but Mrs. Krugelmier fed her breakfast the next morning, anyway, without knowing Jackie stole five dollars and a “precocious pink” lipstick from her nightstand. Remember that time?

Tomorrow night? Filler, filler, filler. And, in the end, the cheese will stand alone. But it will be a winning cheese.

Pa-chaaa!
-Frank

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