American Idol: Idol Gives Back
Some of it worked, some of it didn't. Telethons are like that. Not every bit can be a gem. But it's all for a good cause, right? So, obviously we can't complain too loudly.
My overall impression was that it seemed way longer than two hours. And I'm not just saying that to be snarky. They seriously threw in way more than I can even begin to recap. I'd be here all night if I tried to get it all in this post. So, I'm just going to stick to the highlights, and you can tell me the things that stood out for you.
The first thing I noticed was that the judges were all dressed up tonight. This was a fancy affair, after all. Simon and Randy had jackets on for a change. And Paula, well, she had her cleavage on display.
Ryan got the drama rolling early, by telling us "We are putting on the biggest American Idol show ever" and "we have the most shocking result in Idol history." We also learned that 70 million votes were cast last night, and News Corp kicked in their $5 million donation.
What could be so shocking about tonight's results? That's the first thing Ellen Degeneres wanted to know too. Just who went home tonight?
After teasing us throughout the broadcast, it finally came down to just two who weren't safe. Chris vs. Jordin. Wait, how could that be? I nearly screamed (only I can't scream because I have laryngitis) when I heard Ryan tell Chris he was safe. What?? How could Jordin (my top pick) be going home? Ryan quickly told us that wait, Jordin was safe too, because they just couldn't let anyone go on "charity night."
This reprieve bought everyone another chance to sing next week. And Ryan assured us that last night's votes still count. Next week, the votes will be combined from the two weeks, and the BOTTOM TWO will go home. Whew! For a moment, I thought Ryan was going to tell us they were EXTENDING the season by another week.
So, are you glad nobody went home? My kids felt kind of cheated. They didn't appreciate being led on all night and then being tricked. I would usually be mad at Idol for the lame switcheroo, but I was just so relieved to hear Jordin was safe, I forgave them.
Other than the results being non-results, the rest of the show went pretty much as expected. There weren't any big surprises. Somehow the mystery duet spoiler was all over the internet so I knew Celine would be singing with Elvis Presley. I usually don't like cheesy gimmicks like this, but IT was the King. I love Elvis. Who cares if he's been dead for 30 years, he's still my American Idol. And he still out-performed Celine and every other living person out there.
Entertaining and inspirational moments that stood out for me:
- Josh Groban backed by African Children's Choir singing, "You Raise Me Up," just seemed real sincere and fitting for the evening. I found it uplifting.
- Jack Black performing "Kiss From a Rose" was one of the better comedic moments of the night. Like Elvis, I love Jack Black. He could do his crazy singing bits all night and I would find it entertaining. And how great was it when the judges critiqued him? Randy says, "it wasn't happening man, but maybe stretchy pants may have helped." Paula says, "The School of Rock called - they want their diploma back," Simon says, "You want the real truth? You were better than Sanjaya." But forget the judges, Seal LOVED it. And I did too.
- I also loved The Simpsons bit. How great was it to see Simon audition for Homer, Lisa, and Marge? Homer told him to "lose the accent, Mary Poppins, this is *American* Idol." Then Simon was shown the exit -- a trap door in the floor that led to a den of lions. Bart said, "The lions haven't eaten this well since Dunkelman." Classic. Gotta love Dunkelman jokes.
- I liked Carrie Underwood's video in Africa singing "I'll Stand By You" to the kids. I know, it's sappy, and meant to tug at the heartstrings. But sometimes I really am sensitive. Besides, we learned something too. Every 30 seconds a child in South Africa is orphaned by AIDS.
- I chuckled when the guy (Eric McCormack) from Will & Grace said, "If every person that ever voted for Sanjaya gave just one dollar, we could do so much with it."
- I liked that Ellen put her money where her mouth is, and donated $100,000 and asked her rich friends to do the same.
- In Katrina-ravaged Louisiana, many people are still living in a disaster zone or in temporary FEMA parks two years later.
- In an African slum that Ryan and Simon visited, there are 1.2 million people living in a space the size of Central Park. And there are over 50,000 orphans fending for themselves.
- Paula visited the Boys and Girls Club in Hollywood (one of 4000 clubs throughout the country). Paula told a group of kids that she got into dance because her mom worked all the time.
- In the Appalachian mountains in Kentucky, the unemployment rate is more than twice the national average and almost half the adults there didn't finish school. Many of them have trouble reading. Education is crucial for their children's future.
- Back in Africa, Ryan and Simon visited a family of 14 who live in a house the size of a tent. Emily takes care of her three kids and 10 AIDS orphans (three of which are HIV positive). Ryan and Simon also visited several other people who were very sick with AIDS. Back in California, Ellen tells us that $30 can buy ten children the ARA drugs they need.
- Back in Africa again, we meet a man named John, who has gone to 280 funerals. We learn that malaria kills one child every 30 seconds. Ryan visited a clinic where over 300 children arrive with malaria each day. The good news is that malaria is curable and preventable.
- Madonna is in Malawi to tell us that a lot of the kids are HIV positive. "With your money, it's as simple as this, you save a life."
- The contestants performed Quincy Jones' "Time to Care" anthem and Bono's "American Prayer" anthem. Neither blew me away. The group sing-alongs never do. Although I was surprised by how good Phil's voice sounded in the group setting. And the kids all performing in white suits somehow reminded me of "The Brady Six."
- The Ben Stiller running gag wasn't all that funny. Actually, the funniest part of that bit was that he bragged about being in Mystery Men.
- Earth, Wind and Fire were actually pretty cool. They were the most upbeat performers of the evening. Everyone else went with very slow, serious songs. Kelly Clarkson, Annie Lennox were okay, but did kind of bring things down a bit.
- I didn't care for the Ford musical video featuring a "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" or the part tagged on at the end featuring the 36 stars stars lip synching to "Staying Alive." Well, Miss Piggy was cool. But really, this is all we get of Hugh Grant and Keira Knightley? They have been hyping their appearances for weeks -- and this is it?
- Il Divo? At first glance, I thought it was "The Wiggles in suits." Honestly, this is the first time -- and I hope the last time -- I ever watch Il Divo perform. Can you say, "Bathroom break?"
However, I still want to know how much money FOX received in advertising revenue for the night. No matter how much money they raised, or how many people they educated, I still find it questionable that they might make a profit on a fundraising event. I know many of you don't care, and that's fine. At least I know Ken agrees with me.
The evening ended with a taped appearance of Bono telling the contestants that this generation can be the one that ends poverty. He believes music makes the impossible -- possible. And the show ends with the kids singing Bono's anthem.
I hope Bono is right. I too hope this generation will end poverty.
Next Week: Tuesday Night -- The Top 6 perform once again. Wednesday night -- TWO people go home.