At long last, the season 8 finale of American Idol has arrived! It's been fun watching all of the Idols grow in their musical prowess (that's a Paula word), especially Adam Lambert and Kris Allen, the final two performers who couldn't be more different, but are both awesome in their own way.
Ryan started things off by introducing the judges, along with a funny video clip for each of them -- Randy Jackson saying "For Me" throughout the season; Kara DioGuardi saying "sweetie" and "honey" to people who didn't make it past the audition process; Paula's round-up of colorful adjectives (vocal prowess, masterful and effortless, palette, etc.); and Simon's issues with hearing what people say (as in, he could probably use a hearing aid!).
Well, most of you correctly predicted who would go home on American Idol this week. A whopping 1183 votes for the predicted loser were logged in our poll!
But before we got to find out who it was for real, a whole bunch of other stuff happened, starting with Kara saying she appreciates the audience and their passion for the Idols. That was in reference to the heckling she got last night.
And Paula tried to redeem herself by saying that while she put the spotlight on Adam Lambert (you know, that Mick Jagger/Steven Tyler comment), she knows that all of the Idols have something special. Alrighty then.
Then Ryan descends from a big long stairway on the stage, like he's some old-time movie star or something. It's a little weird and cheesy, but also kind of fun. The theme this week is wide open, with the contestants choosing any song that's a popular download on iTunes. Let's get to it.
Anoop Desai started things off with Usher's "Caught Up." He cranked the pop factor up a few notches and showed that he's got the chops to switch it up a bit. Randy's a little torn and doesn't like the song choice. Kara thinks it's like a bunch of "frat guys dared you to get up and do Usher." Paula loves his more playful side, but says Anoop's stage presence needs a little work. Simon thinks it's "a complete and utter mess," saying, "It actually gave me a headache."
Her enthusiastic, but lamentable, version of Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life" was a "train wreck" according to Randy Jackson (and he's rarely that critical), while Simon Cowell labeled her singing "atrocious." So, yes, I was stunned when she wasn't in the bottom three. By the way, I'm not being insulting by not calling her by her name, I'm just not sure what it is.
This being the results show of Motown Night, the Idols sang a montage of Motown hits against a backdrop of classic Motown stars. Very nice. I also liked the Ford commercial, with the contestants putting together giant puzzle pieces while singing "Take Me Away." They look like they're having a blast.
Then the Velvet Teddy Bear Ruben Studdard sang a tune, and Ryan mentions that he was recently married. Congrats to Ruben!
And then the countdown begins with Adam Lambert up first. I can't imagine that he'd be going home, and sure enough, he's safe. With his ability to show such vastly different sides of his artistic talent, Adam has launched himself straight to the top of my favorites list.
It's Motown week, and I'm scared. Motown has so many songs that these people should never touch, so it's really just setting them up for failure. For the most part, however, they do a pretty good job with it. But I wasn't wrong about things getting weird: Toward the end of the episode, Simon flat out takes a Sharpie and draws a mustache on Paula's face.
As another bonus for me, I'm watching this with a friend who hasn't seen a single episode this season, so I get to put my preconceived notions against her fresh eyes.
I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that it's been a couple of years since I've seriously watched American Idol. I've caught episodes here and there, but haven't sat down with a full season in a while. I bring this up because I'm not sure if it's just that I've been away from it a while or if this year's group of finalists is especially good. We're still not even to the Top 10, and no one's performance was a complete disaster. Sure, I had my favorites, but nobody embarrassed themselves, which seems new to me.
What I love/hate about the results show is how, even if the contestants manage to get through the performance show embarrassment-free, that inevitably comes to an end the next night. Between the Ford commercial and the group sing, I have never watched a results show without spending a good portion cringing.
Speaking of cringing, tonight's result is kind of surprising, and I think it's going to polarize a lot of people. Someone who I thought would make it pretty far in the competition got the lowest number of votes. But does that mean he or she is going home?
Michael Sarver sang "Ain't Goin' Down Til the Sun Comes Up." He did a pretty good job with it, other than flubbing the lyrics a little in the middle. Randy Jackson liked the song, but wasn't sure about the vocals. Kara thought it was fun, but she missed the big notes. Paula thought the genre suited him, and Simon said it was clumsy and he couldn't understand the words. On a scale of 1 to 10, he'd give it 1.2. Really? It didn't seem that bad to me.
I'm pretty happy with the results tonight. I feel like America and the judges made the right call. And it isn't just up to America anymore. As Seacrest told us, there's a new American Idol rule. When someone is eliminated by America's vote, the judges have the ability to keep the person in the competition. It's designed to be used when America goes insane and votes people like LaToya London and Chris Daughtry off, people who deserve to stay in the competition. As I understand it, this option can only be used one time. Thankfully, the judges didn't use it tonight.
We also got to see the cool new digs where the Idols are staying. It's a ginormous mansion, complete with a swimming pool (or two), basketball court, bowling alley, hot tubs, the whole shebang. Looks like a very cool place to de-stress after being called to center stage to await your fate.
The audience is completely psyched, but Simon quickly brings everyone down in that special way of his by announcing that tomorrow's show is going to be double-elimination. This makes sense, since we have the same number of episodes to find this year's Idol, but we have one extra contestant.
My favorite thing about this episode is that the theme is the music of Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson, as you may recall, is one of those artists that the judges have said should just never be touched. So despite the fact that they have told Kris Allen, among others, that they should not sing Michael Jackson songs, we have an entire night devoted to just that. Sounds like a good idea to me!
But before we got to learn which three went through, the producers tortured us with yet another group number, with the Idols awkwardly dancing and singing Neo's "Closer." I'm not a big fan of the group numbers, and the singers don't look like they're having that much fun either.
They've already chosen their songs, which is one of the most important, if not the most important factor in how well they'll do tonight. All you can really tell them at this point is "don't suck." Let's see how many of this twelve actually don't suck-- I'm sincerely hoping it will be more than last week, because if not, it's going to be a long two hours.
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