Friday, May 28, 2010

AI9 Grand Finale - What You Didn't See

As I'm sure you all know by now, Lee DeWyze is our latest American Idol winner, defeating Crystal Bowersox in this week's finale. What we don't know are vote totals or winning margin. I suspect we'll never find that out because for the former, they're probably WAY low compared to last year (the week before was nearly 50% less than the previous year's totals), and for the latter, it's probably pretty large.

I still haven't watched the full broadcast of the grand finale, but I was in the Nokia Theatre for the show. Here's what you may or may not have seen:

*During the opening group number of "School's Out" with Alice Cooper, Orianthi was playing some killer guitar licks on the perch of power (tm Normund Gentle) behind the judges. You may have noticed that they didn't identify her on air. Well, they didn't do it off air either. As they were all exiting the stage, Cory the warm-up guy said to give it up for Alice Cooper, but Orianthi got NOTHING. What. The. Hell. I don't think a lot of people in the theater knew who she was (I say this because a good majority of the people in there are of an older generation, and I doubt they're jammin' to According To You in their cars. More on that age observation in a moment ...)

*In the theater, we heard none of the mic gaffe that had Ryan Seacrest talking over the opening lines of Kris Allen's "The Truth" performance. I'm not quite sure why they had to shorten an already shortened version of the song, but Kris and his band sounded awesome both inside the theater and on TV. What I didn't see until I watched it back on TV was Simon sustaining his applause for the longest time amongst the four judges. That was a pleasant surprise considering Simon has pretty much ignored his existence since the day he won a year ago.

*Siobhan Magnus and Aaron Kelly sang "How Deep Is Your Love" with the Bee Gees. First of all, let me just say that the two Idols here actually sounded very good together. I wasn't expecting that. But back to what I was talking about earlier with the older audience. When the Gibb brothers came out, the women in front of me got all excited and leaped up like Donny Osmond had just walked out. This pattern continued for Michael McDonald, Hall & Oates, Chicago and Joe Cocker. Yeah. If you think teens are the majority of the Idol audience & voters, you're mistaken. It's older women.

*Big Mike got paired with Michael McDonald. I don't get it. But it was far from the biggest odd pairing of the night ...

*Dane Cook's Simon Cowell tribute was funny. And then a bunch of wacky auditioners "crashed" the party on stage - Tatiana Del Toro, Norman Gentle, the Bittermint twins, Renaldo Lapuz ("I Am Your Brother" guy), Ian Bernardo from Season 1 and someone else whose name I don't remember. Ian basically hijacked the whole thing, getting on the mic and then doing something that caused the producers to go to commercial. After the Idol commercial lead-in music stopped, Cory or Ryan said something like "Well that went well."

*The girls sang "Beautiful" and "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera before Christina herself joined them for what ... 10 seconds of Fighter? Then the girls left the stage and Christina sang "You Lost Me," which was appropriately titled because while she sounded amazing, the song is a snoozer, and she lost me by the 2nd verse. As for the Idolettes, color me impressed. Paige Miles? DAMN, girl. So that's what Simon meant when he said she had the best voice in the competition. And Katie Stevens? Never really liked her in the competition, but she sounded fantastic here.

*The guys got their group number with a Hall & Oates medley of "I Can't Go For That", "Maneater" and "You Make My Dreams Come True." I'm not sure how much of it was shown on TV, but I spent the better part of this number laughing at Casey's obvious uncomfortableness with the cheesy choreography, contrasted by Big Mike's embracing of the cheese.

*The first real surprise guest performance came from Alanis Morissette, who sang "Ironic" and "You Oughta Know" with Crystal. The staging of this was super-awkward, with the two of them just kind of pacing the stage from left to right, not really facing the audience. Other than that, I thought they sounded great. But I laughed HARD when it got to the "Is she perverted like me? Would she go down on you in a theater" part in "You Oughta Know" and I realized that it was Crystal's turn to sing. She kept the perverted line but changed the other line to "Would she go down with you to the theater?" LOL forever, Idol. Why not just either avoid the line altogether or avoid the song if you're worried about that?

*Carrie Underwood's "Undo It" was co-written by Kara DioGuardi. I saw her bopping her head along during the song. I personally am not a big fan of the song, but this may have some pop crossover.

*On video, Kris Allen presented keys to the Ford Fiestas the finalists had designed. They're ugly as heck, and the Fiestas are the economy class, worth way less than the Fusion Hybrid Kris got last year, but I guess that's fitting for this season. Anyway, Kris looked WAY cute in the video, and he got a few wooos in the audience when he showed up on the big screen. One may or may not have been from me. Ahem.

*Perhaps THE moment of the night came when Bret Michaels came out to sing "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" with Casey James. Bret was practically on his death bed a few days ago, and seeing him triumphantly walk on stage with his guitar and sing in strong voice was amazing. This got the biggest crowd reaction of the night, perhaps even more than the winner's announcement. And Casey? He sounded fantastic, and I loved that he switched off from acoustic to electric guitar. I was flabbergasted, though, when the judges didn't stand up for that performance. Seriously, judges? If nothing, stand up for the guy who was out there performing so soon after almost dying.

*The biggest WTF pairing of the night came when the producers put Lee DeWyze with Chicago. Because he's from Chicago. LMAO. A couple of things wrong with this picture - Lee had pretty much done a lot of contemporary songs all year and hadn't done any music that even resembled Chicago. The songs they performed were 70's AC staples - "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is", "If You Leave Me Now" and "25 or 6 to 4". I wonder what the real reaction was to this performance in the pit. They're all told to clap with their arms above their head all the time, but I'll bet the thought bubbles amongst the group were "What. The. Hell. Is. This?!" And to top it all off, Lee didn't even get Chicago with Peter Cetera. May as well have paired him with Journey with not-Steve Perry (although Arnel Pineda has an amazing voice).

*Ryan Seacrest introduced General Larry Platt's "Pants on the Ground" by saying it was up there with memorable performances like Fantasia's "Summertime", Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This" (um, Ryan ... "Stuff Like That There"!) and Adam Lambert's "Mad World". If "Pants on the Ground" was the most memorable thing about Season 9, there's something damn wrong with the show and/or cast. The General came out and sang his inexplicable hit, and then William Hung joined him halfway in. I'll admit I laughed, but dang, Hung ... move on already.

*The Simon Cowell tribute by Paula Abdul was perfect. She was absolutely darling - sweet, funny and sincere, and it really made me nostalgic for her loopy ways. And I do have a theory that she's the one who was the real talent-spotter amongst the judges. She left, and the talent pool that was made available to us to vote for was marginal compared to past seasons. Agh. COME BACK, PAULER!

*The Simon tribute continued with a parade of Idol alumni singing some schmoopy song "Together We Are One." Kelly Clarkson started things out, and I guess people didn't recognize her at first because the reaction as she descended from the top of the stairs wasn't befitting of KELLY. FREAKIN'. CLARKSON. But when they showed a close-up on the big screens, people finally got it and gave her the applause she deserved. Then Ruben Studdard came out, and I realized that the rumored Kelly/Fantasia duet was more than that - it was going to be all the past winners plus other alumni. And sure enough, Fantasia came out, then Carrie Underwood, then Jordin Sparks, Taylor Hicks, and Kris Allen. David Cook was notably the only winner missing, but he had a charity event he was committed to already. Other alumni who came out for this number that I could see were Matt Giraud, Kristy Lee Cook, Brooke White, Jason Castro, Allison Iraheta, Melinda Doolittle, Mikalah Gordon, David Archuleta, Justin Guarini, Kimberly Caldwell, Diana DeGarmo, Ace Young, Elliott Yamin, Bo Bice, Constantine Maroulis, Anoop Desai and the current Top 12. I know I'm missing some but I was blocked out by some cameras. This was another great moment on the show. I've been watching and been slightly obsessed with this show since the very beginning, so seeing all of these familiar faces back on stage was really cool. Especially having the winners singing up there. They're all so talented. And hearing Kelly and Fantasia start to wail near the end made me all nostalgic for the times when they had to do those cheesy Christmas specials.

*It was awesome to see Janet Jackson perform "Again", "Nothing" and "Nasty". Well, to be more accurate, it was awesome to see her perform "Nasty." She barely did "Again," and "Nothing", like Christina Aguilera's solo earlier, went on a bit too long. But "Nasty" was amazing. I was a little surprised, though, that the people near me weren't dancing or bopping around in their seats during this song. Too young? Too old? IDGI.

*The final performance before the big reveal went to the two finalists, of course, with Crystal and Lee singing "With A Little Help With My Friends" with Joe Cocker. Not even gonna lie - I totally laughed at Lee being assigned the "What would you do if I sang out of tune" line because that's pretty much what he did a lot of this season. Oh producers, you slay me. And I'm not sure if Lee biffed his line or if his mic wasn't working (probably the former), but after Joe Cocker came in, there was a small instrumental during the song when Lee was supposed to have been singing. Crystal came in on her cue, and she sounded awesome.

*So the final verdict we all know what happened. Lee looked like he was going to vomit the entire time, but he made it through his song. It was all so awkward though. They started the fireworks and streamers so early, and then he went over to the right side of the stage and it looked like he was going over to the perch like David Cook and Kris Allen had done the previous two years, so some of the other finalists started to make their way down there, but then Lee went back onto the stage. Debbie the stage director had to shoo him back towards the perch, and then when he got there, only Tim Urban and Casey James and maybe someone else were up there with him. The others were either slowly making their way down there or hanging down by the judges' table below them. Near the end of the song, everyone got up there, but it was just so awkwardly staged. So hilarious. After his song, Lee gave some very heart-felt and sweet thank yous to everyone from the judges, contestants, crew, fans. Then he did his I'm Going To Disneyland commercial (at least 3 takes), and then off to press.


DJT said...

Thanks for all the dets! Fun.

"Cory or Ryan said something like "Well that went well."
LOL! Seriously, though, it was too bad that got botched by Ian, because I know there was some gold planned that we didn't get to see.

And WORD to this. "I was flabbergasted, though, when the judges didn't stand up for that performance. Seriously, judges?" This just sums them up completely.

"If "Pants on the Ground" was the most memorable thing about Season 9, there's something damn wrong with the show and/or cast." That's exactly what I thought.

LOVED all the winners and former contestants together! I wanted more of that!

Thanks for the scoop!

ImSoBlue said...

Thanks for your wonderful recap! I was there, too, but waaaay in the back of the orchestra section on the far left.

It was my first time at the AI show, and I had a great time. I thought Kris was the best, in my totally unbiased opinion. :)

Kinda disappointed that the crowd didn't stand for Kris, but I'd like to think that we were glued to our seats because we were all totally mesmerized by his beautiful voice and his fantastic band!

jmom376 said...

Thank you for this very detailed review!! It is always great to hear the reviews of people in the audience.

My favorite performances of the night were Kris and the Brett/Casey duet. I really hope Casey gets an opportunity to make a CD (but not with 19). I wasn't a fan most of the season, but he intrigued me during the video's of his homecoming. I am interested in seeing more of what he can do.

MagmiknEm said...

Great recap. I was there also but sitting with Imsoblue wayyyyyyyy in the back. However, I loved Kris Allen's performance. It was perfection. And ironically, as you said, those of us in the audience didn't hear Ryan's mic gaffe, but we also heard a lot more hooting for Kris on TV. So maybe some of the sound was muffled in the theater. I am a dinosaur, so I loved all the singers from the 70s, but I will admit that Lee's pairing with Chicago was pretty dull. I loved seeing Michael McDonald, thought he sounded great, but do agree that the pairing of Mike Lynch with Mike McD was kind of weird.

I cried when Bret Michaels came out and even though I don't think it was the smartest thing for him to do, it was the classiest thing. He did not let illness keep him back. I have nothing but admiration and respect for him.

Seeing all the Idols past was fabulous as well and I too hooted and hollered for Kris Allen.

I didn't like the Simon tribute. I thought I would OD on the cheese, but then again I was never a fan of Simon Cowell. I personally thought Paula's tribute was awkward.

The audience was definitely in Lee's court, so I was not surprised when he won.

Oh and FYI, also on the Idols past line was Blake Lewis and Michael Johns. I didn't recognize Diana DeGarmo until I watched it over on TV. I was surprised I didn't see anyone else from Season 3 and since I heard that Clay Aiken was seen at the L.A. airport, I'm kind of surprised he wasn't there to pay tribute. I loved seeing my favorites from Season 8...Kris of course, Allison Iraheta, Matty G., Anoop, and Scott. I also saw Season 4's Vonzelle Soloman being interviewed earlier, but if she was on the line I didn't notice.

Great recap. I thought on the whole it was a great show.

Shirley said...

Yup I did notice Simon clapping and smiling after Kris finished his performance. Me thinking he must have finally realised how great Kris is after enduring this mediocre season.

He also admitted in his farewell speech that America has been right in their choice of all the Idol winners. Good that he finally acknowledged his mistake in pimping those undeserved ones.

Shirley said...

One more thing to add: Although the voting demographic has shifted to an older, female base, I always find it funny that the show tries so hard to create an illusion that it is watched by the young ones by getting all those young females clapping in the pit area.

Kimberwyn said...

Im so glad I got to hear Kris's performance live. It sounded absolutely AMAZING live, TV didnt even do it complete justice! Kris and Carrie definitely stole the show.

Im so glad I finally got to go to a finale! Even if this season sucked it was cool to see it live, especially since next year will be ~different. Lee's reaction to winning was cute, really geniune; I preferred Crystal but whatev.

Did you see anyone on the red carpet?

Anonymous said...

Some audience stood up applauding for Kris after his performance, I saw it on TV. And yes, Simon's prolonged clapping was noticeable. It's a real treat to hear Kris singing his own song live on the AI stage. He's a splendidly powerful yet charming performer. I wish "Send Me All Your Angels" will be his next single.

nancy said...

I enjoyed reading your articles. I felt like that I was in the Nokia Theater I think your writing skills are at the professional level (May be you’re a professional writer). Kris’s “The Truth” was fantastic. He sounded and looked beautiful. I was surprised that the 4 judges did not give him a standing O. All 4 judges eyes looked like that their minds were in the wonderland, but not in the Theater. I’m glad to know that Simon gave a long applause to Kris. Then after Bee Gees sang, all judges’ butts still glued down to the chairs. To me “Bee Gees” is an icon, so I forgive Simon et al.
Where did the AI producers find so many gray-haired singers/stars?
@ImSoBlue I saw audience stood up after Kris’s performance on my TV.
Kris Allen and Janet Jackson (her dance) were my faves.
Thanks H2O cooler.