New Idol Crowned During Star Studded Finale

May 21, 2009

With just under 100 million votes cast towards deciding this year’s winner, American Idol pulled out all the stops for its two hour finale.  And what a finale it was!

Two very talented men -- Adam and Kris.  Photo courtesy of American Idol

Two very talented men -- Adam and Kris. Photo courtesy of American Idol

The dark horse prevailed.  Kris Allen has been declared the Season 8 Winner of American Idol.  He’s come a long way from the guy we didn’t meet until Hollywood Week and didn’t get to know until the Top 13.

Ryan never released how close the vote came, but I can’t imagine that it wasn’t close.  We couldn’t have been treated to two more deserving candidates for the finale.  Both men are very, very talented and seem like all around good guys.

And I loved all of Adam and Kris’ performances tonight.  I had a hard time picking my favorite.

In fact, the whole finale was stunning.  Usually, I’m annoyed by all the fluff Idol parade out to fill out their two hour shows.  But this show was completely different.  It was one stunning performance after another.

The opening number of the night saw the return of the Top 13 singing Pink’s “So What.”  It was really nice to see the whole gang back together again.  I’ve already forgotten some of the faces; it’s been so long since we’ve seen them.  But it was nice to see Alexis back in the fold.

Speaking of old faces, last year’s winner David Cook returned to perform his single “Permanent,” a song he wrote with Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida.  The proceeds from the sale of this iTunes song will go to Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABC2), a DC-based organization dedicated to finding a cure for brain cancer.

Next we got to get a look back at the auditions with the Golden Idol Awards. 

The first trophy went to Nick Mitchell aka Norman Gentle for Outstanding Male.  I’m so glad that we got to see Nick one more time this season.  He really added some humor to the beginning of the season.

The next award went to Katrina Darrell aka Bikini Girl for Best Attitude.  Is it me or did the bikini get smaller?  But the best part had to be when Kara came out and showed her up – vocally!  I’ll let you guys be the judge of who had the better body. 

The last award, Outstanding Female, went to Tatiana Nicole Del Toro.  Either she really wants her 15 minutes of fame or she’s a good sport to play along as Idol poked fun at her. 

But then we got down to some serious singing. 

The first duet brought back Lil Rounds and paired her with Queen Latifah for “Cue the Rain.”  I was hoping without the pressure of the judging we’d see the Lil we loved during the early phases.  Unfortunately, singing with Queen Latifah proved that Lil’s voice just isn’t that great.

On the other hand, Anoop Desai and Alexis Grace sounded wonderful as they sang “I’m Yours” with Jason Mraz.  I think it says a lot about Alexis’ popularity that she got a shot at the spotlight tonight.  Last year, only the Top 6 got to perform, other than group numbers, during the finale.

Now, I don’t think of Kris Allen as a country singer, but I loved his duet of “Kiss a Girl” with Keith Urban.  They both looked like they were having a ball.  This duet was one of my favorite performances of the night.

The stars keep coming, the girls from got to do a medley with Fergie before introducing the Black Eyed Peas.

Another good pairing was Allison Iraheta and Cyndi Lauper on “Time After Time.”  I always thought of Allison as a through back to the 80s and this duet proved it.  I thought they sounded perfect togher.  And was Cyndi playing a steel guitar?  I didn’t know she could play.

And while the producers got the pairing right with Allison, I have to wonder what they were thinking with Danny Gokey.  They had him sing a solo of “Hello” before continuing the medley with Lionel Richie.  However, no one will ever compare to the David Cook version of “Hello” from last season.  I think the producers just set up Danny for a comparison he could never live up to.  The rest of the medley wasn’t bad though.

Now the next guest performer shocked me.  I’d have never guessed that they would make an appearance on American Idol.  But with Adam in the finale it seems only right he should get partnered with KISS for a medley.  Now that was a performance that rocked!

But the stars didn’t stop there.  Carlos Santana took the stage with a guitar solo of “Black Magic Woman” before performing “Smooth” with the Top 13.

Then we got one last Ford Video that was really just a clip of videos from throughout the season as Adam and Kris sang “I Will Remember You.”  And then David Cook handed the keys over to Adam and Kris for their brand new 2010 Ford Fusions.

Idol is full of surprises tonight because I had no idea that Steve Martin had musical aspirations, let alone could play the banjo.  But I liked “Pretty Flowers,” the song he wrote and performed with Megan Joy and Michael Sarver.  The song itself actually suited the pair really well.

Next up, the guys got to sing “Do You Think I’m Sexy” before Rod Stewart came out to sing “Maggie May.”

The final duet went to the two stars of the night. Adam and Kris teamed up with Queen to sing “We are the Champions.”  The rest of the Top 13 joined them on backgrounds.  What a great way to close the night.  And can I say that I think Adam and Kris actually would do well singing together!

Unfortunately, they couldn’t just give us the results and end it there.  Poor Kris had to sing “No Boundaries” again. 

What I can’t understand is if the producers can do such great pairings for the finale, why can’t they (and the judges) do a better job picking songs for the contestants to sing.

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Competition Close as Final 2 Sing for Idol Title

May 20, 2009

It’s the last competition night of American Idol’s eighth season and the competition couldn’t be closer as the Final 2 take on three songs in their quest for the Idol title. 

Carrie Underwood returns to Idol stage to perform this year's farewell song, "Home Sweet Home," live.  Photo courtesy of Idol

Carrie Underwood returns to Idol stage to perform this year's farewell song, "Home Sweet Home," live. Photo courtesy of Idol

Each contestant will sing a favorite song from earlier in the competition, a song chosen by producer Simon Fuller and an original song co-written by Judge Kara DioGuardi.

Round 1 – Returning Favorites

For his first number, Adam Lambert decided to reprise his very popular performance of “Mad World.”  After last week’s mediocre performances, the decision to bring back this favorite was strategic.  And if you loved it the first time, it was even better this time.

But Adam isn’t the only one playing to favorites, Kris Allen has a little strategy of his own.  For his opening number, he brought back “Ain’t No Sunshine.”  I think his original performance of this song was the first time many people sat up and noticed Kris.  Tonight, it was just about reveling his talent.

After the first round, I’d call it a tie.  Simon gave the round to Kris. The gloves are off and both guys have come out swinging with their best performances. 

Round 2 – Simon Fuller’s Choice

I’m not sure that I would have picked the Sam Cooke classic for Adam, but I think producer Simon Fuller proved that he knew what he was doing when he chose “A Change Gonna Come” for Adam.  For those that think Adam is too theatrical, this song stripped away the dramatics and showcased Adam’s voice.  And I got to say, he nailed the song.

I think Mr. Fuller was in an activist mood when he picked his song choices.  He picked out another socially conscious tune for Kris.  I don’t think that Kris’ rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” was as strong as his opening number.  But it had that folky fusion sound we’ve come to love from Kris.

I’d give the second round to Adam, but just barely.  I think he got the better of the two songs.  Simon also gave the round to Adam.  I think the boys reverted back to their safe ground with these songs.

Round 3 – “No Boundaries”

For the third and final round, both contestants had to sing their version of an original tune co-written by Kara.

Kris clearly won this round with a much stronger version of the song “No Boundaries.”  The song itself seemed to lend itself more to Kris’s style than Adam’s.  It’s not that Adam had a bad performance.  It just wouldn’t have stood out if it was all you heard from Adam.

Overall though, I wasn’t a fan of the song itself.  And I think it was interesting that the judges really never graded either contestant on this particular performance, instead commenting on the contestant’s season as a whole.  Do you think the judges weren’t that taken with the song either?

The evening closed out with a live performance of this year’s farewell song, “Home Sweet Home,” by Carrie Underwood.

I think the competition was very close tonight and that it’s really going to come down to personal preference.  Both guys are very talented and did extremely well tonight.  Personally, I’m favoring Kris.

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Emotion Idol Results Show Sets Up a ‘Ding Dong’ Finale

May 14, 2009

A close race and visits home make the Top 3 American Idol results show a very emotional one.  And with only a million votes separating the Final 2, you can bet that next week’s finale will be an exciting one.

Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks returns to the Idol stage to sing "Battlefield"

Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks returns to the Idol stage to sing "Battlefield"

And after 88 million votes, it’s going to be Kris Allen and Adam Lambert in the finale.  Personally, I think this pairing will make for the better finale.  But given the looks on the judges’ face, I’d say they were expecting to see Danny Gokey next week.

According to Simon, the finale should be a “ding dong” of an affair.  Without making us consult our British-to-English dictionaries, Simon informed us that it was a good thing.

However, before we got to any results, we got to see footage of each of the Top 3’s visits to their hometown.  I don’t know what it is about this part, but I always get teary eyed when I watch the contenders deal with their new found fame at home.

I know we only saw clips, but it sure looked like Kris worked the hardest on his visit home.  Is it me, or did the guy sing everywhere he went.  And I loved the footage of Adam with the children’s theatre group.

The hour was so jammed pack with guests and visits that the traditional group number was skipped this week.  After the Ford video to “Break My Stride” where the guys got to embrace their comic self, Alicia Keys, the global ambassador for Keep a Child Alive, appeared to introduce Noah from Kigali.  Noah was asked to singing “I’m the World’s Greatest” on Idol by Simon after the two met at KCA’s Black Ball in New York.

Then Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks returned to the Idol stage to sing “Battlefield.”  It doesn’t seem like it’s been two years since Jordin was awaiting her fate on the stage.  I thought she looked beautiful and sounded great.  But I have to wonder if she was in this year’s pool of contestants, would she still have won?

And finally we heard Katy Perry singing her new single, “Waking Up in Vegas.”  This performance is my first exposure to the colorful singer and I didn’t think it was half bad.  And judging from her cape, she’s an Adam fan. 

I’ll be pulling for Kris next week, but regardless of who wins we should be in store for one spectacular show.

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Idol’s Top 3 Pick Better Songs Than Judges, But Who Sang the Best?

May 13, 2009

American Idol is down to its Top 3 and for its 300th episode each of the guys had to sing two songs – a choice of their own and one chosen by one of the judges.  Hands down, the guys picked better songs than the judges.  But between the guys, the competition is going to be close.

Danny Gokey started out the night with a song chosen by Paula – “Dance Little Sister” by Terrence Trent D’Arby.  I’m not a big fan of the song to begin with, but I really didn’t like what Danny did to it.  The graveliness of his voice is really starting to grate on my nerves.  Personally, I thought it was a poor song choice and Danny did nothing to improve on it.

On the other hand, One Republic’s “Apologize” was the perfect song for Kris Allen’s voice and personality.  He did a beautiful rendition of the song.  And as Randy said, I think the song showed us what kind of future Kris has in the music business.  And that’s the kind of music, I would buy.

Likewise, Simon picked a beautiful song for Adam Lambert to belt out.  However, I have to say that I like U2’s version of “One” better than Adam’s.  First it started off a little too slow and then it was a bit too much in the middle.  But I give Adam props for adding his own spin to the song even if I didn’t favor it.

The guys returned for the second round with their own song choices.  Ryan made it sound like a really big deal, but isn’t that what they’ve been doing all along is choosing their own songs.  They just had a bigger selection to chose from this week.

Danny slowed things down with “You are so Beautiful” by Joe Cocker.  It’s a gorgeous song, but again I’m not finding anything appealing in Danny’s voice.  He didn’t do a bad job, but I find that all his songs fall into one of two sounds – upbeat (which includes the dancing) and ballad.  This sounded like all his other ballads.

But if Danny put me to sleep, Kris woke me up with an awesome acoustic version of Kayne West’s “Heartless.”  He might be quiet, humble and unassuming, but Kris will be remembered.  Its performances like this that make him stand out.  I can’t wait to hear this song again.

The night closed with Adam taking on “Crying.”  I’m a huge fan of Aerosmith so I was really looking forward to this performance.  It had real potential, but I had trouble hearing Adam.  The background singer kept singing over him and it really took away from the performance.  However, I enjoyed listening to a more “natural” Adam without the huge “performance” element.

Personally, I think it should be Adam and Kris in the final.  I think Kris won the night with “Heartless” and Adam’s “Crying” came in a close second. 

But at this point it’s not really about who had the best performance as much as who has the largest number of voting fans.  But I honestly think it will be a close call either way.

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Idol Results: Danny Screeches to Safety

May 7, 2009

After Tuesday’s train wreck performance, I thought for sure that tonight’s American Idol results show would be the end of the line for Danny Gokey.  But apparently Danny’s got some unbelievable luck or some devoted (although deaf) fans.

Daughtry debuts new single "No Surprise."  Photo Courtesy of American Idol.

Daughtry debuts new single "No Surprise." Photo Courtesy of American Idol.

The announcement of the Top 3 was given in random order this week – no bottom three (or two).  But that didn’t diminish the surprise when Kris Allen was sent to safety first, especially after the judges panned his performance on Tuesday.  Kris really is a dark horse contender.

Adam Lambert was sent to safety next, but that was no surprise.  Even if he didn’t have a great performance Tuesday (which he did), I’m sure his fans would have turned out in droves after last week’s appearance in the Bottom 2.

But the big surprise really came next.  Apparently even after 64 million votes, Danny can do no wrong – including butchering an Aerosmith song – because Allison got sent home tonight.  And now we have three men in the finals.

The rest of the night went to a slew of performance.  First up, the group number.

Slash plays the guitar for “School’s Out” as the Final Four open the show.  Glad to see Slash perform, but overall I wasn’t impressed with the song.  It’s a good thing none of Tuesday’s performances were a quartet.

Next up, Judge Paula Abdul tries to relive the glory days with what looked like a lip-synched performance of her single “I’m Just Here for the Music.”  I think the contestants should have had the opportunity to give her a critique – not that it would have mattered since it was pre-recorded.

But the live performance of “Just a Girl” by No Doubt more than made up for having to watch Paula.  I can’t say that I was digging Gwen Stefani’s look, but the girl can sing.  Actually, I think my husband liked the lime green bra.  Guess I’m going to have to get one.

And lastly, Chris Daughtry returned to the Idol stage with his band Daughtry to debut his new single “No Surprise.”  Chris is living proof that you don’t have to win Idol to be successful.  I really enjoyed his performance and even turned to my husband to asked why we don’t have a Daughtry album (he was on the show before I started watching it).

Overall, not a bad night of performances.  Next week the Top 3 go home.

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Idol’s Top 4 Add Duets to Rock Week

May 6, 2009

This week Guns N Roses’ Slash joined American Idol’s Top 4 for Rock Week.  If the excitement of seeing the final four rock out wasn’t enough, Idol added duets to the mix this week.

Starting the night off was Adam Lambert.  Adam was definitely in his element tonight as he belted out “Whole Lot of Love” by Led Zeppelin.”  For those of you that have been wondering what Adam’s genre really is, I don’t think you need to wonder anymore.  Not sure I’d go as far as Kara and call him a rock god, but this song was one of my favorite Adam performances even if it was a bit over the top.

But the night didn’t go to Adam alone.  Allison Iraheta was having a good night too.  Normally, I don’t like it when contestants try to take on Janis Joplin, but Allison had the voice to do it.  And let me tell you she did it right.  I was very impressed with her rendition of “Cry Baby.”  Sure, I would have rather heard “Piece of My Heart” but I still liked what she chose.

Next we were treated to our first duet of the evening.  Kris Allen and Danny Gokey sang “Renegade” by Styx.  The pairing for me was interesting.  I agree that the two probably complimented each other the best.  Still I think the two are worlds apart.  I really thought we got a glimpse into Kris’ rock side while Danny looked like every performance he’s ever had.  However, it did look like they were both struggling to hear themselves which could be a direct result of the missed rehearsal.

Meanwhile, I was having trouble picturing baby face Kris singing a hard rock song, so I was very glad to hear that he picked a Beetles tune.  But then I worried about it sounding too much like the original.  I shouldn’t have been concerned.  Once again, Kris proved that he’s a dark horse not to be counted out.  I loved what he did with “Come Together” and I thought the song suited him perfectly.

And then we have Danny trying to sing Aerosmith.  I’m a huge Aerosmith fan – to the point of driving my husband crazy.  And I was so upset that Danny tried to take on “Dream On.”  The performance just came on across as so manufactured and he totally blew the ending.  He doesn’t have the chops to pull it off and shouldn’t have tried.

Finally, Allison and Adam returned to the stage for their duet of Foghat’s “Slow Ride.”  These two make an awesome duet.  They have very compatible voices and styles.  The performance was a perfect way to finish off the Rock Night.

It’ll be interesting to see if the duets have any impact on the voting.  Adam and Allison definitely won the night.  Personally, I enjoyed Kris the most, but because the judges panned him, he’ll probably join Danny in the Bottom 2.  My hope is that Danny’s going home this week.  I think he’s gone as far as he can go.

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Adam in the Bottom 3 of Idol This Week

April 30, 2009

The biggest shock of the night as American Idol dwindled its numbers to four was not who got sent home, but who was in the Bottom 3.  At this point, at least one person had to grace the stools for the first time, but this week we got two newbies.

Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks returned to the idol stage to sing his latest single “Seven Mile Breakdown.”  Photo courtesy of American Idol.

Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks returned to the idol stage to sing his latest single “Seven Mile Breakdown.” Photo courtesy of American Idol.

The jeopardy seats went to Matt Giraud, Kris Allen and Adam Lambert this week after 47 million votes were received, the highest of the season. 

I wasn’t surprised to see Kris there.  Not because of his performance (I loved it), but because he performed first on Tuesday.  Luckily, Kris was declared safe first.

However, I was a bit shocked – and apparently so were his fellow competitors – to find Adam in the Bottom Three.  In all honesty I was mostly surprised that Idol went with three on the bottom tier with only five competitors.

Sure Adam is popular and a favorite among the judges.  But he also has a large contingent who doesn’t like him.  And I think that now that we’ve gotten down to the Final 5, those that don’t like Adam will vote for anyone but him.

In the end though, it was Matt who was sent home, as expected.  It was only two weeks ago, Matt was in this same spot and was spared by the judge’s save.  I don’t think anyone expected him to win after that, but at least we got to hear him perform a couple more times. 

Aside from the results, the Idol stage was busy tonight with three guest performers.  But first the Top 5 took on a medley of “I Don’t Mean a Thing” and “I Got Rhythm” for the opening number.

Next up was Natalie Cole.  Now she would have made a great mentor for the Rat Pack week.  And I enjoyed her performance of “Something’s Gotta Give” from her album Still Unforgettable.  My husband seems to think it was a remake, but I couldn’t find out who originally sang it.

Then Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks returned to the Idol stage to sing his latest single “Seven Mile Breakdown” from his album “The Distance.”  I wonder why the Idol producers keep bringing back the former Idols.  Is it strictly a contractual obligation or are they trying to get them more face time in front of the public?  I can’t imagine it’s really because of demand (well with a few exceptions).

And finally, guest mentor Jamie Fox performed “Blame It.”  This song was so far away from this week’s theme that I am again wondering why Jamie was a mentor for Rat Pack week.  I was really in the mood for more big band tunes and instead I got a plug for Jamie’s album and his movie.

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