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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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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American Idol has Found its Own Rat Pack

April 29, 2009

This week American Idol is down to its Top 5, the same number of members in the Rat Pack.  So it was fitting that we were treated to the sounds of the Rat Pack tonight.

Top 5.  Photo Courtesy of American Idol

Top 5. Photo Courtesy of American Idol

Personally, I’m so glad they saved this theme until now so we didn’t have to hear anyone butcher the songs of the greats.  And overall I’d say that the Top 5 put in a good showing even if no one came out to sing smoking a cigarette and carrying a glass of Jack Daniels #7.

The night started out on a good note.  I was as blown away by Kris Allen’s performance of “The Way You Look Tonight” as Guest Mentor Jamie Fox.  He came across as very sincere, sophisticated and sexy.  He just took a golden oldie and made it golden again.  And more than anything, I’d love to hear it again!

But Kris wasn’t the only one shining tonight.  Beautiful that’s the only way to describe Allison Iraheta’s rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me.”  She sounded fantastic and she looked wonderful.  I noticed that if I closed my eyes during this performance, Allison sounded older, but not in a dated way.  Not only was her voice well suited to the song, but she had great composure as well.  And she showed us that she could sing more than rock songs.

On the other hand, we saw more of the same from Matt Giraud.  It’s not that Matt had a bad performance tonight; it’s just that he paled in comparison to the others.  He had his moments, but overall I thought his version of “My Funny Valentine” was drab.  And I definitely am not seeing what Simon saw in this performance.  He called it authentic, but I thought at best it was copycat.

Simon was also a big supporter of Danny Gokey.  Now it’s no secret that I’m not a big Danny fan.  I think most of his songs all sound alike.  But this week, I liked his sound.  He added a nice little jazzy feel to “Come Rain or Come Shine” that worked well.  However, I think he got a little over zealous towards the end.  As a whole, not a bad performance, but please don’t give us a whole album of that as Randy suggested.

And closing out the show again this week was Adam Lambert (he does that a lot, anyone else notice?).  As usually, he wins the award for most unusual arrangement.  His “Feeling Good” was like Big Band on steroids.  The performance had the full orchestra, but still had the rock edge.  I’m still not sure if I liked it.  I think I need time to digest it.

For traditionalists, I’d say that Kris won the night.  Even going first I think he had the strongest performance.  However, if you go on originality, Adam is still in the lead.

I think Matt is going home this week and my pick to join him in the Bottom Two is Danny.  But since Simon really liked both of them, I could be totally wrong.

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Idol Down to Four Men, One Woman

April 23, 2009

After 45 million votes, American Idol has dwindled down the finalists to five.  After saving Matt Giraud last week, two contenders were sent home after less than stellar disco performances.

Last year's runner up, David Archuleta returns to the Idol stage.

Last year's runner up, David Archuleta returns to the Idol stage.

No suspense tonight as Ryan got right to the first elimination (not bottom three spot, but elimination) 16 minutes into the show.  And that’s okay, because I don’t know that there was anyone out there that didn’t expect Lil Rounds to be sent packing this week.

Ironically, her version of “I’m Every Woman” was 10 times better tonight than anything she’s sang in weeks.  It’s amazing at how much better she sounded when she didn’t have to worry about being judged.

It took the rest of the hour to whittle down the other six to Anoop and Allison sitting on the stools.  I have to say that I was surprised to see Allison there instead of Matt, because I think she gave a better performance Tuesday.  In the end it was Anoop singing his swan song.

But I have to wonder if the judges were at all worried.  If Allison had the lowest votes, it would have been an all male Top 5 and the judges had already used their save.

For those of you who wanted to hear real disco, the producers brought out a medley of former disco performers including KC minus his Sunshine Band and one-hit wonders Freda Payne and Thelma Houston.

The Top 7 also performed their group number to “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) by The Jackson 5.  But this week, the contestants really had to work hard in this number because Paula did the choreography for this number.  It’s about time Paula starts earning that paycheck!

And finally, returning to the stage tonight was last year’s runner up, David Archuleta, singing “Touch My Hand.”  To me, he sounded just like he did last season.  Now I’ve never been a big Archie fan, so I didn’t expect to suddenly like his song, but at the least I expected him to have a bit of a makeover.  But he looks exactly the same.

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Judges Use the Save, Idol Remains at 7

April 16, 2009

The American Idol judges finally did it.  They pulled out the save card and they used it.  The good news is that Matt Giraud is staying for another week.  The bad news is two contestants get eliminated next week.

Jennifer Hudson returns to the Idol stage.  Photo courtesy of American Idol.

Jennifer Hudson returns to the Idol stage. Photo courtesy of American Idol.

I didn’t expect to be so emotional as Matt sang for his life.  But as I listened to what I thought was a much better version of “Have you Ever Really Loved a Woman?” than what we heard on Tuesday, I found myself hoping against hope that the judges would pull out their trump card.

I was not surprised to find Matt in the Bottom Three, but I thought it would be one of his fellow bottom dwellers – Lil Round or Anoop Desai – who would be sent home.  Deservedly so, Anoop was saved right away.  But I was shocked to find Lil safe.

The competition will be extra rough next week when the Top 7 face off again, because two heads will be on the chopping block.

But if anyone has any doubt that there is life after Idol even if you aren’t then winner than they need to look no further than this week’s guest performer and Season 3 finalist Jennifer Hudson.  The Oscar and Grammy winner returned to the Idol stage to sing “If This Isn’t Love.”

I didn’t watch Idol back when Jennifer was on the show, but I can see why she’s been so successful.  I thought the song was beautiful.

Also guest performing was Miley Cyrus, the star of the Hannah Montana:  The Movie.  Now that is one composed 16-year old.  And I have to say she looked and sounded beautiful tonight.  My daughter will be very disappointed she missed this performance because she really likes “The Climb.”  We already own the soundtrack and listen to it daily.

It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed an opening number on Idol.  Usually I’m a fan of them, but since they’ve been lip syncing them I’ve lost interest.  Until tonight.  The group version of “Maniac” from the movie Flashdance had a lot of energy.  And I enjoyed seeing the judges get into it as well.  Or it could just be that I enjoyed the flashback to ’80s.

On the other hand, Ford Video to “Freeze Frame” was predictable.  They do this contestants-on-the-magazine-cover thing every year.  I think the Ford video people are running out of ideas.

And it was only fitting given this week’s theme that the Top 7 got to go to a movie premiere on Tuesday.  They saw the premiere of 17 Again, which opens this weekend and stars teen idol Zac Efron.

Next week the theme is Disco.  Get out your bell bottoms and platform shoes.

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