The show begins, and there’s your final two, decked in gleaming white like a scene from some backwoods arranged marriage. Oh, but wait, everybody’s in white for one last big group number, Gaga’s “Born This Way.” Nice enough.
Then it’s time for ejected contestants to get the thrill of a moment on stage with real stars. James Durbin gets to sing with-- Judas Priest? Wait a minute, the payoff was supposed to be James getting to sing with Steven and/or the rest of Aerosmith. This is a big step down, even though seeing James and Rob Halford and the other grandpas from Priest bust out some “Livin’ After Midnight” and “Breakin’ the Law” was pretty entertaining.
The Randy “In it to Win It” montage shows that while the attention has been on J-Lo and Steven as the new judge blood, Randy is now the familiar glue that keeps the thing comfortable.
Time for JACOB LUSK’s moment, and they wisely teamed him with Kirk Franklin for a gospel moment, the only genre that promises a career for him. And that’s not criticism. He could actually be a guy who brings black gospel into the mainstream, following luminaries like Franklin and Andrae Crouch. Throw in one of my all-time faves Gladys Knight, and I was bowled over.
I had wondered who CASEY would get paired with. Someone probably thought the Jack Black thing would be fun. They thought wrong. I love “Fat Bottom Girls,” and maybe that’s why I hated this. Also, I would have loved seeing Casey with an indie rocker or even a jazz artist. I thought he had a shot at a serious career. This did not help.
The delay in getting the ladies to the stage for “Single Ladies” reveals a rare Ryan Seacrest weakness: he is a terrible ad-libber. Their group medley does remind me, though-- this year’s girls were better than their early dismissals would indicate, especially Pia and Naima. And what a thrill for all of them to shake their collective stuff with Beyonce.
The Steven Tyler montage shows what a gift he has been to the show. This is my Bad Call of the Year, I thought the show would suck the cool out of him, but they let Tyler be Tyler and it was great.
The duet with Tony Bennett showed that HALEY may be the next Norah Jones or Amy Winehouse, the retro chick who makes a certain style cool again.
Somebody called the surviving members of TLC, thinking THAT would be a good idea. Not so much. Their fairly sad performance was drowned out by the sound of Left Eye rolling in her grave.
Finally, a good idea as Tim McGraw teams with Scotty for “Live Like You Were Dying,” showing that this young man is going to be a big star, win or lose tonight.
At last the montage of terrible moments from, the early auditions. Always good for a giggle. Then, what looked like a nice 4-minute time waste with Mr. J-Lo, Marc Anthony. But wait, there’s his bride, shaking that famous booty alongside him-- and that IS Sheila E on the drums! Very nice.
LOVED the James vs Casey vs Pia “Most Shocking Elimination” bit. NIce segue into the guys’ quirky Tom Jones medley, reminding us of the following: STEFANO has a pretty amazing range, PAUL is actually pretty ordinary, and JAMES is fairly awkward outside the rock genre. You knew this was a lead-up to the actual Tom Jones, who surprised me by turning into an elderly black man.
You knew there would be a platform for the seedy brilliance of Lady Gaga, who was creepy and incoherent as a judge, but her usual sublimely messy self for an actual performance. That’s a strange woman.
Lauren’s duet time, and you could sense Carrie Underwood from a mile away. Nice moment on “Before He Cheats,” but let’s just say she did not keep pace with Carrie as well as Scotty did with McGraw.
The Beyonce and Spiderman bits were just a mess. Moving on...
Back from a commercial break and Steven Tyler’s not at the judges’ table. Must be performance time, and “Dream On” was great...until he seemed to forget the words early on. Very odd. And I have to observe: this show is big enough to get Bono and the Edge, Beyonce and Lady Gaga, but we couldn’t round up the other guys in Aerosmith?
And our winner is SCOTTY, sending the crowd into fits in LA and back in North Carolina. I also thought it would send Lauren into a sobbing fetal position. But she was smiling and gracious. His tearful and affectionate rendition of his supposed first “hit” covered up for what a crappy song it is. But he will have other hits, maybe many. And who knows, Lauren may scratch out a medium-strength career of her own.
But one thing remains the same. Even in a hit-and-miss year, this show remains a unique burst of genius. It’ll be January before we know it. We’ll see if they want to pay J-Lo the crazy money she will ask for. She needs to learn that on her best night she is the third most interesting judge. We’ll see how that works out. Meanwhile, many in the Idol-watching world are wondering how Simon Cowell’s “X-Factor” will work out.
I’m skeptical. The appeal of Simon was within the “Idol” context.” His ship may have sailed, even with Paula Abdul back at his side.
Anyway, back to the real world. Thanks for another season of back-and-forth on TV’s goofiest guilty pleasure.