All during Tuesday night's performance show of "American Idol" we kept hearing how it was "the best finale ever." Was it? Well, no. It didn't really compare to Kelly/Justin or Ruben/Clay. It was more on par with Fantasia/Diana or Carrie/Bo. It did beat the heck out of Katharine/Taylor and Blake/Jordin, though. I'll give it that.
Anyway, it's time for the big crowning of the new Idol finale extravaganza and Erin and I have been invited. We'll provide a timeline of the events for you folks. And can we just say, we're going to miss you. It's been fun.
3:50: After battling downtown L.A. parking attendants for a space that was less than a year's salary, We park on the corner of Scary and Scarier and make our way to the theater. Four blocks away. Jeez.
4:20: Arrive at the new Nokia Theater. It's huge. It dwarfs the Kodak. A colleague points out that it has very few frills, but I think it's designed to be acoustically advanced. And the seats are comfy, even up here in the rafters.
4:45: Cory the Fluffer emerges and gets the crowd in a tizzy. Everyone that missed his antics at 'Idol Gives Back" gets to their feet at cheers. I stay seated and eat salty goodness. The Fluffer's constant use of the word "booty" is disturbing. More disturbing is that he's been doing this job for all seven seasons of "Idol."
5:00: The Davids take the stage, dressed like ice cream men and ready to rumble. They knock knuckles and get ready for the big intro. The white suits are at least more flattering than last night’s satin robes. Ryan announces that the margin of victory is 56% to 44%. We're still pretty sure Archuleta is the winner.
5:03: It’s time to visit each contestant’s hometown. Long-forgotten contestants Mikalah Gordon and Matt Rogers do the emcee honors in Kansas City (Cook) and Salt Lake City (Archuleta).
5:04: The Top 12 line up on stage and sing “Get Ready.” It’s nice to see Amanda again, but I think she would be more at home at a knife fight than in the middle of this musical number. Not so nice to see Jason again though. He’s only been gone a couple weeks and we’ve nearly forgotten him.
5:10: The Davids take the stage and sing Chad Kroger’s “Hero.” I don't know how it will appear on TV, but Cook dominated Little David in the vocal department.
5:12: Ryan plugs “The Love Guru” because “Horton Hears a Who” was already released. As an endurance test, they make the Davids screen the film and hang out with a bearded Mike Myers. We are horrified and embarrassed for both Davids. More embarrassed than we were for Jim Carrey when he plugged “Horton” back in March. Then Myers rolls out on a pillow to remind everyone that’s it’s been 10 years since he’s been funny.
5:25: Jason Castro returns with “Hallelujah.” I’m not surprised to see him. My guess is that he’s been hanging out in the green room for about three weeks chilling out and eating Del Taco. “Hallelujah” is a very pretty song that most people aren’t familiar with so it works for Jason in two ways: Nobody notices if he forgets the words and people think he’s singing it well. He is not.
5:28: Video of Ford outtakes. So you know what’s coming next…
5:29: The boys get their Ford Escape Hybrids. And, appropriately, nobody is surprised or psyched because they’ve been giving the finalists Fords since the beginning of time. I (Erin) owned a Ford Focus once and within a few months, random parts would fall off of it. By the end of my lease, I had a bucket of spare parts that even the mechanics couldn’t identify.
5:31: Top 6 girls are on stage singing “She Works Hard for the Money,” which means a Donna Summer medley is in the works. The best part? Kristy takes a turn at the mike and the crowd goes completely silent. See! I’m not alone in my hate. There are others.
To be honest, it was completely silent except for the involuntary noise Erin made, which was either Yiddish or a cuss word; I couldn’t tell. Then I couldn’t stop laughing. Which annoyed the mean woman in front of us. Sorry, lady.
Donna emerges at the top of the stairs, thus maintaining “Idol’s” dependency on ‘80s and early ‘90s divas. I think that “Idol” is secretly in cahoots with the karaoke industry.
Once Donna got on stage, she still had some moves. But it took two handlers to help her down the stairs. I wonder why. Was it her shoes? Arthritis? I’m worried about Donna.
5:40: Former Vegas oddsmaker favorites Carly and Michael John take the stage to sing “The Letter.” I think the pair missed out by not performing “If I Close My Eyes Forever.” Or “The Immigrant Song.” Or something by Foreigner. Carly is just shrieking her head off.
5:45: Jimmy Kimmell cracks a few jokes at the expense of last year’s contestants. Then shows a pretty funny video of Simon’s best insults set to music. I chuckled.
5:48: Top 6 boys take the stage to sing “Boy of Summer,” which means Bryan Adams is lurking around backstage. I didn't even know that he had an album coming out. He must have had an opening in his schedule between county fairs.
Kathy: Is this a new low for “Idol”?
Erin: Nope. They always have Gloria Estefan.
Kathy: Didn’t Lindsay Lohan fall and conk her head at his house not long ago?
Erin: I think that was Ryan Adams. But that could happen to Lindsay anywhere.
5:54: Jordin does a Disney World promo for the new "American Idol Experience" attraction. We get yelled at some more by the bitter lady in front of us.
5:55: They wheel a drum kit on stage, so I'm hoping they bring Ringo out. But it's ZZ Top! They sing "Sharp Dressed Man" with Cook.
I would think that David C. would have no idea who these guys are outside of a few references in "Dazed and Confused." But hey, cool. I like ZZ Top. Why not?
Sounds as if David is losing his voice. It’s been a tough week.
5:59: More hometown stuff. God, I forgot how much Mikalah bugs me.
6:02: Graham Nash joins Brooke onstage for "Teach Your Children." Graham drowns out Brooke. I wonder why Carly Simon isn't there. I just saw her on "Ellen" this week, so I know she's available. The mood lighting is making it difficult to take notes.
6:07: The Jonas Brothers take the stage and every little girl under 15 in the audience begins to … MY EARS! MY GOD, MY EARS! MAKE IT STOP! MAKE IT STOP! One day, I hope to hear high pitched sounds again.
Erin: The little girls here just love them some Jonas Brothers. I don't know about you, but I'm not a fan of bands that use AOL speak as lyrics.
Kathy: Who am I to talk? I used to watch "Ozzie and Harriet" just to see Ricky Nelson sing.
6:10: It’s a recap of the parade of losers from the auditions. Glitter girl, falsetto boy, the weird “Let My People Go” guy who sang at the wrong speed and still makes us laugh.
Please, let there be a medley.
Reynaldo closes the clips with a bit of his “Brothers Forever” song...
AND HE’S HERE!
Oh, happy days! Reynaldo takes to the stage dressed like a pimp or Liberace, complete with USC marching band and cheerleaders. This is so much better than Gloria Estefan.
6:15: The drum set returns to the stage. It’s One Republic singing “Apologize.” When David Archuleta joins in, it creates a tween vortex at the Nokia Theater where only screaming can live.
6:21: More hometown stuff where Matt Rogers tries to start a fistfight between Archuleta’s two grandfathers. He says it’s “the biggest party in Utah.” I’m guessing it’s the only party in Utah on a Wednesday night.
6:23: Jordin Sparks reminds us that she exists on “Idol” outside of major medical emergencies. Her dress looks like a Simplicity bridesmaid pattern gone awry. And it looks suspiciously like she’s lip synching. We can’t prove it. But her mouth didn’t seem to match the words. It was like a Godzilla movie. Hard to tell from our seats though.
6:32: A bit about how Gladys Knight had to use her own version of “Idol” to find the Pips, but with the cast of “Tropic Thunder.” Black, Stiller and Downey are mixed into vintage footage, and it’s pretty darn funny. It’s still surreal to think of Downey as a box office conqueror now. Good for him. I’m so glad I chose “Tropic Thunder” over “Love Guru” in my box office pool.
6:35: Carrie Underwood returns to “Idol.” We heard her name being screamed from parking, so it’s no surprise. She looks fantastic. Great legs. She sings her new song about a slutty, drunken night of debauchery. You can’t fool us, Underwood, you’re still a good girl. It’s nice that she remembers her reality TV roots. Take note, Clarkson.
6:40: I feel like I’ve just spent the better part of a decade in the Nokia Theater.
6:45: Top 6 girls sing “Faith.” Dear God, it’s going to be a George Michael medley.
I didn’t think George’s parole officer allowed him to come within close vicinity of Archuleta, but once the boys get into a line to sing “Father Figure,” you know that the better half of Wham! will emerge from behind the shiny curtain.
And he looks fantastic.
Please, oh please, let him sing “I Want Your Sex” on this family show. But, no, he sings “Empty Hand” with a weird video of the sun setting behind him.
6:56: I hate you, Corey.
6:58: The final countdown.
We’re straining to hear the judges over the fans and technical issues. Simon lies and says he doesn’t care who wins and then apologizes to Cook for “disrespecting” him last night. Nice ploy, Cowell. Insult the boy and get him some sympathy votes and then take it back after the votes are in. Very clever.
Kathy: This is the first time I have ever been genuinely shocked by the "Idol" finale. I'm so happy. I can't believe it. I apologize to Cook also for buying into the judges' hype and prematurely declaring Archuleta the winner.
Erin: OH MY GOD! I've never been so happy to be wrong! I feel like I've won "American Idol." Finally, a season where the person I want to win ACTUALLY WINS. What a season. I'm a happy camper right now. Thanks for allowing me to rant and rave, folks. It was surreal.
See everyone next season!
"So You Think You Can Dance" here we come.
— Erin Maxwell and Kathy Lyford