American Idol Review: The Winner Is Chosen, The Judges Are Going Home, and Does Anyone Really Care?
So here we are at the Finale Week of American Idol. Oddly enough, choosing the new winner seems almost like secondary news in light of the recent announcements all over the media that every single judge, including the only remaining original Randy Jackson, will be let go from the show, due to the lowest ratings in years. In my eyes, they got this decision half right. Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj are a total trainwreck – together and seperately. And they aren’t even the good, fun kind of trainwreck where you can’t wait to see what happens next. No. They are both a gigantic borefest, and annoying as hell in about a zillion different ways, and they should have been let go.
Keith Urban was one of the best judges of all time, who got stuck in the completely wrong season. I barely knew who this guy was in the beginning of this year – and now I’m a huge fan. Aside from the fact that he just seems like a super nice person, is cute as hell, and I love his various t-shirts and laid-back style, the thing that stands out to me most of all about Urban is his genuine passion for music. He gets so excited during a great audition or song performance, and he is pretty much the only judge of the 4 this year who has anything intelligent to say to these contestants. Keith Urban is not the reason the show has no ratings. And letting go of Randy Jackson is just silly. He is the only thing about the show (other than Seacrest) that is part of what the show used to be. Yes, his comments make little sense and his wardrobe is from the closet of a bad 1980s pop-band, but he is also not the reason the show has low ratings. The show has low ratings because it has lost it’s original appeal; which was a mix of watching a complete nobody being voted into an overnight superstar, and watching the chemistry and raw hilarity of the original judges panel; headed up by the “cannot be replaced” Simon Cowell. Now, nobody cares who wins anymore, because it’s obvious that it doesn’t actually matter. Most of these people are being told throughout the process, live on the air, by various superstars like Harry Connick, Jr. and Usher, that they would record an album with them tomorrow. Add to that the fact that the show has become a judge’s circus sideshow, with drama and diva behavior and conflicts and stupid, silly, dumb as hell tension resulting from massive egos (I’m talking to you Mariah and Nikki) – and what you are left with is a show that used to be something special, and is now, sadly, just another stupid reality-show. Whomever they get for the next set of judges will almost definitely not matter much. The magic is gone.
All that being said, a winner was voted in on this week’s finale episodes, and it was a very deserving winner. It was the girl that I chose from close to the beginning as who I wanted to win. Not that it matters. In any case, the episode leading up to the finale featured the two remaining contestants – Candice Glover and Kree Harrison – singing three songs each – one last time, for America’s votes. One of these 3 song selections was the inevitable song that the producers write, which is to be the winner’s first released single, through no choice of their own. These songs are almost always incredibly cheesy and lame, and this year’s weren’t much different. Last year, Phillip Phillips somehow lucked out and ended up with a great song written for him, although I do believe that he was responsible for changing the melody up a bit and adding his own spin to the original studio version. In addition to these songs, the contestants also sang one song chosen by the show’s creator, Simon Fuller, and one song that was their favorite from the season. Kree chose “Up to the Mountain,” while Candice chose “I Who Have Nothing,” which was probably the performance that put her just slightly over the edge of Kree – because it was brilliant.
The judges didnt have too much to add as far as interesting comments, except that Mariah Carey, as usual, made the whole thing all about HERSELF, by constantly repeating how “honored” she was to be a part of this very season. Seacrest also made a rather douchey comment in response to Randy’s critique of a song performance, saying “Oh come on now. You’re only saying that because you’re leaving the show!” Ouch! Jesus, Seacrest, you’ve already got 97 TV and radio gigs, how many more do you need? He also told Randy that he was “welcome to come visit anytime.” Really? Is it YOUR show now, Seacrest? I hardly think that Randy Jackson needs your permission to come and visit.
The finale show itself was a 2-hour and 10-minute drag-a-thon of performance after perfromance – some excellent, some weak, and some just plain old embarrassing. Lets discuss the highlights of the evening:
*The show opened by bringing back the Idol Top 10, half of whom I had immediately forgotten existed, to sing a really lame, variety-show vibe version of “I’m Glad You Came,” complete with loads of annoying mugging to the camera by the annoying Paul Jolley, and loads of sweating and looks of absolute fear from Laz the Sweatmonster.
*The Band Perry, featuring country style contestant Janelle Arthur, did a rousing duet of her hit song “Done.” It was filled with energy and had a great rock-country feel. I liked this performance.
*The 5 Idol-men sang backup for Frankie Valli on a huge medley of songs, ending with the theme to “Grease.” The thing that struck me about this performance was that I would bet huge money that none of these 5 men knew who the hell Frankie Valli was, and probably still don’t. I bet Laz was a sweaty mess just thinking about the chore ahead of him to learn all the lyrics to these classic songs that he had never heard before.
*Mariah Carey “performed,” and I put that word in quotes for a reason. This performance was nothing short of completely and totally obnoxious, which doesn’t surprise me coming from her. All season long, she has had this pompousness about her – tossing her hair back with every comment, showing up in tight shimmery dresses that you might wear on Oscar night, making everything all about her, talking in that fake Hollywood put-on voice and using words like “dahhhling” every two seconds – nauseating. Well, this performance was the height of her obnoxiousness, because she did a medley of all of her hit songs, standing atop a circular raised staged, in her extra-tight mermaid dress, flailing her fingers and pointing all around up into the sky as if to tell us “See that? That was me – hitting that really high note! Im pointing to it! Here I go again – another high note! Arent I amazing???” Except here is where the obnoxious part comes in — SHE WAS VERY CLEARLY LIPSYNCING!!!! Point all ya want, Mariah, but you look absolutely ridiculous pointing out the notes that you’re not actually singing live. Obnoxious.
*A very nice, but too-short tribute “goodbye” video was put together to honor Randy Jackson. He was the only person that they acknowledged as “leaving the show,” but all 4 judges were let go for next season, and this was eluded to in various indirect ways.
*Keith Urban was involved in two great, fun performances. The first was him and his band singing his song “Little Bit of Everything,” and the second was another of his hits “Where the Blacktop Ends,” where he dueted with Kree, with Randy on guitar. THis was fun.
*The Top 5 Girls sang and provided backup to the legendary Aretha Franklin, who appeared on a screen from her home/studio via satellite, and led them in renditions of Respect, Think, Natural Woman, and more. Although her vocals are definitely strained fromm aging and illness, she still sounded pretty damn good. And hey – she SANG it, and didnt lipsync – BADLY – to her own prerecorded music, like some divas. The woman has had a mystery illness and surgery, and she is old as hell, and she SANG!!! RESPECT!!!!!!! SIt down, Mariah……
* Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull sang some huge dance number song, and all the judges except Mariah stood up and gave her a standing ovation, since she is an IDOL alumni judge, after all. Mariah used that same tired old “my dress is too tight, dahhling!” excuse not to stand. Ugh.
*A great performance of “Titanium” was dueted by Adam Lambert and Angie Miller. Really awesome job, and Angie was strongest, as usual, from behind that piano. This duet then merged into another duet of “Domino” between Angie and her hero, Jesse Jay.
*The absolute highlight of the evening, as far as performances go, was the duet of “Inseperable” performed by Jennifer Hudson and Candice Glover. This was like a lesson in singing, and it was filled with soul and rich vocal tones. So beautiful. Take note, Mariah. THAT is how you do it.
And then, FINALLY, the winner ……..
Dim the lights, here we go ………
CANDICE GLOVER!!!!!!! (as if that was a surprise)
She is incredible, and I’m happy she won. But it doesn’t really matter, because every star that came on the show this season said they would cut an album with her tomorrow, so whats the point of this show exactly?
I have no idea.
Images courtesy of Ray Mickshaw/Fox.