Big Finale Recap!

Big Finale Recap!!!   Was it worth waiting for?

You guys…I can’t believe it.   Another Idol season is over.   Sniff.   The producers outdid themselves this year.   The show was filled with lots of music and surprises.   They classed it up, but thankfully didn’t completely lose the cheese.

For instance, the show opens with last year’s winner Carrie Underwood alone on the stage and she sings the Barry Manilow classic “I Made it Through the Rain”. Taylor and Katharine join her followed by the other idols. Everyone is dressed in white and the audience is doing the hand wave.   Hold on.   I’m cool!   I’m supposed to hate this?   But I love it.   It’s quintessential Idol.   Let the Pointy Poses begin!

The evening is filled with celebrity sightings too numerous to mention.   Some in the audience: David Hasselhoff, David  Boreanz and his cute little boy, Ben Stiller (again) Heather Locklear and other various Fox TV stars.

Ryan Seacrest tells us that the show is being broadcast to an estimated 200 million people all over the world.   He introduces Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell with little film clips.    Simon’s is particularly A picture named FinaleParisAla.jpegfunny,  featuring a continuous loop of him repeating “I’m a Ten”.   Incredibly, this introduction is  the last we see of  the judges until the end of the  show.   The rest is given over to the  Idols and a few special surprises.   The Top 2 hometown parties are visited once–The O’Donohue twins host Taylor’s in Birmingham, and Tamyra Gray hosts Katharine’s in LA.

The  first musical number features Paris Bennett and  “her idol”  Al Jarreau.   Well that’s how he’s introduced, but you know it’s just a random pairing.   They sing   …Were in this Love Together.      Al and Paris have a very nice duet.    His vocals are a bit worse for the wear,   but man he can still scat, and Paris has a chance to show off her own skillz.   I dig her.      

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Next is Chris Daughtry with Live–who really are one of his Idols.    You can tell they planned this back when they assumed Chris would win, or at least be in the Final 2.   He duets with Live lead singer, Ed Kowalcyzk. They perform Live’s new single, “Mystery”.     Chris and Ed look like twins.     Chris is actually the better singer, in my opinion, but they sound alike.  This really is a first’ a performance by a current rock band.   Why do these guys risk rock cred to perform on a show like American Idol?    Watch as  the sales of Live’s new record shoot through the roof.   This is only the beginning.   And for Idol–the producers hope some of that “cred” rubs off on the show.   The single.   It’s got a good hook.   It should do well.

A picture named FinaleKelliePucka.jpegKellie Pickler gets her own segment.   It doesn’t involve singing.   But that makes sense, ’cause I have a hunch her post Idol career won’t either.   Here, she auditions for her first reality series with celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck, who’s also in the audience tonight.    As much as Kellie Pickler shtick got on my nerves during the season, I found myself giggling through parts of this.    In this episode, Puck tries to teach Kellie all about that there “fancy food.”   He tries to get her to eat snails, but she’s all grossed out.  To tell you the truth, I wont eat them myself.   I laugh when she tastes them and says “MMMM!” in a really snarky way.   She spits them out in a napkin and throws them on the floor. Cute.

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Meatloaf Again?   Heh.   Back in the 70’s Meatloaf was the master of the gloriously overwrought rock ballad.   He’s appearing to promote his new album “Bat out of Hell III”.   His first record, “Bat out of Hell” was produced by the legendary Todd Rundgren, who knew a thing or two about over-the-top  teen angst.  

Katharine duets with him, and  she’s perfect. Katharine the theatre geek knows just how to play it–with tons of drama.   Putting the two of them together  is a mad great idea, really.   Meat isn’t in the best of health, and his voice isn’t what it  used to be, but his operatic sense of Rock Drama is still intact.    Katharine and Meatloaf sing “It’s All Coming Back to me  Now.”    The performance is  great fun.    After Idol, Katharine is going to do well on the stage.  

A picture named FinaleBoysb.jpegThe audition phase of the show gets some of the highest ratings of the season, so they have to trot out a few of the really popular bad auditions.   I hate them, but what do I know?   Each crappy audition is introduced as a winner of something called the “Golden Idols”   introduced by Ryan.    

The first is “Outstanding Female Vocal” and the winner is Princess Brewer who warbles her way through “That’s What Friends are For”  and has the good sense to turn down an opportunity to look like a fool again.   She isn’t there to accept her “award”.

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“Outstanding Male Vocal”–we see a clip of  Derek Dupree  singing XTC …Making Plans for Nigel.   I think he should have won  the award, and appeared to sing a reprise with  the  real XTC backing him up.    Except that  Andy Partridge  has notorious stage fright.   Yeah, like they’d do it anyway.   A girl can dream.   Actually,  the  winner  is the annoying and talent-free Dave  Hoover who was advanced to Hollywood to annoy people further.   He took a  perfectly good  spot that  should have gone to a real singer.   Hoover shows up to collect his “award” and bounce around the stage for a bit.   Off my TV NOW please.

“Puck and Pickler” return.   Only this time it’s not so funny.   Kellie pretends  that she’s  never seen a live lobster.    Yeah right.  

A picture named FinaleBoysa.jpegThis year, the guys and the girls each get their own medley.   Hooray! Twice the Pointy Poses, Twice the fun!   The boys do a big RAWK medley and it’s pretty hot.   They’re dressed in black. They sing “Takin’ Care of Business”–that 70’s anthem to the working class guy.    All the guys get solos.   And for a big cheesorific medley, the guys are managing to sound kinda gritty, particularly Bucky, Chris and Elliott.    The big moment is when Rawk Staw Taylor makes an entrance blowing some crazy harp.   It’s Killer.   He’s really really good.   Chris and Bucky duet on the blues classic “Tobacco Road” and I’m impressed.

But lest the performance overload on testosterone, it suddenly switches gears and the boys launch into Fleetwood Mac’s …Dont Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.   The medley deflates a little.   The guys fan out into the audience to finish the song.   Ace hugs his dad.   Awwww.

Car-mercial.   A montage of all the commercials from the season, featuring  Taylor and  Katharine sitting in a Ford watching the  clips at a drive-in.   Great idea, and it probably didnt take long to shoot.A picture named FinaleElliottMJ.jpeg

Katharine and Taylor are presented with their Ford  Mustang convertibles.    Sweet.   I want one.  Taylor whoo hoos!   He seems very excited!

This  is a little weird. They play these silly …awards as a joke, but then there this …Proudest Family Moment bit where we see various clips of   emotional family members.   Who pulled at your heartstrings the hardest?   Ewww.   We see:   Claudette Yamin weeping in the convertible during Elliott Yamin’s home coming parade, Father McPhee weeping as Katharine sings, and wife of  Chris Daughtry weeping as he advanced to Hollywood.   Claudette wins the award and has a great sense of humor about it (Im going to put it beside my bed)  making  the bit  seem A picture named FinaleCarriea.jpegless yucky.   This gives her the opportunity to introduce  son, Elliott Yamin and Mary J. Blige (to the poster at TWOP: No, Im not MJ Blige! Heh).

Elliott and MJ perform U2   …One.  Im thrilled they were able to clear this song for them.   Elliott is doing great  until MJ joins him and basically pretends he isnt there. Jeez, MJ is a  fricking scenery-chewer.   Calm down, will ya?   Hey, look to your left, you’re singing with somebody!   She’s holding Elliott’s hand but barely acknowledges him.  She looks really silly in white sunglasses.   Admittedly, she sounds great solo, at least initially.   But  by the end she’s nutty, screeching and out of tune. Ugh.  More Elliott, please…

Carrie  returns to the stage to perform her new single.   I dont go for her brand of country-pop, but that girl has a A picture named FinaleTayTonia.jpegpowerful set of pipes.   She sings beautifully.

The next award is “Randy Jackson award for public speaking”.   Rhonetta Johnson is brought back via “satellite” (only not, an actress is hired to “play” Rhonetta) to ramble incoherently some more.   Well,  at least it wasnt the Brittenum twins.   I had quite enough of those asshats, thankyouverymuch.

Afterward, Taylor Hicks and Toni Braxton perform …In the Ghetto.   For some reason  Toni thinks it’s  cool to show up to a major television performance  in baby doll pajamas.   She kind of mumbles her part  and plays the song all flirty,  seeming completely oblivious to the lyrics she’s singing. Which is, you know, about poverty and stuff.    But hey, cut the girl a break.   She’s very busy vamping it up.   Anyway.   Taylor sounds awesome, and sings A picture named FinaleGirlsa.jpeglike he means it.   The duet  is like two different performances spliced together.   The contestants dont choose this stuff.   They have to make the best of it.   Taylor does good.

It’s the girls’ turn for a medley, and though I enjoy the guys more, the full-on cheesiness of the girl power thing they’ve got  going on is fun to watch.   All the songs are basically “YAY WE’RE GIRLS!!! WE RUUUULE!” After “Man I Feel Like A Woman”, there’s “I’m Evil” which isn’t entirely convincing, but whatever.   Well, Melissa McGhee  is convincing.   Her short solo on “I’m a  Woman” is a highlight.  I’m going to miss her on the tour.    Katharine, Paris and Lisa harmonize nicely  on “You Make Me Feel Like  A Natural Woman” with standout solos from Paris Bennett and Lisa Tucker.   Finally, they wrap up with  “I’m Every Woman, which gives Mandisa a chance to A picture named FinaleGirlsb.jpegblow the rest of the crew off the stage.   Heh.  She’s good.    

It’s time for another “Golden Idol”.   This time it’s
“Best Impersonation” and we get to see the dude from Boston who sang a dead-ringer impersonation of Cher, A Micheal Jackson wannabe and Michael Sandecki, also from Boston,  who had this nutty idea that he sounded just like  Clay Aiken.   Micheal wins the “award”.    He’s there and  they shuffle him out to sing …Dont Let the Sun Go Down on Me–you know–just like Clay Aiken.   Micheal looks like he snuck into Pauler’s stash before the show–he’s got some serious twitching going on.

A picture named FinaleClaya.jpegJust as I’m thinking “Ugh,  get this guy off  my TV, ”  out from behind the stage walks… Clay Aiken?   Uhhm, in a wig?   He’s got this black mop-top do and it looks really strange.   At first I think the hair is part of the joke.   I  spend several seconds trying to figure it out.   Finally I realize that the hair is…errr…like…some sort of new look. Then I spend more time thinking Clay should fire his stylist.   Seriously.   It’s not a good look.   I’m really distracted.

Oh, Clay is singing. Once I’m able to focus again, I listen to  Clay’s voice, and I remember why I enjoyed him so much as  a contestant Season 2.   That boy can sing.   He  really can.

This bit  is awesome.   Michael  is truly surprised, and his reactions are priceless.   I think Ryan  is going to have to bring out the smelling salts.   He makes sure the kid sits down.   His knees  are probably buckling.   Michael really really gets into singing with Clay, which  is  really  funny.     Thankfully they turn his mic way down.   But, OMG,  the hair.   It’s so distracting.   I can’t stop looking at it.    Nice suit, though.

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The group comes out  for one more medley–a tribute to the music of Burt Bacharach.   Burt and his songs have been featured on Idol quite a bit over the years.   Burt sits at the piano singing “What the World Needs Now”.   Taylor Hicks  and Katharine McPhee  join him.

Ace  Young and Melissa McGhee  duet nicely  on “The Look of Love”.   These songs really hold up.  Burt Bacharach  wrote some classic songs.   Even Elvis Costello thinks so (He recorded a record with Burt).  Kellie Pickler  applies her unique ahem phrasing to “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again”.    The arrangers did a really good job pairing Idols up with songs.   Next we get Bucky Covington  crooning  “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.  And it’s another side of Bucky!   Mandisa sings  …Say a Little Prayer with the girls backing her up.   She drops out on some lyrics, particularly the word “prayer”.   It sounds a little awkward.

Lisa Tucker solos on  …Alfie   She’s amazing.    I appreciate the fact that she doesn’t junk up her  vocals with runs.   She doesn’t need to do that.   Her voice is pure.

A picture named FinaleKCAcea.jpegElliott  Yamin does a stand out job singing “A House is Not a Home”.    He could have killed  singing this during the competition.   Next is Kevin Covais  playing cute on  …What New Pussycat.   Is he old enough to sing that?   I suppose he is if he can be a “Part Time Lover”.   Kevin, Chris and Ace sing “Arthur’s Theme” with Chris decidedly out place–the rocker sandwiched in between the balladeers.    

“Close to You” is Paris Bennet’s  solo, after which she introduces “Miss Dionne Warwick”

Back in the 60’s, Dionne was  Burt chanteuse.   She recorded his tunes exclusively then, and had many hit records.  She no longer in full voice, but still sounds good in her limited range.   She sings …Walk on By.   Good song.    She can’t hit the last note, or manage any high notes, but I’m cool with that.   Her Greatest Hits album was one of my favorites when I was a little kid, so she  gets a pass.   Seriously.

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The big cheestastic finish is “That’s What Friends are For”.   All the Idols sing along and they fan out to the catwalk.   Ahhhh, nobody does cheese like Idol.    Elliott  puts  his hand on Taylor’s  back and Taylor does the same.   Awww.   This is awesome.   At the end, Taylor raises his fist, and I pretend that I just got my own personal Pointy Pose from Taylor Hicks.   Sigh.  

There’s one more dumb “Golden Idol” award for “Male Bonding.”   It’s basically an excuse to run that “Brokenote Cowboy” clip from the auditions with Garet Johnson, the little cowboy from Wyoming.  And then we get to hear him sing with Matthew Buckstein and Micheal Evans.   Again.   Hurry up,  lets go.   I want some results. Now.

Afterward, Ryan  says there are no more surprises and he asks everyone to cheer.   Except we  know there’s supposed to be a  BIG surprise.   The rumor mill earlier pointed to Celine Dion.   YAWN.    Whatever.  

Suddenly the music starts and the stage is bathed in purple…

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NO  FREAKING WAY!   Holy Crap.   It’s PRINCE!!!   I’m giddy.   This is so NOT a lame surprise!   He  makes a grand entrance, flanked by backup singers, and basically shows the kids How. To. Do. IT.  Oh yeah.  

Can you tell I’m a Prince fan?    He swoops in, oblivious to the  show.   Kids?   What kids?  Hmmm.   Not cool, maybe.  But I confess I just don’t care.   He sings “Lolita” and “Satisfied” from his new album “3121”.   He  is hot.   He  is  sexy.   He  is a total Divo.    He finishes with a flourish and swoops outta there just  the way he came in.   Wow.  

The results.   Damn.   Prince is so fabulous,  I nearly forget.

A picture named FinaleKatTayDueta.jpegKatharine McPhee  and Taylor Hicks  perform the Top 2 duet.   And it’s the extremely overdone and overplayed “I’ve Had the Time of My Life”. Taylor is looking really sharp in a black suit.   Katharine is wearing a long, pretty,  satiny ivory gown.   And it’s cool, ’cause they really  have fun with the song.    At one point they  hold hands and giggle.   Hee.   Gah I love this show, I really do.

The moment of truth finally arrives.   Ryan walks out to center stage with Katharine and Taylor.   Ryan tells the audience that the amount of votes the night before “were astounding, an incredible 63.4 million votes came in…That’s more than any President in the  history of our country has ever received!”   Ryan doesn’t take into account that you can’t use a Cingular Go phone to vote for President.   I’m just sayin’.

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“But who has won!” shouts Ryan.   Hurry up, man!   Ryan introduces the chairman of the company,  Telescope Incorporated, that certifies the results.    The  Telescope dude  hands Ryan THE envelope…

“The  winner of American Idol  Season 5 is….


Taylor whoops.   He throws his hand up in the air.   Katharine is holding his other hand.   She looks over at him and smiles.   They hug.   The American Idol theme plays.   Ryan congratulates Taylor.   They cut to the Birmingham viewing party, where folks are going nuts.   Paula clasps her hands.   Taylor’s  family looks happy but shocked.     The audience stands and cheers.   Taylor’s brother looks a little overwhelmed.   He’s probably thinking back to the day he told Taylor he ought to give Idol a try.   DAVID HASSELHOFF IS CRYING.  Hee.  Taylor picks up Katharine’s hand and points to her.    He smiles and puts his hand over his heart.

Ryan says, “We’ve done it…we’ve found another American Idol.”   And then he says, “Congratulations to both of you.”   Ryan asks Taylor what he would like to say to his fans.  And  Taylor screams, “Soul Patroool!!!   Soul Patrol!”   Katharine thanks her fans and says, “This is a dream come true.   I’m so thrilled to be here.”

Ryan thanks the judges.   Cut to them–Randy and Paula are standing and congratulating Taylor.   Pissy-pants Simon stays seated, grumpy, drinking his beverage.   Ahhh, Simon, you didn’t get your TCO this year?   Suck on it Beyotch.  Power to the People Baby!     Heh.

Ryan thanks the viewing audience for making this season the Biggest! Evah!.   And he says “We’ll do it again.”   I CAN’T WAIT!!! Ha.A picture named FinaleTaylorwinsb.jpeg

“Ladies and Gentlemen…please welcome your American Idol…Taylor Hicks!”

Taylor sings his coronation song, “Do I Make You Proud”.   I still don’t like the song, but it’s perfect for the moment.   He sings, “This is what we dream about” and then shouts, “C’mon America!   I’m living the American dream!” The crowd stands and cheers. Gulp.   I have a lump in my throat.   It’s a great moment.  

The rest of the Idols are on stage.   The choir enters.   Taylor sings the hell out of the song.   Oh look.   Simon still looks pissy, but at least he’s standing.     Yellow fireworks explode.   Taylor shouts “Thank you, Soul Patrol, Soul Patrol, Thank you America, Thank you to the band, Thank you to the American Idols, Thank you, thank you..”   The confetti flies.   The credits roll.  He sings the last line of the song.   The Idols rush out to congratulate him.   They all hug.

And it’s all over for another year.

A great show.   A great year.   And I can’t believe I’ve finished this re-cap.   Whew.

Over the weekend, I’m going to write and put up little essays on each of the Top 2.   I particularly want to go back to see what I wrote about them during the competition and how my thoughts about them evolved.   I also want to write a wrap up on the season.   So expect all that…