live-blogging the american idol season 11 finale

ImageSeason 11 of American Idol comes to an end tonight; we find out who inherits the sash and tiara from Scotty “Baby Lock Them Doors” McCreery. Will it be southern heartthrob and Dave Matthews impersonator Phillip Phillips, or will it be ballad-bot Jessica “BB Chez” Sanchez?

I think both have rabid fanbases that voted their fingers off last night, but Phillip’s excellent coronation song “Home” may have given him the lead. I have no horse in the race, as my girl Skylar Laine was eliminated fifth, but it will be interesting to see if Jessica can be the first female to win the title since Jordin Sparks.

8:01 – What do you think Phillip and Jessica talk about? I just spent 30 seconds pondering this. Thirty seconds of my life I’ll never get back.

8:03 – Oh top 12…so much potential, so much disappointment.

8:04 – Is this a tie-in for So You Think You Can Dance? Reminder: it’s back tomorrow. Watch it!

8:06 – I love how Jane Lynch has a better seat than Scotty McCreery.

8:08 – Phillip Phillips in his finest henley and white pants. What a dapper gent.

8:10 – Idol will never limit the number of votes a person can cast, a la Dancing With the Stars, because they love to brag about the record-breaking number of votes.

8:12 – Seriously geeking out over Phillip and John Fogerty singing together. What a great pairing.

8:14 – Um, I might have spoken too soon, because this is not audibly pleasant. Sorry Phil, I think it’s you.

8:15 – Phillip’s vocal limitations are so apparent when put next to a legend like Fogerty.

8:18 – The first of many filler segments: the judges acting wacky. Or, Steven Tyler being himself while J. Lo and Randy look on bemusedly.

8:20 – Full confession: I never got the Joshua Ledet hype. Too much hollering and screaming for me.

8:21 – Holy s#*t…Fantasia looks downright hideous. Whoever put that weave on her head and shoved her into that sequined sausage casing should be shot.

8:23 – Thank you to Fox for cutting to a commercial break. My retinas were starting to burn the longer I looked at Fantasia. I’m all about loving your body, but there comes a point where you put on a sequined and mesh catsuit, look in the mirror and go, “No, this won’t do.”

8:30 – I can’t decide if Jimmy Iovine’s mental block with Jennifer Lopez’ name is funny or sad.

8:32 – It’s almost criminal how early the uber-talented Erika van Pelt was eliminated.

8:34 – Chaka Khan continues tonight’s trend of vulgarly tight bodysuits. If I can see the outline of your labia and ass crack, take it up a size.

8:40 – “Here, Phillip Phillips. Have a new Ford car, despite not appearing in any of the music videos!”

8:45 – I’m trying to come up with something to say about Rihanna’s performance…but I don’t even know where to begin.

8:51 – Oh Skylar. You should be competing for the title tonight. Life is unjust.

8:53 – Reba is like Skylar in 40 years. I’ve been saying all season that Skylar is like a mix of Reba and Miranda Lambert, so this duet is perfect.

8:55 – STEVEN TYLER HAS A SLOTH.

8:59 – Jessica Sanchez is singing a ballad. There’s something new and exciting. Even her little brother is bored.

9:01 – The girls were so much better than the guys this season.

9:11 – I chuckled at the ‘singing the phone book’ bit. Help.

9:14 – Didn’t J. Lo perform two weeks ago? Why is she back, in drop-crotch pants, no less?

9:15 – “Tonight we go orangutan/Bananas.” Jennifer Lopez, lyricist extraordinaire.

9:20 – Couldn’t comment during the second J. Lo song, as I was demonstrating some of my Zumba moves. Everyone in the room with me, cats included, implored me to stop.

9:25 – A live engagement of two former Idol contestants. The circle of life, folks.

9:28 – Hollie, my favorite little pixie British Texan. She sounds lovely with Jordin Sparks.

9:32 – Funny how this whole shebang is about Phillip and Jessica, yet the two of them have barely been on screen the last hour and a half.

9:35 – If the guys are singing Bee Gees, I bet the girls are doing a Donna Summer medley.

9:37 – I didn’t miss Colton’s straining emo faces one bit. Between his neck tendons and Phillip’s forehead vein, this was the season of overwrought body parts.

9:40 – I’m not sure what’s going on with Jennifer Holliday’s mouth, and that concerns me.

9:43 – That was over the top in a very uncomfortable way.

9:47 – Wow…Joe Perry and the rest of Aerosmith finally got over their Idol snit and are performing. Also, Steven Tyler looks like Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter.

9:49 – I can only assume that, to round out the judges performance trifecta, Randy is going to recite some poetry about his time with Journey and working with Mariah.

9:52 – Aww, how cute. Jennifer is pretending she knows the words to “Walk This Way.”

9:58 – Praise the fashion gods…Phillip Phillips is wearing a suit jacket. Over a henley. Of course.

9:59 – Phillip and Jessica singing together is like the musical equivalent of peanut butter and vinegar.

10:02 – PHILLIP PHILLIPS WINS!

10:03 – “Home” is the best coronation song since “A Moment Like This.”

10:04 – Despite my aforementioned ambivalence, I am tearing up watching Phillip cry.

Well, there you have it. Phillip Phillips, winner of American Idol season 11. Another guy with a guitar. C’est la vie. Thanks for reading! Watch So You Think You Can Dance!

‘american idol’ finale live blog

This season of American Idol started out with so much promise; new judges, no more Simon, the promise of new blood in the fading franchise. Things went south quickly, thanks to the early elimination of Pia Toscano, the Judges’ Save used way too early, lack of criticism from the judging panel and obvious examples of producer pimping/manipulation. Tonight, the season 10 winner will be crowned, an underwhelming competition between Scotty “Lovechild of Alfred E. Neuman and Howdy Doody” McCreery and Lauren “Toddlers and Tiaras All Grown Up” Alaina. For me, it’s the battle of who could care less, as my favorite, the sublime Haley Reinhart, was eliminated last week. Stay tuned as I live blog all of the filler segments and performances, and of course, who is crowned Wholesome Southern Teen Idol.

8:02 – When I think that more people vote for American Idol than the presidential election, a little part of me dies.

8:03 – Something that’s plagued me all season: is ‘Alaina’ actually her last name, or is it a middle-name-as-last-name sort of deal? Boggles the mind.

8:05 – Jacob Lusk is loving this Lady Gaga choreography.

8:07 – This isn’t a knock on Lauren’s weight, but she appears to be wearing an outfit from the Fat Elvis collection.

8:08 – Commercial Break Twitter Update (CBTU) “@realityblurred: Um, Lauren’s hometown Idol finale party had tons of empty seats. The camera couldn’t even conceal that.”

8:11 – The fact that both Judas Priest and Iggy Pop have appeared on Idol this season does not bode well for the future of the music industry.

8:15 – No, Ryan, do not go to Randy for any soundbites/reactions tonight. Please.

8:16 – It has occurred to me that I’d enjoy kickin’ it with the Dawg, but in the context of Idol, I’d like to sew his mouth shut.

8:18 – I would rather listen to seven hours of Randy saying, “You’re in it to win it!”than a three-minute Jacob Lusk performance.

8:21 – CBTU “@votefortheworst: Jacob Lusk needs time to queen out by himself. Eliminate Kirk Franklin and Gladys Knight and let Jacob go to town on his own.”

8:26 – I shouldn’t be enjoying this Casey Abrams/Jack Black performance as much as I am.

8:30 – I forgot most of these girls even existed.

8:33 – The top six girls are dressed like strippers at a post-apocalyptic strip club.

8:36 – CBTU “@mattmitovich: True story: Jack Black thinks he’s dueting with Will Ferrell.”

8:40 – Steven Tyler…everyone’s favorite crazy uncle.

8:42 – LOVE Haley’s dress. I wish she was singing with someone a little more current than Tony Bennett, but she sounds wonderful, as usual.

8:46 – J. Lo’s hair, flesh and jumpsuit are all the same color. It’s unsettling.

8:48 – Seriously, who dresses these girls? I can’t even find the words to describe how atrocious their TLC performance ensembles are…

8:50 – I appreciate the sentiment, but “Live Like You Were Dying” is my least favorite Tim McGraw song. Of course he’s singing it with Scotty.

8:55 – CBTU “@rilaws: It’s so weird that Tim McGraw is being styled by George Michael these days.”

8:58 – I can’t wait for this Idol nonsense to be over so we can get to the goodness that is So You Think You Can Dance.

9:02 – Sorry, Mr. J. Lo, but this performance reminds me of the “Island Fantasy Spectacular” put on by my resort on Spring Break.

9:06 – Oh Stefano, don’t ever sing in falsetto again.

9:08 – I think I can safely say this season’s top 13 is the most adept at choreography. Yes, this is something I thought about and analyzed. Help me.

9:11 – This medley is painful. These six voices do not mesh well together.

9:12 – The girls got to sing with Beyonce and the boys get…Tom Jones. Naturally.

9:14 – CBTU “@EWMandiBierly: I wish they’d made the Top 13 girls be Marc Anthony’s feather girls.”

9:23 – This show needed a heavy dose of Gaga’s insanity. Love her.

9:25 – I love playing “Spot Mark Kanemura” during Lady Gaga’s performances. He’s one of my favorite SYTYCD alums.

9:27 – CBTU “@adambvary: Ummm. Is Scotty a little hot for teacher?”

9:31 – Loving that Carrie Underwood is wiping the floor with Lauren. Bow down, bitches.

9:33 – Again, this isn’t a knock on Lauren’s weight, but I couldn’t help but notice that her butt is about three times the size of Carrie’s. I wish I had a screencap so I could marvel at the difference.

9:36 – Beyonce’s back. Snooze.

9:40 – CBTU “@EWAnnieBarrett: Carrie Underwood’s “sun”-kissed legs are the skinniest hot dogs I’ve ever seen.”

9:44 – I will never tire of the commercial where the guy is doing a one-man flash mob in Grand Central.

9:46 – This unknown dude onstage with Bono and the Edge looks like a mix of Ethan Hawke, James Franco and Kris Allen.

9:50 – CBTU “@EWAnnieBarrett: Sorry Bono and the Edge aren’t home right now they’re walking into spiderwebs so leave a message and they’ll call you back.” (Follow her. She’s hilarious.)

9:54 – Uncle Steven woke up from his season-long nap to perform, everyone!

9:57 – CBTU “@MichaelSlezakTV: I am going to have to ‘rise above’ the show’s failure to give a couple of my fave finalists a solo performance slot. #HijackedBySpidey”

10:02 – Okay, folks, here we go…the 2011 American Idol is…SCOTTY MCCREERY!

10:03 – Congrats to Scotty, but ugh, that means we have to hear his stupid “Love You This Big” song ad nauseum.

10:05 – “@rilaws: Time to sing the baby song for babies. Baby gets a bottle after sing-song is over.”

An underwhelming ending to an underwhelming season. I’m ready to move on to bigger and better things…SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE starts tomorrow night : )

“american idol” top 4: consider the shark jumped.

If all of the preceding episodes of American Idol this season were distress signals, then last night’s performance episode was those signals flat lining. “Songs of the Cinema” night was an all-around disaster. The judges could barely muster up any relevant critiques, and even the praised performances were just so-so in comparison to other things we’ve seen from the contestants this season. This is the top four, people! This is the time when you need to step up your game, not sit back and churn out something mediocre that borders on karaoke.
Before I get to the actual singing, I have to address the ridiculous theme and equally ridiculous mentor. Ryan proclaimed that everyone loves the movies, but that doesn’t mean that everyone loves songs from the movies. Based on the pathetic list of songs the top four had to choose from, I gathered that the theme was actually “Songs Written Specifically For a Movie,” rather than “Any Song In a Movie/On Its Soundtrack.” Nine times out of ten, songs that are penned to play over closing credits of movies are dull and schlocky, which explains why I spent most of last night waiting for Idol to be over so Glee could start. This type of theme is usually a momentum killer, which is exactly what happened.
Jamie Foxx was partly to blame; he spent more time obsessing over his silly “artist” and “contestant” shirts than he did offering any useful critique. No, I don’t think sticking his face in Lee and Casey’s personal space counts as mentoring. Maybe I’m still riding high from the excellent mentoring of Harry Connick, Jr. last week, but it seemed like Foxx was just there for the face time and didn’t care too much about the contestants.
Lee Dewyze and his face full of spray tan opened the show with a shaky version of Seal’s “Kiss By a Rose.” First of all, way to pick an awful song, Lee, and second, please stop dressing like you’re performing at Zeta Chi’s Beer Bash 2010. The pitch was just beyond his grasp the entire song, and all of the words ended in a vague mumble. You know I adore Lee, but I had to hide my face behind a pillow in embarrassment.
Here’s a shocker: Big Mike picked one of Michael Jackson’s cheesiest songs, the Free Willy song “Will You Be There.” Nothing about this performance indicated that Mike has the chops to become the next American Idol. I’m hoping Big Mike will be heading home tonight. Free Willy, indeed.
I missed out on season 8, so I hadn’t seen any duets on Idol until last night. I think it’s a great idea, and I’m all for duets being introduced earlier on in the season. Group night creates lots of drama and entertainment during Hollywood Week, so why not carry that into the rest of the show? Lee and Crystal sang “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once. I loved how their mic stands were positioned to face each other, and I also loved that they both played guitar. I wasn’t too keen on how their voices meshed; Crystal’s Joplin-esque howl was a bit grating against Lee’s gravelly tone. Things definitely picked up around the chorus, and Lee redeemed himself for his hideous solo performance just minutes before. Bonus points to Crystal for calling Lee her “musical crush.”
Back in solo land, Casey chose “Mrs. Robinson,” which is hands-down my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song. It could have been okay, but he chose to sit in the crowd and play a mandolin to a slowed-down version of the song. The judges were so proud of themselves for making the connection between the Graduate and Kara’s supposed crush on Casey, but anyone with half a brain/knowledge of music history knows that the song was originally titled “Mrs. Roosevelt” and was changed only to fit in with the movie. Nice try, though, Randy.
Crystal was the only solo performer to change up her song a bit, but no amount of orchestral rearranging could hide the fact that “I’m All Right” is the song from Caddyshack. It was the best performance of the night, but that’s like saying it was the pile of dog poop that smelled the least. I did enjoy her boyfriend’s American flag pants, though. Forgive me if this sounds incredibly mean, but her boyfriend is way cuter than I thought the boyfriend of Crystal Bowersox should be.
The duet between Casey and Big Mike was like a nonentity, as I think one of them will be going home tonight and the other next week. I do enjoy “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” for the cheesy ballad that it is, and I thought the guitar stylings of the two gents worked well. Casey may not be the next American Idol, but damn, that guy can play the guitar. Their harmonizing wasn’t as bad as I thought, but someone was way sharp during the chorus (methinks it was Casey.)
Will there be a shocking, Chris Daughtry-type elimination tonight as we see who makes it into the top three? You never know with American Idol
Photo courtesy of Fox.com.

‘american idol’ top 11: too awful to make a witty headline.

I almost didn’t want to write about American Idol again, because I mentally checked out of the show about halfway through last night, and because it was so damn boring/awful/pitchy/etc. that I don’t care who goes home tonight; it could be any one of six people and I’d be happy. But I have some perverse dedication to this blog, even though about four people read it on a regular basis (Hi Mom!), and honestly, last night was just too awful not to discuss. The Idols could pick from any number one single in Billboard‘s 50-year history, and they managed to pick some of the schlockiest, cheesiest, over-performed songs on the list. Guest mentor Miley Cyrus wasn’t as bad as I thought she’d be, although her statement that, “People take me seriously because I take myself seriously,” proves all that is wrong with today’s youth.

Lee Dewyze, my current favorite, started the show with “The Letter,” by the Box Tops. The brass ensemble was borderline hokey, although it was a nice departure from the ‘dude stands behind mic stand with guitar’ performances in Lee’s past. I liked the vocals, and he definitely brought more stage presence, although he clearly had no idea what to do with his left hand, the one not holding the microphone, and flailed it around awkwardly.

Why Paige Miles thought it would be a good idea to pick “Take a Look At Me Now (Against All Odds),” a song already covered on Idol by Corey Clark, George Huff, Jessica Sierra, Scott Savol, Katharine McPhee, and Ramiele Malubay, is something I can’t fathom. Calling her performance ‘pitchy’ is an understatement. My living room cleared when Paige started singing. I think my dog was in pain. The girl sang better when she had laryngitis, for crying out loud. It was just awful.

Another performance that falls into the ‘just awful’ category is Tim Urban‘s take on Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” Freddie Mercury rolled over in his grave, for sure, during Tim’s performance. There was nothing exciting about the vocals, and Tim’s attempts to be fun by sliding across the stage, touching audience members’ hands and standing amongst the audience were just cheap gimmicks to cover up the fact that he’s a terrible performer.

Aaron Kelly – whom Ryan called David Archuleta when giving out his numbers – picked another tried and true Idol favorite: Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing.” It was okay. It’s nothing I’m going to remember in a week or two, but his vocals were decent, and his performance was another chance for him to show off his earnest faces.

Crystal Bowersox‘s “Me and Bobby McGee” was yet another crunchy granola acoustic jam, this time with a rug on the stage! She really makes it seem effortless, but homegirl has to mix it up with the musical choices in the upcoming weeks if she wants to be a true contender. Enough with the Starbucks music. Take a page out of the books of Lambert, Cook, Allen et al, and find a song that isn’t from your genre of music, and revamp it to fit said genre. Otherwise, I think Mamasox will find herself amongst the eliminated former front runners, including but not limited to Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, and Melinda Doolittle.

I missed Big Mike‘s performance; I’m not sad at all. I don’t like him.

Andrew Garcia‘s performance of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” was cheesy and amateurish. I know, I know, this is an “amateur” talent competition, but I’ve seen more skill from drunken coeds doing karaoke. He lost the guitar and gained a whole lot of awkward stage presence. I won’t be surprised if he’s in the bottom three tonight.

Katie Stevens‘ attempt at being young and cool resulted in ill-advised suspenders and Fergie’s “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” It reeked of high-school talent show. I just can’t get behind Katie as a valid contender for the Idol crown. Her voice is great, just not technically at the level it should be to compete on a nationally televised talent competition.

I may be the only person who enjoyed Casey James‘ “The Power of Love.” Sure, Huey Lewis and the News isn’t the most current song choice, but Casey’s vocals were great. I could have done without the horn section blasting down from the band loft; they definitely contributed to the outdated feel that Randy spoke of, and they pretty much muted Casey’s guitar playing. (I did quite enjoy his comment to Miley that he’s a big fan…of her father. Zing!)

Didi Benami just plain sucked last night. There’s no other way to say it. Her performance of Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” was cheesy, overdone, and flat. I believe I may have changed the channel to check the weather forecast during this performance.

Siobhan Magnus and her magnificent pink faux-hawk took on Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Vocally, it wasn’t perfect, but I did like hearing Siobhan’s voice against a more upbeat, less morose song. “The shriek” is getting old fast, though, and while I don’t hate it, I find myself bracing for impact throughout her performances, waiting for that note.

My bottom three prediction for tonight: Urban, Miles, Garcia, with Urban going back to safety first and most likely Miss Miles heading back to her kindergarten class.

Photo courtesy of USA Today.

‘american idol’ top 8 guys: a crying shame

After viewing last night’s episode of American Idol, I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or shake my fist disdainfully at the pathetic displays of talent that made up the semifinal round. Forgive me for repeating a sentiment many others share, but these 16 people are the most talented out of the thousands that auditioned? If so, I weep for the future of the music industry.
My favorite male contestant, Lee Dewyze, started the show with Owl City’s “Fireflies.” I grimaced when I heard his song choice because I think this is one of the most annoying songs on the radio right now, but Lee actually made it likable. I appreciate his willingness to take on a song that doesn’t fit his “style,” so to speak. What is up with Simon obsessing over performances having “moments?” Was he hired by Hallmark recently? It’s strange.
My second favorite male contestant, Alex Lambert, picked a great song in Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble.” I just adore the sound of Alex’s voice, and this song was a good showcase for it. The poor kid still has no stage presence, but there’s a marked improvement since week one and his deer-in-the-headlights performance.
That brings us to Idol punching bag Tim Urban. I believe my exact words when I heard he was singing Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” were, “What the hell?” This is a beautiful, nuanced song, and I couldn’t bear the thought of Tim vocally destroying it. However, it wasn’t all that bad. Was it as good as Jason Castro’s version (which still gets played on my iPod a lot)? No. Was it much better than anything else he’s sang on Idol so far? Yes. Nothing he presented last night merited a hug from Ellen DeGeneres, who claimed she’s been really hard on Tim for the last couple of weeks. If by ‘really hard’ she means ‘vaguely critical,’ then sure, hug away, Ellen.
The curtain has been pulled back to expose Andrew Garcia‘s talent to be mere gimmickry. One can only turn so many female pop songs into acoustic jams before America gets bored. His attempt to recapture the “Straight Up” magic by taking on Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” ended up working against him. He messed up the lyrics during the first few lines, his vocals were clipped and breathy, and the whole thing just came off as weird. He removed any and all range from the song, and believe me, Ms. Aguilera has quite the range. I think the neck-tattooed wonder might be in trouble tonight.
Casey James‘ version of Keith Urban’s “You’ll Think of Me” was much better than the goat vibrato he served up last week. He did some weird things to the melody of the song, but it was a decent performance.
Aaron Kelly picked possibly the cheesiest, most melismatic country song I know: Lonestar’s “Already There.” He started off very shaky and sharp, but he was able to recover by the chorus to give a passable performance. It’s hard not to like Aaron because he’s so earnest and he tries so hard. Props to Simon, though, for sticking up for Aaron after Kara claimed he couldn’t relate to a song about a dad on the road. I always think it’s such BS when the judges say stuff like, “You weren’t living the song,” or, “You didn’t bring the song to life.”
Todrick Hall finally lost the theatrics and sang a decent version of Queen’s “Somebody to Love,” although I have a sneaking suspicion he used the arrangement from Glee. The gospel-lite arrangement suited his inclination towards dramatic performances, and he finally gave a straightforward vocal performance that showed why the judges wanted him in the top 24.
I totally called Big Mike singing last tonight, so I wasn’t at all shocked to see him in the pimp spot. (I’ll stop talking about the pimp spot next week, I promise. Even I’m getting sick of it.) Before the commercial break, when Ryan said Mike would be singing a Maxwell song, I turned to my mother and said, “If he sings “This Woman’s Work,” I’m going to barf.” I should clarify that I have nothing wrong with the song; Kate Bush’s lyrics about suddenly having to grow up and face reality in the time of a crisis are truly lovely and moving. Just reading the lyrics online makes me emotional. However, nothing about Big Mike’s performance was deserving of Simon’s “best performance of all these live shows by far” label, nor did it merit Kara’s apparent crocodile tears. For someone who had to tell all of America that she was crying, she sure had a dry face. Those falsetto notes Mike tried to hit were akin to a yowling cat, and it just got worse from there. All of his theatrics, from the dramatically raised hand, to the pained, supposedly emotional looks into the camera, felt so overdone and uncomfortable. When you’re singing a song that packs that much of an emotional punch, just stand there and sing it. No amount of fist-thrusting or shoulder shaking is going to suddenly turn Big Mike into the next American Idol. And no, Randy, he is not the person to beat. Stop saying that.
While I can think of four girls who might be in danger tonight, I can really only pinpoint Andrew Garcia as someone who might be watching his goodbye montage come 8:58 pm tonight. (Side note: how annoying is it that Idol and Survivor are on at the same time? I need a DVR, stat.)