Well, well, well . . . what do you know? Miracles DO happen. Well played, Idol.
Last night's season finale of American Idol delivered just about everything we have come to expect from the show -- some painful group numbers, goofy tributes to some of the more memorable (but less talented) auditioners, surprise musical superstars. Yes, it was a typical Idol finale all leading up to the moment when Adam Lambert was to be crowned the new American Idol and tearfully sing his victory anthem as fireworks light up the Nokia Theatre sky. Except that's not quite how it played out. Instead, there was Kris Allen (KRIS ALLEN) standing there with this dazed "I can't believe it's happening to me" look as the fireworks erupted and the confetti fell. Back in January and February, who would have predicted a finale like this. Kris Allen received little to no airtime prior to the semifinals. Before the season had even started, names like Adam Lambert, Lil Rounds, Danny Gokey, Ricky Braddy, and Joanna Pacitti were all anyone could talk about. By the semifinals, the judges were all but guaranteeing us a Gokey-Lambert-Rounds final three. Throughout the entire competition, Adam Lambert stood there each week like Julius Ceasar repeatedly being offered the crown and politely demurring. Hell, even Kris Allen wanted to give the damn thing to him, telling Ryan moments after the announcement that he had won that "Adam deserves this." I seriously thought we were going to have a Ving Rhames moment on our hands here.
Last night's finale was such a delightful surprise. I've had a real love-hate relationship with Adam Lambert this season. I thought he represented everything Idol was NOT supposed to be in that he was TOO talented, TOO polished, TOO good to be the winner. Eventually, once I stopped LOOKING at him when he sang, I came to appreciate his talent and creativity but I still kind of rooted against him if only because I suspect his career can be even more successful without the Idol chains wrapped around his ankles. Plus, like apparently most Americans, I like a good underdog story and man, that is so what we got last night. Bravo, Idol, and bravo, America for giving us such a shocker finale that it literally made me gasp aloud. (But because I am still a bad sport at heart, wouldn't it have been so much cooler if it had been Allison there instead?)
As with all things Idol, last night had its highlights and its most definite lowlights. I want to touch on a couple of those moments before I officially wrap up my Idol ramblings for this season. (Don't worry -- I'll still find other stuff to ramble about here on the Ginger Files. It will now, however, be So You Think You Can Dance like my sis is trying to convince me! That screaming, overly tan woman in the commercials makes me sick to my stomach everytime I see her! Give me Carrie Ann any day!!)
1. Allison and Cyndi Lauper sing "Time After Time" : Cyndi Lauper kind of makes me sad, and here's why. When I was a kid, the airwaves were dominated by two women -- Cyndi and Madonna. They seemed poised to dominate the airwaves forever. And then Cyndi kind of disappeared. I think she was kind of done in by her own schtick. While Madonna was able to transform herself again and again to keep up with shifting trends, Cyndi seemed forever mired in that image of the goofball in the weird clothes with the weird hair getting in the face of Captain Lou Albano. The sad part of that is that Cyndi was clearly the more talented of the two, which she has proven over and over again for the past decades -- including last night. She and Allison performed a beautiful, stripped down version of the song that is probably Cyndi's masterpiece. It was lovely, haunting, and once again proved the underappreciated genius of Cyndi -- and the underappreciated talent of Allison.
2. KISS: Seriously, how surreal was that moment when KISS appeared onstage with Adam? KISS . . . on < . . . . seriously!
3. The Golden Idols: This segment can often be a bit, well, horrible, but I have to say that it was nice to see the return of "favorites" like Norman Gentle, Tatiana, and even Bikini Girl. Each did a nice job poking fun at the personas they developed on the show (Tatiana's "pursuit" by security was actually really funny) as they kissed goodbye to the 60th second of their 15th minute of fame. Plus, as Randy would say, "Dawg, Kara can sing!"
Honorable mention goes to the look of disgust on Steve Martin's face when Megan Joy opened her mouth to sing.
1. "So What": The opening group number, featuring all 13 finalists, was a kind of painful reminder of the weak links we lived through this season. I had seriously forgotten Jorge Nunez, Jasmine Murray, and Michael Sarver even existed! As the number of finalists dwindled down, the group numbers became slightly stronger each week, so it felt like a major backslide to hear them all, well, murder a song I quite enjoy.
2. Where was the love for Scott?: Just about every finalist got a chance to sing with a guest star or got a featured solo in a group number -- except for Scott. WTF? I know that Scott finished relatively low -- but he outlasted Megan Joy, Michael Sarver, Alexis Grace, and Jorge Nunez, all of whom got at least a moment of glory. Scott is a talented young man and deserved more than just being the awkward blind guy waving his arms in the back row of the group numbers.
3. Where were the Idols?: Yes, David Cook performed (and man, I choked up pretty seriously during that lovely tribute to his brother), but other previous Idols were relegated to the audience? My sister pointed out what a golden opportunity the show had during the group performance with Queen of "We Are the Champions." How could would it have been to have Kris and Adam backed up not just by their fellow members of the final 13 but to have them backed up by a chorus of former Idols -- Kelly, Ruben, Fantasia, Carrie, Taylor, Jordin, and David? I guess the argument could be made that former Idols are stars and DON'T sing back up, but what a tremendous moment to have all of the former winners onstage with their future "brother." They brought many former Idols back during the season (did Fantasia ever appear -- am I just forgetting that??), so why not last night? Poor Carrie looked lovely sitting in the audience -- with nothing to do. What better reminder of the power of this show than to put particularly their most successful Idols onstage? Ah, well . . . . .
Overall, it's been a fun season. I'm interested to see what the future holds for both Adam and Kris, and I hope that my assertion from Tuesday proves true and that Adam is able to parlay his "loss" into a major career free of the tyranny of 19 Entertainment. And I can't wait to buy Kris's first CD; I'll just be skipping over "No Boundaries." (I bet I still cry, though, the first time I hear it on the radio!)