American Idol Episodes

2002, TV Show

American Idol Episode: "Winner Revealed"

Season 8, Episode 40
Episode Synopsis: The winning singer is revealed in the Season 8 finale, which features a reunion of the Top 13 finalists. From the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.
Original Air Date: May 20, 2009

American Idol Finale Recap: We Have a Winner! Season 8, Episode 40

After a season that brought us a fourth (un-needed, some might say) judge, the return of of the wild-card round, the introduction of the judges' save, plenty of high notes (and even a few bum ones), we've made it to the finale. Who has America named as the eighth Idol? And who showed up to rock the house? The answers lie ahead in our recap.

The stars were out at the Nokia Theater, both in the seats cheering and on the stage. From pop stars such as David Cook, Jason Mraz and the Black Eyed Peas to icons such as Cyndia Lauper, Rod Stewart, KISS and Queen, the two-hour finale that usually feels more than overstuffed was perhaps the most enjoyable in recent history. Plus, Ryan handed out a few Golden Idol awards, there were two bikini girls on stage, and, of course, a brand new Idol was crowned.

The night began with a hilarious mocking of the judges — Randy's "for you, for me" habit, Kara's penchant for using the words "sweetie" and "honey," Paula's love of ridiculous words and Simon's apparent early onset deafness. While the judges definitely deserve a little ribbing, the night was really all about the music. I applaud the Idol team for bringing out some serious talent this year. Let's take it performance by performance.

Top 13: "So What?"
The finalists do what seemed to me like a half lip-synched, half live performance of Pink's annoyingly catchy anthem. It was mostly harmless, except for Jasmine Murray's painful reminder of why she was one of the first contestants cut. Also, Allison's dancing was all kinds of nuh-uh for me.

David Cook: "Permanent"
Cookie was on hand to open the show and pass the proverbial crown to either Adam and Kris. He gave a wonderful, emotional performance, no doubt still feeling the effects of recently losing his brother to cancer. As such, the live performance is now available on iTunes, and all proceeds go to cancer research. It's like a finale and Idol Gives Back night all rolled into one. Well done, David.

Golden Idol Awards: Oustanding Male Performance
The nominees include the scary auditions of Michael Gurr and Will Kunick ("Mad World" was all over this season of Idol!) as well as deep-voiced Eliah Scarlett, crazy-suit-wearing Dean Anthony Bradford and split-personality comedian Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle. Naturally, Nick/Norman wins and pretends to be surprised before predictably ripping off his track suit and giving us a Norman Gentle encore. Did that guy really make the Top 36?

Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah: "Cue the Rain"
Both ladies do a serviceable job on Queen Latifah's new single. But for a duet, they seemed to be singing the a lot of the same notes, rather than harmonizing with one another. It was fine, just not my personal cup of tea.

The Finalists and Jason Mraz: "I'm Yours"
I'm guessing they did this one just to make up for the song's brutal butchering during one of the semifinal group numbers. Anoop and Alexis each get solos before the other finalists join in at the song's end, and Jason's smooth voice was as pleasing as always. He probably should have worn his shoes, though.

Kris Allen and Keith Urban: "I Wanna Kiss a Girl"
Color me confused by this pairing. Kris sings the song nicely as does Keith, but I don't see Kris making this kind of record in the future. Kris got to play his guitar and seemed to have a good chance, but overall it was forgettable.

The Girls and the Black Eyed Peas: "Glamorous," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Boom Boom Pow"
Wow, Megan Joy was painfully bad. Maybe I had forgotten just how much her "unique" voice rubbed me the wrong way. The other ladies basically were there as hip-swaying support before the Dutchess took the stage to belt "Big Girls Don't Cry." (How old is that song now?) Luckily, the rest of the Black Eyed Peas took the stage to bring some energy. Though I find this group hit-or-miss most of the time, I thought their performance was entertaining, save for two WTFs: Fergie's metallic, Freddy Krueger-like fingernails and the weird American Idol logo in the middle of the song that apparently was censoring some naughty language.

Golden Idol Awards: Best Attitude
The nominees are: Katrina "Bikini Girl" Darrell (I already know who's going to win), bird-finger-happy Alexis Cohen and clueless Tiffanny Shedd. Bikini Girl and her scary tan accept the award. Line of the night goes to Ryan Seacreast after he notices Katrina's boob job: "I would ask what's new, but I think I know." Classic. She then reprises her "Vision of Love," and just as I'm thinking to myself "Kara should have sung with her," out comes Kara! This bit seems less staged than the first one, and I don't believe Katrina is good enough an actor to pull off a sourpuss as believable as the one on her face when she was repeatedly upstaged. The biggest surprise, however came when Kara rips open her dress to show off her own bikini. Kara concedes she doesn't have Katrina's body (or her tan — she looked like a ghost!), but this probably was the highlight of the show. Still doesn't make up for that terrible "No Boundaries," though.

Allison Iraheta and Cyndi Lauper: "Time After Time"
This was a really awesome duet, and it made me regret that Allison wasn't in the finale as an actual finalist. But she's young and has plenty of good things ahead. The stripped-down performance was a good showcase for both singers, though I scratched my head when Cyndi threw in something that sounded like a rain-dance chant toward the end. Still, a great moment.

Danny Gokey and Lionel Richie: "Hello," "Just Go," "All Night Long"
Gokey did a nice version of "Hello" before joining Richie on his new song and the classic "All Night Long." Sadly, either Danny has become much more compelling in a week's time or Lionel Richie was ungodly boring. I thought the Gokester totally upstaged the seasoned pro.

Before we move on, this is where I anger Adam Lambert fans again. Again, I don't deny the kid's talent, I just don't think it's fair that the show has shoved him down our throats all season as the one. His "journey to the finale" package was much flashier and ready-made superstar than Kris'. And while Kris got the performance with a country artist, Adam gets KISS, pyro, and a three-song medley. Fair?

Adam Lambert and KISS: "Beth," "Detroit Rock City," "Rock & Roll All Night"
All my grumpiness aside, it's the perfect choice for Adam, who dressed for the performance as Edward Scissorhands with studded shoulderpads. He sounds great in this environment and totally dominates the performance, which says a lot when you're talking about the showy likes of KISS. And for once, Lambert probably wasn't the one wearing the most makeup!

The Finalists and Carlos Santana: "Black Magic Woman," "Smooth"
Santana's Latin riffs are always easy to listen to, and Matt Giraud did a nice few lines of "Woman" before the whole gang did a group-sing of monster hit "Smooth." It was a pretty usual version of the song, but good fun. (Heather Locklear seemed to like it!)

Michael Sarver, Megan Joy and Steve Martin: "Pretty Flowers"
After Kris and Adam get their Ford Fusion Hybrids, Michael and Megan do a pleasant little duet over Steve Martin's banjo playing. Considering the show (knowingly) went over by seven minutes, I think they could have lost this one, but I give them marks for diversity. And it did give Megan a chance to redeem herself. (Side note: How come Scott MacIntyre didn't get a single solo section? Even those who didn't do duets had solos in the group numbers.)

The Guys and Rod Stewart: "If You Want My Body," "Maggie May"
I love how Rod Stewart cleared the stage once he came up the magic Adam Lambert elevator. He's a star and sounded mostly great as usual, but man did he look old.

Golden Idol Awards: Outstanding Female Performance
The nominees include Chelsea Marquardt, Irene Anguelova, Dana Moreno and Tatiana Nicole Del Toro. (Even the reject pile was discriminating against the ladies this season.) Naturally Tatiana wins, and again a terribly staged bit featuring Tatiana again endlessly singing "Saving All My Love" for the fourth time while security tries to escort her off stage. Seriously, the joke is on Idol, because two of these people the show made fun of made it to the semifinals and wild-card round.

Adam Lambert, Kris Allen and Queen: "We Are the Champions"
Ahem, another clear nod in Adam's favor. (Just sayin'.) He totally outsang Kris here, and again, sounded great in this setup. Which just proves my point: he sounds great doing music from three decades ago. Nothing wrong with that, but not an American Idol winner, in my mind. Sorry, kids.

And the Winner Is...
After Simon gives a genuine speech about both Adam and Kris' "brilliant" runs on the show, it's time to dim the lights. With a record-setting "almost 100 million" votes the new Idol is... Kris Allen! Even though I was pulling for him (and our super-smart TVGuide.com readers predicted a Kris victory) I am still somewhat shocked at the outcome. But I think both men are quite deserving, and if anything, Lambert lucked out of not having to record Kara's craptastic song.

Adam was very gracious (props!), and poor Kris was probably more shocked than anyone. He is at a loss for words except for these: "I don't even know what to feel." He takes his newly added winner's trophy and gives his props to Glambert before singing The Worst Song Ever Written. Thankfully, Kris sounds better on it than the first time around and perhaps he can ride the hurricane until he gets to actually write his own record in the studio. The tearful hug he gave his wife under the confetti as the show signed off was a nice parting image.

So what do you think of your new Idol? Was America's decision terrific? Tragic?  Share you praise (or gripes and groans) in the comments below. See you again next January!

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Idol Tonight: Fantastic Finish on Thursday, May 21, at 8 pm, with co-hosts Kimberly Caldwell and Justin Guarini. Plus get more on your favorite Idols every Friday with American Idol Rewind at 7 pm.

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After a season that brought us a fourth (un-needed, some might say) judge, the return of of the wild-card round, the introduction of the judges' save, plenty of high notes (and even a few bum ones), we've made it to the finale. Who has America named as the eighth Idol? And who showed up to rock the house? The answers lie ahead in our recap.
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Premiered: June 11, 2002, on FOX
Rating: TV-PG
User Rating: (3,320 ratings)
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Premise: The smash reality series showcases wannabe pop stars competing for a record deal by crooning for a panel of judges, including, most entertainingly, the acid-tongued Simon Cowell, who departed the show in 2010 after serving for nine seasons. The judges review a performer's talent (or lack thereof), and at-home viewers then vote for their favorite potential star. The show helped launch the careers of such artists as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert.

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