Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze sang, America voted, and American Idol crowned its ninth champion. After 14 weeks of competition and more then 500 million votes, another season came to a close with an impressive performance lineup, a few "surprise" guests, and of course, a farewell to departing crankypants Simon Cowell. But the real reason we're here is to give someone a confetti shower, right? So let's get to it.
For most of the night it seemed Idol forgot what decade it is. Don't get me wrong: I love Chicago and Hall & Oates as much as the next guy, but for a show that incessantly gripes at the contestants about being current, it seemed a little hypocritical. Some quick hits from the performances:
The Idol Top 12, Orianthi, and Alice Cooper, "School's Out for Summer"
Not even on finale night can Idol forego terrible lip-synching. Although at times it sounded like it was a mix between live singing and a prerecorded track. Several of the girls — notably Siobhan — tarted it up their matching schoolgirl outfits, but the most shocking thing about this performance was that Alice Cooper actually agreed to be on Idol.
Kris Allen, "The Truth"
Nothing much to say here. I like Kris a lot, and this song is a perfect example of who he is as an artist. Nice to have him on hand to pass the torch to this year's winner.
Siobhan Magnus, Aaron Kelly, and Barry and Robin Gibb, "How Deep Is Your Love"
This performance was kind of a disaster for me. Aside from how scary the Brothers Gibb sounded (and looked), the whole thing was just sleepy. Siobhan was clearly milking every minute of screen time she got tonight though.
Michael Lynche and Michael McDonald, "Taking It to the Streets"
In the battle of the Michaels, Old McDonald took the trophy.
Dane Cook, "Simon Said"
Who thought this was a good idea? Yes, Simon is leaving the show, but listening to Cook singing a medley of Simon's best insults over the years was annoying, as were Cook's tiresome jokes about Simon's shirt being too tight. This bit was mercifully cut short when former Idol also-ran Ian Bernardo pulled a Kanye, grabbed the mic and started babbling about how he was replacing Simon. Nice quick-cut to commercial, control room!
The Top 6 Girls, "Beautiful" and "Fighter"
Lacey Brown, Didi Benami, Katie Stevens, Paige Miles, Siobhan and Crystal teamed up for this mini-medley, which had a few too many bum notes. (This season really was disappointing, no?) One bright spot: Paige Miles blew the roof off the place. Wonder why she never did that during the show. Of course, she was shown up by Christina Aguilera, who sang two or three bars with the girls before quickly ushering them offstage to sing the snoozy "You Lost Me" from her new album. (Aside: X-Tina's hair reminded me of Gary Oldman in Dracula. Just me?)
The Top 6 Guys, "I Can't Go for That" and "Maneater"
I think it was right around this point that my esteemed colleague Mickey O'Connor sent me an email saying that the show totally ripped off its setlist from his iPod, which made me roll my eyes. Even when Hall & Oates broke into "You Make My Dreams Come True," I couldn't help but wish the results were closer to being revealed.
Crystal Bowersox and Alanis Morrissette "Ironic" and "You Oughta Know"
This no-brainer pairing added a dose of energy to the proceedings, but why did Crystal and Alanis circle each other for almost the entire performance? Thankfully, they finally connected toward the end. I think Alanis was just angry at Crystal for sanitizing her song thusly: "Would she go down with you to the theater?" Heh.
Carrie Underwood, "Undo It"
Carrie rocks. 'Nuff said.
Casey James and Bret Michaels "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"
Casey and Bret together was a surprisingly good idea, but shouldn't Bret be in bed or something? Despite his continued hospitalizations, this guy has been all over the tube this week. I'm surprised he didn't guide the Lost castaways into the bright light earlier this week.
Lee DeWyze and Chicago, "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is," "If You Leave Me Now," and "25 or 6 to 4"
Get it? Lee is from Chicago, so he played with Chicago? Again, I love this band, but this performance might have been the worst of the night. It seemed like there were sound issues, but I'm not sure even that is to blame for what was easily the least enjoyable five minutes of the overstuffed two hours.
The Top 12 and Janet Jackson, "Again," "Nothing," and "Nasty Boys"
Man, did Janet sound like Michael during the ballads. The performance was soft and understated, which is probably a good way for her to go, considering, you know, her most famous live performance. And even though "Nasty Boys" rocked, that jumpsuit did not.
Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze and Joe Cocker, "With a Little Help from My Friends"
Which Idol producers were snickering when they thought to make Lee sing the lyric: "What would you do if I sang out of tune"? This performance was fine, but Crystal really upstaged Lee once again.
Farewell to Simon
The night was rife with silly video packages looking back at Simon's tenure on the show. Ricky Gervais did a bit via satellite and Gen. Larry Platt did a energetic performance of "Pants on the Ground," complete with William Hung and a new dance. But all that paled in comparison to the moment of the night: Paula Abdul returned to Idol to send Simon off.
The crowd went nuts for Paula (how'd that feel, Ellen?), and she was in her usual batty state. Ultimately, she was there to introduce a group sing of "Together We Are One" featuring all the past Idol winners (except, sadly, David Cook), dozens of other finalists and this year's top 12.
Simon ended up on stage, and even though he admitted to being a little shocked at how emotional the moment was, you could see some genuine mistiness in his eyes. He thanked everyone and promised that the show will go on without him. And he reminded viewers that no matter who takes his chair at the judges' table, America is still the one who picks the winner.
And with that, Ryan revealed who America chose this season. Ryan noted that there was only a 2 percent difference between the singers all season (though he didn't give a margin of victory in the final vote or even the number of votes received). And the winner of Season 9: Lee DeWyze.
I was shocked only because of how badly Lee performed last night, but I honestly thought he had the best chance coming into finale week. (Don't worry: Crystal will be fine. I think she suffered from peaking early and being pushed down viewers throats by the judges.) Lee has a more commercial appeal, and ultimately, Lee got by with a little help from his friends: the teen-girl voting contingency who think dreadlocks are yucky. I think it's a shame that he has to continue singing U2's "Beautiful Day" as his first single, as it wasn't any better tonight. I'll be interested to hear his first album though.
So were you pleased with the results? What were the night's best and worst performances? Will you miss Simon? Share all your thoughts in the comments below!
Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze sang, America voted, and American Idol crowned its ninth champion. After 14 weeks of competition and more then 500 million votes, another season came to a close with an impressive performance lineup, a few "surprise" guests, and of course, a farewell to departing crankypants Simon Cowell. But the real reason we're here is to give someone a confetti shower, right? So let's get to it...