American Idol Episodes

2002, TV Show

American Idol Episode: "2 Finalists Compete"

Season 8, Episode 39
Episode Synopsis: The final two contestants compete in Season 8's penultimate episode. Presented from Nokia Theatre L.A. Live.
Original Air Date: May 19, 2009

American Idol Episode Recap: The Final 2 Perform Season 8, Episode 39

After weeks of amazing performances (plus plenty that made us laugh and cringe) we're finally here: the final performance show. Adam Lambert has clearly won the judges over, but can Kris Allen pull the upset? Let's find out!

The Final 2 get three chances to wow the crowd of 7,000 (including all the eliminated Season 8 finalists, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Katie Holmes and little Suri) and all of us at home. For starters, both Adam and Kris sing their favorite song from this season. Then, each singer performs a song chosen by Idol creator Simon Fuller. Finally, they must sing the worst song ever written. (More on that in a minute.)

Thankfully, we were spared a cheesy theme like last year's boxing motif. Instead, we got family packages, which revealed that Kris was a shy singer as a kid (shocking!) and that Adam got good practice screaming when he was a baby. (The montage of tongue-wagging wails made me laugh). Unfortunately, Paula looks like an Oompa Loompa to Randy's Willy Wonka. But of course, it's all about the songs, so let's take a closer look at each. Kris won the coin toss and (wisely) chose to let Adam go first.

ROUND 1

"Mad World"
The Idol producers chose to give Adam the same lighting cues this time around, but look, fog! Adam doesn't need any help being moody, especially in his black trench coat. I preferred this performance to the first one, if only because he kept it subdued the whole way. I'm more than a little scared that Paula agrees with me. But even though he saved my ears from his screeching, Adam was— as Simon rightly noted — totally rocking a Phantom of the Opera vibe.

"Ain't No Sunshine"
Kris Allen is here to fight, folks. He totally rocked this song the first time he performed it, but he made extra tweaks this time around that made it even more compelling. Randy said Kris was saving his best for last, with which both Paula and Kara agree. Kara also says Kris creates an "intimate bond" with the audience on every song. I agree, but Kara just seems pervy when she makes those comments. Simmer. Simon says he takes back his reservations that America chose the wrong person to face Adam, and even gives Round 1 to Kris. (I wholeheartedly agree with Simon, but perhaps for the last time this season.)

ROUND 2

"A Change Is Gonna Come"
Looking sharp in his silver suit, Adam finally does what I have been dying to see all season. He sings at least half the song in the middle of his register, and he does it wonderfully. It was honestly the first time I have actually heard Adam sing a song I wouldn't turn off on the radio. Yes, he does his usual vocal acrobatics through the end of it, but even at his screechiest, that final note was impressive. Randy calls it "unbelievable," Paula calls it "iconic" and Kara dubs it his best performance of the season. Agreed.

"What's Going On?"
Here, Kris does what I've been harping on Adam for all season: delivering something that was expected. His version of Marvin Gaye's social-change anthem was perfectly competent and Kris' smooth vocals were pitch-perfect. But, as Randy noted, the acoustic feel didn't match the power of Adam's preceding performance, and it also didn't have the same kind of groove that Kris achieved in a similar setup with "She Works Hard for the Money" in Disco Week. Paula still thinks Kris tore the song up, but Adam Lambert clearly dominated the middle round.

Before we get to the final round, here's an open letter to the Idol producers:

Please stop forcing the winners of American Idol to release these ungodly cheesy songs. Sure, you worked in a plug for your new judge Kara DioGuardi, but it didn't do her any favors. In this case, you're taking a song that doesn't in any way match either finalist's style or sound, and forcing it onto whoever wins. Plus, it ended the show on a terrible note. Please save us all some pain next year. That is all.

Moving on...

Round 3: "No Boundaries" aka The Worst Song Ever Written

Adam Lambert
Adam did the best he could with this song, but it was definitely one of his weakest moments of the season. Randy called it pitchy and Simon blatantly called the song the steaming pile of crap it is. But he also chose to ignore Adam's weak performance to again stump for him to win based on the fact that they have found a "worldwide star." I don't agree, and this performance proves why I have felt that way all season long. Adam Lambert is not "current" and will not make a pop (or even rock) record that the Idol machine generally produces. I'm not saying he's not talented, but I don't think he's going to produce a listenable record. He thrives in the live setting, but showmanship and charisma don't always translate in the studio. Hate me now?

Kris Allen
Kris was equally bad in this round, as the song was clearly in a key that was beyond his range. (Funny that it really wasn't in Adam's either.) Kris' version did sound more radio-ready, but that's always been Kris' edge against Adam. Kara says she hopes people judge Kris on the season, and Simon again acknowledges that Kris deserves to be standing on the stage. (But no worldwide star, huh Simon?) As much as I want Kris to win — and I think he has a better chance than most people are giving him — I still think Lambert has the slightest of edges, even without the judges' fawning praise.

So, what did you think? Is it still Adam's title to lose? Did Kris do enough to overcome the judges' bias? Whose record — be honest! — would you listen to on repeat for days or weeks on end? In short, who's gonna win? Vote in our poll below and tell us why in the comments. See you tomorrow as the Season 8 champ is crowned!

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After weeks of amazing performances (plus plenty that made us laugh and cringe) we're finally here: the final performance show. Adam Lambert has clearly won the judges over, but can Kris Allen pull the upset? Let's find out!

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Who do you think will win Season 8 of American Idol?

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Premiered: June 11, 2002, on FOX
Rating: TV-PG
User Rating: (3,324 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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