Wednesday, May 23, 2012
AI Season 11 Finale- 05-23-12
Well here we are, four months into this adventure, two nights a week, and more words than I've written on any other project in that time period (including paying jobs). It's been a year of talent. In fact this Top 10 may be the most talented ever, and yet it's been a strangely lackluster year. Or maybe that's just me. In any case, tonight is the night, so let's get on with it.
We open with flashing lights and strobes, all of the old animated title sequences, behind the scenes clips, and... hmmm.... they're playing Phil's Home over the intro. Knowing this show, that could mean something. Or it could mean nothing. I guess we'll find out soon. Well, not exactly soon... but in two hours and five minutes.
Without further ado, the Top 12... well the Top 3-12 anyway... take the stage, all in white. Heejun looks good, and Erika went back to blonde hair. It's nice to see everyone again, even if I can't remember a couple of their names. Joshua hilariously proves that he can't break dance. Suddenly the stage is full of hip-hop dancers dressed in black. I have no idea who these guys are, but one of the girls has something weird peeking out from under the hem of her shortie skirt. I sincerely hope it's not a medical appliance of some sort. They end with smoke and confetti, and the kids lining up on either side of the stage.
The judges enter through the 3-12 Gauntlet. JLo is glam in a tight, short, gold sparkly dress with long sleeves. Randy is channeling Captain Kangaroo, and Steven is in a brocade Steven Tyler Outfit. Ryan is in a tux with a black bow tie.
In the audience I spot: Jane Lynch, Carrie Underwood, Lisa Rinna and her grotesque lips, Dean Caine, and Scotty McCreery.
Ryan calls out Phil (white tee shirt, white pants, still manages to look sloppy) and Jessica (strapless, short, tight white glittery bandage dress). Ryan says that over 132 million votes were cast last night. Exactly none of those votes were cast by me.
After the commercial, Phil (in brown/gray/blue now- he's a quick-change artist) takes the stage with John Fogarty (blue plaid shirt, blue hankie tied very tightly around his neck, and not a speck of gray in his very dark hair). This is a perfect pairing- their voices and guitars blend excellently as they sing two songs (Have You Ever Seen the Rain, and Bad Moon Rising). No matter what happens later in the show, it's obvious that Phil is having a marvelous time now. For me, it would be okay if they slowed down just a tinch, but that's a pretty minor quibble.
Now we get a montage of *memorable* moments with Bird is the Word playing in the background. The only actual memorable moment was when some big guy in a skirt didn't know who Ryan was.
Joshua, in a silver lame jacket that actually fits him for a change, sings Take me to the Pilot. He bounces on his toes and starts with his usual excess notage and energy, when he's joined by a solidly-built woman with long straight hair and a skin-tight body suit that is slit from ankle to nearly the waist on either side. It's not until the woman starts out-Joshua-ing Joshua that I realize that she's Fantasia. Well, this is also a perfect pairing. The judges are up and dancing, and the audience is going wild, and I look at my watch as they both nearly blow a gasket trying to outsing each other.
Evidently, Jimmy Iovine had a hard time remembering Jennifer's name all season, calling her Jessica (and once, memorably, Joshica) in blooper clip after blooper clip. These bits provided the best laughs all season.
Next up are the Ladies of the Top 12 (minus Jessica), all dressed in assorted sparkly colors. Amazing of all amazings, Skylar is in a dress that is both flattering, and has an even hem. They're singing a medley of songs that I recognize, though I can't pull the titles from the spongy mess that my brain has become. Jessica joins them, and then announces Chaka Kahn, who is helped down the stairs by a couple of handsome young men. Chaka is wearing an extremely ill-conceived brown sparkly body suit. Unfortunate outfit notwithstanding, the woman can sing. Randy, Ryan, and Steven give her a Standing O. I take JLo's absence from the judging table as significant.
The Fordmercial is sweet- giving each of the kids a final moment on-screen, including Phil, who has not been in the videos since early on. Afterwards, Phil declares that his brother in law Ben is his musical mentor. Jessica says likewise for an old family friend. Both of the mentors are in the audience, and they're awarded new cars, to their delight. Phil and Jessica get new cars too (the Top 2 get cars every year, so no one pretends to be surprised).
Rhianna doesn't have to share the stage with any finalists. She makes her entrance from a large cube with lots of rune-ish looking R's all over it. The cube opens and Rhianna stands in a triangle formed of green laser lights. She has very tall hair, a skimpy outfit, drummers, and a whole slew of tribal dancers in Hammer pants. They all dance as though they're being electrocuted. ho hum...
Skylar is up next, and... she's dressed like a Goth Milkmaid (white cotton peasant top gathered at the waist into a very very very short, full skirt, a leather belt that is at least 8" wide, a vaguely-Heidi leather vest, and, I kid you not, black pockets edged in white ruffles. All of this over skin-tight black leather leggings. It's enough to make my brain explode). Skylar sings with her usual energy, and she introduces Reba McIntyre, who is dressed conservatively by comparison, in a black dress, black stockings and boots.
Next we get an LSD fueled tour of Steven Tyler's dressing room, which is stocked with a score of Playboy Bunnies, a live 3-toed sloth, a ceramic monkey, a live monkey, an inflatable zebra, and Steven Tyler's elderly sister making out with some random dude on a couch. Yeah, I don't know either.
Jessica, in a one-shouldered blue prom dress, reprises what I think is her best performance of the season, Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You. Since Whitney is otherwise occupied these days, I wonder who is going to join her onstage. My guess is Jennifer Hudson. But no, Jessica completes the solo as a solo. Hmmm.....
The Top 12 Guys (minus Phil), all dressed in varying shades of black and gray (with a purple armband thrown in by Joshua) start singing a Neil Diamond medley, and sure enough, there's Neil Diamond. He looks good, but his voice is wavery and he's doing the Professor Harold Hill version Sweet Caroline, with the guys providing the absolute lamest backup chorus ever (so good, so good, so good). Wow, that was embarrassing for everyone.
Ryan singles out one of Randy's signature phrases (you could sing the phonebook) and plays multiple clips of him saying exactly that. Then we flip to the 3-12 in Choir Robes, literally singing the phone book. This may be the best bit in the history of this show. It's hilarious.
Now we know why JLo wasn't in the audience earlier- she was getting ready to sing not just one, but two songs for us. She comes out in a baseball cap, a silver tank top, and silver hammer pants. I believe that her backup dancers are female but don't quote me on that. They're all wearing white wigs, white caps, blue lips, and more hammer pants. This is an extravaganza of saggy crotches. Some guy in black comes out rapping very quickly and incomprehensibly. JLo ducks down and then stands up without her hat, and without her tank top (she's not naked, there was a cute little bra top underneath). Men are dropping down from the ceiling to join the festivities. My god, the woman has killer abs. And her butt is heroic. We have no idea what she's singing (my guess: I wanna see ya, wouldn't want to be ya; The Hub's guess: I want a penis). Whatever the words are, it's a highly aerobic performance, featuring much more of JLo's actual voice than we usually hear in her performances.
More audience spotting: Taylor Hicks (the show must finally have forgiven him. Maybe next year he can actually sing), Lauren Alaina, Ace Young, and an all-grown-up-and-rather-busty Diana DeGarmo. Ryan calls Ace and Diana up and announces that they're a couple. Ace takes the microphone, gives his jeweler a plug, and then gets down on one knee and proposes to Diana, who has been rendered nearly speechless. It's sweet and cheesy, and I admit to being a sucker for things like this.
Next up is Hollie, in a striped strapless sheath that is gilttery in front and plain in back. She's wailing You'll Never Walk Alone, and is shortly joined by Jordin Sparks, gorgeous in a silver satin negligee. They hit those huge notes and sound fine together... singing a hymn... on the American Idol Finale... Sadly, Jerry Lewis does not magically appear.
Giving Deandre the opening he's been waiting for all season, the guys sing a tribute to Robin Gibb and The Bee Gees. Colton, wearing a jacket with a monster-sized collar, makes some exceptionally weird faces as he sings some truly horrible notes.
Jessica comes out in a black prom dress to sing And I am Telling You. She's joined by Jennifer Holliday, in a green prom dress. I know that JH was the original Effie in Dream Girls, but she has been publicly ungracious about Jennifer Hudson's performances, which does not sit well with me. As with Jessica, there is no denying Ms. Holliday's talent, but my lordy, this is the most over-acted, over-dramatic, over-the-top performance I've ever seen. Jennifer Holliday seriously looks like she's having a stroke. Amazingly, Jessica is holding her own in this Diva-Off. I feel exhausted just watching it and am relieved when it's finally over.
Well, it took them two years, but Aerosmith is finally going to perform on the AI stage. Steven is decked out in streamers and a floaty dressing gown. Say what you will about Steven Tyler (and I certainly have), the man is a genuine superstar. I don't recognize their first song, which is not surprising. The Hub doesn't recognize it either, which is. But we both know song #2. The entire world knows song #2. No auto-tune or lip syncing for this bunch- this is a true live performance. Tyler is doing pretty well for an old fart.
Okay, we've frittered almost two hours, and it's time for the Top 2 Duet. Phil is in an actual tux, though he's wearing a v-neck tee shirt under the vest, rather than a shirt. Jessica is wearing burgundy movie theater drapes. They're singing Up Where We Belong. Phil is all Joe Cocker and Jessica is oversinging. It's okay but nothing special.
And now, finally, it's time to get down to it.
Ryan calls for the envelope, which is carried onstage by a very tall fellow. Phil babbles. Jessica ditto.
Dim the lights...
132 million votes...
The winner of Season 11 is...
Heejun is maybe even happier than Phil, who appears to be in shock. Ryan hands Phil his guitar and Phil readies himself to sing Home, which is the best coronation song in the history of this show. It's actual music (which I have already purchased).
Phil starts out okay, but he begins to lose it about halfway through, and by the final refrain, he leaves the stage to go hug his family.
And so, after 4 months and a lot of whining, that's it for Season 11. Every year about this time, I declare that I will never again recap this show, and every January, I'm back at it. It's an illness, lemee tellya. Will I be back next Jan? More than likely. Until then, Seacrest Out!
Edited to add- my description did not do it justice... here's proof: