Tuesday, May 19, 2009
by Allison J. Waldman
A video showed Adam Lambert and Kris Allen as they were in their first auditions, including both contestants looking into the camera and claiming that he would be crowned the next American Idol. That was the teaser for part one of the American Idol finale.
Ryan Seacrest appeared and welcomed the audience to the live show from the Nokia Theater. This would be the final showdown. He set up the battle as a bout between an acoustic guitar-playing singer versus a glam rocker. Ryan presented the judges and then asked the audience to rise for the two finalists as Kris and Adam made their entrance.
There had been a coin toss to determine the order of performing. Kris had won and chose to go second. Ryan explained that they would be singing three songs each: one would be their favorite song from the season; another would be one chosen by series creator Simon Fuller; and, finally, both men would do a new single that had been written by judge Kara Dioguardi. Ryan also advised viewers that the next night's show would be extra long because so much had been planned. He urged everyone to set their DVRs appropriately.
A tape was shown about Adam's childhood and formative years, which included his parents revealing that he had always been a screamer. Perhaps that was why he became a singer, said his father. Adam appeared and sang his favorite song from the season, "Mad World."
Randy said that he had liked Adam showing his sensitive side. He gave Adam an A+ for the performance. Kara liked his song choice and she felt it showed his artistry. She said he had rocked it again. Paula said she had been unbelievably proud of Adam all season long and this had been a great song for him. She thought he did a brilliant job. Simon said "Mad World" had been the best performance Adam had done during the season, but the night's version was a bit too much "Phantom of the Opera" for him. He wasn't thrilled.
On tape, Kris's parents talked about how he had been shy about singing as a child. His parents had to pay him to sing for them. Kris' picked "Ain't No Sunshine" as his favorite song from the season. He appeared on stage, accompanying himself on the piano, and performed the song.
Randy inexplicably talked about basketball, mentioning the Lakers playing at the Staples Center, then said that Kris's performance had been one of Kris's best that Randy had heard. Kara agreed enthusiastically. She felt he had been singing personally to everyone. Paula thought Kris had a way of trademarking his music. Simon reminded everyone that it was a competition. He confessed that the last week he had doubted America's wisdom in placing Kris in the finals, but after hearing this performance, Simon said Kris belonged there.
Ryan asked Simon who had won round one, Kris or Adam? Simon declared that Kris had won it.
Simon Fuller's choice for Adam was a song called "A Change Is Gonna Come."
Randy had been impressed that he took an iconic R&B song by Sam Cooke and made it his own. Kara called it the best performance Adam had done in the entire competition. She said it had shown that he had a winning combination for a singer. Paula said it had been the best she ever heard him sing. She said she was in awe of his talent and was sure that he would be an icon after the show. Simon declared Adam had put himself back in the game - 100% back in the game.
"What's Going On" had been Simon Fuller's choice for Kris. Using his acoustic guitar, he sang the song from a chair on the stage flanked by a couple of musicians.
Randy thought it had been a great song choice for Kris, but he found the performance too light. Kara admired how true Kris had been to himself in the competition, but didn't gush for the performance. Paula thought that Kris made Marvin Gaye proud. Simon was not impressed. He didn't think Kris had grabbed hold of the song. He said it had been too casual, like a group of guys sitting in a room and strumming along to Marvin Gaye's recording.
Ryan asked Simon to determine who had won round two. By a wide margin, Simon declared that Adam had won the round.
Adam next performed a new song co-written by Kara called "No Boundaries." It was a power ballad and Adam really belted it, ending with a soft note.
Randy said that Adam had proven that he could sing anything, but he didn't care for that performance. He said it had even been pitchy. Kara declared that she was very proud of his performance. Paula couldn't find words to describe what he had brought to the show for the season. Simon called Adam one of the best, most original contestants ever on American Idol. He believed that they had truly found a worldwide star in Adam.
When Ryan asked Adam if he believed he had done what he needed to do to win the competition, Adam said that he had. He added that he had really enjoyed getting to sing the Sam Cooke song, "Change Is Going to Come." Ryan complimented Adam for having been a class act all season long.
Kris then sang the very same song, "No Boundaries."
Randy said he thought the key was off for Kris, but he had done an amazing job in this competition. He had preferred Kris's interpretation to Adam's. Kara congratulated him for the season and hoped the audience would vote based on the entire season, because her song had been keyed too high for Kris's comfort zone. Paula thought Kris had deserved to be in the finals, and Simon said the highlight of the night had been Kris's first song.
Ryan asked Kris if he had won the competition, but Kris wouldn't say yes. He declared that he and Adam had agreed to put on a good show and not compete with each other.