Wednesday, May 20, 2009
by Allison J. Waldman
After a brief video review from the previous night, Ryan Seacrest welcomed everyone to the American Idol finale, claming that it was the hottest ticket in show business. Nearly 100 million votes had been tallied since the night before. Throughout the season, 624 million votes had been cast.
Ryan kicked off the night with a video montage for each of the four judges, each one capturing their particular style of criticism. Randy had a tendency to harp about song choice. Kara tended to call every contestant "sweetie." Paula had shown off an expansive vocabulary, and Simon seemed to be hard of hearing. The clips were extremely funny and a good time-filler.
The two finalists were then presented - Kris Allen and Adam Lambert. Together, they received a standing ovation. There were some technical difficulties - the microphones for the two singers were cutting off, so Ryan moved on to show satellite feeds from Conway, Arkansas, Kris' hometown, and San Diego, Adam's hometown.
Ryan sent Kris and Adam backstage to get ready to sing with the other contestants from the past season. It was the first of a series of performances by the American Idol Top 13. They sang "So What," and it was obviously going to be part of the American Idol Summer Tour.
Ryan introduced the previous year's American Idol winner, David Cook, and reminded viewers that Cook had been an unknown bartender before Idol. David performed his new single, "Permanent." After the song, Ryan spoke with David, mentioning that the past few weeks had been rough on him personally, alluding to his brother's death from cancer. Ryan told viewers that David's song would be available on iTunes and that all the proceeds from the sale of the download would be going to ABC Squared, an organization to find a cure for cancer.
For the first time, American Idol presented awards -- The Golden Idol. Ryan read the nominees for Outstanding Male, which actually were some of the most outrageous singers from the auditions and Hollywood: Wil Kunick, Michael Gurr, Elijah Scarlett, Dean Anthony Bradford, Nick Mitchell (a.k.a. Norman Gentle).
The winner - not really a surprise - was Nick Mitchell. Looking quite normal in a black tracksuit, Nick said he was honored to be recognized. He thanked his comedy heroes, Steve Martin, Nathan Lane, and Whoopi Goldberg. Nick acted like he was unprepared, but then he pulled off his sweats and was in his familiar khaki shorts and a sequined shirt. Norman/Nick took over the stage and sang "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going."
The first duet of the night was Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah. The two teamed up to sing "Cue the Rain."
After a commercial, Anoop and Alexis joined singer Jason Mraz to sing "I'm Yours." The other AI contestants joined them and they all sang. Again, watch for this in the tour, minus Jason Mraz.
Ryan introduced the Kris Allen journey, from auditions to the American Idol finale. In the video, Simon commented early on that Kris's being so humble had put him off, but throughout the clips, Kris remained modest and grateful for the opportunity to be able to get out on stage and perform. Kris then teamed with Keith Urban to do the song "Kiss A Girl."
The American Idol girls were shown on stage next doing "Glamorous." Allison introduced Fergie, who came out singing, "Big Girls Don't Cry (Personal)." The Black Eyed Peas followed singing "Boom Boom Pow" with Fergie.
Back to the Golden Idol awards, the next category was Best Attitude. The nominees were Katrina Darrell (bikini girl), Alexis Cohen, and Tiffany Shedd. The award went to Katrina. She appeared on stage in - wait for it - a bikini. She kissed Ryan on the lips, and he said he was going to ask what was new, but he already knew (he was referring to her breasts).
Katrina then took the microphone and sang "Vision of Love." The scrim went up behind her, and judge Kara appeared to sing the song the way it should be done. She upstaged Katrina in a powerful way. At the end, Kara even ripped open her dress to show that she could wear a bikini, too. Ryan explained that it had all been done on a bet and a charity would benefit greatly from Kara's actions.
Allison was the next to perform, and she got to sing "Time After Time" with Cyndi Lauper, the song's original performer.
Kris Allen's parents were interviewed from the audience. Ryan asked how they felt and what it was like to be there. They were very calm and said they were enjoying the show. Across the way, Ryan asked the Lamberts the same questions by Ryan. Mrs. Lambert admitted to being nervous for her son.
Danny Gokey, the runner-up to Kris and Adam, appeared on stage singing the Lionel Richie song, "Hello." He then introduced the real Lionel Richie doing "Just Chill" which segued into "All Night Long."
Getting back to the competition, Ryan presented the video depicting Adam's journey on American Idol. Adam had said that he wanted to bring originality to the show, to interpret songs in a different way. On stage, Adam appeared to sing "Beth" as a prelude to KISS joining him to sing their hits, including "Detroit Rock City" and "Rock and Roll All Nite."
Guitar legend Carlos Santana was introduced and played "Smooth" and "Black Magic Woman," with Matt Giraud singing along. Adam and Kris joined in with some of the other Idol men, including Danny. Soon, the women were on stage, too, and the Top 13 were all singing and dancing with Santana.
The last Ford Music Video was "I Will Remember You." Kris and Adam sang it, but it included clips of all the Idol competitors. David Cook appeared in the video with a surprise for Adam and Kris. He gave them both keys to their new Ford Fusion hybrids. It was - supposedly - unplanned.
Comic legend Steve Martin, also known for playing the banjo, was introduced to accompany Megan Joy and Michael Sarver. They performed a song called "Pretty Flowers," which Steve had written. When Ryan asked Steve who he thought was going to win the competition, Steve responded that he hoped he did.
The men of the Top 13 appeared again, this time singing "If You Think I'm Sexy." It was their way of introducing Rod Stewart. He did his classic "Maggie May."
The final Golden Idol of the night was in the category of Outstanding Female. The nominees were Chelsea Marquart, Irene Anguelova, Dana Morena, and Tatiana Del Toro. The winner - again no shock - was Tatiana. Ryan said there was no time for a presentation, but Tatiana forced herself onto the stage and sang "Saving All My Love for You." Security finally led her away.
Before the final results, Adam and Kris sang together one last time. They sang "We Are the Champions" with Queen.
At last, the time came to reveal the winner. Ryan asked Simon what he had to say to Kris and Adam. Simon said they were both brilliant performers and incredibly nice people. He said the future was all theirs.
A man from Telescope, named Edward Byington, brought out an envelope with American Idol results and handed it to Ryan. Ryan asked for the lights to be dimmed and Ryan then announced that the winner of American Idol 2009 was Kris Allen.
The crowds in the auditorium and back in Conway, Arkansas, exploded. Ryan called Kris the dark horse, underdog winner. Kris looked stunned. Adam hugged him and offered congratulations. When Ryan asked Kris to comment, he could only say thanks. He received an American Idol trophy, which was something new for 2009. Kris was speechless.
Ryan thanked the judges, the band, and the audience for tuning in. Finally, Kris was given the microphone and was asked to sing one more time. He did Kara's song "No Boundaries."