"American Idol: Season Finale" Lee is King

5/27/2010 Posted by Admin

"American Idol: Season Finale"

Lee is King

By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes

Editor's Note:  Thanks to Catherine Fuentes for her comprehensive, enthusiastic and terrific coverage of "American Idol" this season.  She has been a welcome presence on the site, and we look forward to much more from her.  So, thank you, Catherine!  You really outdid yourself.

 Two percent of the votes separated Lee from Crystal in his "Idol" victory. Whether you think Lee’s victory is undeserved or completely predictable, take comfort in the fact that he didn’t win by much. But a win is still a win and Lee is the winner of Season 9. So, yet another moderately talented, cute white gut with a guitar wins "American Idol" over a less mainstream talent.

Last night, the focus didn’t seem to be on the Top Two--rather, it was about honoring Simon, bringing back washed-up musicians, and--oh yeah--crowning a champion. Crystal and Lee seemed to be a complete afterthought in the night’s pomp and circumstance, which seems fitting after the lackluster season as a whole. In fact, it took Ryan an hour and 54 minutes to really bring up the whole point of the night.

As a Casey fan with a sinking suspicion that tonight would end the way it did, I was okay with this arrangement. Tonight shouldn’t have been about introducing '70s musicians to the tweens who don’t know good music as their king was crowned, but it was.

On Tuesday, Crystal rose the bar and out sang and out performed Lee in each of her three songs, yet I wasn’t convinced she’d actually win. I knew based on that night and the season as a whole she was the most talented, but I also realized a few things that I felt could – and did – set Lee over the edge.

As Simon reminded us ad nauseum, Lee is the perfect "American Idol." He came from nowhere and blossomed on stage and grew into a less shy guy, capable of hitting more notes, but still not all of them. Crystal didn’t have that growth, because she didn’t need to grow to be the best.

In past seasons, the judges would set the night up like my last recap. They’d declare a winner for each batch of songs, and set it up more like a battle, before predicting a winner. On Tuesday night they didn’t – my take on it was that they knew Crystal would be better, but Lee would win.

Finally, Lee winning might just be best for all involved. There’s no guarantee that Lee would’ve gotten signed to a record contract had he not won – it is incredibly likely, but by no means set in stone. Crystal, on the other hand, seems guaranteed a future in the industry, and I have a sinking suspicion she’ll do better now that she’s not the winner. Lee seems more befit for all the puppetry that goes along with being an "American Idol" winner releasing his first album – Crystal needs her artistic independence, and she will get it.

So, Lee, congratulations. I wish you a more prosperous career than last year’s upset winner. But somehow, I think that Carrie Underwood will still be holding the record of most records sold by an "Idol" winner.

Onto a more lighthearted and positive discussion--the finale as a whole! Call me crazy, but I loved it. Sure, I was scratching my head with the older musicians taking the stage (Bee Gees, Michael McDonald, Hall & Oates and Chicago, I’m looking at you), but I’m not complaining.

The highlight of the night was Casey James (I’m going to miss saying that) with Bret Michaels singing “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” Yes. The same Bret Michaels who had a warning stroke but six days ago was rocking out on stage with my favorite Idol. If Casey follows Bret’s lead and does a Rock of Love Bus, I will be the first to sign up.

Pants on the Ground guy--the veritable high point of the season--returned for a big production value routine backed by hip hop dancers, and joined by an Ed Hardy clad William Hung.

I was also excited to see Crystal sing a duet with Alanis Morissette, because I’ve been a fan of Alanis and I felt it was a vibe that fit Crystal’s persona well. The two engaged each other and the stage--and it really worked.

The Top 12 kicked off the show singing “School’s Out For Summer” backed by Orianthi on the guitar, joined by a creepy kid chorus, and eventually joined by Alice Cooper himself. An unlikely "Idol" pairing, but a well-appreciated one.

Siobhan and Aaron Kelly, two of the more talented vocalists of the seasons, sang the Bee Gees’ “How Deep is Your Love” before being joined on stage by the remaining Bee Gees. I wasn’t sure if the tweens responsible for Lee DeWyze’s victory would recognize this band, but I digress. Michael Lynch performed “Takin It To The Street” with Michael McDonald, someone the tween set is even less likely to recognize.

The girls of the Top 12 performed a medley of Christina Aguilera songs, before Christina herself emerged from a majestic staircase to vocally put all the girls to shame. I felt embarrassed for Lacey Brown in her plastic outfit kicking off the Christina medley on the same stage as The Voice herself.

The boys then took the stage for a Hall and Oates medley, perhaps piggybacking off the success of the dance sequence in 500 Days of Summer. It was lighthearted and fun, yet it was great seeing how little these guys can dance on stage--Casey’s flaw (never thought you’d see me write that) is his complete inability to dance.

Kris Allen and Carrie Underwood each returned to the "Idol" stage to perform their respective upcoming singles. Kris Allen reminded me that he’s actually a talented guy, and Carrie, singing a song co-written by Kara DioGuardi, proved why she’s considered to be the best "Idol" in history.

Lee performed his medley with Chicago – an attempt at a witty nod to his hometown. Vocally, I wouldn’t have selected Chicago to be his main collaboration, but at least it wasn’t Creed or Nickelback. I was in such a good mood from Casey and Bret Michaels that I appreciated Lee singing one of my favorite karaoke songs, “If You Leave Me Now.” Perhaps I’m so used to hearing it performed off key that Lee’s version didn’t bother me.

One of the most powerful moments of the night – and of the season – was all the "Idol" winners, sans David Cook, singing together while being joined by former cast members. I really wish David Cook was there, since he’s one of my favorite Idols, but it was great to see that talent honor Simon together.

Janet Jackson debuted her new single, and busted out a few old classics, after joining the stage with the Top 12. It was an appropriately grand number to end the “celebrate everything but the top two” portion of the show, and segue into the 10 minutes of Lee and Crystal.

The night would not be complete without a nod to one of the sponsors of the show, in this case Ford. Last season’s winner Kris Allen handed Lee and Crystal the keys to their brand new, custom decorated with tacky decals, Ford Fiestas. This package proved that this season, we have the two least charismatic "Idol" finalists in the show’s history taking home the cars.

Lee and Crystal performed Joe Cocker’s hit “With a Little Help From My Friends” before, yep, you guessed it, they were joined on stage by Joe Cocker himself. I liked this because out of all seasons, I got the sense that Lee and Crystal are actually really good friends, and a song honoring their friendship was pleasant. Thankfully, Lee was not singing the “And I’ll try not to sing out of key” line, because really, that’s an impossibility.

There were several montages honoring Simon and his "Idol" tenure. The clips were, as you would expect, hysterical send-offs and audition eye rolls. Some touched upon Simon’s egotism, others, his relationship with Paula. However, the segments were far better than the Paula Abdul and Dane Cook introductions that went along with them. Dane Cook is just not funny and even Simon seemed unenthused by his roast. While it was exciting for Paula to return, she seemed just as ridiculous and hopped up on horse tranquilizers as she normally i-- she looked absolutely fantastic though, so "Idol" retirement has done her well.

Another great Simon moment was finally seeing just how much Ryan Seacrest bothers him. Honestly, I wish we were sending Ryan off instead of Simon, but what are you going to do?

While the fanfare surrounding Simon’s departure made it almost feel like a funeral for the show, the night was a fun one, even if I totally disagree with the eventual outcome. With Simon’s absence next season, the future successes of the show are giant question marks, but hopefully, whoever they cast as his replacement will strive to include more types of contestants and sounds to diversify their talent pool while making us laugh and keeping the show fresh.

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  1. Anita said...

    Funny writing! In the end, it's Crystal's music I'll buy.