Live-Blogging The “American Idol” Finale, Part One: What’s Going On With That Change That’s Gonna Come?

May 19th, 2009 // 62 Comments

Welcome to our annual liveblog of the American Idol finale, which will bring together painted nails, glamourpuss rock, sensitive-dude strumming, and overly chatty judges in such a way that you can probably count on the preview episode of Glee that’s scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. ET to start at least five–if not 10–minutes after it’s supposed to. Come, fans of Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, and all the other ones, as we try to divine which singer will represent our new, post-partisan era of American Idolatry. Full coverage begins after the jump!

7:48 p.m. So, here’s the full run of show as per Rickey:

Adam Lambert – Mad World
Kris Allen – Aint No Sunshine (on the piano)
Adam Lambert – A Change is Gonna Come (Simon Fuller’s choice)
Kris Allen – What’s Going On (Simon Fuller’s choice)
Adam Lambert – No Boundaries
Kris Allen – No Boundaries

“No Boundaries” is the Kara-penned coronation song, so you can bet she’ll have a lot to say about either performance. And Rickey’s mole, a Kris fan, preferred Adam’s performance! So we’ll see.

7:53 p.m. Seinfeld rerun to lead us in: “The Ticket.”

7:56 p.m. Tackleberry!

7:58 p.m. A Ford ad! I already feel locked in the Idol embrace. Not so much with the Flashdance-referencing White Castle ad (where’s Kelly Kapoor, huh?).

8:00 p.m. Aw, a look back at all the hopefuls. All the doomed, doomed hopefuls. And here’s Adam! And Kris: “I’m the voice in the crowd that needs to be heard… I am ready.”

8:01 p.m. Aw, juxtaposed in their pre-stylist modes, they look so cute. Two peas in an oddly shaped pod.

8:04 p.m. Uh, so Firefox just crashed on me three times in a row there. But at least I didn’t miss the matching “Totally”s that they gave to Ryan.

8:04 p.m. Clive Davis: Demoted to maybe getting a small shout-out tomorrow night during the grand finale? Which is going to go long, oh my God. If they’re saying that now, I’d better make sure I’m free until 11:45.

8:07 p.m. I was at the Virgin Megastore the other day, and there were two guys breakdancing outside while holding signs for Dance Movie. I am glad that I finally have a place to share this fact.

8:09 p.m. Adam’s talent: Just an outgrowth of his hyperactivity as a young’un, really. I guess this is a good lead-in for “Mad World”….

8:10 p.m. He’s coming out of the gate bringing it. Nice extra percussion to go along with his upward inflections, too.

8:11 p.m. The long duster coat and gloves and SMOKE are all really playing to the base. So how does he change it up for the Sam Cooke?

8:12 p.m. No screeching, no OTT-ness. He kind of nailed this. I already love this finale more than the last two I’ve had to spend with you.

8:12 p.m. Uh oh, whenever Randy starts with “so check it out…” I get nervous.

8:13 p.m. “An A for Adam.” Isn’t this the same person who gave out an “A for effort” a few weeks back?

8:13 p.m. Aww, Adam called Paula by the name “Beautiful.”

8:14 p.m. And here comes Simon…

8:14 p.m. He didn’t like the staging! Uh oh, I am seeing a bus with Allison’s face on the side of it pulling up…

8:15 p.m. And we’re right into Kris talking about how he didn’t like singing in front of his family. Everything’s moving so fast!

8:16 p.m. Speaking of Kris being Kute, if you Google around for the way he proposed marriage to his now-wife, get ready to melt.

8:17 p.m. I’m trying to remember if Kris inverted the melody on “Ain’t No Sunshine” this way last time. It sounds pretty good, although I do wish there was less band. But I predict all the judges will love it. Clapping along from the audience.

8:18 p.m. I liked that a lot, too. Wished the instrumentation was different, but I love how his voice has opened up over the past five months. WHO TO CHOOSE YOU GUYS.

8:20 p.m. Paula invents a new word: “Allenizing.”

8:20 p.m. Simon wasn’t sure if Kris should have beaten Danny! Is he high?

8:21 p.m. Simon calls Round One for Kris. Hmm. Hmm?

8:26 p.m. Ryan, ever the diplomat, says it’s too close to call. And here’s Adam, right away, in a snazzy suit, singing “A Change Is Gonna Come.” And getting a little bit much with the “mm”-ing. Also, who’s that playing guitar? Also, is this supposed to Have A Message? Probably, I think.

8:27 p.m. Here comes the big big big big bigggg voice. It actually works here, as opposed to on “One” last week; the pleading for change is natural to his style.


8:27 p.m. Thanking the band.

8:29 p.m. Whoa, Paula Abdul is windmilling! And saying that he looks like a superstar. She, however, looks like a PSA warning against overtanning.

8:29 p.m. Simon says he’s “100% back in the game”? Eh? Did he ever leave?

8:30 p.m. According to Ryan, Paula is “back in the herky.” Um… is that code for an addition to the Coke cup?

8:33 p.m. The former black president is talking about how the world is a different place now. YES WE KNOW. The next song will tell us that as well.

8:34 p.m. Ryan is behind the judges’ table. Simon looks like he is holding his breath.

8:35 p.m. “What’s Going On,” courtesy of Kris. Again, more clapping along. The clapping-along seems to be part of Kris’ overall aesthetic, where with Adam, there’s more gaping in awe.

8:36 p.m. “Only love can conquer hate.” This version is a little too reminiscent of the post-Sept. 11 version for me, but his voice sounds pretty ok. Especially on that nice, fat last note.

8:37 p.m. Randy Jackson would like to remind everyone that the Idol stage is not a coffeehouse.

8:37 p.m. BUT KARA DOESN’T CARE! Also, hello, both songs were “socially conscious.” That was the whole point of this finale, duh.

8:38 p.m. Ryan’s insistence on making gay jokes about Simon sort of deflates any hope for change, though.

8:39 p.m. And Simon calls round two for Adam… wholly predictably. (Not that I don’t agree, but hey, ratings count until the end, and we need people to ask “WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?!”)

8:40 p.m. Confidential to Rob: I’m looking forward to Glee! Like, a lot. Confidential to McDonald’s ad execs: Your McCafe promotion would have been dumb even if people hadn’t been referring to Target as “Tar-Zhay” since I was in college.

8:41 p.m. Oh my God, the “Shame On You” tonight is about grave-robbers! Hard times are indeed hard.

8:43 p.m. Shot of the vanquished ones. Allison’s hair looks so great. She has to have extensions, right?

8:44 p.m. And now, Kara’s song. Well, “Walk Away” it ain’t. Also, I can’t tell, but does it sound like Adam’s voice is having problems scaling the highest heights? Or is it the backup singers? Uh oh…

8:46 p.m. A very power ballady song, you’d think this would play to Adam’s strengths. Audience chanting Adam’s name. Randy starts off with the “you can sing the phone book”… then veers into an “Eh!” And even throws in a “pitchy”! Uh oh.

8:47 p.m. Kara demurs on the critique, goes for the thank you. Paula bubbles. Yeah, they are not talking about his rough moments.

8:47 p.m. Simon: Not a fan of the song’s silly mountains-and-rivers imagery. And he also sidesteps any critique of the performance to talk about Adam’s star quality! Which is undeniable, but when Randy is the most critical of the panel…

8:49 p.m. Very odd, that. I wonder if this is going to result in some too-harsh criticism for Kris… and some backlash-driven powervoting in his favor? I guess we’ll have to see how he deals with the track. Something tells me his version will be a bit more muted.

8:50 p.m. Hey, if we’re going to have the “Open Happiness” campaign on Idol, where are all these guys?

8:51 p.m. All these ads about people being laid off sure are depressing. Not as bad as Kara’s song, but.

8:53 p.m. Why do we even need a stupid coronation song? This is awful. “No Boundaries” my ass. And Kris’ version starts off with a straight-from-the-hockey-arena organ.

8:53 p.m. Kris is pitchy on the low notes. I wonder if this was the least-rehearsed song.

8:54 p.m. Uh, and that muffed word would indicate that as well. Yeesh. He sounds awful, too. Well, it’s settled: Kara is the worst. Danny Gokey, you have been saved.

8:54 p.m. Yeeeahhhhh–this is just lousy. Bring back “This Is My Now”! (?)

8:55 p.m. Text message from my sister: “This song sucks.” Yeah. Wait, and now Randy is whipping out the “A for effort”? What is going on.

8:57 p.m. This finale had so much potential for greatness and Kara had to sink it with her goddamned ego. Bring back Bikini Girl.

8:57 p.m. “Me and Adam, we said we weren’t competing, we said we were just coming out to give a good show tonight.” Aw.

8:59 p.m. The closing montage–I have no idea how this show ended on time, perhaps because the judges couldn’t think of anything to say after Kara crashed the train?–is making me wonder just who I would vote for. And how close the margin of victory is going to be tomorrow, especially since the voting stretches all the way until 4 a.m. ET. (Or later, I guess, with Alaska and Hawaii?)

9:00 p.m. And now they’re doing the “This guy! No, this guy!” thing. Oh… wait, there’s more? Oh hey Carrie Underwood, and your POUNDS OF GLITTER EYESHADOW.

9:01 p.m. I wonder if this feel-good montage will have a girl lifting up her shirt like the video did? Oh, there’s Bikini Girl kissing Ryan. Same thing, I guess.

9:02 p.m. She sounds a little bit… helium-filled, no? The Motley Crue t-shirt is a nice touch, if over-Bedazzled.

9:03 p.m. Whoa, and the 19 logo explodes into the screen! Poor Carrie, and her guitarist. OH SHIT JANE LYNCH! OK, gotta go. I have to figure out who I’m going to vote for, but I’ll watch some show choir-related drama first.
[Pic via Rickey]

idolator

  1. I think they’re being unnecessarily critical of Kris. Stop trying to get me to vote for Adam! I won’t do it!!!

  2. For me, for you- “Ain’t So Sunshine” was my favorite performance tonight. It’s such a different feeling from last year, when David Cook was my horse in this ridiculous race. I like both of these guys about the same, so I’ll be happy with whoever wins.

  3. seriously, again — how can a “two-hour grand finale” be “scheduled to go long”???

  4. @Varina: It’s like if crappy Archuleta was replaced with the pleasant and lovely Jason Castro. I am much happier this season.

  5. These clips are giving me a glimpse of people I don’t miss at all, like Von Smith. But Nick Norman and Alexis, come back to me.

  6. @RobMurphy: It’s Idol. They wouldn’t know time-sensitive programming if it bit them in the ass. At least they’re warning people for once.

  7. “Glee” opening: “You think this is hard? Try being waterboarded *that’s* hard!”

    Keep it classy, Rupert!

  8. I finally figured out whose voice Kris Allen’s reminded me of – a slightly less slurry Taylor Hanson. Now I wish he’d pulled out a cover of “Mmmbop” on the acoustic guitar…

  9. I came into tonight willing to go either way, and definitely preferred Kris in round 1. Round 2 sucked for both of them. Round 3 was just a music apocalypse that should’ve never happened. So considering only Round 1, I have to vote Kris. This performance of “Ain’t No Sunshine” was so good I actually backed up the dvr and watched it again during the commercial.

  10. I hate to say I told you so… Boring finale. Probably the worst since season 2. Let’s be real. When Kris can’t hide behind his guitar or piano, it’s pretty dismal. His first performance was okay(not great) but the other songs were terrible. Glambert was solid with his first song(and he kinda had to do his top selling iTunes song) and was really good with “A Change Is Gonna Come”. It’s pretty pathetic that the only judge who actually gave Kris any kind of critique on his last song was Randy. The crowd response for Kris on his last 2 songs was very half-hearted.

  11. Season 2? Ruben/Clay was probably the best finale of the whole show’s history. That was the only time I was really uncertain who was going to win, and wouldn’t have been surprised at or bummed about either outcome.

    I suspect Adam may pull it out this year, but I’m mostly just glad Danny Gokey’s not a horse in this race.

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