‘American Idol’ Finale: We Judge The Performances

By: Becky Bain / May 26, 2011

Okay, so most of our predictions for American Idol Season 10 didn’t end up happening, but we can’t say we’re that upset with country crooner Scotty McCreery being crowned champ. Besides seeing the 17-year old being rubbed by all his fellow Idols (and smooched on the cheek by runner-up Lauren Alaina), last night’s finale was really about the high-profile performances. And since we have nothing else to judge or critique as the season is over and done with, let’s rate the performances from best to worst… and weirdest.

#1. Beyonce – “1 + 1″
Beyonce, you are our American Idol. (Sorry, Scotty.) The pop star (in her second of two performances for the night) belts out her new 4 single and completely steals the whole show. She sounds and looks amazing, and though we were iffy when we first heard the song (about a half hour before the Idol finale began), this live performance sealed the deal for us. Expect this ballad to be covered in every piano bar from here to eternity.

#2. Marc Anthony with Sheila E and Jennifer Lopez
We expected Marc Anthony to perform on the Idol finale (being J-Lo’s hubby, you get some major perks), but we had no idea this muy caliente performance would be one of the most showstopping numbers of the night. Especially when Jennifer’s renown booty (as well as the rest of her) joins her partner on stage to slink around him and shake her derriere like the pro she is. This is the non-embarrassing version of Kara running around in a bikini during the finale a few years ago – a judge doing sexy just right.

#3. Haley Reinhart with Tony Bennett
If only they had done Tony Bennett night this season, Haley might have become a frontrunner even earlier and advanced into the finals. This is a perfect pairing and a totally gratifying performance for the lounge-loving Reinhart.

#4. Steven Tyler – “Dream On”
Lest anyone forget that Steven Tyler is more than just inappropriate come-ons and unique exclamations, the Aerosmith frontman still kills it when he hits the stage. A good reason to trust this man’s opinion about performing when he gives it.

#5. Beyonce sings with the Top 13
Beyonce busts out her moves, and brings her own backup dancers with her. (You think the Top 13 girls can shake it like Bey needs them to? No.) We’re surprised that this performance doesn’t conclude with “Run The World (Girls)”, but we suppose twice on TV in one week is enough for that song.

#6. Casey Abrams and Jack Black – Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls”
Yeah, we know he’s only there to promote Kung-Fu Panda 2, but pairing up Jack Black with Season 10’s quirkiest contestant is an inspired choice. We do wish Casey brought out his melodica or bass one last time, though – if they had gone serious, we bet he could have made it work with Tony Bennett, too.

#7 Jacob Lusk with Kirk Franklin and Gladys Knight
Before Jacob somehow adopted an incredibly arrogant and cocky persona, we had a soft spot for the church crooner. This song showcases him right in his element.

#8. Lady Gaga – “The Edge Of Glory”
Has Gaga officially performed on Idol more times than anyone else? We swear she’s on this show every other week. Anyway, she performs her new Born This Way single, and with her stuck on top of the Aggro Crag from Nickelodeon’s Guts the whole time, we’re a bit disappointed with the whole thing. (That dive off the cliff was fun, though.)

#9. Scotty McCreery and Tim McGraw – “Live Like You Were Dying”
Is it just us, or does the Idol champ sound even better on this song than Tim McGraw?

#10. Lauren Alaina and Carrie Underwood – “Before He Cheats”
It’s cute. That’s about it.

#11. Top 13 – “Born This Way”
We were pretty sure the Idols wouldn’t sing the lyrics “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen” and “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life” – and they didn’t prove us wrong. Still, this is a pretty kick-ass performance… for a group number, anyway.

#12. Top 13 Girls sing a Beyonce medley
Needs more Beyonce.

#13. James Durbin with Judas Priest
James looked like a lost member of The Village People in a spiked leather vest, hat and arm bands. Are we sure he’s not actually one of Gaga’s leather-clad backup dancers?

#14. Top 13 Guys sing a random medley including “What’s New Pussycat”, “She’s A Lady” and Prince’s “Kiss
We were initially extremely excited since this medley began with Prince’s “Kiss” – is Prince going to perform?!?! He is in LA for his 21-Night Stand tour, after all! Turns out, no, he’s not, and nor will this medley have any sort of theme besides songs that have not been on Top 40 radio in over a decade. UPDATE: Apparently I missed that this was a Tom Jones tribute, thrown off by the inclusion of Prince’s “Kiss” (which Tom Jones did a cover of). Oh, well. Doesn’t make me enjoy it any more knowing it’s less random than I thought.

#15.Tom Jones and the Top 13 Guys – “It’s Not Unusual”
Needs more Beyonce.

#16. Bono and The Edge with Reeve Carney – “Rise Above” from Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark
Well, at least Spidey didn’t fall into the audience and kill someone.

#17. Top 13 Girls with Lil Jon and TLC For Some Reason
Are Lil Jon and TLC also in Kung-Fu Panda 2? Why on earth are they there? We have no idea how either act was chosen by Idol producers to be an appropriate, timely choice to perform at the finale nor why they were paired together. The biggest WTF moment of the night.