Tonight is a very big night, in case you hadn't heard. Can you handle it? Can you handle the truth raining down upon you when the Jaded Journalist starts speaking?!? Can you handle me referring to my alter ego in the third person? Or is that too much for you?!? At any rate, I'd better get this thing started before everybody clicks over to the Judges Corner or something.
I don't know how many of you joined the online chat last week. I'm guessing about five people after news went out I would be around. But if you were indeed one of the select few, you may have heard AMERICAN IDOL Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe make it very clear that I wouldn't be allowed anywhere near the theater, or "house" as we show biz fatcats say, during the final episodes of AMERICAN IDOL. Well, he wasn't being jocular. Tonight, I'm jammed into the general press room with the media riff raff. And my official badge makes it clear that I'm to have "No theater, no backstage, no party, no fun."
Nigel also said that I only have an hour to write these recaps because the orderlies take away my crayons after that. I must admit, I didn't like that so much. If there were ever a club for people who can dish it out, but not take it, I'd be the president pro tem.
So I sit here writing my thoughts on a notepad, and as I sip my coffee, I really feel like an English professor on a crisp fall afternoon. Then I nibble one of these ginger cookies, and I feel like a 6-year old. Then I read those last two lines and feel like a dumbass. What's that? There's a show tonight? This article shouldn't be just about me and my fabulous comings and goings? Hmm. It seems I've been misinformed, then.
Time for the good old dramatic intro. You know, I'm really going to miss this voiceover guy. I'd love to have this cat order at a drive-thru for me. "Burger...fries...last week, I took them home." We find out that last week, Nikki was cut. Tonight, Kelly and Justin go head to head in the final battle. I assume after this long and bitter war, diplomats for Kelly and Justin will sign the Treaty of Versailles II aboard the U.S.S. Eisenhower. The agreement? Kelly assumes the rights to all songs from the show, and Justin is forbidden to ever record music in Poland.
We open on the glistening Kodak Theatre, and a massive crowd is on hand. There are balconies everywhere in this place, and I think an opera may break out any second. This theatre looks like the congressional scene from The Phantom Menace. In fact, there's Jar Jar Binks. Oh. Wait. That's just EJay Day.
Celebrities are here tonight! Hurrah! There's Harry Connick, Jr. and Tori Spelling. Not together. I'm positive that Aaron Spelling has nothing to do with this show, because Tori isn't on it. However, if Spelling TV comes out with "American Idols" next spring, look for Tori and little Randy to co-host. And look! There's Jenny McCarthy! I thought we were done with her. They should've put Jenny next to Ryan Starr so she could explain to young Ryan the career arc of "hot chick that's annoying every time she speaks." "Well, first you do Playboy. Then, after that, you have about three months left."
Our boys come out to get the festivities officially underway, and Ryan gives a nice, peppy intro. Dunkleman then chimes in with, "Yeah." Then he adds that "Dunkleman" is German for "...and we're live." And here all this time I thought it was French for "Career's over."
So let's introduce our judges! They're sitting high up in a box, right next to Stadler and Waldorf from The Muppets. You know, Randy, Paula and Simon are the most sensational, inspirational, televational, muppetational judges I've ever seen!
Randy is wearing a quite snappy Kangol tonight. Looking good! Paula is wearing a Paula outfit. Let the record say, I find Paula to be very attractive. There is no joke following. Simon's wearing his patented tight, black shirt. I call this look, "The Simon." Clever, I know. Ryan guesses that Simon missed the memo telling them to "dress it up a bit" tonight. To be honest, I got the memo and I look amazing in this acid-washed jeans and painter's cap combo.
But tonight is really all about Kelly and Justin, so let's bring them out. Kelly comes out in a very nice prom dress and Justin is wearing a slight variation of his standard open-collared peasant's shirt and pants ensemble. They look good, they sing good and after tonight, they'll start depositing checks good.
Huge applause for our two kids and I guess if they got this far, everybody should like them. Kelly scans the audience and spots her parents. How the hell did she do that? If this singing thing doesn't work out, she should get a job as a fire spotter. "There's one. A little brush fire." "Where?" "Oh, about 35 miles to the southwest. See it? Next to that little grayish rock?"
The hosts mention that Kelly and Justin have actually become really good friends, and the kids confirm that, yes, this is true. I don't know how they manage that. If I were in a competition like this against somebody, I'd hate them, their entire families and everybody they know. I guess these kids are just better than me. Like most people.
Hey! RJ and MC A.J. are conspicuously placed in aisle seats tonight. Hi, guys!
Seacrest tells us that Kelly won the coin flip to decide who goes first, and that she has elected to go second. Good move. I imagine she wants the wind at her back in the fourth quarter. Audience alert! Sitting next to Justin's dad tonight is Nikki McKibbin. Of all the possible wild couples to come out of this thing, that one is definitely right up there.
Kelly and Justin have been on a complete whirlwind media tour this week. First, they went to the MTV Video Music Awards. Then they went to TRL. I don't think I've ever seen MTV so heavily promote something they don't own. Usually, only Road Rules vs. Road Rules 2 gets this much airtime.
As many of you have aggressively noted, there was some alleged friction between Kelly and Avril Lavigne during the always-dangerous Moonman exchange. I can't say what exactly happened, but I do know this: if I had to talk to Avril Lavigne for more than eight minutes, I'd want to kill myself. Avril strikes me as the type of teenager that got halfway through "The Metamorphosis," so now she has life all figured out. And life is just so very tiresome. On another note, I can't believe people still stand outside for TRL. I figured every kid in America had accomplished this by now. Also, I have absolutely no idea why Carson Daly is famous. He's not particularly good looking, he's not interesting, funny or remarkably intelligent. Everything about the guy is set to "medium," yet the kids can't get enough of him. I just don't get it. He's like cafeteria food that everybody raves about. Then again, I thought Crystal Pepsi was genius.
Moving on. Finally. Justin is up first, and he's going to be tackling the original song, "Before Your Love." For tonight's stage backdrop, the show is using a nature scenes screensaver. Where are the flying toasters, I ask? Justin gets off to a good start. This is a good song for him. Slow and doesn't require dancing. But when the first chorus comes, it seems like Justin needed to go a little higher, but couldn't. Look at me talking like I actually know something. I think Kelly will crush him on this song. He can't go big enough. Good close, though. Really good. Strong. What was that? B flat? Yeah, I know a little about music.
So they say that song will appear on the winner's first album. Interesting, because it seems to be a cover of every song from every animated movie ever.
Judges? What did you think? Well, we don't know because they weren't asked. Interesting. They may be trying to prevent any possible influence tonight. It's too important! After Justin's song, I swear I saw Kirk Cameron in the audience. And I doubly swear that the dude next to him is the guy that played Boner. These guys still hang out? That show was on like thirteen years ago. Where's Tracy Gold, the kid that played Ben and a blossoming Leo DiCaprio?
Seacrest says something or another that's a little goofy, then finishes with, "Dunk, do what you do." Sayeth the Dunk, "We'll be right back after this." I don't know what Dunk gets paid, but his cash to words ratio must be outstanding. He says about four things per night. He has about as many phrases as a talking doll. "I love you." "Hello, my name is Teddy." "We'll be right back." "You're my best friend."
Right before we leave, Seacrest says, "Nice job, Guarini." Dunkleman says, "Thanks." That's almost as embarrassing as the time I went into a shoe store and when Johnny Shoeguy said, "Hi, how are you doing?" to me, I deftly responded with, "Thanks." Very smooth.
Back from the break, and Kelly will be singing, "A Moment Like This." Another song from the upcoming album sure to hit #1! Unfortunately, right now I have nobody to dance with, since my prom date, Kelly, is singing. Oh well. I'll just hang here and act tough. Hey! What are you lookin' at?!? Punk.
Kelly's ditty is the same type of song that Justin had. I know that pop songs are usually wildly different, but these songs are quite similar. Like Christina Spears. Or Britney Aguilera. Anyway, Kelly's performance is solid, but she seems to be holding back a little. She does have two songs to go, and you don't want to blow a tire in the first lap. Bad analogy alert!
When Kelly reaches the slowest part of the song, "for a moment...like this," a really annoyed look crosses her face. I wonder if somebody stole her seat. Out in the audience, we see Kelly's parents. Who is this guy? He doesn't look like Dick Cheney at all in this light. Maybe Kelly's dad has a toupee, but he only wears it occasionally.
Again, we get no comments from the judges. No "Kelly, Kelly, Kelly." No "Touchdown!" or horribly written and delivered jokes. Except in this column, of course. Time for a break now, and during said break, I learn something very interesting. Apparently, no matter how hairy of a situation you're in, popping a Mento(s) in your mouth makes everything go away. "Oh my God! You're in bed with my wife!" (pops Mento in mouth) "Oh, that's just you being you. Ha ha!" It's downright nutty!
We're back, and it's Justin's turn again. Tonight, he'll be performing "Get Here." Again. He's been milking one song more than Gerardo. Justin comes out for this performance wearing a velvet shirt that looks really, really comfortable. I should get me one of those. If I knew where to get such a thing.
Justin is giving this song everything he has right now. I think he knows he has to lay it all out tonight. I mean that in the clean way, you sickos. Justin wraps up his second extra smooth performance and gives that smile he gives after every song. Justin has absolutely perfected this falsely modest, "I can't believe you're applauding for li'l ol' me" smile. It's remarkable how much he has this down. And people eat it up every time.
Tonight's show has really been all business so far. Seacrest is calm. Dunk is catatonic. Nothing from the judges. Good singing every time. It's interesting to see everybody getting down to business. Although, in introducing Kelly for her second song, Dunk breaks out his familiar truck pull-style intro. "Kelllly Cllllarrrksonnnnn!"
Kelly saunters out wearing a cute little cocktail dress. "I'll have another gimlet, please. And could you fill up the peanuts when you have a chance?" Kelly is performing "Respect" tonight, another frequent entry. I remember back in Kelly's group of ten when she sang this song, and I said she's like a college town bartendress on karaoke night. Now, she's about to become one of the fastest-selling recording artists of all time. God, I'm an idiot. Do I know anything? I mean, really.
During "Respect," Kelly begins making a lot of faces. She did this before on the same song. I can't imagine what she looked like as a 12-year old belting this one out in her bedroom alone. It must've been a full-fledged production number. Kelly begins playing to the crowd, egging them to get up. At this point, Tamyra stands up and yells, "No! Be careful! This is what did me in!"
After Kelly's song, the giddiness begins to seep out of Ryan. Let's go to a commercial so he can calm down a bit. But first, check out the kids at the premiere of Swimfan. It's a movie, in case you were wondering. We see the kids leading fabulous lives. I've noticed that some of you have concluded that I was at the premiere as well. Maybe I was. But maybe I wasn't. I really can't remember because my life is so busy and interesting.
Back from the adverts, as the British say. I mention that because Will Young is on his way out. Paula gives Will a standing ovation. Simon looks at Paula like, "What the hell are you doing?" Randy drinks some water. Is Will good looking? I really can't tell. I don't mean to say I'm afraid to say a man is good looking. I'm just talking about this particular one. He's all set up like he's handsome, but I dunno. Something's off, I think.
During a clip from Pop Idol, we see Will having a very polite, proper argument with Simon. More of a disagreement, really. Wow, those English are respectful. After that, Will begins singing and he doesn't exactly have the toughest voice ever. He's not exactly a "bloke." I think the correct British term for Will is "foppish dandy." I'd tell you to remember Will's name, but I don't really think you have to bother.
But he did sell 1.3 million copies of his single, as the hosts point out. "How much money is that," wonders Seacrest? Will hedges. Kind of an awkward moment. Well, they're from two different countries. Dunk, take us into the break. Dunk says he's tired of leading into the break. Will, you do it. Will stumbles through it, then meekly asks, "Was that right?" I think it was set up that way. Dunk retorts, "That's not the way I would've done it, but okay. And lose the accent." I have no idea how that went over in your living room, but in the press room it was like when Frankenstein accidentally killed that little girl. The press corps reacted like they saw a video of Saddam Hussein saying, "America, come and get me. You are so weak." Boo! You suck! Shut up!
The time has come for Justin's third song. It's his turn to do "A Moment Like This." He's since changed into a sharp brown suit, suitable for job interviews. He looks good in it. Nice. During his song, Justin pulls the old "high five the front row" move. When he does, we see that every kid in sight is wearing an armband, the standard concert attire of the last ten years. Somebody one day decided armbands were the key to something or other, and now you can't go anywhere without somebody trying to slap one on you. Enough! Justin plays to front row a bit again. I'm hoping he'll dive nine rows back and crowd surf. He doesn't.
Another smooth, soulful performance from Justin. Good, but I think he needed to be spectacular. Over with the hosts, Dunk asks Justin if he can describe what it's like to perform in front of so many people. "Well, the Biernbaum bar mitzvah was pretty big. Like 300 people. But nothing like this."
And for the final song of the night, it's Kelly's turn to croon "Before Your Love." She breaks out her standard pointing move early this time. I love it. Also, Kelly is breaking her big voice out now. No need to hold back at his point. This song will be huge at school dances this coming year. I hope it helps dudes get some easier. Oww!
During the bridge, the crowd applauds Kelly and she laughs a little bit. I still don't think she can really believe this is all happening to her. Justin seems unable to believe it took him this long to become famous. Divergent philosophies, I guess.
After her song ends, Kelly waves to God. Or some kid in the last row. Whoever it was, they were way up there. I hope those seats are free.
Seacrest asks Kelly, "What's the most common thing people say to you?" Another really hard-hitting question. No wonder E! signed this kid up. If you're wondering, the answer is, "I love you." Tell me about it.
Judges? What do you have to say about these efforts tonight? Randy says Kelly was unbelievable. Every aspiring singer should look up to her. Apparently, he forgot that Justin sang too.
Paula says both kids are super, thanks for asking. In one word, they're "tremendoustupendousamazing!" Kelly, your voice makes grown men cry and young boys wish they were grown men. Justin, if you look up "it" in the dictionary, you are there. Either Paula or her professional writer needs to start laying off the apple juice. Man.
Simon points out that he doesn't even know what Paula is talking about anymore. But he does know that Kelly and Justin are nice kids, unlike the horrors of some celebrities he ran into at the VMAs. If Simon had to vote, Kelly would be his choice tonight. Justin didn't seem to enjoy that news.
The hosts implore everybody to vote tonight. and Dunk says, "Florida, you know how important it is!" A Florida election bit? That's nice and timely. Maybe he can follow that up with some Watergate material.
So there you have it. We've come all this way and we're almost done. Well, we didn't do all that much. It was mostly the kids. But still, it's almost over. I have no idea who's going to win tomorrow, and I'm not going to bother to foster a guess because I am always, always wrong. But I will say this. I can't ever see myself buying a Justin CD. Or even downloading and burning one. I probably would pick up a Kelly CD though. I could put it right next to my Shelby Lynne disc. Actually, I'd put it next to my Clinic CD because I'm such an alphabetical nerd. But you get the idea.