I have to say right off the bat, I don't even know if I'm worthy of writing this recap. Tonight's show is just so important. Maybe we should get Gore Vidal or George Will or somebody to fill in for me on this one. Plus, as an added benefit, everybody would learn something about governmental policy and procedure. Which is always nice.
Well, that thought has passed, so let's get right to the show. Two hours tonight. Two big hours. Two big, huge hours. It's almost a two-part show, really. The first half being taped a bit, with the live stuff coming second. I've never recapped two shows in one night before, and I have enough trouble with one, so please, don't expect much out of this. Not that you should anyway.
Mr. Ryan Seacrest and Mr. Brian Dunkleman start off tonight's show in the production truck. I use the formal versions because, again, tonight is very important. Let's be clear on that. Ryan introduces himself, then Brian says "My name is Dunkleman." Always so bored. You know, Ryan's bottle tan makes his teeth look very, very white. Dunk remarks, "God, it reeks in here." I'm guessing that wasn't his line. I hope not, at least, for his sake.
We the audience going semi-nuts on cue on the red carpet. Signs everywhere. You know, the sign industry is going to be crippled when this show goes off the air. Glitter and paint sales will plummet! Ryan and Dunk stand in front of this quite ruly mob, and Seacrest energetically informs us that, "This is AMERICAN IDOL! Watch!" Okay! We will! You know, it's possible this is the last time Ryan and Brian will ever be on a red carpet, so they should soak up this moment.
Now, let's take a look back at some of the more awkward and fun moments from the show. The bad auditions! There's so much to see here. There's The Pilgrim, ripping off his coat to reveal photos of Simon stapled to his shirt. Maybe they were taped. I hope so. That would be safer. And whenever you're affixing photos to clothing, safety is paramount.
Beyond The Pilgrim, we see that Macy Gray's twin was waiting in line, a guy yelling a song, then play the air bass - always a cool move - and a naked cowboy. Well, briefed cowboy. Thankfully, I guess. I would've been more thankful if he had some damn pants on. But wait! There's more! For $19.95, you also got...a guy in a "You Go Girl" shirt singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" for a double dose of hipster irony. I like seeing the Queen song because back then, the judges were still getting along. It was like seeing a picture of your divorced parents from that summer you were all at the beach together. "Look! We were so happy then!"
We also got the return of Levi Blue, who just wanted to be molded. Simon pointed out that Levi Blue wasn't the greatest lump of clay to start with. We also see a girl who claims she's going to sing, "Whatever God puts in my mouth." I'm not a theologian by any means, but God is definitely punishing this girl for something. Maybe because she took a bus trip all the way across the country following the auditions. That must've been one long bus ride back. Particularly for the other passengers if this chick was practicing on the way home. But she's still better than this warbling blonde. I don't know her name and likely never will. But she wore #7136. This girl could've used a lot more shorts. For my sake.
And we see plenty of people that started crying after facing cruel, blunt rejection at the hands of Simon. I don't know why, but these people always crack me up. I guess finding out that you're no good at the one thing you dream to do can be rather heartbreaking. Although, I can't imagine somebody who dreams to be an accountant crying when they're told their addition skills suck. Maybe they would, I dunno.
We see Kelly discussing her first ever audition in Dallas. During the reminiscing, Kelly is wearing her Burberry hat. Again. I love Kelly, but she wears that lid more than Fred Durst wears that bright red Yankees cap. Fred! You're rich! Buy a plan b for damn's sake!
But then we see the absolute greatest moment of the night, no matter what is destined to follow. The Derek, singing to people outside on the sidewalk. The Derek has patented his Derek style, and it involves singing with your tongue planted firmly under your bottom lip. This move is huge in Brazil! Huge!
Ah, that was fun. A lot of fun. But those weren't even the best bad auditions we have. Back on the red carpet, Ryan and Dunk stand in front of two girls, one of which is holding a "Fresno Loves Dunk" sign. That's news to me. And possibly to Fresno as well. I figured after his crack about them a few weeks back, they would've cut him loose. They're so forgiving up there! So girls, would you like to audition for us right here, right now, right on the carpet? The girls agree and bust out "I Believe I Can Fly." Hmm. These girls should definitely not audition for AMERICAN IDOL 2. Seacrest mockingly joins the girls with some bad singing of his own, which is actually a pretty funny moment. These guys waited until now to get hot?
Regardless, it's the perfect segue into our Top 5 Bad Auditions. #5 - The girl who sings with her eyes closed. For some reason. Her mom - who is her exact duplicate, only 25 years older - says her daughter "has really got the total package." What package? I hope they kept the receipt, because she is damaged goods. #4 - The one, the only, The Derek. You know, I coined the phrase "The Derek" awhile back. I can't wait to get my royalty check for four cents next week! #3 - "Si-uh-lent night. I said a si-uh-lent night." Is it just me, or is this guy completely strung out. Maybe he confused the audition room with the plasma donation center. #2 - The girl who should sue her singing coach. Simon brings up a good point here. #1 - The "Genie in a Bottle" chick. You know, this chick has a huge forehead. It's really more of a fivehead.
Back outside the Kodak Theatre, the hosts are still working the crowd. An audible "Ohhhh" pulses through the crowd after hearing Simon destroy the blonde a second ago. Not Seacrest. The singing girl, I mean. Ryan starts asking the crowd who they think should win. Dunk chimes in with "Jim Verraros?" Another good line. Again, these guys waited until now to get hot?
Whenever an important issue faces the country, it's important that we poll celebrities for their opinions. They help show us the way. Mary J. Blige says Kelly will win. She also thinks God gave her a Video Music Award, so take her thoughts for what they're worth. Jimmy Fallon and Sabrina the Teenage Witch pick Kelly too, as does the dude from Scrubs. I don't know his name and somebody had to tell me what show he's from. I'm really in touch.
Back from the break, and the people on the street are supporting Justin. You think the opinions of nobody schlubs can possibly outweigh those of stars? Never!
Seacrest proceeds to give us a little tour of what it's like backstage. There's Randy's room. There's Paula's. There's Simon. Looks like a little party is going on inside there. About eight people are inside. Does Simon need that much help dressing? Offering to lend a hand to the proceedings is Jane Kaczmarek from FOX'S very own Malcolm in the Middle! How about that?!? Jane says she's there to tell Simon about his impending baby. I'm sure Bradley What's-his-head from The West Wing will be devastated by the news. I guess Jane got a decent-sized check to appear on AMERICAN IDOL, because no migraines kept her away.
Now, let's go from there to our Top 5 Best Auditions. We're flying all over the place tonight. Here! There! Everywhere! So here they are. #5 - A.J. Gil singing the National Anthem. Yeah, okay. I guess. Somebody voted for this. #4 - Christina singing "Isn't He Lovely" to Simon. Of course, I always pretend this was to me. And yes, I am quite lovely. Thank you for inquiring. #3 - Justin's first audition in NYC. #2 - Tamyra's rendition "And I Promise You I'm Not Leaving." Definitely a great performance, but what kind of title is that? I've never seen such a long title without parentheses. Usually, it's something like "She (Loves Me So Very Much That I Love Her Right Back)" #1 - Kelly singing "Respect" in her group of 10. Kelly forever!
From there, we stay backstage with Seacrest. He's traded in Simon and Jane for a tableful of Teamsters. They sit and drink coffee and read the papers, as union types are prone to do. By the way, expect me to be "accidentally" drowned next week in exchange for that last line. Seacrest yanks up the original founding member of the Teamsters, and asks him to deliver the next bit. Are they auditioning for Dunkleman's replacement already. The old timer says, "Roll it, Bruce," before the other part. Still smoother than most of Dunk's transitions though. Keep his number close by.
More celebrity opinions. Fat Joe is completely behind Justin. Donald Trump is a Kelly man. A question about The Donald. How in the world does he gets away with wearing that horrible toupee? I mean, it looks like a divot. It should come with a chinstrap. What's that? He has a billion dollars? Oh, that's how he gets away with it.
We return from another break, and now Dunk is backstage in "Seacrest's favorite part. Makeup." Speaking of which, I think they changed Dunk's hair since we first saw him. I mean since we first saw him tonight. It's up a bit more. Change on the fly! Dunk knocks on Kelly's door and asks if she's decent. When he receives an affirmative response, he says "Damn." And he delivered it with a ton of conviction. "Hey, baby, how are ya?" is how Dunk greets the entire room. Friendly.
Kelly, how are you dealing with all of this. She says that she has nine friends in the industry that she can depend on and trust. You know, I think it's a bit of a stretch to say Jim Verraros is "in the industry." He's certainly aware of the industry, but I don't know about in.
Let's check out little Burleson, Texas! We see the local news reporter in Burleson. This must be the best moment of his life. And I'm going to ruin it by making fun of him. I wield my power so recklessly! On that note, nice wig, dude. You get that from Trump's garage sale? He then asks the kids in Burleson if they want to give a "shout out" to Kelly. Smooth, Gramps. Word up!
An interesting thing happens here with the various microphone connections between Los Angeles and Burleson. Kelly's voice begins to echo like Him from The Powerpuff Girls. It's downright terrifying.
Time to take a look back. We started off with thirty in Pasadena. In the first group again, we're treated to another glimpse of Jim's mouth donut. Don't worry if you missed it. It'll make another appearance or three later tonight. In the second group, we had Kelly and Justin. That's like putting McCartney and Lennon on the same week. Or Steve Guttenberg and Michael Winslow. Double trouble! In the third group, EJay Day was invited back after Delano was discovered to be over the age limit by only 1,825 days. Just missed.
"All right, Kelly. Good luck and thanks for the loan." That was Dunk speaking there, in case you couldn't tell by the lack of laughter. They're killing this guy. Walking down the hallway, he says that the "Intensity is getting intenser." He looks to the side confused. He obviously knows he's receiving bad lines. Why doesn't he start tweaking them or something? He's a professional comic, allegedly. Bad lines and bad delivery are a bad mix. At least I don't have to worry about bad delivery.
Now let's go over to Seacrest, backstage with Justin and the Coca-Cola buffet! We have all kinds! Regular in a bottle, regular in a can, diet, diet with lemon, caffeine free diet with lemon, extra regular and grape. Justin, are you nervous right now? Not really. Neither was Kelly. There's no need to be. Even tonight's loser will be huge. Tonight's show would be a lot more compelling if the runner-up was banned from the music business. That would give them something to be nervous about.
In Doylestown, Pennsylvania, it takes a long time to write out your address. But that doesn't stop you from appearing in a high school gym to support hometown boy Justin Guarini. At the end of the night, a bunch of disappointed people will be very quietly shuffling out of one of these gyms. Now, the whitest guy on the face of the planet offers Justin his support. Apparently, his name is Mr. Teshner, and he's Justin's choir teacher. After we cut away from the HS, Seacrest tells Justin he "could have any one of those girls." Again, they waited until now to get hot? This stuff is great. Where has it been?
Time for another list. This one, the Top 5 Best Simon Lines. #5 - "You are the worst singer in America." Oh, The Derek, say it ain't so! #4 - "This is a pen, not a magic wand." Always a great line at parties. #3 - "If you win, we will have failed." I'll say. #2 - "Well then, you're deaf." Never want to hear this. #1 - "Hire a lawyer and sue her." Not a terrible idea.
Dunkleman is still backstage. The hosts are spending more time backstage than Spinal Tap did in Cleveland. Where's the entrance to the stage? Dunk makes another lazy crew guy joke. Then Ryan tries to tape up Dunk's mouth. What's going on here? Let's get away from this and go to a rundown of our ten finalists. These kids are so nice, and they've tried so hard. It's so very nice. We see Kelly getting more compliments, and she seems genuinely surprised by them. Kelly is either completely honest and open, or else she's the most Machiavellian person ever. I can't imagine somebody could invent such a nice persona and stick with it for this long. I wonder if she gets back to the mansion and just starts howling with laughter about how she's fooled us for another day.
Coming out of the taped piece, Dunkleman stares at the TV monitor, absolutely transfixed. An arm comes in from offscreen to nudge him awake. "Hey. You're up." Nice work.
Before another commercial, Kelly and Justin are going to race each other in Focii. Jimmy V. looked pretty damn tough in that jumpsuit. And, of course, Ryan Starr adjusted hers to show off her stomach. Every time with that thing. We get it already!
As Kelly and Justin drive away, a very odd text overlay comes on the screen. It reads, "Justin and Kelly...Good luck! See you at the finish line..." Something was off about that. It looked like a cheap wedding videographer did it. Or some kid playing around on an iMac.
More celebrity opinions! Ice-T likes Kelly. LL Cool J pulls a Paula and refuses to favor one kid over the other. Ethan from Survivor doesn't have that problem. He picks Justin. 'Fros in kind, I suppose. Is Ethan really considered to still be famous, by the way? To this point, not one celebrity has chimed in about me. I must say, I'm a little surprised and disappointed.
Dunkleman is at the sound board now. Will these guys ever reach the stage? Where is it? Dunk stumbles over yet another line. I'd add a cheap "he should turn down his mic while he's at the sound board" joke here, but I have too much pride.
Speaking of pride, let's take a gander at the Top 5 People with Attitude. #5 - Justin's little brother says "You must be joking." Always loved this guy. I wonder where he is now. I hope he's reading this. I'm sure he doesn't have anything better to do. #4 - "I think wearing all black is boring." Let's take fashion advice from a guy that auditioned in three different cities. "Well, the air is L.A. hurt me. I'm sure I'll succeed in Dallas!" #3 - Rose. Ugh. Some poor future husband is in for a tough ride. #2 - Stephanie Sugarman. Shut up. Please. #1 - Tamika. Of course. I'm thinking about adding "big black mother*&%#$" to my column more often. Pep it up a bit.
So, finally, finally, we have reached the stage of the Kodak Theatre. And the house is absolutely packed. Before coming onstage, the kids do that huddle bounce thing that NBA teams do before games. Let's get fired up!
Time for the actual show. A little pause, then our host boys finally come out onto the stage. Glad they were able to find it. The boys look sharp tonight. Nice suits. Seacrest says tonight's show is about "fabulous performances and fantastic songs!" Everything's so great all the time! When he starts speaking, Ryan holds his smile perfectly without an ounce of movement. The human mannequin strikes again.
The final ten have been reunited, and we're about to see a mega-mix super medley of practically every song they ever sang. The girls start out with the "It's in his kiss" song. Ryan Starr is still hot, I'm happy to report. However, she still can't sing. Hopefully she's good at acting, or her job career will entail mainly sitting still and smiling. Christina is ultra hot tonight. I love you! You know that!
The guys' turn. Jim starts off "California Girls" with "I really dig those girls." Sure, Jim. But the rubber mouth is back, just like I promised. Fun rendition of the song, but I always think this number should've been retired after "Diamond" David Lee Roth's bar-setting performance.
New song. Ryan Starr teases Jim with "These Boots." He tumbles to the ground in a terrifically acted moment. Is he auditioning for the role of Nathan Lane's nephew on a new sitcom or something? He's really trying to make the most of his camera time. A.J. looks pretty tough in that shirt. But not that beard. EJay stole the Soul Glo look from Eriq LaSalle tonight. Keep that kid away from open flames.
Let's take our first look at the judges. Sitting in for Randy Jackson tonight is Cedric the Entertainer. Just in time to plug his new show, this fall on FOX! When Simon is introduced, some redhead in the audience leans to her friend and very aggressively says, "I love him!" I do! I mean it! You shut up about him! I love him!
Kelly and Justin come out to warm applause. Okay, thunderous applause. Ray Romano greets them. And then some MADtv people. A grown man acting like a baby! Hilarious! Justin plays to the crowd, hard. So modest. And he already knows how to get cheap applause. "Hey, does anybody here like America?" Whooooo!
Somebody in the crowd is waving a sign that reads, "Let Kelly win. She earned it." Very direct. But despite the sign, Justin is going to get to sing a song first. "A Moment Like This." This is where Aladdin kisses the princess, right? During the song, I realize that Justin should start working on impressions. Or magic tricks. Something to round out his Vegas shows. Provide a full night of entertainment.
Seacrest turns it over to Dunk to introduce Kelly and her song. "It's time for Kelly. Yes it is." Nice effort. Dunk seems like he can't wait for this whole AMERICAN IDOL thing to be over. It has to be excruciating, getting the biggest break of your life like that. If it bothers him to be on TV so much, I can assure him that he probably won't have to worry about it every again.
We soon find out that 15 million calls were received last night, sending the show's overall total north of 100 million calls. Meanwhile, most people can't explain the difference between the popular and electoral votes.
Back from another commercial, and Seacrest is in the audience talking to either Mary Kate or Ashley Olson. About six years ago, I said those two would be hot. Since they were about 11 then, I was branded a weirdo. But it looks like I was right on the button. After that, Seacrest plant a kiss square on the lips of blonde fan. What a nice guy!
A Motown medley is up now. In between performances, Nikki has added some purple dye to her hair. She works fast, I guess. During the songs, Tamyra begins freaking RJ. Whoa! That is not allowed at most proms. We see more Jim, too. Fear the rubber mouth donut! It's coming for you! We're seeing a lot of Ryan Starr as well. Why? Oh, that's right. Her stomach. Girl, can't sing worth a lick, though. Yeah, I'm folksy.
It seems like EJay is wearing a giant ampersand around his neck. & is jewelry now? I simply cannot keep up with fashion, no matter how hard I try. Justin and Tamyra break into a romantic duet. I can picture them sneaking out of the mansion to the patio at night and singing to each other under the stars. Then, a forlorn hug. "Our love can't work. At least...not yet." Hug. The kids all come back out, then saunter into the crowd, leaving Kelly alone on stage. Telling?
We're starting to get serious now. Only a few minutes away from finding out the AMERICAN IDOL. But first, Justin and Kelly sing "It Takes Two." That was fun. Really. I mean that. I've noticed that when I'm being serious, I have to make that very clear because people always assume I'm being sarcastic. Tough rep to shake. Poor me!
Kelly was a cocktail waitress. Justin was a door-to-door salesman. They still have those? After these commercials, one of them will become the most famous person in America. Except for John Ritter. He's still riding high.
The ads are over, and now we're definitely getting serious. Judges? Before we announce the winner, what do you think? Randy cops out, and Seacrest boldly calls him on it. He says it's Kelly. Paula cops out, and Seacrest boldly calls her on it. She says Kelly sang her butt off. Simon says it's been a tremendous show and he finally has to admit the talent is better here than in Britain. Particularly the recap-writing talent. If America got it right last night, Kelly will win, he closes.
Time for the big announcement. Kelly seems placid. Justin seems nervous. Oh, big swallow from Kelly. I guess she's nervous too. I'm starting to get excited. What a damn nerd. I used to be cool, I swear. The votes were split 58-42. That's 8.7 million to 6.3 million, if you're wondering. Math? Christ, I am a nerd.
Huge pause from Seacrest. The winner is...another huge pause...Kelly Clarkson! Wow! I knew it! I finally got a prediction right! Oh, and good for Kelly too, I guess. Justin seems to be more excited than Kelly. The woman from Madtv is more excited than both of them, because she is absolutely bawling right now. A silicone-enhanced redhead in the audience cheers wildly. Where would you ever find a woman like that but in L.A.?
Ah, we've finally done it. Kelly Clarkson is our new idol. She closes the show by singing, "A Moment Like This," her brand new single. If we had any "synergy," a link to buy it would appear here. (pause) Hmm. Nothing. I guess nobody cares about my little corner of the world.
Hey, shouldn't we have some confetti or something? This is a big moment! Wait. Here comes 19 tons of the stuff. Spoke too soon.
Whew! So we've finally finished. The show is over and the longest recap ever is coming to a close. But don't worry, dear reader! I got one more left in me. Check back next week for my final, overall, everything in one package total recap of the entire show. We'll laugh, we'll read, just like every week. Well, I don't know if we laugh every week, but you should definitely come back towards the end of next week for a little more of your Jaded pal.