It started with 100,000 hopefuls, and after months of entertainment, just two finalists remain. Only 13 golden tickets were handed out in Chicago, and two of them are the only ones left in the competition. The next American Idol is either Crystal Bowersox or Lee DeWyze, and they were sitting together at auditions! The duo chatted with Ryan, and Lee was wearing a prep school jacket; it's kind of Harry Potteresque and it confused me a bit.
Ryan Seacrest announced that the race to become Season 9's American Idol was a tight one, with less than 2% of the votes separating the finalists. He introduced the judges, and Randy Jackson was wearing a purple floral shirt, Ellen DeGeneres looked fancy in a white tux, Kara DioGuardi dazzled in sparkles, and on Simon's last night, he appeared to be wearing the same thing he wore last night and last finale. Instead of booing him, Randy gave Simon a standing ovation.
The Top 2 came back out, and now Crystal is in a school girl outfit. Are they doing Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time?" That would be awesome!
A school bell rang and the Top 12 tore up the stage with "School's Out" by Alice Cooper. Suddenly, the private school uniforms made sense. Orianthi was on the guitar. That girl can shred; she should team up with Casey James after she goes on tour with Allison Iraheta and Adam Lambert this summer. Alice Cooper came out to join the Top 12. What a rockin' way to start the show! Something about Michael Lynche in a school uniform is funny; perhaps because he's giant. The energy was high and the eyeliner was running (well, at least in Alice's case). I'm ready for tonight!
Next, reigning American Idol (for another two hours) Kris Allen performed his latest single, "The Truth." I love this song. What a year it's been for this husband from Conway. He's toured the U.S., traveled to Haiti, released an album, and he will be on tour this summer with Maroon 5 and the Barenaked Ladies. Kris didn't play the guitar during this performance, which allowed him to walk around and shake the hands of the adoring fans in the audience.
We looked back at Simon through the years. The only thing about him that's changed is his pouf of hair. It's settled down a bit.
Siobhan Magnus and Aaron Kelly, your sixth and fifth place Idols, came out and sang "How Deep Is Your Love" by the Bee Gees. This was an unlikely pairing, but they sounded good together. The stage door lifted, and guess who was there? The Bee Gees! The enthusiastic crowd was into it. You could only hear Barry, and he was serenading Siobhan. Robin Gibb then wondered if he should serenade Aaron Kelly. David Hasselfhoff was standing and clapping for these four, but there were no tears from him yet!
Michael Lynche sang "Takin' It To The Streets" which is a Taylor Hicks moment from Season 5. In fact, you can re-watch it in our Lyrics Challenge Game. Another Michael joined him on stage...Michael McDonald. It was an unexpected match-up, but they sounded good together and the performance was fun.
Comedian Dane Cook came out with a guitar in his hands. I didn't know he sang or played the guitar. He performed a tribute to Simon's greatest insults called "Simon Said." Simon was trying to look confused, but he kept laughing. Suddenly, some of Idol's most infamous contestants, Janet McNamara, Nick Mitchell/Norman Gentle, Ian Benardo, Renaldo Lapuz, Tatiana Nicole, and the Brittenum Brothers joined Dane on stage. When Ian Benardo took the microphone out of Dane's hands, it was time to cut to commercial.
Lacey Brown started off the top girls' medley to Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful," and she sounded great! Didi Benami came out next. I like that all these girls are getting solos. When Katie Stevens sang her part, I was blown away. This fits her voice perfectly...don't listen to Simon's suggestion to do Country, Katie! Siobhan Magnus and Paige Miles came out and sang next, and then your top girl, Crystal Bowersox. Although it's usually not recommended to sing Christina Aguilera on Idol, the girls did it justice. I hope they perform this on tour. Next, the girls launched into Christina's "Fighter," and Katie welcomed Christina Aguilera and her dancers. She's channeling a modern day Marilyn Monroe. At the end of the set, Christina Aguilera performed a solo of "You Lost Me" off her upcoming album, BIONIC. She was very emotional during this performance; perhaps she is nervous about the Top 2 results.
Ricky Gervais chatted about Simon Cowell via satellite. He called Simon a "Dreammaker" and joked that Cowell only takes 80% from his prodigies.
Back from commercial, Lee DeWyze looked calm and started the next medley with the Top 12 guys to "I Can't Go For That." It took all season, but Casey has finally mastered choreography. Tim's hair was even longer than before. The guys jump into a performance of the upbeat "Maneater," and guess who joined them on stage? Yep, it's Daryl Hall & John Oates with "You Make My Dreams." I love that song because it was in The Wedding Singer, Step Brothers, Glee, and (500) Days of Summer.
Season 9 Top 24 finalist Janell Wheeler was hosting Crystal's hometown celebration in Toledo. You could hardly see her or hear her because of everyone jumping and screaming around her. Crystal's father, stood with Ryan as he introduced Crystal, who took the stage to perform "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette. Crystal sang Alanis' "Hand In My Pocket" during the first week of the live shows. She welcomed Alanis to the stage, and the two started with "You Oughta Know" the semi-censored version. Crystal looked confident on stage, and she and Alanis did a lot of roaming around the Nokia stage. Crystal totally held her own next to Alanis. That was fun.
Five years ago tonight, Carrie Underwood was crowned the American Idol. She was back with her latest single, "Undo It," co-written by Kara DioGuardi. Carrie changed out of her red carpet glamour look and transformed into a rocker in leather and zippers. Leather pants with leather boots seems like an uncomfortable combo to put on and off. Carrie is such an amazing performer, and I saw her perform on this very stage during her Carnival Ride tour, and I've never seen a more energetic performer. Her live vocals at the finale with "Undo It" were flawless!
Kris Allen surprised Lee and Crystal on their way to a photo shoot, and he handed them the keys to their custom made Ford cars. If they drive down the road, you'll know who it is! It's not a way to keep their star status under wraps, but it's cool nonetheless. For the final Season 9 music video, Crystal and Lee sang "My Wish" to a montage of all the Ford commercials.
Casey James was eliminated just last week, but he's back to sing Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." Don't tell me...YES! Bret Michaels came out on stage. You can't stop this man. He's faced the biggest set backs over the past few days, but that didn't keep him from performing for the first time since his medical scares. And he looks tan!
Next, we were treated to a medley of hits from the band named after Lee DeWyze's hometown, it was the group Chicago featuring Lee! He sounded good and they performed a trio of songs. Then we saw Matt Rogers, hometown celebration host extraordinaire, party with the BeLEEvers in Illinois.
Simon's narcissism and flirting through the years was made fun of by Paula Abdul. The kiss between Simon and Paula was replayed, as well as footage of Simon moving on from Paula to Ellen. Memories on the show including discovering Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and Adam Lambert were played. History was made once again this year, with General Larry Platt's Atlanta audition. Larry came out and performed "Pants on the Ground" with back-up dancers. There was so much Ed Hardy up on stage it looked like an episode of Jersey Shore. To top the performance off, William Hung sang with his hat turned sideways. Larry was doing sit-ups on the floor; meanwhile, the dancers have dropped trou and are dancing in their boxers. Hey, we all knew Larry would be back at the finale as soon as we saw his audition!
Paula Abdul talked about Simon some more; she met Simon on the first day of work. "I could not believe what was coming out of Simon's mouth." Paula finally revealed why she left: "After sitting between two men who have bigger boobs than me, I had enough." Simon taught Paula to be strong and when the video ended the stage door lifted and wouldn't you know, Paula is here! Simon, of all people, stood up first, followed by the rest of the judges and theatre. She looked hot in her little pink dress. Paula has taken some comedy courses since leaving American Idol. She said MC Skat Kat doesn't hold a candle to Simon. I hope that Andrew Garcia comes out for a performance of "Straight Up." "American Idol will not be the same without you," Paula stated, "but as only I can tell you, it will go on." Footage of Simon, Kelly, Carrie, trips to Africa, Renaldo, Robin Williams, all rolled, and I'm sure Simon was enjoying all these montages of his face. "I've had the best 10 years of my life, so I genuinely mean this, thank you and I'm gonna miss you," he said.
Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, Taylor Hicks, and Kris Allen took the stage to perform a tribute to Simon to Delta Goodrem's "Together We Are One." The American Idols sang the lead vocals and all of them looked great. So many other Idol alumni, as well as the Season 9 finalists, came out dressed in all white to back up the Idols. I noticed that Paula was sitting on Simon's lap, and I thought it was funny that Jordin towers over Kris. Ryan called Simon up, and the Brit stated, "I didn't think I was going to be this emotional, but I genuinely am. It's great to have this little one [Paula Abdul] back. The show goes forward, but it will be different. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for the support and the fun...and your sense of humor." He commented on how great it was to see these contestants back and said, "When everyone asks who's gonna replace me...the truth is you guys are the judges to this show and you've done an amazing job." Awww, Simon!
The Top 12 minus Crystal and Lee began singing and oh my...Janet Jackson! That's pretty awesome. She was sporting short hair and she sounds a lot like Michael. I wonder if Kelly Clarkson and Jordin Sparks were kicking it backstage with Janet Jackson. How cool would that be?! The performance included lasers and dancers with masks on, that walked a fine line between cool and scary. Even Janet danced. I really hoped Paula would get up and join Janet for "Nasty Boys." This is like my entire childhood casette collection coming alive on stage tonight.
Ryan Seacrest had to remind us that tonight is about Crystal and Lee; there's too much excitement to think that one may be going home. On August 31, 2009, Lee and Crystal sang for the judges and Shania in Chicago. We saw a montage of the Top 2 -- Did you know it has come down to a single mom and a paint salesman? Ryan likes to remind us of that. Man, little Tony has grown up during this Idol journey. Lee and Crystal seem to be genuinely good friends. I nominate that they both win, but I don't think that's gonna happen. Crystal and Lee took the stage together and sang "With a Little Help From My Friends." Aww the Wonder Years! They sounded great. I think Crystal and Lee, as good as they are apart, are amazing together. Joe Cocker came out to join them.
It was time for the moment we've been waiting all night and season for. Ryan opened the results and paused for what seemed like an eternity. "The winner [I got up grabbed a snack and came back] of American Idol [flossed and brushed my teeth] is [finished a crossword puzzle]...Lee DeWyze!" Lee cried, and then was tackled by Mike Lynche. He had definite "Lee DeWyze Eyes" going on. Lee performed "Beautiful Day" in front of falling fireworks and raining confetti. Lee's parents were having a party in the audience. Didi, of course, was crying a lot. I'm a sucker for these emotional coronations.
Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen, and LEE DeWYZE!!!
Thanks for reading along with me all season. Until Season 10...Insider, out!