But we’ll get to that. Of course you know last night our manful Top 3 performed a whopping 2 songs each; according to even the least impressed, everybody had an up and a down. As we head into tonight’s show, the standings are almost impossible to predict, what with underdogs making last minute plays, top dogs slipping, and voting populations being left mostly unguided because the judges are more interested in playing Duck, Duck, Goose with each other than in actually doing their jobs well. Of course, we’re at the point where the show should be more predictable than ever: there are only three possible outcomes. But those few possibilities fluctuate so wildly according to many different factors that for once I actually am too stumped to even venture a guess at who will serve as our Final Two and am really curious to know. That’s right y’all, I’m anticipating the results show.
So of course we open with a little skit that has nothing to do with anything. Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, and two guys I don’t know speak about the judges’ table, or desk as they call it, as a cultural artifact that will sit next to Old Glory and Lincoln’s top hat in the Smithsonian. Truly, the desk has seen some historic moments. Paula’s Second Song disaster. The 4,002 separate moments of innuendo and UST between Rymon. Randy’s invention of no less than 10 new terms to augment the 30 words he knew before the show. The desk has perhaps earned its place in memory. But where will the judges sit now during the show? The audience? Ooh, or down the street at a diner? Maybe their own homes? I’m all aglow with the new possibilities.
And now, the show. Ryan descends; he makes a joke about Simon’s t-shirt collection getting its own exhibit, and Simon genuinely laughs at that. Then he says 88 million votes were cast over this week’s performances, by oh, I don’t know 88 people. Good job, power dialers and texters. Ryan says that if we think we know what’s going to happen, we should think again, which pretty much gives away the whole show because as I said above, there are only three things that could happen, and one of those would never, ever happen, so really there are two. And so after thinking again, I’m happy now.
After a cursory nod at the contestants and the judges, we kick it right to the Ford machine. This week’s offering is pretty wack, to say the least. Kris, Adam, and Danny drive down a street and encounter dangerous dogs, singing “Break My Stride” while intermittently turning into cartoon superheroes with unenviable powers: Adam throws meat at dogs, Kris blows up like a balloon (or like a blueberry!) and blows clouds away, Danny’s arms stretch out and he clears cars from the street. I hope you read that as monotone, because only then will I have fully recreated the experience for you.
And what’s this? More Idol Gives Back stuff? I thought we weren’t doing that this year because we have Danny on the show and so there isn’t a need? But here we go anyway. Alicia Keys walks out looking stunning and glowing happy, to speak about an org she’s affiliated with called Keep a Child Alive. She introduces Noah, a young boy from Rwanda who dreams of making music to raise money and hope for children living with and orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Noah sings “The World’s Greatest,” while people smile and clap along with inspired expressions, and I wish he didn’t have to do this to draw attention to his cause. But he looks so happy and so beautiful on stage, dancing and singing that I hope he gets to keep doing it. After all, if Beyonce can craft a career out of finding different ways to say “oh-oh-oh,” then I think Noah should be able to do his thing too.
Where the Heart Is
It’s Hometown Visit time! Speaking of hometown visits, what up, Allison? I wish I could’ve seen you rocking out at La Curacao amongst the entertainment centers and loveseats one last time, but you remain a superstar. See you at the finale!
Ryan first brings out Danny to a pretty raucous applause; he’s dressed in a leather jacket only a week late and looks like he wants to look relaxed. Ryan asks how it feels and Danny for once says he is unsure of what’s going to happen and for once I believe he means it. Let’s dip our toes into feeling kind feelings toward him with his trip back to Milwaukee. Of course the local FOX affiliate is on the scene to meet his plane; there’s a motorcade, and a ton of people screaming at the thought of being able to see him. Danny describes this as going “from tragedy to triumph.” He does radio interviews, hugs the girls and makes them cry, and then we get the reunion of Danny and BFF Jamar who you might remember from Top 36, and who looks thrilled to see Danny again and really proud of him; he rides alongside Danny in the parade and comforts Danny as Danny sheds tears of joy and disbelief. A young woman in odd plaid pajama pants runs after the car and fails to catch up. She will live in infamy. Signs at his concert command him to “scream on,” but we hear no singing from Danny because, to put it diplomatically, he may or may not have sounded a honey baked mess during his hometown concert. But anyway, even without his singing anything it’s a really touching package. That, or I’m just a soft touch. Either way, touching happened and it was good.
Danny expresses gratefulness to everyone who showed up “so strong” for him, and then Ryan recounts all the feedback he got for his two performances: “Dance Little Sister” was high energy but desperate. “You Are So Beautiful to Me” was stunning and well arranged. Stew on that, while we move on to Kris.
Pocket Idol Rocks a Substantial Piece of the World
The cheers are deafening for Kris as Ryan calls him out. He threw a grey blazer over his regulation white t-shirt, for that “I sing in a coffee shop but I also pay my bills” look. Apparently a local Conway restaurant has given him the liberty of free cheese dip for the rest of his life, and I don’t know why he even bothered coming back to the show afterwards, because that’s a real prize. Kris likewise makes his way through the local news and radio stations; a literal sea of people meets him at his hometown amphitheater. He surfs the crowd a bit, and then he travels to his parents’ house for a tearful reunion with his mother and a long, loving embrace from his father whose pride in his son is really stunningly beautiful.
Then we see him revisit some of his finest musical moments at his college, and I apologize in advance, but here’s where I pick up a convenient soapbox and stand on it: Kris Allen’s making it to the Top 3 of [i]American Idol[i] is a victory for musicianship on American Idol. No matter if you “care” for his style or not, I have to say that the skills he has shown in choosing, arranging, interpreting, singing, and accompanying songs on this show all season have displayed an extremely sophisticated musical sensibility and a deep well of talent that explains his success. This is not a fangirl speaking. (That might come later.) I am strictly speaking as somebody who really loves beautiful music and wants Kris to get the credit for making it that he deserves. And I’m done.
There’s also a parade for Kris; he and his wife ride through tickertape and he shakes hands and makes people cry, and he performs some more, and says thank you to everyone for changing his life. Back in the studio, Ryan is a little in love with Kris and can’t let go of how lovely the father-son thing is especially, but then the showman wins out and he goes to the performance feedback: “Apologize” showed what kind of artist Kris could be, but Simon thought it was a stupid song choice; Kara wanted him to change the arrangement but Simon thought that was stupid. “Heartless” ruled the world. And now he gets to stew over with Danny.
Ryan, bless him, remarks on how tense the night is and claims to be nervous himself. Maybe that’s what’s making him so much oranger than usual tonight.
Grrrl and Glam Boy
Meanwhile Jordin Sparks has discovered “girl power.” Yes, the Parade of Past Idols continues tonight with Jordin, singing her new song “Battlefield” with the guy from One Republic accompanying her on piano. She looks pop star beautiful; slimmed down, highlighted hair, tight black dress, bronzed face, and she literally throws herself into the performance, whipping around and stomping to the groove. The song is like if Beyonce were Jordin Sparks: a kind of anthemic something about why love shouldn’t feel like a battlefield, nevertheless “get your armor,” but with enough Avril Lavigne-ish guitar chords that you know it’s a younger, poppier girl singing. When she’s done she stares intensely and angrily into the camera, because that is what pop stars do when they have given you the gift of their passion and wisdom. Use it wisely, my friends, or she will come for you.
And then Adam Lambert’s homecoming package gets the pimp spot! Ha. The cheers for Adam make me fear for the ears of everyone in that studio. My goodness. Adam is wearing the hugest grin ever as Ryan talks about him going home to San Diego. He is sporting the leather also, but it’s not a surprise because he’s Adam. A streaker decorated the legacy of Adam’s visit; he says, “I got really excited she decided to take her top off and come down to the stage.” We of course don’t see her in the package. Just Adam, talking to the camera, meeting hundreds of people at the FOX station, doing the weather woman’s eyeliner, looking absolutely ecstatic at being able to hug and sign autographs for fans. I also want to point out that Adam, the super-edgy and too deep for the mainstream, has just as many (or more?) tweens and young girls screaming like mad at the sight of him as the other two, and that is as it should be. Adam visits his childhood theater group, where an absolutely precious little moon-faced boy asked him how he got so good at singing at dancing, and Adam answers that he’s been practicing since he was very young.
He sings for his own sea of people, and does the Star Spangled Banner at a Marine base, and in general sets San Diego afire. Down to earth in the studio we hear that the judges called his rendition of U2’s “One” superb and brilliant, and after he sang “Crying” they said he deserved to be in the finals. And I think he does, for reasons different to Kris’; mostly his performance skills, but also his keen ability to inhabit a genre of music while also making it bend to fit his singing skills and personal style, so while I might not always like listening to it, I do respect it and understand why it makes people love him so much.
Now for Something Way Less Cordial
Hey look! It’s Alexis Grace in the audience with Sarver and Cawkrey. I thought I saw Anoop and Matt earlier but it was quick as a flash. I’m sure we’ll get our fill of them all next week.
Anyway, Ryan’s having chat time with all three of the guys. For a second he pretends that he’s going to go straight for results, but I know he’s faking. I’m just gifted that way. I can also tell in any Joy of Painting episode precisely when it’s time for a “happy little tree.” Danny Gokey is less pleased with the fake-out; he says “enough suspense, enough commercials.” Perhaps, Danny, perhaps. But we certainly haven’t had enough awful yet to call this an AI Results Show. And so, Katy Perry.
Adam’s excited! (“I wanna see Katy Perry!” he shouts cutely and enthusiastically.) I’m not so much. You might already know that I can’t stand Katy Perry, but in case you were wondering here is a more reasoned list of specific offenses laid to her charge (of course I hope you’ll scroll on by to the next paragraph if you weren’t wondering): 1) Stealing Zooey Deschanel’s face and kooky style while borrowing none of her incandescence or effortless cool, 2) lampooning the idea of girls kissing girls as something to do ultimately for the benefit of turning on boys, 3) exploiting generalized and backwards ideas of “femininity” as an exercise in self-promotion, 4) infantilizing and slurring men who don’t eat meat and who listen to classical music, and 5) co-opting a supposedly “edgy” personal aesthetic and philosophy calculated to make people think she’s unique and so much cooler and more worthwhile than all other girls, because she really understands boys.
And because it might matter to some people, I say all of this as a straight girl who thinks all kinds of people are awesome and deserve to not have their identities trivialized. Also, I just found out her album is called One of the Boys, so really I’m done here. In conclusion: Katy Perry blows as a singer, and as a person. Oh, and tonight she sings something called “Waking up in Vegas” that I fast-forwarded right past, although I did see lots of feathers and glitter. (Katy Perry fans, don’t bother being insulted on her behalf; I’m just a dumb, petty, mean, jealous girl, so she won’t care what I think anyway.)
When we return to the show, the guys are lined up on stage and the lights are all red and dim, so you know we’re at the business end. Ryan wishes good luck to them all, and then declares Kris the first person safely into the finale. (!) Kris looks just as shocked as he did last week; there’s a substantial OMG-face that probably mirrored my own when I saw it. Danny smiles and reaches for a hug, Kara mouths her OMG, Simon applauds and Randy gives props. Adam and Kris share a warm hug and you can hear Adam say “Congratulations” before Ryan steers him over to the side of the champions. Danny and Adam hug briefly while waiting for Ryan to call out the name of the eliminee. Danny has never been in the bottom three and Adam has; Kris is almost down on his knees in disbelief as Ryan says that everybody thought Danny and Adam would be the finale. And then Ryan of course sends Adam to the next round and drops the axe on Danny. The crowd goes nuts; Adam drops his face in his hands in his surprise, and Kris rushes to hug Danny before they all get in a group embrace. It’s anticlimactic for me, because of course Adam’s not going to be eliminated! I can’t believe you Glamberts even had a moment’s suspense, but that is kind of what this show does to people who become fans, so okay.
I feel I should say that Danny also earned his place in the competition; with only one really glaring exception, Danny consistently used his great voice to deliver a lot of memorable and heartfelt performances and managed to connect with millions of people. I haven’t ever really been a fan, but that doesn’t matter on this show because no one person can decide or choose who succeeds and who fails, and the fact that Danny made it this far proves that he succeeded as a competitor on this show. Kara makes a really exaggerated disappointed face and is disgusting; the crowd cheers warmly for Danny as his Carrie Underwood package plays, fronted by his wedding photo and sprinkled with liberal doses of Jamar and his wife and his glasses and the exorbitant praise he got for inspiring us all. He does “You Are So Beautiful” for his singout, and while I didn’t watch the original I have to say that this one is pretty lovely, even though he’s crying and it really hurts to sing when you’re crying. Also crying? Paula. The judges and the audience ovate him, and then he’s done. Goodbye, Danny. Make sure your vocal cords and your diaphragm get lots of rest for the finale. They need it. Simon says some stuff about Kris having a real shot and the finale shaping up to be “a real ding-dong.”
Agreed, Simon, with whatever that means! Here’s hoping the Kradam finale will be one to remember. Okay, how could it not be? Two talented, humble, adorable friends, who in their musical choices have both shown that they will come out swinging for this title. Epic, is the word I’m going to throw out there ever so cautiously. Be sure to be here next week to hear all about the performances from me, and to have everything they pack into the sure-to-be bloated finale spectacular brought to you by my snarky partner MsFroggy.
So. Who’s really looking forward to seeing Danny on Idolatry? Just me?