It was the night we have all been waiting for. The culmination of all the American Idol contestants' hard work and determination.
On Wednesday night, American Idol aired its 13th finale live at the Nokia Theatre. The night started off with Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson back in the Hunger Games-esque box of terror from the audition rounds and then performed what Ryan Seacrest described as an exciting opening number, a mash-up of some Queen, Gwen Stefani, etc. After which, Ryan took an unofficial poll of the audience to determine who the favorite was, Jena or Caleb.
If the volume of a crowds scream is an accurate measure, Jena might as well save herself the embarrassment and head home now. On the other hand, it isn't all that surprising that fans of Caleb would enjoy screaming, so perhaps its not really a scientific survey, after all.
We were then treated to Sam Woolf singing Phil Phillips's song, "Home," until Phil himself came out and reignited the "Raging Fire" in my heart! Next up was Jennifer Nettles singing, "That Girl," and surprisingly, it was as enjoyable as Phil! Not a fan of country, Jennifer Nettles was an unknown to this viewer but after her captivating performance and incredible voice she has a new fan! When Jessica Meuse joined her on the stage to sing, "Wrecking Ball," it was perhaps Jessica's best vocal of the entire season. If she had performed like that throughout, Wednesday night's finale would have a different lineup.
Speaking of different lineups, a good one would have spared us the performance, from resident judge Jennifer Lopez, of her new single, "First Love."
Perhaps it was the fact that Jennifer emerged on the stage after the classy and powerful duo by Jessica Meuse and Jennifer Nettles that made her seem exceedingly cheap but then again, it's hard to imagine how watching Jennifer, skimpily clad in a sequined, fringe bodysuit "singing" a song that sounds like Jenny from the Block takes on Debbie Gibson while thrusting herself suggestively across the stage and crawling around on all fours, could ever be perceived as tasteful. It's really such a shame to watch her willingly objectify herself – eschewing the power and beauty she has earned through experience in exchange for a desperate attempt to recapture her faded youth. In fact, although she's in great physical shape and is still an amazing dancer, Jennifer Lopez never looked older than she did on that stage trying to be 20 again.
KISS then returned to American Idol – wearing almost as much makeup as Jennifer – to sing with Caleb, hoping this time they were paired up with the future winner as opposed to the last time they paired with runner-up, Adam Lambert. (Yes, yes, I know that Adam was for all intents and purposes the winner but technically, he lost to Kris Allen!) No one was more pleased with KISS's return to the stage than Caleb's brother who returned to the stage for a second time this season. There's never been a contestant family member who's been on the show more than Caleb's brother – there must be a perfectly good explanation for this . . . if you think of one, please let me know because I'm at a loss.
Much like I was at a loss when they cut to Aloe Blacc & Idol Guys. Who? Oh wait, you have to be from the UK to know him, although Jennifer was singing more of his song than she actually did of her own. Anyway, he performed with the "Idol Guys," and can you blame the producers for the vague intro, none of us can remember half their names at this point.
After getting new Mustang's from Ford, Caleb and Jena invited their musical mentors to the finale (thanks again to Ford) with Jena honoring her choir teacher and Caleb his guitar player, who were then each given Ford Fusions. Apparently, they aren't quite important enough to get the flashy, gas guzzling Mustangs; it's all practicality and efficiency for the mentors.
Demi Lovato then took to the stage with some of the early departed Idol Girls and it didn't take long to remember why they fell into that category. It was an abysmal performance across the board. At one point, some of these girls actually demonstrated enough talent to be selected out of 75,000 other contestants. But they demonstrated none of that in this production.
Jena took to the piano again to perform Paramore's "Decode," a song that really highlights Jena's tongue which seems large enough to qualify her for entry into KISS. Paramore then joined Jena on the Idol stage and all the judges danced and smiled and huge balloons filled the theater and everyone in Idol Land lived happily ever after . . . oh wait, we still don't know who won. Only one more hour to go. (I just simultaneously burst all those balloons with that statement.)
Performance #263 (or so) was John Legend and Malaya Watson. Idol should really consider what would compel people to spend money to see these American Idol's in concert this summer when we've already seen them perform with actual artists, who won't be at the concerts. Haven't they all peaked during the finale? Because it's unlikely anything would surpass the pairing of Jason Mraz and Alex Preston performing, "Love Someone," one of two highlights in a rather dim finale.
Well, maybe one thing: a duet between Ryan Seacrest and Richard Marx. Now that possibly surpassed nearly every other Idol moment in history!
Fast forward through Darius Rucker (formerly known as Hootie or was he the blowfish?) singing with CJ Harris and Dexter Roberts, which is more country than any one person can really be expected to tolerate at once (besides I already said I liked Jennifer Nettles, wasn't that enought?) Apparently not, since Idol then introduced Lady Antebellum. It's nice that they let Hillary Scott on the stage after rejecting her when she auditioned for the show...twice.
The judges then joined efforts with Randy Jackson for a performance in which Jennifer sang with the voice of a two-year old. Harry and Keith didn't sound great but they didn't sound like strange auto-tuned toddlers, either. But after the odd vocals it was great to see all of the judges and Randy showcase their real talents on musical instruments and they even let Jennifer play with a tamborine!
Then it was time. The official envelope was delivered and Caleb Johnson was crowned the Season 13 American Idol and we were treated to a final song by Caleb before he goes on to take the music industry and world by storm, as so many of you have insisted he will in the comments.
American Idol returns next January and though the hours may be reduced, rumor has it we may have the same panel in place and after seeing the flashbacks of the auditions, I was reminded why we had such high hopes for this season. Will they manage to revitalize the show or will Season 14 be Idol's last? More importantly, will you be tuning in again next season or was 13 your limit?
Leave me a parting gift by sharing your thoughts in the comments section, you know, for old time's sake!
And thanks for joining me for another season!