Here's a question to contemplate: How did a season that brought us so much indifference and mediocrity climax with such a phenomenal finale?
And who else was worried that it might be the worst finale ever when the first performance was a ghastly top 12 group number as an intro to a gruesome Alice Cooper?
One other thing before we dive into the delightful duets and groups. Why was Kara dressed like Tarzan? OK. I feel better. We can begin.
Kris Allen -- Does he get more adorable every day? Yes, he does. I'm so so on the new single, but there's no denying he can sing (well, I know you haters will deny it but you're wrong). Even with the technical glitch of Ryan and one of the producers talking at the beginning, it was still great. I have a hard time imagining that Lee will be that polished or comfortable on stage a year from now, but I guess we'll see. A
The first Simon montage was cute, but a little silly.
Siobhan & Aaron / Bee Gees -- Has Siobhan looked or sounded better than she did tonight? I don't think so. She overshadowed Aaron somewhat. What can I say about Barry Gibb? Talk about bleating. He was the first of several sad performances by performers past their primes. And how cute was Jordin Sparks singing and dancing in the audience? B+ / C-
Mike Lynche / Michael McDonald -- Big Mike was pretty much just the same Big Mike as always; maybe a sliver less cheesy. Michael McDonald, however, was a pleasant surprise (after Barry Gibb especially). B / B+
Dane Cook -- My friend asked if Dane Cook is a comedian. All I could say is that I'm pretty sure he thinks he is. F
The Girls / Christina Aguilera -- I thought all the girls sounded quite good -- Paige and Katey in particular. It was nice to see them find their voices finally. All I can say about Christina Aguilera is that it was the single best performance I've ever seen on the Idol stage. I think I stopped breathing at one point. And I came very close to crying. A / A++++++
Ricky Gervais' Simon tribute was definitely better than the first two lame attempts.
The Boys / Hall & Oates -- Andrew still can't sing in tune. Casey found his personality sometime in the last week. Aaron Kelly sounds like a little boy. And Tim Urban sounded remarkably good. Certainly better than Daryl Hall did. Wow. I used to love his voice. Did anyone's cats or dogs whine when he went for his falsetto? B / D
Oh look. It's Janelle Wheeler. Who? Exactly.
Crystal / Alanis Morrisette -- I thought Crystal sounded amazing here. And she looked very happy to be sharing the stage with Alanis. There was a rumor that it would be Melissa Etheridge doing the duet with Crystal, but I'm glad it wasn't. How funny was it when Crystal sang the lyric "Would she go down with you to the theater?" Hilarious! But seriously, this was one of my favorites of the night. A / A
Carrie Underwood -- Five years later (to the day), she looks and sounds more amazing than ever. She could wear a gunny sack and it would look phenomenal on her. If Kelly Clarkson ever dumps me I will definitely marry Carrie. A
Even the Ford video was OK.
Casey James / Bret Michaels -- If I'm not mistaken, Bret Michaels is the only performer that wasn't identified or announced. And for someone just out of his death bed, he's been pretty busy this week. God bless him. B / A (just for showing up)
Lee / Chicago -- Now, Lee had to have rehearsed with Chicago during the day, right? So, he knew going in how dreadful their lead singer was going to sound. How much must that have sucked for him to have to go on stage fully aware of the impending train wreck? B / D
Does anyone but me (and at most six other people in the world) remember who Matt Rogers is?
At this point in the Simon tribute, I was just getting annoyed that we had only seen Paula on tape so far.
Pants on the Ground -- Blecch. NO
Paula Abdul -- Here was another point where I almost cried. I really couldn't believe how happy I was to see Paula back. And I loved that she took a moment to soak in the love before she got started. I don't think I can overstate how much I think she was missed this season. This kind of schtick isn't her forte, but she looked amazing and I love her. A
Kelly, Ruben, Fantasia, Carrie, Taylor, Jordin, Kris Allen and Company Where was David Cook? It was so cool to see all of them up on stage together. I wish Kelly had gotten to sing more, but at least she was right over Simon's shoulder the whole time he was speaking. Others I thought looked especially good: Kimberly Caldwell, Diana Degarmo, Bo Bice and Mikalah Gordon. A
The top 12 / Janet Jackson -- Everyone in the group sounded fine, but who cared because as soon as they started singing we knew who was coming. If Christina hadn't performed, this would have been the most amazing performance of the night. I was completely drawn in. I barely moved a muscle through the entire first song. And then she did Nasty. Freaking FANTASTIC. B /A+++
Crystal & Lee / Joe Cocker -- To answer Lee's question "What would you do if I sang out of tune?" -- vote you the next American Idol apparently. Crystal looked completely starstruck here. Poor Joe just looked like grandpa. He's still got it though. This was a cool little number. B
They almost pulled the show in on time. It was two minutes over when Ryan told us that Lee had won. I was not as indifferent to the result as most people and for a split second I was a little disappointed and annoyed. But then I saw his reaction and it was impossible to not be happy for him.
So, just to tie up a loose end from last night. According to EW.com, the songs that Lee and Crystal performed last in the finale -- the singles -- were not picked by the producers. They picked them themselves. Which means that Lee saddled himself with the herculean task of taking on a U2 song at the most important moment in the season. I just thought that was interesting. I'm not going to bother grading his final performance of it. He won. It was great to see how thrilled he was.
So, in the end it was all worth it. I'd go through that season again gladly if it means I'd get to see performances like the ones Christina and Janet gave us. Those two alone made it all worthwhile.
Here we are at the end of the season. As much as I bitched about it, I LOVED writing about it and reading what you all had to say. You guys made this season fun for me. I probably would have lost interest around Top 9 week if it weren't for you. Thanks for reading. Even the second time around, I'm amazed and humbled by the experience. As long as you are reading, I'll be writing.
What did you think? Were you as happy with the finale as I was. Let's hear it.