Idol Worship: Post-show Report
For such an anticipated showdown, there wasn’t all that much going on in the media area on Tuesday night. Most radio interviews had been done on Monday in the Nokia’s downstairs lounge, where all of the Top 13 were paraded down a long hallway of stations set up for remote feeds. Fox affiliates got their own time with the season 8 bunch in an area set up outside the Nokia Theater doors and accessible to just about anyone off the street. That’s where we saw Allison Iraheta graciously pose with a couple of eager girl fans after the show, and also ran into Chicken Little himself, Kevin Covais, who was getting recognized left and right.
Meanwhile, out by the loading dock, we spotted Megan Joy and David Archuleta having a light-hearted chat before he was chauffeured away by a woman who looked very much like his mom and Megan was ushered back inside for more rehearsals.
Ryan Seacrest left the building just after eight, but not before asking a crowd of onlookers, “Who’s it gonna be?” Does that guy ever break from hosting duties?
Surprise special guest Rod Stewart made a stealth exit after a relatively quick post-show rehearsal. We couldn’t make out the song, only that it was mid-tempo, which narrows it down to a couple dozen possibilities.
A flock of paparazzi had gathered outside the backstage exit and went berserk when Extra correspondent Teri Seymour appeared. According to one such shutterbug, Simon Cowell’s ex-girlfriend was seen crying in the same spot earlier in the evening after a fan allegedly grabbed her by the neck and gave her a scare.
As for the final two’s post-show plans? A long to-do list that includes taping Wednesday night’s opener, rehearsing with the Top 11, and many, many interviews. Of course, it’s just the start of their weeks-long talk-fest. Here’s some of what they had to say on Tuesday night:
On the winner’s song, “No Boundaries”
Adam: “It’s a great song, and it actually has a really great message. There was a lot of lyrics and it was a big song. We didn’t have a lot of time to work on it, so it was kind of a rush job. The recordings are coming out soon and they’re both really, really good.”
On their best performances
Kris: “I think I did my best on ‘Ain’t No Sunshine.’ I had already rehearsed it plenty, and it was ready.”
Adam: “I wouldn’t have picked ‘Change Is Gonna Come’ for myself, but when Simon gave it to me, I looked at the words and it really moved me. Anyone who feels oppressed can relate to that song. It’s been a civil rights anthem for a long time, there’s all sorts of new civil rights issues that are coming up right now.”
On their friendship
Kris: “We’ve been roommates since the Top 13.”
Adam: “[But] we don’t get naked together.”
Idol Worship: The Final Two Face Off
Between the Lakers game across the street, a 4.0 magnitude earthquake underground (the second in a week), and, of course, American Idol’s final showdown, downtown LA was literally bouncing last night. And amazingly, it was smooth sailing in and out of the Nokia Theater. For us, anyway. Who knows how long Adam Lambert and Kris Allen had to stick around for more rehearsals, interviews and glad-handing. But before we get to our post-show exploits with the guys (which lasted all of five minutes and was shared by a hundred or so other journalists) and some backstage scoop we were able to gather, we offer our final rundown of the season that brought back fingerless gloves and showed that a sparkling personality isn’t always a must when it comes to advancing in this competition. As for who the American Idol will be? Admittedly, we’re torn. We’ve always insisted that Kris will be more marketable, radio-friendly and easier to swallow on a mainstream level, but Adam pulled out all the stops last night and cemented his superior showman status. Read on for more of our take…
Round One: Kris Allen
We’re going to agree with Simon on this first round. Kris Allen’s personal choice, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” brought out that sweet spot in his voice and proved that Kris’ subtle phrasing is truly a trademark at this point. Of course, you could say the same of Adam, whose voice is undeniably recognizable, but something about his presentation on “Mad World” felt very staged, you could even say insincere (and we’re not just referring to the tawdry up-to-the-elbow gloves and trench-coat ensemble). Simon commented that it was theatrical, but what in the Adam Lambert songbook isn’t? For all the judges’ praise this whole season, you’d think they would be used to the Phantom Of The Opera vibe by now? Maybe there was no way to go up against Adam’s original performance back in the Top 8, which was truly outstanding, but the finale version lacked that emotional connection, which Kris most definitely had with his choice. You also have to give Kris bonus points for his piano skills, which proved he’s not just a singer, but a musician. We know Adam has great taste in bands, but can he play in one? We’re not so sure.
Round Two: Adam Lambert
Adam Lambert’s secret weapon has been and forever will be his range, and nowhere was that more evident than in round two. Here was Adam’s big chance to show off, with a soulful, almost Janis Joplin-like rendition of the popular Idol audition number, “A Change Is Gonna Come.” But he also took the opportunity to tone things down and exert a little more control, especially in the opening verses, which were perfectly executed. Good calls all around for Adam (including his more subdued Jonas-esque attire), which we can’t say for Kris. True, there was a Phish show parking lot feel to his take on the Marvin Gaye classic “What’s Going On?” (one guy was playing a box, for Christ’s sake!) that may have been a little too low-fi for the massive spectacle that is American Idol. And let’s face it, if you have a full orchestra at your disposal, why not use it? Still, there’s a genuineness there you can’t deny, and, again, the skillz (on guitar, this time).
Round Three: Draw
How do we put this nicely? Kara Dioguardi, Cathy Dennis and Mitch Allan are all top-notch, super-talented songwriters, but come on! Could they compose a more difficult song to sing? Both Adam and Kris seemed to struggle endlessly with “No Boundaries,” missing notes, over-reaching, falling flat… Of course, this is nothing new. Idol has yet to produce a truly memorable winning single (though Fantasia’s “Believe” does get a decent amount of spins at our local supermarket), which makes us think they should just do away with the coronation song and transfer the buzz to both finalists’ already recorded, non-victory-specific first singles. It would be a time crunch, but if anyone can jam an already-packed schedule, it’s the Idol team. In the end, it was unfortunate that on this final performance, our two candidates seemed least confident and, when it was over, simply looked relieved. No wonder there was chatter in the press room about the finale being “anti-climactic.”
So it’s a tie, and now it comes down to that sticky question: who’ll get Danny Gokey’s so-called “Christian vote” and will it decide this contest? Is Adam Lambert simply too flamboyant for mainstream America? We have but one thought to offer: while it wasn’t considered an upset last year, David Archuleta was also the frontrunner and expected winner, but we know how that turned out. Lesson learned? Don’t count out the underdog.
Idol Worship: Finale Promises Another All-star Lineup
Downtown LA's Nokia Theater has been buzzing as season 8's Top 11 rehearsed for the big finale on Wednesday night, and finalists Adam Lambert and Kris Allen greeted the press on Monday. They were joined by last year's American Idol David Cook, who did a run-through of "Permanent," his for-charity single which hits iTunes on May 20. Who else will take the Idol stage on results show night? Performances by Carrie Underwood, Black Eyed Peas, Jason Mraz, Queen Latifah, Keith Urban, Lionel Richie, Cyndi Lauper and Carlos Santana have been confirmed by various outlets, but there are plenty of rumors, too. Us Weekly reports that Kiss will be dueting with Lambert, which we hear is true. It would make sense since the band is back in the studio, and what would a Gene Simmons appearance be without product to hawk? There's also talk of Britney Spears (denied), David Bowie and the obligatory Michael Jackson rumor, which never pans out. What we do know is that there's sure to be some interesting pairings, including Keith with Kris, Cyndi with Allison Iraheta and Lionel Richie with Danny Gokey. And, of course, you'll see plenty of your Idol favorites from past seasons. We ran into Bo Bice outside the Kodak Theater where the TV Guide Network had set up its own Idol command center. The stage is set at last. Will it be lights, camera, Adam? We'll see soon enough...