Nineteen weeks, 11 lame theme nights, an Antonella and a Sanjaya later, here we are: the beginning of the end of "Idol" 's season six. And not to toot my own horn (OK, I'm totally tooting it), but I predicted a Blake/Jordin showdown back on British Invasion night. Sorry, Melinda!
MTV News sent me out to L.A. to cover the big event (and my trip got off to a perfect start when I
saw stalked Tyra Banks at JFK airport). So I'm filing this recap sitting in the "Idol" press room, hobnobbing with "Best Week Ever" 's Frangela and Steven "Puff Catty" Cojocaru. Surreal.
But not as surreal as "Idol" itself...
Seacrest starts off the night explaining that sitting in for judges Randy and Paula are Cap'n Crunch and a tollbooth troll, respectively. Seriously. What. Were. They. Wearing?
Paula has a reason for looking especially wrecked tonight, I suppose. As we all know she tripped over her dog, Tulip, and Miss Straight Up Now Tell Me straight up now broke her damn nose. (Anyone else wince when Seacrest made a lame "the bitch is OK" comment?) And what about Randy's Jermaine Jackson jacket? As my new best friends Frangela quipped, "Randy went a little crazy with the glue. He'd better have made that jacket himself or else there's really no excuse."
Blake and Jordin will each sing three songs: one we've heard already (zzz), a new pick (please don't be 311), and the winner of the "Idol" songwriter challenge, "This Is My Now." The more I think about that ridiculous title, the more it angers me.
This might be the first "Idol" ever where the final performances actually determine who will be the next "American Idol." So before I go on a rant about the prolonged, overly dramatic coin toss (and Blake for stupidly choosing to go first!), let's get to those performances.
Blake: Bon Jovi's "You Give Love A Bad Name" (Reprise)
Jordin: Christina Aguilera's "Fighter" (New Pick)
Verdict: Blake Burns Jordin
I suspected Blake would revisit his Jovi blaze of glory, but I'm not so sure it was the best choice. First of all, he lost the entire Jersey vote. (Have you talked with any Bon Jovi fans? They act as if Blake took a dump on the Bible.) But mostly, it's a stupid idea because the success of his initial performance was due in large part to the unexpectedness of it. Without the "did you just see that?" reaction, you're left with a huge helping of a Beatboxing White Boy and a small side of "why is he yelling?" vocals. He should have revisited the Zombies' "Time of the Season," which allowed him to beatbox a little and demonstrate his "tender" side.
Randy gives Blake a "10 out of 10" on the beatboxing, but isn't so happy with the singing. Simon seconds that, but Paula disagrees, bestowing Blake with a "10 plus a 10 plus a 10 plus a 10." The caked-on makeup may cover her black eyes, but it can't conceal the crazy! (I cannot WAIT for her reality show!)
Jordin's next and she's chosen an especially rocky Xtina tune. Problem is she plants herself firmly behind the microphone and never really rocks out. If she was battling Melinda, she might have a chance. But coming off a high-energy, audience-engaging Blake performance, Jordin looks terribly stiff. Are her nerves getting to her?
Randy starts off sounding lukewarm on Jordin's performance, but changes gears just 10 seconds later after he blurts out the word "stellar." Huh?? (My theory: producers screamed in Randy's earpiece to fluff their favorite, as he's been doing for months.) Abfool goes further along the downward spiral as she proclaims "BEST FINALE EVER." Simon ultimately gives the round to Blake, but first praises a "screechy" Jordin for picking a song that's age appropriate. (Yes, folks. Simon brought up that she's 17. Again.) Oh, and somewhere in the exchange there was a brilliant audience shot that included a large group of 10 year olds — one of whom looked exactly like Jordin — and an especially child-molestery-looking Constantine Maroulis lurking behind them.)
Blake: Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved" (New Pick)
Jordin: Martina McBride's "A Broken Wing" (Reprise)
Verdict: She Will Be Idol
Blake, Blake, Blake. You just didn't want to win, did you? You're finally given carte blanche and the song you go with is ... this? What happened to the Björk you promised? Blake's falsetto has always been a weak spot ( remember "When Stars Go Blue") so why would he choose a tune that requires a large amount of it?
Furthermore, we haven't heard the final "Idol" song yet, but I'd bet my LaserDisc collection that it's a downtempo number. Why in the name of all things "Idol" would Blake choose another slowish song when his strength is in working the crowd? Having Blake sit at the edge of the stage Scarnato-style made him look more like a marooned 5 year old than Maroon 5.
After Simon rips Blake a new one for being safe, Ryan makes it worse by pointing out that Blake has never seen an "Idol" finale before. (Keep in mind we just saw a package where Jordin said that she's wanted to be on "Idol" since birth. Now Blake looks like an indifferent donkey.)
Jordin returns with her second offering, a redux of country night where she soared with "A Broken Wing." Again, we've heard her do this already so there's not much to say about her performance. But thanks to her strange Native American-influenced blouse, I could talk for hours. (Would Jordin's Native American name be Dances With Christians?)
At judging, Randy brings up Jordin's age again. Paula slurs her way through this nugget of wisdom: "You are a great, great vocal voice tonight." And Simon simply says, "Now that was good." (Tell that to the girl in the audience who looks bored to tears during Jordin's performance. I feel you, girl!)
Blake: "This Is My Now"
Jordin: "This Is My Now"
Verdict: This Is My Hell
At the top of round three, Ryan introduces the two dudes responsible for the Songwriter Contest-winning ditty "This Is Me ... Then" or "I Am Me" or whatever the hell this song is called. According to a press release, one of the guys is a musician and the other is a graphic designer/ full-time pastor. I'm now looking forward to this song even less. Ryan cuts off the intro by telling one of the songwriters "you're too tall, sit down." Yet he hasn't said that once to Jordin.
Despite having a contest to find an "Idol" coronation song that isn't completely horrendous, we ended up with a song that blatantly rips off past "Idol" coronation songs! Between the "A Moment Like This" Hallmark card lyrics and the "Inside Your Heaven"-like third-minute breakdown, I felt like I was in some weird "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" trip where all my memories were melting together.
As predicted, Blake wasn't given much to work with. He was never one to pick a schmaltzy inspirational song (and if he had picked one earlier in the season, he probably would have been booted that week.) Blake's disgust for the lame song is completely apparent. He's vacant for the first part, manic and jumpy for the second, and bored to tears for the ending. The whole thing is sort of punk in a weird way (as if he's sniffing, "This song can kiss my beatboxing ass") and I kind of love him for it. The only thing that would have been cooler? If he changed the lyric to "This is my never."
The judges give Blake a "you did the best you could" pass but the damage has already been done. Unless Jordin pulls an Akon onstage, she's got it in the bag.
Yep, "This Is It" or "Now and Then...Now" or "Is This It Then?" or whatever the hell this song is called is right up Jordin's alley, what with the big notes, lyrics that a 17 year old can understand, and vaguely religious undertones. Poor Melinda. She would have chewed up this song and spit it out like it was nobody's business. It's even sadder when she's seen in the audience with a dazed look on her face, still wearing the same shirt she wore when she was eliminated. If there wasn't a location change between this week and last, I'd think she hadn't left the auditorium!
Jordin's final performance is fantastic, but still not good enough for me to get over how terrible the single is. (Compare Jordin's performance to Fantasia's: When Fantasia sang "I Believe" it was like I was hearing the best song ever written, when clearly this is.)
And just when you thought Jordin couldn't have won it by a larger margin, she goes and cries her way through the final measures of the song. Now that's throwing down the gauntlet!
After a drama-licious showing like that (you just know "Idol" producers had an orgasm — they don't count on tears until the results shows!), it's not surprising that the judges flipped their wigs. Simon even made some weird apology for ever doubting that she should be in the finals. Did I miss something?
The show wrapped with "Idol" vet (Chris) Daughtry performing "Home." (Paula ruined the surprise by shrieking "CHRIS!" as they were setting up the stage. Hush, hush.) They sounded great but I was thrown by seeing the season 5-er on the stage again, this time rocking out with a band. (The guyliner threw me for a loop too.) Maybe it's because I've never seen him with an instrument, but it really looked like Chris Daughtry's guitar wasn't even plugged in.
The producers give Jordin one last push during the final "here are the numbers" performance montage. Blake's Bon Jovi song appears sans beatboxing, and Jordin's teary close is featured prominently. Interesting ...
So who will become the new member of the "Idol" club? You'd have to be crazy not to think Jordin's emotional display put her in the lead. And although I've been a Blaker Boy for several weeks now, I have to hand it to Jordin.
Hell, if she can turn Kathy Griffin into the David Hasselhoff of season six (anyone else see Kathy sobbing after Jordin's big song?), then she has my vote.
I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to hear what you thought of "Idol" this week. Do you hate the single as much as I do? Who do you think Marlee Matlin voted for (anyone else catch the deaf actress in the audience?) What surprise guests would you love to see on Wednesday's insane results show? Let me know in You Tell Us.