Well, that's it. After all this tumbling and mumbling and Kara bumbling, the eighth and most bespangled season of American Idol yet has come to a screeching, crooning end. How'd it end for you? Are you satisfied? Surprised? Gassy? To work through all these emotions and sensations, let's discuss.
The results finale is always a big honking train debacle that should probably be rechristened Night Of a Thousand Old People: Making the Irrelevant Vaguely Relevant Again. While it was nice to see Cyndi Lauper up there, jamming on an autoharp or zither or whatever the hell that was with the shoulda-been-queen Allison Iraheta, sad old dog performances by the mummified remains of Rod Stewart, Lionel Richie, and Kiss just left everyone at my wee viewing party feeling depressed and stupefied. Loyal colleague and Idol fan Alex Pareene remarked that Rod Stewart used to be so good, like thirty years ago. Which is true! Now he is a creaky old muppet lady reduced to doing the American Idol seniors tour along with all the other dumpy acts.
What's with this disconnect between producers, judges, and voters? Everyone who works on the show has, it would seem, not listened to a damn radio in at least fifteen years. How else can you explain the oldies and the "current" performances (Black Eyed Peas last night, Lady Gaga and Flo Rida on episodes past) from people whose music would never actually be featured on American Idol? I know that pretty much everyone is just trying to make a buck here, and that crafting an evening rife with synergy and sinew isn't really their main objective, but a little bit of a through line might be nice. You know, maybe something of a story.
And I guess there was a story! Adam and Kris. Kris and Adam. Two of the most stylized performers this show has seen, in one of its most stylized seasons. While contestants like Danny Gokey and Lil Rounds and Matt Sarver are the sort of forgettable karaoke detritus that has littered this show since it was invented by Henry T. Ford in 1901, the Kris's and Adams and (ugh) Megan Joys and Allisons of the world were, if nothing else, firmly ensconced in genre and form. Which makes for interesting viewing, in a way, but also makes for a frustrating experience. If everyone isn't the same bland template, ready to slip into any suit that's required for the week—like Kelly Clarkson was, or Carrie Underwood even—then Idol becomes a battle that's all about waiting. Waiting for it to be rock week for Adam, smooth soul jazz week for Kris, Nell appreciation week for Megan Joy, etc. Did anyone really, sincerely shine across the board here? Sure Kris was consistently decent, and Adam was consistently interesting, but did anyone just flourish in every form?
Oh, wait! Yes. Someone did. Miss Allison Iraheta. Sigh.
Which is all to say that it was pretty hard to care about the fullness and pomp of it all last night. Sure there were funny moments—like when everyone, absolutely everyone, wondered if Scott in a wig would play the blind girl during the Lionel/Gokey "Hello"—but it wasn't the joyous/sad/nauseous family reunion these final bright flashes of starlight have the potential to be. And, yes, Bikini McKenzie and her new boobs was amusing, and Kara's hotrod bod was a staggering surprise, but also... feh. No, all that mattered last night were the final few minutes. When the lights dimmed and the clock kept ticking and there in his skinny suit Ryan sighed and thought to himself Here we go again, another ending and the envelope was read and "O face!" lil' Kris won. What had begun that night an embarrassing white jumpsuited parade of horrors now ended in jubilee and surprise. Was it the shifting of the Christian base after Danny left? Was it the voters of all the dearly departed rallying for the "underdog"? Did the Lambots just get too complacent? Was it that he's got a mug as dreamy as Sleepytime tea? We may never know, but in the end it doesn't matter. Kris won, y'all. Kris won. That's all that matters. That's the only thing.
And Adam? Well, Ol' baby Frankenstein over there in his sparkling skinsuit seemed many things—shocked, maybe a little mad, slightly relieved. But don't worry gaychasers and show queens. He's gonna be just fine.
Meanwhile I'm sure everyone at 19 sort of shrugged and wondered "Well how do we handle this?" But they'll find a way and the top ten kids will go hurtling into a cheap, tinny little whirlwind muzak summer tour of the nation and ol' Sven will shuffle into the auditorium this morning and sweep that confetti away and ball it up in a black garbage bag and walk it slowly out to the back alleyway. He'll stop for a moment, take a pause for a breath, to see the sunny morning amble by. Another day here in this brown, dusty bowl. Ah well. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, everyone creeps in this petty place. Sven'll creak the dumpster door open and hurl that old, used confetti in there, and he'll be the last person to remember it.
The last person to recall what it looked like there—glorious, shining, brief—dancing under those white hot lights, a warm rain sent showering upon us from above. A fleeting goodbye kiss from some oblivious, wonderful, material heaven.
Thanks to Mike Byhoff and the fab Gawker video intern Ari Golub for putting together the montage of my dreams. And thanks to y'all for reading! It's been, unexpectedly, really fun writing about this show. See you next time! Maybe.