American Idol 10: Top Two

Sigh. Remember when Idol Finales were good? When they had drama that had to do with the performances, and weren’t just twitter froth? Remember when we saw Bo sing “Inside Your Heaven” and you could just see he was throwing in the towel? Remember when Clay beat Reuben? Remember when we watched the Soul Patrol trample the Idol producers into submission? Remember watching Diana struggle to hold her own against the steam engine that was Fantasia? Remember when it was David vs David, and David refused to do a retread song, and refused to compromise as an artist and still won? Remember when we feared Justin could somehow triumph over Kelly? Remember when it was Adam and Kris, and they both won, so the fact that Kris won over Adam was ok, because he needed the title more?

Those were the days. They’re gone now. Last year’s Crystal Vs Lee was weak, because it was such a blow out in her favor, and then he won anyway.

Scotty vs Lauren? This was just boring.

I will give Nigel this. He did EVERYTHING he could think of to jazz things up. It’s the oldest “reality” trick in the book. “Leak to the internet! Something is going not according to plan! It’s live, it’s happening and it’s dramatic, and you can’t see it on your TV right this minute, so stay glued to twitter and then turn on the show at 8pm eastern on Fox and find out what happened!” All the Idol diehard blogs raced to throw posts up (guilty!), “Lauren’s lost her voice, she’s dropping out! TMZ reports!” knowing full well this was a big old can of nothing. Nigel even dragged poor Haley into the theater and made her “rehearse” “just in case” so that it seemed like something dramatic was really happening, and the blogs could report it. He even dressed a technician in black scrubs (black scrubs? srsly?) and had him come up and spout some doctor-ese proto technobabble about Lauren’s “condition” that any sci-fi fan could see right through. All so there would be some drama, some tension, some something about tonight, because I know he sat through that rehearsal that afternoon, and I know he saw how dreadfully dull the hour was going to be. On a night where Idol was up against The Voice, Glee and DWTS, deadly dull is not what the doctor for the Granddaddy Show that Spawned Them All can afford right now. This year was supposed to be about fixing the problem, not compounding it with a Finale Ratings Disaster.

Unfortunately, all the “backstage drama” being tweeted and the general noise could not hide how bad a show it really was.

Round One: Scotty- Gone, Lauren-Flat on the Floor

These were their retread “favorite song of the season.” Once again, both their choices showed that neither of them understand what it is that the producers see in them. Scotty’s “Gone” shows his awful eyebrow-wiggling, uptempo, 17-year-old-punk-swagger douchebag persona. Whereas Lauren, who has trouble with breath control on the fast numbers, didn’t showcase her big old blow-the-doors-off bombast. Both were only interesting for the spotlight stealing fiddle player.

The only thing worth mentioning here is the following: Scotty won the coin toss, but let Lauren choose which slot to take. No fool she, she chose last. The last time that happened, it was Blake giving Jordin the win in a move to please the producers. I only hope that the producers thank Scotty with a little more of a press push for his début album than they did for Blake’s Audio DayDream.

Also worth mentioning–Ryan skipped the judges altogether after these numbers, going straight to numbers and commercial. In the process, the producers let all us viewers at home have a moment to realise: not having to endure scripted pap from Randy, J.Lo et al was really nice.

Round Two: Scotty-Check Yes or No, Lauren-Maybe It Was Memphis

In a fresh move, these songs were picked by “The Idol’s Idols.” George Strait chose for Scotty and Carrie Underwood for Lauren. For Scotty this was another check mark in the “Voice of the 40-year-old out of the face of What Me Worry?” column. It sounded like it would be perfect background noise on any country radio station in the country. Meanwhile, Lauren may not know why she’s going to sell, but Carrie does. “Maybe It Was Memphis” was a perfect song choice for Lauren. It actually sounded a little better for Lauren’s voice being slightly shot. Of course none of that mattered because GOOD GOD, What The HELL Was Lauren Wearing? It looked like an oversized tangerine pageant dress leftover  from “Toddlers and Tiaras.” I understand she’s dreamed of being an idol contestant since she was six years old, but there’s no need to dress like a six-year-old now that she’s made it. I cannot understand what wardrobe has against Lauren that they would do something like this to her. I understand that the contestants have a say in what they wear, but doesn’t wardrobe have a say in making sure they don’t go out wearing deformed monstrosities like this? It hurt to look at, and distracted from what was arguably the best vocal of the night.

The judges didn’t talk immediately after the second round performances, and for one brief shining moment I thought that the production had finally realised how utterly useless the panel was, and this was a silent admission of its failing. But, then, no. At the 30 minute mark, right on the button, Ryan turned to the judges and asked them to read their script about the first two songs. Less than a minute into Randy’s blundering incoherent speech, struggling to talk about a song we’d heard over 20 minutes ago, it became clearer than ever that the panel was the worst thing about the show this year. I would say this was a bad move on the part of the producers, to give us a full 30 minutes to compare Idol “with judges” vs “no judges.” Until they fix the panel, having now heard the “no judges” option, I never want to go back.

(The script, by the way, was Scotty won Round One, but only just, and Lauren won Round Two, but only just. Just so that we’re clear that the show insisted this was a tie, and we had to keep watching. But mostly, it was a whole bunch of non judging.)

Then there was a random coke commercial with an LED Drum Corp and some autotuned dude, or something. After this happened, Ryan suddenly stopped talking like the MicroMachine Man and seemed to relax, like whatever time-crunch he was feeling had lifted.

Round Three: The Coronation Songs Singles

Scotty-I Love You This Big Seriously, this is the best you guys could do for him? You’re really going to regret this if Lauren doesn’t win tonight. I mean, I know, you guys have done EVERYTHING HUMANLY POSSIBLE to make sure she does, from the pre-show twitter drama, to the judge’s script, to having Scotty give up the pimp spot, to just everything tonight. You’ve decided you need her to win, we get that. It will break the male winner streak, you’ll country pop crossover her, you’ll get the cred you so badly need, etc etc etc. But the problem is, the voting on this show isn’t actually fixed. She could actually lose. This horrendously boring thing could actually be the single you all are saddled with having to push onto radio. Scotty could be just as much of a cred-solving country single selling winner. But with this single? It ain’t happening.

Lauren-Like My Mother Does This, on the other hand, is a GREAT single for Lauren. It’s everything about her that will sell. Jimmy points out that, not only will the single sell, but Mothers are the bedrock of American Society, and they powervote. Unfortunately, due to the vocal issues, Lauren didn’t deliver it that well, but I’m sure that can be cleaned up in post. The rough spots in the song show signs that it was probably this song she blew her voice out on. But again, never mind. The show and the judges aren’t about to acknowledge that the best song of the night was the one picked by Carrie Underwood. NO! This Is Lauren’s Now. This is her led down the stairs by Ryan to hug her mother mostly without missing a note. This is her wowing the judges so they will declare she won this thing–but it’s still really close, so vote, omg vote, because the last thing we want is to piss off Scotty’s base into another hosed finale.

There was one really good song all night. It was the reason to watch the show. It stood head and shoulders about everything else tonight. Ladies and gentleman, I give you: David Cook.

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