8:01pm. It’s a sad night, and not because we’re saying goodbye to another season of Idol, not because we’re saying goodbye to Simon Cowell, but because they managed to drag this out to a two-hour production of group sings and product placements.
8:04pm. Here are our two finalists, Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox, and they are oddly dressed as school-children.
8:05pm. And here are the other finalists also dressed in school uniforms, singing “School’s Out for the Summer.” There’s awesome Siobhan Magnus, and that clown-faced girl Lacey something. Orianthi, who could not have been pimped any more by this program, is on guitar. An entire high school choir comes out, and then Alice Cooper. For some reason they only shoot Orianthi from below which makes for a disorienting effect.
8:14pm. Kris Allen sings again. What is this, his fourth appearance this season? At least he can say winning Idol does lead to work.
8:18pm. We see the first of many recorded tributes to Simon Cowell involving Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest loving each other in a dressing room.
8:19pm. Siobhan Magnus and Aaron Kelly (ok, wouldn’t have been my first choice of pairing) duet on the Bee Gee’s “How Deep is Your Love?” Oh! And then the actual Bee Gees take over! So it’s a LiteFM-themed show tonight.
8:20pm. Barry Gibb is creepily singing directly to Siobhan. The other Gibb is baring his soul to Aaron Kelly. Otherwise, I’m loving this. Yay falsetto.
8:26pm. Michael Lynche duets with Michael McDonald, the epitome of adult contemporary crooning. I see they’re going for the over-60 demographic tonight. Since the kiddies have stopped voting, and all.
8:29pm. Dane Cook sings a medley of Simon’s best lines: “Simon Said” interspersed with Borscht Belt caliber roasting. The song refers to some greats, like “You sing like a backup singer to a backup singer,” and “You must be deaf.” Then they bring out crazy people who were the targets of Simon’s criticisms and one of them grabs the mic and goes off on a rant. Tatiana del Toro tries to stop him to no avail. How did the producers not think that bringing out a slew of crazy rejects wouldn’t devolve into this?
8:34pm. Lacey clown-face kicks off “Beautiful” and the other rejected girls of this season join in, and they’re actually singing for once. Something is so desperate about hearing them say “We are beautiful no matter what they say.” Crystal kind of saves the day though.
8:36pm. Everyone’s screaming and I am not sure if this is another case of a mic getting into a crazy person’s hands. Apparently that’s a signal we’re hardening up after that last song for Christina’s “Fighter.” Another song of total desperation in this context.
8:37pm. Out comes Christina, going for an Evita look. Except the lighting makes it look like Evita’s emerging from hell. Christina goes solo for a number from her new album. And sings rings around Lady Gaga, copycat or not.
8:42pm. A video tribute from Ricky Gervais.
8:47pm. Yay, the hits of Hall & Oates! The only performer missing from this lineup is Celine Dion. Maybe she could come out and do another wonderful duet with a hologram of Elvis.
8:48pm. And there they are! (Not Celine & Elvis, Hall & Oates.)
8:53pm. Ryan interviews Crystal’s dad, though he appears more like a leather daddy. Then Crystal stars “Ironic.” Is Alanis Morissette gonna come out? Shut up! She’s doing “You Oughtta Know.” So graphic and angry for American Idol, sorry, I’m left uncomfortable by this duet. They can’t touch each other and smile while singing this song, I’m sorry!
9:01pm. Hour two is ushered in by Carrie Underwood, whose fame I newly respect after my recent visit to Nashville. She’s really found a niche market, like Alanis, of angry songs about how much she hates guys. This song sounds almost exactly like that one about ripping up someone’s car, and that other one, “Cowboy Casanova.”
9:05pm. Crystal and Lee are completely underwhelmed to receive custom Fords they designed earlier in the season. They stand there singing blandly in front of a video screen showing the Ford music videos’ greatest hits.
9:07pm. Casey James is adequate on “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” And the latest winner of Celebrity Apprentice Bret Michaels joins him. It’s triumphant, but more because it’s great to see Bret Michaels alive than it is to see Casey perform.
9:14pm. Lee DeWyze is a perfect fit as the lead-singer of Chicago for “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” and “If You Leave Me Now.” “25 or 6 to 4” not as successful. Lori Loughlin seemed to fully enjoy that.
9:18pm. Matt Rogers from Season 3 is reporting from Lee’s hometown in Illinois. Was that really the best talent they could get for this job? Does anyone remember him? (I had to Google it.)
9:20pm. A mockumentary about Simon’s love for Paula et al. It’s so nice to see Paula again. Mildly offensive gay joke about Simon and Randy waking up in bed together.
9:21pm. In a paean to overplayed jokes, we get a legitimate production number of “Pants on the Ground” by that crazy old man and “She Bangs” alum William Hung.
9:28pm. More Simon videos. Best line from Paula: “After eight years of sitting between two men with bigger boobs than me, I had enough.” Paula’s here!!! She looks good…and crazy, wearing a hot pink tutu dress. She’s delivering a rambling speech with more than a few awkward silences.
9:35pm. A song by all past winners! Kelly Clarkson is almost unrecognizable. Fantasia Barrino sounds like a cartoon animal. Why is David Cook not there? All line up and sing “See what we’ve all become.” A group with vastly differing talent and success levels. Then a bunch of other finalists come out, led by David Archuleta.
9:39pm. Totally making this about her, Paula escorts Simon up to the stage.
9:40pm. This is a really smart move, making the whole show about Simon so we all forget that they actually had very little talent this season. Where are Lee and Crystal right now? Driving around in their sunflower-decal cars without a care in the world, I bet.
9:45pm. A Janet Jackson song. Katie Stevens is coming across pretty great in tonight’s group sings, though Siobhan Magnus actually doesn’t translate well without seeing her from week to week. Janet appears in killer beaded shoulder pads. Singing and dancing goes on for a while.
9:53pm. Finally, we pay attention to the two finalists in a video about their journeys. Lee and Crystal then duet on “With a Little Help from My Friends.” Wow, and then Joe Cocker comes out, too. Lee missed his line, and now looks like a scared little beady-eyed stuffed animal. Crystal just screamed like a crazy person and Joe Cocker totally made fun of her–at least, I hope that’s what that was.
9:57pm. With only three minutes to go, we pause for another commercial break.
10:01pm. Yes, even with two hours of TV time, Idol‘s gone over time. We learn that the results have been certified by someone British.
10:02pm. The winner is: Lee DeWyze. And now we get to hear “Beautiful Day” all over again. And again and again. Lucky us.