A Dose of Reality: American Idol 6: Finale Results
by Raul Burriel
Published: May 24, 2007
Another long road comes to an end tonight. The finales to reality shows often prove anti-climactic as they deliver to be more of the same, only with fewer contestants. American Idol has always bucked the trend by serving up massive spectacular finales with tons of guest stars, and tonight's finale is no different. But before we get to the details, let's go straight to what's important...
Last night we got to see our two finalists plead their respective cases before the American voting audience one last time. I am rarely thrilled by the final night of competition on American Idol as this usually proves to be a rehashing of previously performed songs coupled with the (please pardon the expression) "crap song" that both contestants have to perform. It was a little different last night. With both Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks having to perform three songs, Blake fell back on his stellar cover of Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name", followed by a fresh cover of Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved" (so I'm not the only one who thought Blake would make a good singer for a Maroon 5 cover band, then?), and finally the crap song (and winner of this year's song writer competition - I'd hate to hear the losers), "This is My Now." If anything, Blake's version of "You Give Love a Bad Name" was stronger than the first time he performed it (perhaps he was more comfortable the second time around?) It was really enjoyable and washed away my hesitance at hearing a rehash. His second choice was clearly aimed at drawing in the 'tween groupie vote. But it's a slower song than what we usually expect from Blake and he didn't get to shine. The last song only served to undermine Blake. With a title like "This is My Now," you know where the tune is headed. The song was not at all in Blake's comfort zone, but he did what he could with it.
Jordin Sparks fared better in the last night of competition. Bucking the trend, she first song choice was a fresh cover, Christina Aguilera's "Fighter". Jordin sounded like she was trying too hard with this performance. At only 17 years of age, I doubt she's got the spit and vinegar to make these lyrics sound authentic. For her second song, Jordin returned to her cover of Martina McBride's "A Broken Wing", the very song she had the balls to sing right in front of Martina herself. If her original cover of this song was gutsy, this time it was outstanding. Her vocals did sound weak throughout, but that's more likely to do with sound mixing pushing the orchestra over Jordin's voice. Finally, Jordin hit a home run with her version of "This is My Now," a song which easily fell into her comfort zone.
Given Jordin's edge over Blake on the final night of performances, tonight's result was a foregone conclusion. Jordin Sparks is the new American Idol.
But you would have to sit through two hours of performances - both good and bad - before you'd learn that tonight. For the sake of brevity, here's a rundown of what we saw:
Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks - "I Saw Her Standing There": A Beatles standard, and a little creepy.
Gwen Stefani - "4 in the Morning": Live via satellite from one of her concerts.
Kelly Clarkson - "Never Again": I just read Entertainment Weekly's cover story on Kelly Clarkson and her new album. It's supposed to be edgier and more personal. In the end, it's Kelly Clarkson surrounded by a bunch of rockers with electric guitars. Despite singing edgier lyrics, she never sells her new rock persona and the song leaves me feeling blah. Clive Davis was right to sit on the album. He should still be sitting on it.
American Idol Top 6 Men and Smokey Robinson - "Ooo Baby Baby"/"Being With You"/"Tears of a Clown" medley: The Top 6 Men give a passable performance of "Ooo Baby Baby" before Smokey joins them on stage to sing songs he's done thousands of times before, so you have to wonder why he needs the lyrics splashed on a giant teleprompter, or why he's reading them so closely.
Barry B., Blake Lewis and Doug E. Fresh - Beatbox Face-off ("The Show"): Producer Barry B. handles the turntables as Blake Lewis and Doug E. Fresh give us a beatbox face-off. Curious, to say the least.
American Idol Top 6 Women and Gladys Knight - "I Heard it Through the Grapevine"/"I Feel a Song (In My Heart)"/"Midnight Train to Georgia" medley: When the girls start singing "I Heard it Through the Grapevine", you have to wonder if the producers of American Idol have resurrected Marvin Gaye (hey, they resurrected Elvis a few weeks back!) But then Gladys Knight comes out and gives us a couple of her soul standards. The highlight is when Gladys sings with LaKisha Jones and Melinda Doolittle.
Tony Bennett - "For Once in My Life": Too sick to perform on the night he mentored the contestants, Tony comes back to blow us all away.
Melinda Doolittle and BeBe and CeCe Winans - "Hold up the Light": Melinda used to sing back-up for them, now she gets to share the stage with them.
Carrie Underwood - "I'll Stand By You": Excellent vocal control. Carrie proves why she's the biggest star to come out of the American Idol machine (although her fashion choices are questionable.) Clive Davis emerges from back stage afterwards to present Carrie with a 6-times platinum album.
The African Children's Choir: Beautiful and energetic. Nothing more to say about this.
Sanjaya Malakar with Joe Perry - "You Really Got Me": With an intro that compares him to Martin Luther King and Gandhi, Sanjaya returns to the song that elevated him from joke to phenomenon. He even revisits the same girl who became a sensation by breaking down as Sanjaya sang. She's still crying. Sanjaya's still singing poorly. No vocal control. Heavy breathing throughout. What's Aerosmith's Joe Perry doing here?
Green Day - "Working Class Hero": I heard Green Day would be here tonight but I didn't believe it. Then again, I just saw Joe Perry play guitar for Sanjaya, so anything's possible. This is from a Darfur relief album. I love Green Day but I've never warmed to John Lennon's post-Beatles stuff and this song just doesn't work for me.
Taylor Hicks - "Heaven Knows": Still awkward yet undeniably fun to watch, Taylor delivers a catchy tune from his album.
Jordin Sparks and Ruben Studdard - "You're All I Need to Get By": Our fourth past champion hits the stage, but he's not alone. Doing a song made popular by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, past and future Idols join forces to deliver some soul.
Bette Midler - "Wind Beneath My Wing": The sappiest of all sappy songs.
Kelly Clarkson with Joe Perry - "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" / Taylor Hicks - "A Day in the Life" / Carrie Underwood and the American Idol Top 6 Women - "She's Leaving Home" / Ruben Studdard and the American Idol Top 12 - "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" / American Idol TOp 12 - "With A Little Help From My Friends": American Idol pays tribute to the 40th anniversary (oh my GOD that's a long time ago!) of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
There's more. Host Ryan Seacrest pays tribute to the bad performers we met during the auditions with the second annual Golden Idol awards, and Clive Davis gives us a run down of what our past Idols are doing today (Fantasia's on Broadway, which I guess means she's too busy to be here tonight.) Anyway, that's about it. It's been a long season, and a long night. See you again next year.
Week 1: Men's Night | Women's Night | Results
Week 2: Men's Night | Women's Night | Results
Week 3: Men's Night | Women's Night | Results
Week 4: Diana Ross Theme - Recap | Results
Week 5: British Invasion Theme - Recap | Results
Week 6: Pop Theme - Recap | Results
Week 7: Oldies Theme - Andrea's Recap | Paul's Recap | Results
Week 8: Latin Theme - Andrea's Recap | Paul's Recap | Results
Week 9: Country Theme - Andrea's Recap | Results
Week 10: Idol Gives Back Theme - Andrea's Recap | Results
Week 11: Bon Jovi Theme - Andrea's Recap | Doug's Recap | Results
Week 12: Disco Theme - Chad's Recap | Andrea's Recap | Doug's Recap | Results
Week 13: Top Three - Andrea's Recap | Results
Week 14: Finals - Andrea's Recap | Chad's Recap | Doug's Recap