She Was Just 17.....

How do you keep viewers interested in the final night of an "American Idol" season when there is virtually no suspense as to who is going to win? Here's how:

1) Bring out the two final Idolettes -- Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks -- to sing the Beatles' "I Saw Her Standing There" in which Jordin takes the role of "her" -- what with Jordin actually being "just 17, you know what I mean" -- and Blake doing the seeing.

2) Bring back Gwen Stefani, the "Idol" guest coach from hell, to again ask not what she can do for "American Idol" but what "American Idol" can do for her. This time, she'd like "Idol's audience to listen to her sing what she confesses is her very favorite song from her album. Oh goody. And she's on tape -- always exciting.

3) Bring back all the former "American Idol" winners who aren't starring in Oprah Winfrey's "The Color Purple," starting with Kelly Clarkson, who's also making a return appearance, having been part of the "Idol Gives Back" charity fundraiser a while back. That time she looked like one of the "Before" pictures in a weight-loss plan. This time she's the "After" picture, in thigh high boots and very little skirt.

Carrie Underwood is also back, singing the same tune she sang during the "Idol Gives Back" charity fundraiser, only this time live and without little African children as props. Speaking of giving back, to show his gratitude for the jillion dollars she has earned him with her 6 million albums sold, music-industry mogul Clive Davis gives Carrie a plaque. He also blathers a lot about how many more albums last season's "Idol" non-winner Chris Daughtry has sold than last season's winner Taylor Hicks, after which Taylor gets to come out and perform. Nice touch. Ruben Studdard sings "You're All I Need to Get By" with Jordin which we hope will be part of her first album.

4) Hand out joke trophies, aka Golden Idol Awards -- first to Margaret Fowler, one of this edition's nutty bad auditioners. On the bright side, she gets about as much ' on-air time as Gwen Stefani -- maybe more. When her cell phone goes off during her acceptance speech, show host Ryan Seacrest answers it, telling the caller she's on national TV, then hangs up.

5) Bring back the top 6 guy Idolettes to sing with Smokey Robinson.

6) Give "Idol" viewers a rare chance to see what an extraordinary blunder they almost made, by pairing Blake in a beatbox duet with Doug E. Fresh.

7) Bestow the night's second Golden Idol on lousy-auditioner Sholandric Stallworth. He was best remembered for being off key but very loud and Ryan suggests he sing a tune of show judge Randy Jackson's choice, without a microphone, to see whether they can hear him at the back of the Kodak Theatre. Randy picks Christmas fave "Silent Night." Naturally, he's terrible. The audience roars for more.

8) Let the top 6 chick Idolettes sing with Gladys Knight.

9) Bring back Tony Bennett, who did not get the chance to sing the week he guests coached the Idolettes, because he got the flu. He brings down the house.

10) Give Rosie O'Donnell one more chance to rant about Jonathan Jayne and Kenneth Briggs. Rosie had lept to their defense after show judge Simon Cowell, during the lousy-auditions portion of this year's "Idol," had said Briggs looked like a bushbaby and made fun of Jayne's pants. The pair get the last Golden Idol Award, for Best Buddies, edging out Ryan and Simon. Ryan announces "Idol" has sponsored an actual bushbaby at the Milwaukee County Zoo in Kenneth's name -- only it's called "Simon."

11) Give viewers (finally) a chance to see who Idolette Melinda Doolittle did backup singing for -- BeBe and CeCe Winans. Melinda joins them in a number. They're okay -- she's much better.

12) Put viewers through another Ford Music Video -- this one an homage to all the Ford Music Videos that have gone before on "Idol" this season -- after which Jordin and Blake receive new Ford Mustangs.

13) Allow the African Children's Choir to perform, Josh Groban- free (they sang together during "Idol Gives Back). Green Day is rumored to be the night's big "get," but the choir is the sensation of the show.

14) Provide Sanjaya Malakar the chance to do-over his career-making performance of Kinks' "You Really Got Me" only this time he gets to perform with Aerosmith's Joe Perry. And yet, this time it's not fun. Maybe that's because, in the interim, Sanjaya has cut his hair and made a video in which he claims he's actually an art student at the Rhode Island School of Design named Bill Vendall, who made up the Sanjaya character on "American Idol" as part of his thesis installation, and who says he he might come back, on a sitcom or as a candidate for president. Yes, he's grown quite tiresome.

15) Trot out Green Day, the shows big "get," to perform -- but not for publicity, mind you. They're singing to draw attention to Amnesty International's "Instant Kharma: The Campaign to Save Darfur."

16) Toss in Bette Midler, who sings that hero song of hers, to promote the fact she's taking over for Celine Dion at whatever casino, in Vegas. Her performance does nothing for ticket sales.

17) Don't forget a big "Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band" medley, featuring former "Idol" winners and this season's Idolettes singing songs about LSD, blowing minds out in a car, and getting by with a little help from one's friends. Really, it's better than hearing Beatles songs used in TV commercials, but not much.

18) And finally, announce Jordin Sparks is the new "Idol" winner. Picked by a record 74 million votes, Ryan says.

Editor's note: For more on last night's "American Idol," read Lisa's TV Column.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  May 24, 2007; 1:22 AM ET "American Idol"
Previous: My 'American Idol' Coronation Tune | Next: Thinking Too Hard at PBS


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Totally couldn't watch the show. I've been watching it all season, but to wait 2 hours through stupidity to hear who won (and we all know who won), was just too much for me. I watched Lost instead. And it was a really great episode! Idol is losing it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 24, 2007 6:57 AM

Did Bette Midler get into Paula's pain pills? Her performance was all over the place. Sadly, I don't think her voice is what it used to be.

Posted by: Kelly | May 24, 2007 7:44 AM

Suprisingly tame and insightful...Enjoyed the wrap-up. I accepted the show for what it was, entertainment, and it made it more fun. Better acts than the grammys but not as hip as the MTV awards. Still fun if you accept it for what it is and start a little late so you can Tivo through the commercials!!

Posted by: HappyDad | May 24, 2007 7:45 AM

no, kelly still looks like the "before" picture, sadly. carrie looked great, though!

ok, that show was all over the map last night! what was up with that? they needed a theme or something to tie it all together.

i was glad to hear ruben sing. where the heck has he been? and why didn't they bring out the also-rans? mcphee, aiken, kimberly locke? just wondering....

Posted by: wats | May 24, 2007 7:53 AM

You know, I like Jordin Sparks, but I wonder whether Blake Lewis would have been the more interesting and better entertainer.

Posted by: Ryan | May 24, 2007 8:32 AM

I first saw Jordin sing at her try out and loved her voice. Glad she won but, I have to admit, I grew fond of Blake. He's fun to watch!

Posted by: Milwaukee | May 24, 2007 8:35 AM

So glad the show is over! This season was loaded with mediocre contestants (with the exception of Melinda of the very little stage presence). Jordin needs a few years and some major vocal training before she becomes a truly gifted singer -- at least to my ears. It will be interesting to see if any of the Idolettes become national/ commercial talents.

Posted by: pnina | May 24, 2007 8:49 AM

Like HappyDad I accepted the show for what it was - entertainment.

Lisa, how did you forget to include the most entertaining performance of the night...Blake and Doug E. Fresh. I mean the whole place was roaring! Now THAT is performing.

Posted by: VA AI Watcher | May 24, 2007 8:50 AM

Dear god in heaven, just one piece of advice, keep your underwear on dear.

Posted by: ep | May 24, 2007 8:50 AM

This is what I took from season 6:
1) There are a lot of mediocre singers in this country with too much time on their hands.
2) I have a new respect for Joe Perry for appearing with Sanjaya. To go from Steven Tyler to Sanjaya, it was so terrible I had to turn to "Lost" and I hate "Lost".
3) Please send Paula to rehab before season 7 begins.
4) Randy needs a stylist
5) I hope we don't see anymore beat-boxers for season 7. Blake was enough.
6) No fat guys who look like the fat guy from "Lost"
7) Simon is to wear loose fitting shirts. I don't want to see his manboobs ever again.

Posted by: Lisa1 | May 24, 2007 9:02 AM

To the Washington Post:

Please find another columnist to write about American Idol next season. Lisa deMoraes clearly despises the show and everything about it. She is too cynical and critical and does a disservice to fans of the show.

If you do not replace deMoraes, I suggest having an additional columnist provide a counterpoint.

Posted by: That's enough | May 24, 2007 9:16 AM

Dear That's Enough:
I am sure there are plenty of schmaltzy AI blogs out there for you to participate, leave Lisa's column alone. I love her writing, it actually makes AI interesting.

Posted by: st.louis | May 24, 2007 9:25 AM

I'm free. God Almighty and At Long Last, I'm FREE of American Idol!!!

Posted by: Ex Cap | May 24, 2007 9:39 AM

I love Lisa and appreciate the fact she can be snarky at 1:23 in the morning!!! Good for her and the coffee she takes intravenously. Mostly I appreciate the fact between she and Tony Kornheiser, they watch Idol so I DON'T HAVE TO!

Posted by: mhtalbut | May 24, 2007 9:51 AM

hold mean jordin's only 17??? i had no idea..

Posted by: methinks | May 24, 2007 10:20 AM

No one is talking about Green Day's cover of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero," which has some considerably controversial lyrics, including two f-bombs that the band chose not to omit, and which had to be edited out for TV. I thought it was great, but it's always been one of my favorite songs.

Also, with all the Beatles songs, I really expected Paul or Ringo to show up, not a drunk or doped-up Bette Midler singing a tired song we were happy to forget existed.

Posted by: John in Mpls | May 24, 2007 10:46 AM

It could have been worse--Blake and Jordin could have sung "Dancing Queen," too!

Posted by: Not an ABBA Fan | May 24, 2007 10:46 AM

Sorry two queens got in there!

Posted by: Not an ABBA fan | May 24, 2007 10:49 AM

At 81, Tony Bennett demonstrated that he still has more class and talent than all the Idol wannabes added together. Sure, his voice isn't what it was 20 or 30 years ago - but he's hung onto it better than Frank Sinatra did. And he reminds us that "singing" is about notes and a tune - not making "oral sound effects".

Posted by: Jean | May 24, 2007 11:05 AM

Well, all I know is that somewhere, the people financing Bette Midler's Vegas show were slamming their heads on their desks last night. Yeow, that was bad.

Meanwhile, the African children's choir was adorable and undoubtedly the highlight of the show.

Loved the Ruben-Jordin duet.

Posted by: LS | May 24, 2007 11:06 AM

What happened to the schedule? I taped, got two hours of stuff I fast-forwarded through and no AI reveal at the end of 2 hours. Did they go deliberately over time to screw over the DVR watchers? No one's mentioned this anywhere that I've seen. Was I stuck in an AI AU?

Posted by: AB | May 24, 2007 12:31 PM

Lisa, leave out the remarks about Kelly's weight. It wasn't pleasant to hear Simon criticize Jennifer Hudson's size, and it's not pleasant hearing you do it to Kelly.

Posted by: Tom T. | May 24, 2007 1:06 PM

Replies aplenty:

To AB: You are not tripping on a bad hit, the show did not end until 10:06 pm. I know that because I told my kids earlier in the evening that they could watch the entire show as long as they went right to bed at 10 pm! Little did I know that parents everywhere were just as screwed with those comments as I was.

To That's Enough: I'm in total agreement with St.Louis - if you don't like Pookie's writing on the wall, go away. That just leaves more snarking for the rest of us to enjoy. LdM is my hero.

P.S. Speaking of bad trips ... seriously, what the #$%^ was wrong with Bette Midler last night? And Joe Perry has jumped the shark. My 10 year old thought he was one of the Beatles. (Old enough to be, true ...)

Posted by: droptopstang | May 24, 2007 2:38 PM

"Ryan tell us who it is" at the beginning of the show. I thought what a great idea!

Ryan declined knowing that he had 2+ hours to fill. Kind of frustrating, since I could have spent the time better. Perhaps watching a test pattern.

The Beatles medley was "concerning" me a little. I was wondering if they even realized what they were singing.

I too was frustrated with it running over. I DVRd for my kid, and naturally it clicked off promptly at 10, annoyed because I didn't capture the big announcement, AND had to have it on to restart the recording again for the big finish which forced me to watch part of the news. (REAL news as opposed to the Daily Show - depressing! - not to mention Fox news treats AI as if it were REAL BREAKING NEWS!)

Posted by: and Randy said.... | May 24, 2007 11:34 PM

I agree that the show is to be enjoyed simply for what it is...entertainment.

And I love your reviews, Lisa!

I only kept watching this season so that I could relate the show to what you write every week (after we lost who I found the most entertaining this season--the contestant who was elimination #7)...

Write on!

Posted by: entertain me | May 25, 2007 12:56 AM

AI has been running over for the last half of the season. They started doing it on Tuesday nights to try and scr** ABC which had put "Dancing with the Stars" on in the hour time-slot behind AI. So Fox, then changed their format to deliberately run until several minutes past the hour. The idea is that once another show has started, fewer people will channel flip to the other channel . Instead, they'll watch whatever Fox puts on afterwards. They thought that because "House" was getting such great numbers that their stupid theory worked. (Obviously, someone with the brains of Ryan Seacrest came up with this idea). Instead, "House" maintains its numbers because it is a good show and their theory just gets audience annoyed and angry with Fox.

And I think that the abysmal numbers for "On the Lot" show just what most of the audience thinks of Fox playing games to try to win the sweeps. Audience voted with their remotes and Fox lost out on the sweeps to ABC...deservedly.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | May 25, 2007 12:38 PM

Anyone guess what Jordin Sparks did after she won the contest? Went to the nearest KFC? Then broke the toilet at her room?

Posted by: Joe Nash | May 25, 2007 3:23 PM

19) Run the show 9 minutes long, don't announce the winner until 6 minutes after the scheduled running time was over, thereby depriving tens of thousands of people that weren't home, but set up a recorder, the opportunity to see who won. Even those that set it up to run 5 minutes extra. What a total bunch of scummy weasels Fox has running this so-called network!

Posted by: Unindicted Co-conspirator | May 25, 2007 8:41 PM

What's sad. I had to google the thing about the Rhode Island School of Design and Sanjay.

Posted by: Kara | May 27, 2007 5:59 PM Jordin has been making the rounds of the talk shows and on some of them, she has had to sing "This is My Now". It's at #4 on the Mac iTunes download site.

Based on Blake's comments about the song after the final, how much do you want to bet that this whole week he's been thanking everything that's out there that he didn't win and hasn't had to be saddled with singing a song he really doesn't like over and over again. :-)

Posted by: DadWannaBe | May 29, 2007 11:59 AM

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