American Idol Finale – 5/23/12: A Winner Is Crowned

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The moment we’ve been waiting all season for has arrived!

The crowning of the new American Idol would take place at the end of what promised to be an entertaining show finale.

The top twelve, minus Phillip and Jessica, energetically sang “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars.  Joshua’s small slip in his split was quickly forgotten as professional dancers hit the floor in the middle of the song.

Ryan Seacrest announced that a record setting 132 million votes were cast for the final two!

Phillip played and dueted with classic rocker John Fogerty, frontman of Credence Clearwater Revival.  “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” sounded great with the two of them and the audience was treated to a bonus song, “Bad Moon Rising”.

Seacrest threw to a clip of the rehearsal days, containing the good, the bad, and the oh so ugly!  He also informed the crowd that new auditions for the next American Idol would begin as early as June 7th.  Check AmericanIdol.com for details.

“Take Me To the Pilot” was heard through the pipes of the one and only Joshua Ledet, and his inspiration, former Idol winner, Fantasia!  (Why no Elton John?!)  The two unique voices sounded strong and vibrant and were cut off at the end, for lousy commercials.

A hysterical clip of Jimmy Iovine continually miscalling Jennifer Lopez as Jessica was shown.  The ladies of the top twelve, Hollie Cavanagh, Skylar Laine, Shannon Magrane, Elise Testone, Erika Van Pelt, followed later by Jessica Sanchez, hit the stage to sing a medley of “Ain’t Nobody”, “Through the Fire” and “I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan.  They were soon joined by the lady herself, fierce diva Chaka Khan!

Phillip’s musical mentor, Ben Neil, and Jessica’s mentor, Robert Talon, were then presented with their own Ford Escapes, courtesy of Ford and American Idol.  The final two were given Ford Fusions.

“Where Have You Been” by mega-star Rihanna heated the arena.

Country came through with Skylar Laine singing “Turn On the Radio” with look alike legend Reba McEntyre!  Both excellent!

A funny video of Steven Tyler was played.  Only this rocker would have a live sloth, a real monkey, a fake zebra, beautiful playmates, and autographed photos of music legends in his dressing room.  It was a treat to see the actual piano he wrote his masterpiece on, “Dream On”.

Jessica revisited what many considered to be the best of her performances, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston.  There’s a reason this girl is in the final running.

It was the men’s turn, as Deandre Brackensick, Colton Dixon, HeeJun Han, Joshua Ledet, Jeremy Rosado, and curiously no Phillip Phillips, sang “America”, “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “I’m A Believer” by American treasure, Neil Diamond.  (“I’m A Believer” was written by Neil Diamond and famously recorded by the Monkees.)  When “Sweet Caroline” began, Mr. Diamond came out to show them how it’s done!

An hour had passed and Ryan teased the winner would be revealed next, but anyone who’s ever watched an American Idol finale before knew we had another hour to go.

It was Randi Jackson’s time to be embarrassed by his repetitive critiques, specifically ‘you can sing the phone book’, followed by the eliminated contestants choir singing a parody song with a phone book.  Scotty McCreery presented him with a gift wrapped Yellow Pages.

Jennifer Lopez promoted her upcoming tour by performing two hot dance tracks with reggae ton duo, Wisin and Yandel.  Her songs were “Going In” and new single “Follow the Leader”.

Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo, former contestants and now a couple, returned, saying the Idol stage is like home.  Ryan then handed the mic to Ace and he went on bended knee!  The proposal was a bit shaky in his speech, but I imagine they both were a bit shaky in nerves.  Nonetheless, it worked; they became engaged on American Idol!

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” was sung by Hollie Cavanagh.  Jordin Sparks joined her for an inspired sing along.

Robin Gibb was honored by the guys, again minus Phillip, in a medley that included “How Deep Is Your Love”, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” and “To Love Somebody”.

Jessica performed with THE Dream Girl herself, Jennifer Holliday.  “And I Am Telling You” Jennifer gave goosebumps!  One hopes Jessica understands what a true honor it was to sing with her.

What could possibly follow the power vocals of J. Holliday?  AEROSMITH!  New song, “Legendary Child” has the old sound Aerosmith fans will love.  It was fantastic to know that despite judging a family competition show, Steven Tyler hasn’t forgotten how to be the true iconic rocker he is.  They followed up with “Walk This Way”.

Jessica and Phillip sang as a duet the Joe Cocker’s tune, “Up Where Belong”.

Hope the DVRs were set for a few minutes after ten, because the show ran late!

But it was finally time for the results.

Who would be the winner?

Phillip Phillips?

Jessica Sanchez?

Final thanks to the band, the crew, the fans, and time to dim the lights…

The Season 11 American Idol Winner is…

PHILLIP PHILLIPS!!!

Awarded the American Idol Trophy, and strapped with his guitar, he was left alone on the stage to perform his new single, “Home”.  Overcome with emotion, the winner, Phillip Phillips, was showered with confetti, joined by the marching band, and played out the rest of the song, until he removed the instrument and went off stage to his awaiting proud family.

Best wishes for a long and successful career!  Congratulations to both finalists, and to all who made season 11 as entertaining as it was!  Until next time…

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American Idol Recap – 5/22/12 – The Final Performance!!!

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They’ve shared a dream, and now they’re sharing a stage one last time for the title of American idol.

Ryan Seacrest called out to the audience for an impromptu poll on who they were voting for. Then the battle began; both young finalists, Phillip 21 years old and Jessica only 16 years old, were less than 24 hours from their fate.

Ding, ding, let the singing begin…

They would each sing three songs. Creator and Producer Simon Fuller’s choice, the contestant’s favorite song of season and the potential winning song.

Phillip won the behind the scenes coin toss and elected to go second.

Jessica Sanchez, looking lovely in a long bronzy gown, took on Simon Fuller’s pick for her, “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston. A line or two were a tad rushed towards the end, and the lyrics seemed too mature for an inexperienced teenager. The rest of the vocals were nicely done.

“Stand By Me” by Ben E. King was given to Phillip. A typical mellow performance from this professional looking kid ensued. It was as laid back as his attire; an open denim, button-down shirt, white t-shirt and blackjeans.

At the end of round one, we finally heard from the judges. Jennifer said it was difficult because their voices are two distinct ones; the modern day crooner versus Jessica’s big vocals. Upon Ryan’s pressing on who took the first sing off, Randi declared round one probably went to Jessica; Lopez agreed. I think Phillip had the edge. Though singing off melody, he stayed true to his style, and sang while playing an instrument.

“Undefeated” was written and performed by Jason DeRulo, while his girlfriend, former American Idol winner, Jordin Sparks, sung along in the audience. The uptempo dance song is average at best, but the lyrics are inspirational. (Parts of the chorus reminded me of “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan.) It was good to see Jason without the neck brace, an accessory he was forced to wear after fracturing his neck during dance rehearsals for his since cancelled tour back in January.

Jessica revisited “The Prayer” by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. It was the song that earned her the top 24 spot. While I thought she dragged a few unnecessary notes, and it works best as the original duet it is, the song is beautiful and she did well with it. She was pretty in a long, pink chiffon dress.

Strong bias here, as Phillip took on his favorite song from Billy Joel week, (not too mention my all-time favorite artist), “Movin’ Out” by Billy Joel. He appeared sleek, in a black long sleeved shirt and he was all business in his singing. He gave the vocal his all, especially at the final lyrics. My winner of round one & two…Phillip. Tyler said Jessica won again, Randi was convinced it was a dead heat tie and Lopez said Phillip took it.

The last round…

“Change Nothing” would be the song Jessica would release if she takes the title. A song of making it through tough times, it was decent, but not even big soaring notes could help this meek potential single. She did well with the tune, sitting on a piano in a white jacket, green top and black leather pants. Randi also didn’t care for the song, but thought she brought it to life. Lopez and Tyler agreed with the poor choice, saying it was too pop for a soulful singer like her. They wisely advised that future albums, whether winner or not, she choose songs that fit her style better. She’d have to stand with her previous two tries on stage to become champion. Was it enough to get the coveted title?

Phillip’s might-be single was “Home”. Lyrics of not being alone, combined with a rolling melody and pretty easy chorus made this song a home-run for Phillip. Simple as his style, dark grey blazer, dark v-neck shirt and black jeans, he stole the show. He got an enthusiastic standing ovation. Randi proclaimed it as similar to Mumford & Sons, brilliant and genius, while Lopez said he sounded so different than anything out there now. Tyler said he compared to Paul Simon and “you are the man.” He played guitar in all songs, making him a true artist. However, were his performances enough to be the last one standing in victory?

Scotty McCreery, last year’s Idol winner, ended the show with the elimination song of the season, “Please Remember Me”.

And now the fate of these two are in America’s hands.

American Idol Elimination 5/17/12

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“Got to Get You Into My Life” by the Beatles, performed by the monochromatic trio started the show off.  The three displayed their distinctive voices; the diva, the gospel power and the bluesy rock.

Joshua Ledet was called up first for Jimmy’s review.  Iovine felt the judges graded him a little too graciously, and took responsibility for choosing “No More Drama”, a song he felt didn’t have enough melody for Joshua to own.  The ending result was that Iovine absolutely believed that Joshua deserves to be in the final two.

A video package obviously from last week, had the four remaining contestants at the time visit a recording studio with singer/songwriter Ester Dean.  She had them sing the song “We Are” from the summer movie, Ice Age – Continental Drift, out in theaters July 13th.  The movie version has Dean, Jennifer Lopez and Drake on the track.

Lisa Marie Presley’s latest album is entitled “Storm & Grace”, available as of earlier this week.  She visited the Idol stage to sing, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”.  She’s not her father, the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, but she has a smooth vibe to her music that’s definitely worth a listen.

Jessica Sanchez was up for scrutiny next.  Iovine thought her Mariah Carey wasn’t as great as the judges thought and also took the rap for choosing “I’ll Be There”, saying the song was too short and did lack the back and forth between Michael and Jermaine Jackson’s vocals.  He said she deserved to be in the finals and is worthy to sing on the Grammys already.

A few words were said about the unfortunate passing of the Queen of Disco, the talented voice of a generation, Donna Summer.

Adam Lambert returned to promote his latest album, also released earlier this week, “Trespassing”.  He sang “Never Close Our Eyes”.  The tune is an upbeat pop rock song, and not even the best one on the album.  (The title track is hot!)

Phillip Phillips had his moment in the spotlight.  Jimmy thought his sound is more original and less derivative of other artists, and praised him for taking risks, but didn’t think it worked with “Disease”.  Iovine did declare Phillip the winner of the night, calling it the best performance of Wednesday’s show with Bob Seger’s cover.  The emotions came through, the vocals were beautiful and it was the best he’d seen of Phillip all year.

All three were called up front and center.  The judges unnecessarily said how heartbreaking it is to lose anyone at this point.  And then it was time for the reveal.  Two go through.  One goes home.  But first, we went to commercial.

Dim all the lights, sweet darlin’, ’cause tonight it’s all the way…to the final two.  The first contestant in was…

Jessica Sanchez!

Her competitor would be…

Phillip Phillips!!!

Joshua ended his run with the show stopper performance, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”.  The very best of luck to Joshua Ledet.  He has a wonderful opportunity for a successful career.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are one week away from crowning a new American Idol!!!

American Idol Recap 5/16/12

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And then there were three…Joshua, Jessica and Phillip.  Tonight’s important American Idol consisted of three rounds.  In the first round, the contestants would sing songs picked by the judges.  Second round would be the idol hopefuls’ choice.  The third and final round would be a tune chosen by Jimmy Iovine.

Joshua was given Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind”.  Perfect choice for him, and he did it with a throwback vibe.  He received a standing ovation.  The judges comments included Jennifer’s “another amazing performance”, and Steven’s strong words of “out of 70,000, one is the American Idol, and you sang like that one tonight”.

Jessica took on the incomparable Mariah Carey and her beautiful song, “My All”.  The judges chose it for its’ tenderness and that’s what they got.  Her words of judgement were Randi’s “excellent”, J.Lo’s “hard song” and Tyler declaring she’d be “the last one standing”.  Her voice wasn’t great on the very low notes, but she did well.

Phillip performed “Beggin'” by Madcon.  The trio said it was “great”, he was definitely “in the zone”, and Tyler made a drastic note, saying he could be “the new age Springsteen”.  Phillip Phillips?  The Boss?  Come on!

Contestants’ choice was up next, after a special clip of each of their return home.

Joshua picked “Imagine” by John Lennon.  Some songs shouldn’t be touched, but of course, he did well.  He took it to church, people.  “Preaching while singing”, there was a sense he was pulling back a bit on vocals which worked well to spread the message of the song.

Jessica had guts to sing “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith, in front of their frontman, Steven Tyler.  He was clearly pleased with her rendition, giving her a standing ovation.  The big note at song’s end was wonderful.

Phillip did not fair as well.  He chose Matchbox Twenty’s “Disease” and sang it slightly off the melody, as he sometimes does.  The judges were not a fan, saying it was safe and he needed a better performance than that at this stage of the game.

Now down to the last round to make it into the finals.  Advisor Jimmy Iovine gave each finalist his choice.

Mary J. Blige’s classic, “No More Drama”, was perfectly matched to Joshua.  Her free spirit when singing it transcended to Joshua and church was back in session.  His ad libs at the end was good, and he seemed truly exhausted by the last note.  This guy left it all on the line with fabulous results.  The judges loved it, praising him as a natural performer.

To showcase the youth of Jessica, “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5 was hers.  She did a lovely vocal on the song, but like Randi, I, too, was waiting for the big moment that never came.  It was all pretty even toned.  Was it enough for votes?

Phillip returned to close out the show with Bob Seger’s heart wrenching “We Got Tonight”.  Subdued, straight vocals without guitar, sticking to the melody, staring at the camera and singing words of longing…he succeeded in achieving his moment, and all three judges gave him a deserved standing ovation.

It is clear fans of Phillip were present in the audience, as every one of his sets concluded with girlish screams of delight.  No doubt his youthful teen fan club will help sway votes, too.  Will it be enough to push Phillip to the end?  And if Phillip’s in, who’s out?  Joshua?  Or Jessica?  Tune in to tomorrow night’s show, as the final two are revealed!

American Idol Elimination 5/10/12

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A group song of “California Dreamin'” kicked off the tonight’s elimination show.

After airing the weekly Ford commercial where Phillip was conspicuously missing, he was called up to hear his fate.  Hometown Hero’s welcome and final 3?  Or an end to a long journey?

After a review of last night’s performances and Jimmy Iovine’s opinion, Ryan sent him back to the couches to keep waiting.

What an annoying way to fill the hour and keep suspense.

Hollie was up next with the same fate as Phillip…to wait on the couches.

David Cook returned to promote his new single, “The Last Song I’ll Write For You”.  This is a beautiful heartache song, and it was great to see Cook, a real rocker, back on the idol stage.

Joshua got pulled up with the same result, as was Jessica.

All four contestants sat on the couch, each anxiously awaiting the news.  They’d have to wait a little more, however, as Jennifer Lopez commanded the arena with a sultry song and dance.

I’m not sure how appropriate it is for a judge on a talent show to be promoting her own upcoming music and tour, especially in a sexy outfit.  One thing’s for sure, though.  She is gorgeous, has fun dance music, and her tour with Enrique Iglesias is gonna be en fuego!!!  Lots of fun and international times to come!!!

Dim the lights, here we go, the first person heading to the final three is…

Jessica Sanchez!

The second person to make it through…

Joshua Ledet!!

Inset painful commercial break here.

Two left.  Phillip Phillips?  Or Hollie Cavanagh?  Both go home, but one gets to do so as part of the final three.

Oh the agony of being so close…

Two different styles.  Both talented.  One more comfortable on stage.  One with a more powerful voice.

Last person in is…

Phillip Phillips!!!

Best wishes to Hollie.  She’s evolved so much from the beginning.  Her swan song was the torturous words of the lovely tune, “The Climb”.

Final 3.  Game on.

American Idol Recap 5/9/12

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Tonight’s songs were California Dreaming (anything involving California, song or artist), and songs the last four  contestants wish they had written.

Phillip sans guitar started things off with Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”  Sounding good, it fit his style and the judges gave him high praise.

Journey’s epic ballad, “Faithfully” was sung by a nervous Hollie.  It was not her best, which may spell trouble.  The judges disagreed with my opinion, so perhaps she’ll be able to reel in the votes.

After a quick word about the lyric contest with Jason DeRulo, (check the American Idol website for more info), Joshua took on one of the most make-you-cry-in-an-instant songs, Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up”.  Though no one compares to Groban’s version, Joshua did an amazing job.  The beginning was a bit rushed, but it worked itself out.  The judges enjoyed it.

Jessica sang legendary jazz great Etta James with her rendition of “Steal Away”.  The song seemed way too old for her, but her vocals were on point.  The trio of judges loved it.

Phillip and Joshua were once again teamed up for a duet, performing Maroon 5’s “This Love”.  One thing was clear, the girls LOVE Phillip, screaming for him whenever it was his turn.

Hollie and Jessica sang the duet “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles.  You could tell the friendship that Phillip and Joshua shared on stage was missing from these two and both tried to outshine each other resulting in an awkward performance.

A preview of the promising movie Rock of Ages was shown, (see the musical!  It was EXCELLENT!) followed by the remaining four idol hopefuls singing “Waiting For A Girl Like You” by Foreigner.  The performance was messy as the vocals didn’t blend well at all.

“Volcano” by Damien Rice was Phillip’s song wish, and he did a great job.  He played the instrument this time around, showing how much more comfortable he is with the guitar.  He appeared to feel the lyrics and melody and the female guest vocalist added a nice tone to the song.  High praises were given from the judges, with Jennifer Lopez saying it was one of the most poignant moments of American Idol.

Hollie puzzlingly picked Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”.  She did a sweet job, but the judges disagreed.  Randi Jackson gave the obvious criticism, saying it was the wrong kind of song and she was a different kind of singer from Bonnie Raitt.

Joshua’s gift to his mother was “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.  Barring any disastrous results, the kid is mere weeks away from taking the title of American Idol.  Steven Tyler declared his performance to be the most passionate rendition of that song of all time.

Determined to have the night’s spotlight, Jessica took on the Dream Girls’ mega-hit by Jennifer Holiday, “You’re Gonna Love Me”.  I still don’t, but others do, like the judges.  It fell short of Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar show-stopper, however, feelings of arrogance aside, Jessica deserves to be in the final two for sure.  Like J.Lo said, it will be a race to the finish.

 

American Idol Elimination 5/3/12

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In case you got side tracked by tuning into MTV.com for the Justin Bieber interview, here is a recap of tonight’s American Idol.

After the first order of business, saving Joshua, the ultra cool Coldplay performed “Paradise” from their album, “Mylo Xyloto”.

Hollie and Phillip were called up front and center with Ryan sending Hollie to the bottom two.

Looking lovely as ever, former American Idol winner Carrie Underwood returned to the stage, singing the title track to her new album, “Blown Away”.  Side note: the wind machine was making her dress dangerously fly away, bringing her close to a wardrobe malfunction!

Skylar and Jessica soon had their agonizing moment in the spotlight, until Seacrest announced safety was to be handed to Jessica.

Coldplay came back to sing “Every Teardrop A Waterfall” with strong energy.  What a great band!

Hollie and Skylar stood as the bottom two.  Both talented, both ever so close to the singing title, but one’s dream to be crushed.

The person leaving was…Skylar Laine.

Top four left in the competition.  

 

 

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