When does a dream begin, and when does it end? our Idol producers ask. Judging by the footage, the dream begins at 8 to 10 years old, in a talent show or school recital. And it ends...here. On American. Idol! Ryan's all fancy in a tux--but not a Texas tux, which is surprising given our final two contestants. There is a shocking lack of denim on display for this countrypalooza.
As Scotty and Lauren are introduced, it appears that Angry Stylist spent her whole budget on Lauren, because Scotty is in jeans and a t-shirt. What, Scotty, did you miss your call time? Lauren actually looks pretty good, even though my description of her outfit probably won't sound that way. She's in black pants & vest, over a black and silver striped shirt--and by silver, I mean silver lame. Or possibly there's a shirt, vest and jacket? Oh, wait, I think it's a silver jacket lined in black, that currently is flipped open. Anyway, it's something I probably would have loved when I was in high school (i.e. the 80s), but somehow I think Lauren is pulling it off. I like to think that she and Angry Stylist have at last buried the hatchet.
Ooh, Idol drama! Ryan has called out a dude in black scrubs professing to be a doctor, who tells us that there was a tragic incident in rehearsal--Lauren blew out a vocal cord! Doc tells us that she'll be OK for the show, however, because they gave her "a lot of medicines." So basically, I think Lauren will be the first contestant to bring Idol down in a steroid scandal.
It's another 3-round night, and the rounds are thus: first round, the contestants' favorite songs of the season; second round, songs chosen by the contestants' own Idols--so Carrie Underwood will be choosing Lauren's song, while George Strait chooses Scotty's; third song is whatever their first Idol single will be. As I recall, last year (or two years ago?) they switched from original songs to covers of existing songs...don't know which we'll be getting tonight. Scotty won the coin toss, but seems not to grasp the concept, because he "deferred to Lauren, who chose to go second." Scotty, you dummy! Of course you go second! Why'd you give away your choice? Don't you know the producers want to end on your money shot? Noob.
Anyway, Scotty's favorite song of the season is "Gone," which is a smart choice--it's the most current he sounded all year, and it features his deep voice. Sadly, his "fierce" expression as he strides down the aisle to the stage is more serial killer than matinee idol, and he's still more of a walker than a dancer, but he sounds good. Nothing astounding, but just fine. A good rousing song to start off. (And short! I feel like maybe this was edited down even more than usual?) Ryan wastes no time--he's bringing this sucker in at an hour if it kills him--and gives out Scotty's numbers right away.
Non-idol interludes will be reduced a bit this week, because I'm already coming in late. It's Book Expo America this week, so I went to a party at the Housing Works bookstore. I also met a librarian who was doing a BEA panel today, and she said that sometimes they find anti-librarian graffiti! Who would say mean things about a librarian? Harrumph.
Lauren's turn! She's doing "Flat on the Floor," which is another good peppy opening, and her hips are just sassing it up as she rides the Idol elevator into view. She's not terrific on the fast parts of verses and the words still get muffled, but she is working the crowd as hard as she can. I think in the high parts of the chorus you can hear where her voice is shot--hope someone actually trains her to sing so she doesn't destroy her vocal cords by the time she's 20. I'd say Scotty won that round, though.
Scotty's now going to sing a song suggested by George Strait--his own "Check Yes or No." Ugh. This song was popular on the radio when I was living in Davis and listened to a lot of "California Country" in my car. I liked that station, but this song is kind of too cutesy and insipid. Suits Scotty's range perfectly, though. (Also, is it self-serving of Strait to choose one of his own songs? Or is that the point? If the latter, I hope Carrie chooses "Before He Cheats" for Lauren.) Scotty gets to come up into his upper register on the chorus, and he's playing his guitar to keep the posing to a minimum. Oops--spoke too soon...there's a terrible sort of squat-with-arms-raised thing that was a bad choice. And...whoa, we're done! Hah. That song was edited down to nothing...first verse, chorus, key change, chorus. Lasted about 45 seconds. But seriously, this is a singing contest, you guys!
Non-Idol interlude! My work computer had some sort of crise today and finally had to be hauled away to the IT hospital...indefinitely. Suddenly I was sitting in my office, surrounded by books, and at a loss as to how I could do my job without e-mail! I wound up editing part of a manuscript--on paper.
Carrie chose "Maybe It Was Memphis" for Lauren...I don't think I know this song. Lauren is wearing a sparkly golden dress that ends in a tutu. I don't even know. Aha--the song is a Pam Tillis record, which means that Carrie is cooler than George Strait. Lauren is happily stomping her silver cowboy boots and swishing her tutu, and sounds find but karaoke. She can't get enough power for a glory note, so I don't think she's going to have the kind of "moment" that would save her from the Scotty juggernaut.
Now we finally acknowledge that there are judges on this show, even if none of them actually judged. Tonight they're here to tell us who won the first two rounds. (Let me guess: it'll be a dead heat going into round 3?) Randy said that both were great, blah blah blah, and gives Scotty round 1 & Lauren round 2. J.Lo agrees. Steven clearly doesn't care, and says he's giving both rounds to Lauren, "only 'cause she's prettier than you are." Randy jumps back in to say, "Most importantly, they are both in it to win it!" It's too late, Randy. You can't do that ironically because you already made it tedious.
Time for our first musical guest, Taio Cruz. I knew how to spell that without looking it up, because his music is frequently on Tap Tap Revolution (sort of a Guitar Hero for the iPhone--I recommend it!). He is singing with a drumline and laser show. The drumline must be so excited! They've been sitting in their storage unit since James got voted off the show.
I think a laser-powered drumline is enough of a non-Idol interlude, don't you? Moving on.
Back to Scotty! Here's the single he'll be releasing if he wins. It's "I Love You This Big." Google suggests that this is an original, not a cover? I can't tell. It sounds like every other country song he's sung this year, and gives him an unfortunate opportunity to pose like a scarecrow. Blech. He's not powering through it as much as he could, and this thing is D-U-L-L. I can't imagine wanting to hear this on the radio. Also, I object to the use of "big" instead of "much." Please note it for the record.
Oh, time for judges again. Do any of us think they're going to express a meaningful opinion at this point? Randy is "just marveling at the fact that we have the two youngest finalists ever, both in the country genre, and I'm not sure that was the perfect song for you but the range was great because you sung low and then you sung really high." He goes on to say that Scotty is IITWI and "it is game time." Dude! The game is OVER. That was it! Help us, J.Lo. Nope--she just thinks he's come a long way and he did "an amazing job." Steven was watching the home movies playing behind Scotty as he sang, and has launched into an extended basketball metaphor. This confuses me because a) I didn't bother watching the videos and b) I thought Scotty was a baseball player. I can't be bothered to rewind, because Steven just ends up with "you nailed it again." Scotty stares placidly into camera and I marvel at how clear his skin is.
Non-Idol interlude, advice corner! We have a corrugated cardboard scratching pad for Wally, and he loves it--claws it all the time, leaves our furniture alone. But recently, he's started tearing it apart with his teeth! He'll tug big strips out of it, leaving it in chunks all over the living room. What's going on here? Is this a sign of some deficiency of diet or stimulation? Should we get him another cat? Or just ignore it and let him shred the thing however he wants. Cat people, please weigh in in the comments!
Man, we are blazing through the show! It's already time to hear Lauren's single...hope it'll be better than that last one. Jimmy Iovine introduces it by saying, "The song Lauren's singing on the show tonight is 'Like My Mother Does,'" but at first I think he means she's singing a song like Jimmy's mom, and I think she's doomed. Lauren is of course delighted to sing a song for her mom. She's dressed in a white maxi dress and huge cocktail ring, looking almost bridal. Ooh, the chorus of this one is better, in that gospelly country-diva fashion--and we cut to Lauren's mom, whose head is bowed and hands raised like she's in church. Lauren descends the stage (Ryan rushes up to assist her down the steps in her long dress) and hugs her mom, singing all the while. She's weeping and singing and hugging and she just wiped the floor with Scotty, performance-wise. I think she genuinely won that round. (Lauren's parents are hugging and weeping now, too.) Randy loves the song choice, and says "I love that at the end, finally, we saw the girl that we saw in Nashville." Um, so she sucked her way into the finals? Whatever, dude. J.Lo tells her that "with that song, you may have just won." Says it was beautifully sung and full of emotion. Steven was touched by her "giving it up to her mom like that," and says that from the first time he saw her he thought she'd be his American Idol.
Could that seriously be it? This is amazing...the show flies by when you barely let the kids sing! Ryan goes to the judges for their final call: Randy gives a "slight edge" to Lauren Alaina; J.Lo refuses to choose, saying only that it's a tight race; and Steven confuses me and the kids by saying, "Lauren I'm sorry honey Scotty...Lauren gets it hands down." Lauren and Scotty look at each other and shake their heads in bemusement.
Wow, Lauren, really? I've been sure for weeks that Scotty was taking it home. Was Lauren's last song enough to take it from him? Or is this just the judges trying to galvanize Scotty's base? Who do you think will take it all?
P.S. Oops, we ended with David Cook singing "Don't You Forget About Me." Sorry, dude, I'm shutting it down for the night. But I see you still can't comb your hair. Best of luck.