I'm watching a commercial-free version, so this will be organized by segments. I managed to avoid the internet for the entire day after the finale so that I wouldn't find out who won, so these are truly "live", unbiased thoughts. Going in, I really had no firm idea about who would win Season Eight, making this a coin flip that we haven't seen the likes of since Season 2 (Clay vs Ruben).
1. There were 624 million votes cast this season, 100 million from last night alone. WOW. "The thing for me for you for me" ... ha, it's good to know that they recognize that Randy Jackson is a glorified Speak and Spell and are willing to exploit the humour in that. And why is Randy dressed like Urkel? Those glasses!
It is a somewhat interesting that Paula made an effort to not just be a cheerleader this season, and to be a bit more eloquent this season. Funny how she stepped up her game when Kara joined, because wasn't the plan for Paula to continue being a flake so that Kara could be the insightful one?
The top 13 commit murder against Pink's "So What", this was some serious summer camp talent show singalong material. I see that Jasmine Murray still sucks and can't sing her one line in tune.
2. David Cook belts out a scream-filled power ballad. I hope people download the heck out of it to raise money for cancer research, but unfortunately the song blew, and his voice sounded shaky and strained throughout. At least he screamed at proper moments in the song, and saved his voice for the big, majestic phrases in the chorus. Adam Lambert fans take note. In the meantime, AI found Justin Guarini under a rock and stuck him in the audience!
Now the AI version of toilet humour starts with the first of the silly "awards" segments. This Outstanding Male category is obviously a preamble to a Nick Mitchell appearance. I still think that they hugely missed the boat with this guy, sure he might have broken the show but it takes talent to pull off this psycho vaudeville shtick and unlike Adam Lambert, when Nick screams randomly and goes OTT, he's doing it for laughs.
3. Lil Rounds hits the stage full of fire, showing the kind of energy that made her look like a front runner during the semifinals, but then Queen Latifah, whose totally bland voice is completely unsuited for a song like this, appears and sucks all the life from the stage.
4. Why is Jason Mraz on stage and Kris Allen is not?? Because Kris had to get ready to sing with ... Keith Urban? The bloody hell????
But I have to admit that the two of them have fantastic chemistry onstage. Kris is the real "sing the phone book" contestant because you could basically put him on stage with anybody and he'd fit in. He could credibly guest on an impressive variety of records in a bunch of different genres, unlike Adam who would fit in with My Chemical Romance and that's about it.
5. Allison gets to introduce Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas. I guess this is her consolation prize for being the highest placing girl and being forced to hang with this chorus line of stiffs. Poor Allison.
6. More dumb awards, as Kara gets schooled during the Bikini Girl audition and is put in her place by the other judges for the first (but far from last) time. But what follows are a couple of the most awesome minutes in the history of the show. It starts with BG sauntering out, waving around her new fake tits (and looking unfazed when Ryan gets in a nice zing about them), and acting like the biggest snob who ever snobbed. Seriously, Paris Hilton is home watching this and thinking "what a spoiled little bitch". So BG gets the chance to sing again, acting like this is her second big break and a star-making moment that we're all going to remember, only to have Kara make a surprise walk-on, sing the hell out of "Vision of Love", and rip off her dress to display an even teenier bikini afterward. There's just no way that BG knew this would happen, if she was in on the whole thing then she should probably switch to acting. I'm going to invoke Occam's Razor and assume that she is in fact a completely talentless whore, and therefore she got PWNED, I mean, just watch her trying to sneak in a few notes and reclaim the song from Kara, then, when she realized that was hopeless, listen to her meekly attempting to draw some attention to herself by throwing in some worthless melisma as background vocals, then watch her awkward, shamed face on stage when Ryan comes out at the end, and finally watch her jealously checking out Kara's bikini body like she was a "Jerry Springer" guest who's about to start a catfight with the girl who stole her trailer trash boyfriend. If Kara is really about to be kicked to the Idol curb, then this was a HELL of a way to go out.
7. Allison and Cyndi Lauper seem to have their timing off throughout "Time After Time" (even including the post-song hug) but the spark of greatness is still there.
8. Danny Gokey sounds pretty good on "Hello", and then stands up to introduce ... Lionel Richie (I was ready to put my money on him singing a duet with his friend Jamar Rogers, but this is obviously a better option). It's just too bad that their version of "All Night Long" is pure cruise ship material (cf. Simon Cowell).
9. A retrospective of "Adam's journey" leads directly into a short rendition of "Beth", dressed up in studded leather, enough eye makeup to blind Cyndi Lauper, and a pair of O_O black wings that even Martin Gore wouldn't have worn on stage for fear of looking ridiculous. Then he introduces the real deal -- Kiss! I take back what I said, he obviously fits in with Kiss, because this is exactly the setting where his excesses don't matter one bit.
10. Carlos Santana with ... Matt Giraud? Before I can throw my shoes at the TV while angrily wondering where they stashed Kris Allen when he could have been onstage singing "Smooth", here come the top 13 (including Kris front and centre) to sing, yep, "Smooth"! Heather Locklear isn't nearly as excited as I am.
11. Steve Martin has a new album out? I keep waiting for the weirdass Inspector Clouseau moment to break out with Michael Sarver and Megan Joy as his jesters in training, but it doesn't happen. This is a pretty sweet song, actually.
12. The guys take a crack at "D'Ya Think I'm Sexy", which is a truly bizarre choice for a group performance, which leads to Rod Stewart sauntering out and gasping his way through "Maggie May".
13. And how could we survive until next season without one last Golden Idol award, this time for "Outstanding Female", but Idol delivers again because we really do need to see Tatiana del Toro again. The season is now complete, no sarcasm. If the AI producers really believed that Tatiana and Nick Mitchell were such jokes then you'd think that they wouldn't waste everyone's time in slotting them into the top 36 (and letting Tatiana into the wildcard round), but hey, it's not my show.
14. Now it's the swan song performance for the final two, dueling each other one last time on "We Are the Champions", and suddenly Queen themselves appear out of a cloud of smoke. Corny choice, but great booking, if you know what I mean. Queen's music is right in Adam's wheelhouse, so this is either his unofficial coronation song, or a sweet bit of irony as he goes down swinging. SO stoked for the results now!
15. YES! IT'S KRIS!! And the moment is ruined with a stupid AI winners trophy?
We can start the post-mortem analysis now, including the conspiracy theories about how Kris actually dominated the voting throughout the season and the producers tried to knock him down a la Clay Aiken to try to forge a real competition out of what might have otherwise been a runaway win. Bring on Season Nine ...