But miss out on the star-studded finale? No way!
Top thirteen, "Born This Way". I already knew who the winner was before watching this finale, so this is as good a place as any to wonder what it's going to take for a girl to win this show again. The last few seasons have seen a number of incredibly talented women fall short, and if we've reached the point where arguably the most talented 16-year old female in the history of AI can't beat a baby-faced male country crooner, then what's it going to take?
Odd, odd, choice for a group number, and they never sounded like they were on the same page.
James Durbin and Judas Priest, "Living After Midnight"/"Breaking the Law". I kept waiting for the audience closeup of a jealous Adam Lambert (although he did get to perform with KISS last year), but it didn't happen. This was seriously awesome though, and James couldn't have looked more at home up there.
Jacob Lusk, Kirk Franklin, and Gladys Knight, "I Smile". There's a lot of George Huff in Jacob Lusk -- fantastic vocal tone, brimming with energy, a gifted ability to suck a crowd into his performance, but technically inconsistent (especially in the lower register) with not insignificant intonation problems ("pitchy" in AI-speak). Besides that, Gladys Knight looked fantastic (I'm putting that out there -- I have no idea how much work she's had done).
Jack Black and Casey Abrams, "Fat Bottomed Girls". With their goofy looks, unconventional (in pop music) voices, and undeniable onstage chemistry, Jack Black and Casey Abrams were born to perform together. They could probably head out tomorrow on a tour of mid-sized clubs in college towns and make decent coin. That said, both of these guys suck donkey balls and I never want to see this performance ever again.
Top thirteen girls (minus Lauren Alaina) and Beyonce, "Beyonce Medley". Listening to them sing, I can understand why they were all eliminated so early even though this is one hell of a collection of eye candy -- easily the best in AI history. Haley Reinhart is the exception, having lasted until the top three, although judging by her lackadaisical vocal effort here (with the exception of her two line solo in "If I Were a Boy") it seems she doesn't feel the need to lower herself to singing with the other girls. A classic case of letting AI fame go to her head. Sure, right now it feels like you're a big star and are bound to have a successful career. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Haley Reinhart and Tony Bennett, "Steppin' Out With My Baby". Diva or not, Haley is really good, and it defies the laws of biology that Tony Bennett still sounds as good as he does. The lead-in package of Steven Tyler highlights makes me regret not watching more episodes this season ("Best of Steven Tyler on AI" Youtube video, anyone?).
Top Thirteen Girls, TLC, and L'il Jon, "Come Get Some"/"No Scrubs"/"Waterfalls". They filmed TLC with the widest possible angle because a) their lip-synching was horrible and obvious, and b) they were huffing and puffing ten seconds into the performance, which is surprising even considering how little effort their "dance moves" required. A train wreck of the highest order. I'd be crushed by watching this sham of a performance if I hadn't always hated TLC.
Scotty McCreery and Tim McGraw, "Live Like You Were Dying". Hear that? It's the sound of AI's international viewership going "huh?".
Marc Anthony with Jennifer Lopez and Sheila E, "Aguanile". How did this guy not make it to the final two?
(yes, that's a joke. Marc Anthony killed it. The AI band would be 40% better if Sheila E joined permanently. And J. Lo's ass is ... J. Lo's ass)
Top Thirteen guys and Tom Jones, "Tom Jones medley". I was bored watching this and kept wondering when Tom Jones would finally do his "surprise" walk-on (which might have had a chance at being a real surprise if the girls hadn't done exactly the same thing with Beyonce).
Lady Gaga, "The Edge of Glory". More evidence that "Born This Way" (the album) is meant to be Gaga's "Like a Prayer" (the album), complete with crosses and getting generously groped by a messianic being. But whereas Jesus died alone at the end of the "Like a Prayer" video, Gaga dies with her lover/molester in "The Edge of Glory". They're not hunted down and imprisoned by a public that doesn't understand them, instead, Gaga willingly jumps to her death. What does this symbolize? Is Gaga a godlike figure too? In "Like a Prayer" the whole thing was part of a play, but did anyone in the Kodak theatre see Lady Gaga in the flesh after the show? Where does the performance end and reality begin? It's music taken to the EXTREME.
Lauren Alaina and Carrie Underwood, "Before He Cheats". I don't have a bad word for Carrie Underwood, although that sparkly top hadn't been seen since the 80's.
Beyonce, "1+1". It was difficult to concentrate on this incredible Beyonce performance because I was fixated on the awesome Lee DeWyze lead-in snub. DeWyze decided to turn down the AI producers' offer to announce the new AI winner (but not to perform), so they stuck him several rows back in the audience, didn't show him on camera until the show was 80% finished, didn't introduce him or bother showing a graphic to identify him, and had Ryan Seacrest stand directly between him and the camera so that he was hidden from view, except for the brief moments when he tried tilting his fat ugly head around Seacrest's shoulder to try to get noticed. And it happened twice, in two consecutive Seacrest segments! Couldn't have happened to a less deserving AI-winning doofus. As for the Beyonce song, I haven't heard a female singer beg for someone to make love to her so many times since ... Laura Branigan?
Bono and The Edge ft. the cast of "Spiderman: Turn off the Dark", "Rise Above". Did you know that you can audition for AI next season in various cities in ... wait a minute, is that Lori Laughlin in a purple dress looking super hot?? That's way more exciting than a Spiderman musical written by members of U2.
Steven Tyler, "Dream On". How can his voice sound so ravaged and yet he still somehow nails the scream at the end?
Scotty McCreery, "I Love You This Big". Scotty's so mature and composed for seventeen -- or for any age, but especially for someone only seventeen. I suppose that's a big reason why he won. Kids voted him because he's a kid, and adults voted for him because he didn't seem like a kid. Even his victory lap was calm and composed. He tried not to break down while hugging his family in the front row (stopping short when he came to Jack Black), kept ably singing his new single, and only let his teenage self appear at the very end, when he stuck out his tongue in a humourous attempt to catch the snow-like confetti falling from the ceiling.