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Thoughts On American Idol Finale Part 1 – Competition!

May 24, 2011

Tonight is the final voting round! Can you believe that it was only back in January when we first saw these kids, these annoyingly twangy kids? As Seacrest pointed out last week, this is the youngest (and country-est) finale in the show’s history. I’m as happy about this as you probably are. (Not very happy.) The success of these two wholesome country teens is indicative of how far gone the voting audience for this show is. I thought things were bad when the white guys with acoustic guitars were dominating things (oh wait, they still might be.)

J.Lo is dressed in what looks to be a figure skating costume. I wonder if it has the traditional matching skate panty underneath? Randy “Status Quo” Jackson’s look is halfway between Joel Hodgson’s Salesman/Disco DJ character on Freaks and Geeks and a caricature of a drunken pro bowler. Steven Tyler looks the same. Seacrest looks totally out of place in his penguin suit. The contestants do not emerge unscathed from the fashion crimewave. Lauren continues to look like an AARP member who shops exclusively though QVC, while I don’t know what the fuck is up with Scotty’s discount-bin t-shirt. Are those two scuba divers climbing over that lady? Did the stylist pick that up from Googie Rene’s Discount T-shirt Barn?

They have to stretch this thing out to an hour (though thankfully only an hour,) so let’s break this down:

Round 1: Contestants Pick Their Favorite Performance from This Season

Round 2: Carrie Underwood and George Strait Pick Songs and Mentor

Round 3: Potential Coronation Songs

Scotty McCreery – “Gone”

And we kick things off with a mush! Scotty needs to push himself because he is just buried in the mix. His stage presence is light on the crap, which I appreciate, but this performance felt more fun the first time around. I still feel like any reasonably deep-voiced teenage boy could have had Scotty’s experience on Idol (and he probably would have looked less like a smarmy asshole to boot.)

Lauren Alaina – “Flat On The Floor”

Lauren matches Scotty in the lively department, and slightly edges out ahead of him in the vocal power department, insomuch as I could actually make out her voice when she was belting. While I feel like not every teenage girl could have had Lauren’s experience, I feel that she has benefitted from a slight producer favoritism (though to her credit she did fend off challenges to her Chosen One status from Jacob and Haley.) Lauren “wins” Round 1.

Scotty McCreery – “Check Yes Or No”

Good gracious this kid is stiff! He might as well be singing “Walk Hard.” While Scotty sounds slightly better for the first part of the GeorgeStraithit, it goes to shit once the chorus hits and he gets ridiculously off key. He’s not even belting. Fucking try, kid. Don’t even get me started on his smarmy antics and his “heh heh this song came out before I was alive” demeanor.

Lauren Alaina – “Maybe It Was Memphis”

And we’re right back to where we started, because once again Lauren’s sequined dress is straight out of Toddlers & Tiaras. Shitty styling aside, Lauren didn’t perform too poorly. She sang well, hit her notes, and pulled off most of the belts. I was kind of annoyed with the “tee hee aren’t I cute” antics (yep, they both do it), though maybe she’ll grow out of it in a few years. (Also….Oh Snap! Jacob didn’t clap for Lauren.)

Taio Cruz’s Coke Commercial – “Positive”

What if the futuristic fascist riot cops from Equilibrium started a drumline? Seriously, Taio Cruz sounds better when he has a banging dance beat behind him. He sounds bored on this midtempo affirmation junk.

Scotty McCreery – “I Love You This Big”

You know the Interscope folks think Scotty is stupid (or want to market him as such) when they purposefully write a song with such a grammatical nightmare for a title for him to sing. He starts off like he’s running for office – “I may be young.” “I may be inexperienced.” It was eerie. Otherwise Scotty phoned in his vocal performance for this pop-country snoozefest. Status Quo is right about one thing – this is the perfect song for him.

Lauren Alaina – “Like My Mother Does”

Man that string section intro was refreshing. I was getting tired of that Gambit-resembling fiddle player. Seriously though, this was a cute song. I don’t know too many contemporary songs about mothers, so it was kind of sweet and sincere when Lauren kicked this out. She was on with her pipes, too. She was both personal (I liked her mom-hugging moment mid-song) and professional (r&b diva power moves in a country context), and that earns my respect.

It’s kind of funny the journey these kids have taken. I thought Scotty was kind of good early on in the show (after all he has a deep voice like me), but his mannerisms, one-note performance range, and his treatment of the whole show as some hazing dare quickly wore out his welcome with me. Meanwhile I’ve been down on Lauren since Top 24, but she knocked this out. Unless she pulls a Kelly Clarkson 180 and makes kickass pop-rock, I won’t buy Lauren’s music, but she deserves to win this season. Let’s hope that producer favoritism is still riding strong.

Ranking

  1. Lauren Alaina (She’s young, annoying, and probably benefitted from producer favoritism, but she takes this shit seriously.)
  2. Scotty McCreery (Nope….That’s it. Nope.)
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