Tuesday, May 20, 2014

American Idol Final 2

In a few minutes, I will begin to watch a recording of tonight's American Idol, which was thankfully only one hour. I will offer comments here, pausing the DVR as I go.

Already, it has been an extremely busy night of television viewing as I have have done my best to keep up with sports, politics, and the Season Finale of "The Voice", even though that was not something I really cared about. Still, there was quite a lot to focus on tonight beyond Idol and I just hope that I do not get confused and substitute Mitch McConnell for Caleb Johnson or Marjorie Margolies for Jena Irene. (Both of them used to have other last names though.)

Thankfully, there was no Stanley Cup Playoff game tonight, so I am going to be able to watch this and do some brief live-blogging. However, there is a game tomorrow night, and the Idol Finale spectacular is going to be over two hours. Thus, I am probably not going to being watching tomorrow. For the first time ever, I am probably going to be finding out who the new American Idol by seeing something online, rather than watching the results. The ratings may be low, but it is inevitable that I will hear who won.

Eventually, I will watch tomorrow night's broadcast and will also get around to a wrap-up post on here. However, it may take me a week or two to get at that.

Waiting for the Cubs to finish this victory over the Yankees right now..so, as I wait, congrats of course to Mitch McConnell and all other GOP nominees across six states this evening. How about Chelsea Clinton's mother-in law going down in a landslide in a Democrat Congressional primary tonight as well? That should maybe be a warning to someone else. This politics stuff is tough business. At least they have a grandchild on the way. Cubs pitching change in progress, so I might as well watch the first couple minutes of Idol... I swear, if the Cubs blow this...

Alright, Cubs win! That's three in a row. Finally a loss for that Tanaka guy.

Time to get on with Idol and get this over with..

Jena won the coin toss and is going first? No way she could be that dumb. I've gone over this in past seasons when contestants win the coin toss and do not defer the "pimp spot." I don't get it at all. Is that Prince Harry lookalike guy from the stupid Fox show in the audience? Has to be kind of awkward for Seacrest to talk about "I Wanna Marry Harry", especially when there is a Harry on the panel.

Simon Fuller's picks. These are always pretty male selections.

1.  Jena Irene- "Dog Days Are Over"

Not a bad choice for her I guess in theory. I give her a lot of credit for looking confident and going for it on this performance. However, it just started off extremely low vocally and throughout the entire song, it seemed like she was struggling to be heard above the band. With so many more people in the audience than is usually the case on the show, it might have been difficult for the people at the Nokia Theater to hear as well. From the looks on the faces of the judges, it seemed like they may have been straining to get a good listen to her vocals.

2. Caleb Johnson- "Dream On"

First of all, I totally missed a good 4 or 5 seconds of this in the middle due to some kind of technical issue. I am not sure if that was just my tv or if it occurred nationally.

In regards to the performance, Caleb pretty much killed it. This may have been my favorite Finale competition performance ever on the show. He sounded great and seemed to totally nail the screaming part of the song. I wish they would have showed more of how he was working the mic stand on stage instead of cutting so much to the judges.

Caleb got in trouble for some comments the last time he was made to do an Aerosmith song, but he might have liked this one better. I am struck by the irony of how a couple seasons ago, Caleb was shown in the Vegas rounds, as kind of a joke contestant, who totally choked on stage during an audition performance, while Steven Tyler looked on dismissively. There sure has been a lot of growth for Caleb since that moment in Season 11, but he should probably be glad that Tyler is no longer a judge. I sense he hates when people try to sing his songs.

It will be hard for Caleb to top this performance the rest of the evening. I guess he is recovered from last week's vocal problems. It also occurred to me that if he had been starting his career 25 years ago, he would have been a really huge star. In this Millennium, that kind of success may allude him.

Round 1 goes to Caleb Johnson

3. Jena Irene- "Can't Help Falling In Love"

For this round, Jena re-visited what she did two weeks ago on the Idol stage and for the second week in a row, we get her reprising a highly praised piano/singing performance. The first time she did this, I thought it was good, but perhaps a bit overrated. I think I was able to appreciate the strength of her vocals a little bit more after hearing it again and this was very good. Also, JLo managed to avoid swearing.

Randy Jackson has basically been reduced into the American Idol version of Vanna White tonight.

4. Caleb Johnson- "Maybe I'm Amazed"

I thought he might do "Still Of The Night" again, but I suppose it makes sense to do something in this round that is about as close to a ballad as he could get. It is interesting that we got songs from both Elvis Presley and Paul McCartney in this round. I think that shows the Idol demographics definitely are skewing towards the older side.

There was perhaps one crack in Caleb's voice during this performance, but otherwise, it was another extremely strong performance. I think it may have been better than the first time he did it. He is coming across tonight as someone who is extremely focused on winning and is not just happy to be there. All of things considered, I think the two of them both did well and were close in ths round but-

Round 2 goes to Caleb Johnson

The judges are offering some criticism of Caleb here and are doing the old Idol Finale trick of declaring it a tie through two rounds.

5. Jena Irene- "We Are One"

I always dislike these "winner singles" when they are debuted on the Finale. We got a snippet of these tunes during the car commercial thing during the results show last Thursday and apparently, they have been available for purchase online for several days now.

Jena probably did as much as she could with this song. I didn't detest it, but it's not something I would really want to listen to on the radio. Which means, it probably could fit in the radio landscape today. She sang it well, but there seemed to be some vocal backing tracks alongside her voice as well. It did not sound like the usual background singers.

The judges are really rushing through their comments since time is short. They might as well make these Finale episodes 90 minutes long. At least there is no lame celebrity "Coca-Cola performance" this year.

6. Caleb Johnson- "As Long As You Love Me"

No, this is not a Justin Bieber song. This is actually the title of the song they expect him to debut and sing all over tv talk shows and perform on tour this summer. I always wonder if contestants would prefer not to win at this stage in order to not be tied down to a song like this. Phillip Phillips hated that "Home" song a couple years ago, as did I, and it turned out to be a big hit. To answer my question, since the runner-up is no longer guaranteed a recording contract, they both obviously want to win.

Having heard the song now, Caleb held my interest for the first part of it, and then the song just seemed pretty lame and repetitive . This is certainly not my favorite Caleb performance of the season, but he did an admirable job of trying to make it into his southern blues-rock style and his voice is just so impressive, I have a hard time not saying-

Round 3 goes to Caleb Johnson

Ok,  so that is it for the season. Jena and Caleb both did themselves proud tonight, but I just wish that the Final Round would have been earlier because they both had better moments. Caleb's take on "Dream On" was for me the highlight of the night and definitely one of the best performances of the season by anyone.

For tonight, in what is certainly not a surprise to me, I have given all three rounds to Caleb Johnson.

Based on tonight, and the entirety of the season, he definitely deserves to be crowded "American Idol 2014."

Will he though? A case can definitely be made for why Jena could win. Even though I expected Caleb to be my favorite singer this season from before the live broadcasts even began, I could have picked a dozen reasons why he would never win.

I will not be shocked if Jena pulls off what will be considered a minor upset tomorrow night, and I assume the producers prefer her to win. Caleb went last though and the judges kept it pretty much down the middle in their commentary.

Truth be told, the results were already a given before either took the stage tonight. People will just be voting for their favorite. I think Caleb was very smart to immediately rush to embrace Alex Preston after his sing out last week and that might gain him some votes from the third place finisher.

For my final prediction, I am looking at the fact that is is coming down to a white male from the South who appeals to mostly older viewers and a white female, not from the South, who mostly appeals to younger viewers.

Jena is good, but she is no Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood or even Jordin Sparks. They are the only females ever to beat a male in the Finale. In four other cases, including the last three times it was possible, a male has beaten a female to win it all, and I think Caleb will continue that trend.

Oh no. I have to sign back in because they are dueting on the season's boot song. I can't believe I have to judge this...

Jena Irene and Caleb Johnson- "Breakaway"

Soon enough they are joined by the departed Finalists from the Top 12. Was it a Top 13? Anyways, I am glad I do not have to judge the others. This was fine I guess. Jena seemed a bit out of breath in her solo parts and Caleb sounded in control and went for a high note at the end.

Unnecessary group performance round goes to Caleb Johnson

My prediction does not change.