And so then there were two. Which is to say then there was one. Just one undeserving contestant with a chance to beat Adam Lambert. Just one undeserving contestant standing between us and a heated debate over America’s willingness to accept a possibly gay American Idol.
It’s Adam Lambert. It’s some other guy. We’re either getting the most compelling Idol in the show’s history or we’re reigniting the culture wars. We can’t lose.
Herein a running diary of this season’s penultimate episode of American Idol. It’ll be like a live blog. Only with the benefit of me having more time to work out the jokes.
8:00pm. Ryan Seacrest opens the show in an expensive-looking suit. Is there anyone in pop culture whose success is more disproportionate to his identifiable talents? He’s a sort of genius.
8:05pm. Our first commercial break and our first Conservative attack ad.
8:09pm. Adam’s up first. In an interview with his parents we learn that he was a troublesome child who screamed a lot. Which is remarkable and telling because that only describes approximately 64% of all infants.
8:10pm. Adam reprises his Gary Jules-inspired version of the Tears for Fears’ classic Mad World. Dry ice and spooky lights. Lambert looks like a cross between David Bowie and the Undertaker.
8:13pm. Randy Jackson gives him an A for Adam. Randy Jackson is basically a Seasame Street character brought to life.
8:15pm. Next up it’s Kris Allen. Apparently he convinced his parents to pay him to sing when he was a child. Which is altogether rather impressive.
8:17pm. Ain’t No Sunshine on the piano. There are a dozen hotel bars in the southeastern United States that regularly feature more interesting performers.
8:18pm. Judges commence over-enthusing about Allen’s performance so as to justify the next 45 minutes and guard themselves against an upset tomorrow night. “You awaken the spirit in all of us,” says Paula. You get the feeling Paula would say the same thing to her Starbucks barista in the morning.
8:23pm. Adam puts on a silver suit to perform A Change is Gonna Come. Oh the potential subtext. Oh the potential awkwardness. Strangely, it’s pretty decent.
8:28pm. Paula Abdul orgasms.
8:29pm. After giving round one to Kris, Simon tries to claim this puts Adam “back in the game.”
8:30pm. Cut to shot of Katie Holmes in the crowd covering Suri’s ears. Scientology jokes are way too easy to make at this point.
8:35pm. Back from commercial, Kris performs an acoustic version of What’s Going On? These two songs were apparently selections of the show’s producer, Simon Fuller. Is Fuller feeling a bit down about the world these days? Barack Obama got elected, dude. Everything’s cool now.
8:38pm. Simon and Randy agree it wasn’t enough. Kara DioGuardi tries to explain Kris’ vast potential to initiate social change. Or something. Paula Abdul orders a venti, no-foam, extra-hot, soy latte.
8:39pm. “Lot of symbolism tonight,” says Ryan. Er. Okay.
8:43pm. Now the two finalists perform what would be their first, instantly forgettable, single if they win, this one written by DioGuardi. Shockingly it’s about reaching for your dreams and climbing mountains and facing hurricanes and not giving up and there being no boundaries. It’s actually an interesting test. Give a singer a terrible song and see if they can salvage anything.
8:46pm. Adam gets through it. Kara claps for her own song.
8:47pm. Simon laughs at the mountains and hurricanes, declines to judge the song directly and instead just praises Lambert in general. As he’s laughing about the lyrics, you can hear Kara saying, “I know, I know.” Which is an interesting way of conceding the awfulness of your work.
8:53pm. After another commercial, Kris gives it a try. He keeps tapping his chest. Possibly in attempt to suppress the vomit.
8:55pm. “You should be very proud of what you’ve done in this competition,” Randy says. So, that sucked.
8:56pm. “I don’t want you to be judged on that song,” Kara says. So, yeah, that really sucked.
8:56pm. “I wish you the best of luck,” Paula says. So, er, good luck then.
8:57pm. Simon says Kris has made his parents proud. Ha.
9:00pm. And now Carrie Underwood is singing to a montage review of the season. There’s the blind guy. And the girl in the bikini. And the guy in the bunny suit. And a bunch of other contestants you’ve already forgotten and will never hear from again. Ah, memories.
9:03pm. And that’s it. Back tomorrow for the results. Bring your blunt objects and best window-smashing gloves. We’ll be proceeding directly to the riot if Adam doesn’t win.