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American Idol, May 23 – A Winner, a Proposal, and a Legend

I’ve been through all eleven seasons of American Idol and it’s no less thrilling tonight, waiting to see whether Phillip Phillips or Jessica Sanchez won than it was watching to see if Kelly Clarkson or Justin Guarini won. Well, okay. It’s not quite the same. And there have been some seasons where I cared a little less about the outcome, but it’s still no less thrilling.

It starts out with a performance by the final 12, all dressed in white singing Run Away Baby. It’s good to see Erika Van Pelt still has her hair short and sassy. Colton Dixon and Skylar Lane look to be flirting a little, certainly not taking anything away from the rumors about them. The instrumental break is filled with dancers who might want to audition for So You Think You Can Dance tomorrow night.

The judges are announced and walk out through the lines of the final 12, and Ryan Seacrest joins them as well. He’s looking smart in a bow tie tonight. Predictably he asks who it’s going to be, and predictably you can’t tell what the audience is saying. A new record was made with the votes last night 132 million. Phillip and Jessica take the stage and are looking good in white. They admit to getting some sleep surprisingly.

Phillip sings a duet with John Fogerty, Have You Ever Seen the Rain that he covered earlier this season. Both of them are on acoustic guitar. Carrie Underwood sings along from the audience. These two really sound good together. They could honestly perform as a duet and take this show on the road. The judges are jamming along with them. Phillip announces their next duet, Bad Moon Risin’. This is so in Phillip’s wheelhouse and exactly what he should be singing.

After clips of the funnier moments from the auditions, Joshua Ledet takes the stage singing Take Me to the Pilot. Does this mean Elton John is going to be joining him in a few minutes? Nope, it’s Fantasia. And she has long straight hair and tight clothes that she shouldn’t be wearing. She looks quite different. It’s Fantasia with Mantasia. I do have to admit that they combine really well vocally. The Idol commercials cut them off when they just keep going and going. I don’t know if they ever would have stopped.

I know now I’m not the only one that gets screwed up typing Jennifer and Jessica all season. It turns out Jimmy Iovine has been getting them mixed up as well. In his taped bits he keeps calling Jennifer Jessica. It’s good to know I’m not alone. He tells Jennifer after the clips that his daughter’s name is Jessica and that’s why he gets mixed up. Well, that’s not going to prompt her to stay past this season.

The female finalists take the stage singing Ain’t Nobody. I’m shocked somewhat, as they don’t sound as good as they did the rest of the season. They launch into I’m Every Woman and Chakak Khan joins them the stage. She’s looking good, but perhaps shouldn’t wear tight clothes either. What is it with the wardrobe tonight? Someone stick it in the dryer? For some reason Ryan is sitting in Jennifer’s chair and is jamming along. Jane Lynch is jamming in the audience as well.

Ford put together a little tribute to the finalists, but the problem is, Phillip really wasn’t in the Ford shoots too much, resting up because of his health. Ford wanted to do something special for the finalists’ musical mentors, and Phillip talks again about his brother-in-law, while Jessica counts on a close family friend who has helped her musically. Ford brought the two mentors to the finale to support them. and is also giving the two of them Ford Escapes. They are excited to say the least. And for Phillip and Jessica, they also get new cars, Ford Fusions.

Rhianna takes the stage singing Where Have You Been. It’s a light show extravaganza. At the end, she shouts out, “I love you, Idol!” It’s a little surprising, but good to see her sincerity. Or is this like that part in a concert where the singer yells out, “I love you, Chicago!”

Skylar Lane starts singing good, Turn on the Radio to Steven, then walks up onstage and introduces Reba. It’s a great performance, and I’m sure it’s the thrill of a lifetime for Skylar. But seriously, all I can think of is the Saturday Night Live skit and Kenan Thompson. Jennifer is still missing from the judges’ table.

It’s a look inside Steven Tyler’s dressing room. He says he may be a rock star, yet he leads a modest life. A walk inside shows Playboy bunnies and a pet sloth. Really? Is that really his pet? He has a monkey in there as well, and a sign on his bedroom door that issues the warning, “All Who Enter Must Surrender the Booty.” On the wall is a picture with Michael Jackson and a letter from Paul McCartney. This is eclectic-ness at its best.

Jessica Sanchez takes the stage singing I Will Always Love You. It’s just as gorgeous as it was the first night. Steven sings along from the judges’ table. I’m not kidding when I say I’d really like to hear his rendition of it. I am wondering why she is getting an additional solo, one without any big stars joining her. It’s making me wonder if it’s because she won’t be singing the Idol Coronation song at the end.

The top 12 guys take the stage singing Coming to America, followed by Cracklin’ Rosie, so I’m guessing we’ll be seeing Neil Diamond at the end of this song. Yet they launch into I’m a Believer, which is great with a lead from Joshua Ledet. Finally Neil takes the stage singing Sweet Caroline. Or rather he’s talking it, as it seems his voice hasn’t held up too well over the years. Nevertheless, the man’s a legend. Phillip is curiously missing.