The American Idol Finale in Person: Girl and Boy Crushes Collide!

BlogHer Original Post

Last week, I attended the American Idol grand finale with BlogHer's own intrepid Entertainment editor, Morgan Shanahan, and it already seems like a distant dream...

OK, so I'll admit this finale was one I was the least interested in since, perhaps, well, ever. I didn't have a dog in this country hunt. There wasn't a Kelly, Clay, Fantasia, Bo, Taylor, Blake, David C., AdLam, or Crystal to root for. (And yes, out of nine finales I have only rooted for the winner four times, thanks for reminding me!)

I watched the final performance show and realized, again, that country music isn't my genre. Do I loves me the occasional Dixie Chicks, kd lang or Lyle Lovett? Yes, but do they even count?

After the final performance was over, I thought Lauren might have the chance to topple the inevitable Scotty coronation with both an appealing rasp in her voice ("blowing out" your vocal cords will give you that) and a tearful ode to her mama. But a woman hasn't won since Season 6, and without any changes in the voting rules, one's unlikely to win any time soon.

Still, I was as excited as the next Idol junkie to get the call to go to the big show. I flew down to L.A. (after some last-minute travel drama, thanks @Southwest!) and met up with Morgan in the lobby of the JW Marriott, right across from the Nokia Theatre. No sooner did we connect in the bar then who should walk in, but Nigel Lythgoe himself, with mean chef Gordon Ramsey. This is when I learned that we're all different, and that's a beautiful thing. Because it turns out Monsieur Ramsey is on Morgan's "laminated list." [If you don't know what I mean by that, go out and watch some "Friends", what are you? IN a pop culture-free dungeon?] Despite her excitement, we agreed that interrupting him in the midst of a private drink with AI producer was not called for. Morgan showed great fortitude, for which she was later greatly rewarded.

Eventually the time came, and we trotted over to the theatre, where our access passes, courtesy of Ford, allowed us to skip what looked like a long ugly line and get right to an entrance. Where they promptly wanted to separate us from our dear, sweet mobile phones. As you may recall, I visited Dancing with the Stars earlier this year and eluded the same fate by being whisked backstage to interview Ms. Chelsea Kane. No such luck this time. I'll dare to admit that I tried to avoid giving up my phone, and Morgan made an even more valiant effort, but in the end: We both failed and we both left feeling "cold and naked on the floor" without our precious pressssssssssssssssssssshus phones. [Note to American Idol producers: Next season someone should sing "Torn" from whence I snagged the "cold and naked" lyric, but they should sing the original EdnaSwap version, NOT the too too pretty Natalie Imbruglia version. You're welcome.]


Morgan and I with our shiny access passes.

Eventually, naked though we felt, the show began. One thing I learned right away is that this show is lit and shot for a TV audience, not so much the audience in the theatre. That Lady Gaga number? Totally dark and hard to decipher what she was up to up there on that mountain from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Looked great when I saw it on TV later (although even though it was dark, I could tell it wasn't quite as "family friendly" as the usual AI fare).

Those big screens? You'd think they'd use them like any concert and show we peons in the back what was going on on stage, but all too often? Swirling karaoke patterns and American Idol logos were all that were floating around on those screens.

And unlike the DWTS set, which is so small you could always keep track of the "warm-up" guy, whose job is to keep you cheering and clapping and smiling, this theatre was so large, and they didn't even put a spot on the poor guy. So you had this disembodied voice "warming you up" most of the time.

All in all, it's a bit like going to a big football game -- you actually get a better view of the game and all its intricacies when you watch on TV. But even so, nothing beats being there and soaking up the energy of a big crowd!

So, now that I've whined about the not-so-low-lights, what were the highlights?

- Beyonce: OMG. Girlfriend has more charisma and ability to command the stage in her pinky finger than all the female finalists combined. She did have the unfair advantage of having a wind machine magically follow her everywhere she went on stage, but the girl crush is officially ON.

- Marc Anthony and JLo (with a side of Sheila E!): As I tweeted...muy caliente. I've actually been a big Anthony fan for years. I own most of his albums and none of JLo's, so I was really hoping he'd perform. But JLo's dance of seduction around him was surprisingly hot. I know some folks are mocking the booty-shaking, but I liked it. And I liked their chemistry. I saw them present on some awards show last year and their banter was oh-so-painfully written to make her be sort of the dismissive wife and him the hapless husband. I wondered if they even liked each other after that appearance, and I'd much rather think they like each other just fine, which is what this little number conveyed. I might have had a little warring girl- vs. boy-crush going on at this point.

- Tony Bennett: Yes, it was a shame he forgot some words right in the very beginning, which made me a bit nervous for the rest of the performance, but who doesn't love Tony Bennett? And I thought Haley sounded awesome, and a great match for him. I also liked that there were no weird inappropriate sexual overtones going on, just good clean fun :)

- Judas Priest breaking into "Breakin' the Law" with James Durbin. This may sound odd, but the S.O. and I like to occasionally break into this song ourselves, picked up, I believe, from Beavis & Butthead (#yesIamold), so I could get down with a little heavy metal Idol.

- Steven Tyler rocking his 60 seconds of "Dream On". Yes, the dude does more with 60 seconds than most performers do with a full three minutes, but still, that was a bit of a tease producers!

Now, could I quibble about some lowlights at this point? Talk about how T_C without the L seemed pointless, or how it's all becoming clear to me why so many actors are getting injured during Spider-Man (they're trying to exercise their suicide exit clause) or how pairing Scotty with Tim McGraw and Lauren with Carrie Underwood was like watching a Before & After clip when it came to performance skills. Yes, I could quibble.

But all too soon the winner was crowned, and we were sent out into the night, wishing there was one more weird pairing to not be able to tweet about!

We weren't done for the evening yet, because we still had some boy-crushes to meet! We saw about half a dozen former Idols at the after-party, and amongst that very small number happened to be two that were actually some of my former favorites. [Bad iPhone photography to follow. I clearly need to read the copy of "iPhoneography", written by BlogHer 2010 Voice of the Year in the Design category Stephanie Roberts, sitting on my desk!]

Me and Season 6's @BlakeLewis, he of the adorable beat-boxing, and yes, I do own his latest album Heartbreak on Vinyl. in fact, I'm listening to it right now!

Me and Season 5's dreamy @IamAceYoung. He has a bit of that certain kind of charisma where you really think he is thrilled to be talking to only you at the moment.

Now, the one picture I don't have is the piece de la resistance of the evening. Because it's on La Morgan's phone. Because: YES, Gordon Ramsey showed at this party, and YES, Morgan met him, and he asked me if I didn't agree that she looked just like Julia Roberts (which, actually, I had been thinking myself earlier in the evening, but i don't think it would have meant as much coming from me). And YES, Morgan asked for a kiss because he's on her list, and he went all Austin powers-y and told her to behave and gave her a nice buss on the cheek.

[Editor's interruption:  Elisa, I'm totally voting for you to take iPhoneography, but I DO have the photo of me and my boyfriend Gordy. --Morgan]

He was lovely; she was in heaven, and knowing we really couldn't top that, we soon called it a night and headed back into our suddenly pedestrian-once-more lives.

Sigh.

So, what were the highlights of the show for you?

[Disclosure: I received a ticket to the show and after-party courtesy of Ford, as Morgan's +1. Paid my own way to L.A.]

Elisa Camahort Page
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