Wednesday, January 04, 2006

AI Season 4 Recap – Finale



The final 2. Bo vs Carrie. Southern Rock vs Country. Long Hair vs Longer Hair. Bearded vs Beardless. Blonde vs Brunette. Female vs Female-looking Male (with beard)! Not since Ali/Frazier has there been such an anticipated match up! Okay…more realistically, I guess it would be not since Clay/Ruben. For the 2nd time in 4 seasons, the best 2 contestants have reached the Red Tape and are awaiting America’s decision to see who will cross the tape first.

Before we get into last night…let’s take a stroll down “FINALE memory lane” shall we?

Season 1, we had the Kelly Clarkson vs local boy Justin Guarini matchup. This was like putting Tyson in his prime against Gumby. Actually…Gumby probably can throw down! Kelly and Justin sang the same original songs which were obviously tailor suited and awfully written for Kelly (I still have nightmares of “A Moment Like This” and worse yet…some product is using it for a TV commercial now…ugh) and then we had our first (and best) Idol winner.

Season 2….Clay and Ruben got to sing different songs, because they knew they had 2 idols coming out of that season. They tailored songs for each of their voices. I remember Ruben’s “Flying without Wings,” which I think was not an original IDOL song. And Clay…well I don’t remember his song, but his major flaw was using the IDOL Finale Choir (oh and what a choir) with Bridge Over Troubled Water instead of the new song….Thus…we had season 2’s least successful idol, Mr. Ruuuuuuben Studdard!

Season 3…we had the unbelievably lopsided and uninteresting affair with Fantasia and Diana. People were rooting for Diana just out of spite of Fantasia and her awful attitude. But, in the end, no one could deny she was the best thing to come out of Idol’s worst season. And sang the better version of Tamyra Gray’s “I believe.” And what a season 1-showdown Tamyra vs Kelly would’ve been! But …it was not meant to be. Did I mention Fantasia won? Did I mention it doesn’t matter? This season seemed like Idol was on a downward spiral.

Then came Season 4….Okay…enough of the history lesson. Let’s get on to the present! The rules were changed this year…the contestants were older, more mature. The styles of music performed on stage varied giving us some broader talent instead of our usual comparisons to Maria Carey, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston (do we really need another Easy Listening Idol?) So, with that said, it is why last night’s format came as a big surprise to me. This could be the closest race in the history of American Idol (so we’re told)….and it seems they gave the advantage to one of the contestants. I’ll get to this in a bit. So what was the Idol finalist’s assignment? Each would sing 2 originals and 1 of their favorite songs they previously performed during the competition. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? We’ll see. So, in honor of the most underrated and “underwatched” and reality show of all time we’re going to break this baby down CONTENDER STYLE! So who wins tonight…who becomes the next Fantasia b..errrr….um….the Next Best Thing to Kelly Clarkson? Will it be cool as ice Bo Bice (niiiice…unintentional rhyming is always a pleasant surprise to writing masters such as myself!…ooh even NICE rhymed with it!) or Everyone’s favorite Girl Next Door (or Next Southern State over) Miss Carrie Underwood? I know who I’m rooting for…but in all fairness…we should break it down.

Round 1 Original Song vs Original Song
DING DING! And they’re off!

Bo – “The Long Long Road” Bo comes out from his corner and is eyeing his competition down. Maybe a little too much. Apparently his nerves have made Bo lose the ability to sing! No fear…the IDOL FINALE CHOIR is here! And with the Finale Choir, you have a bigger threat than the backup dancers. You have the threat of being drowned out of one of the worst songs ever written in the history of Idol and …well…let’s face it…in the history of music! I’d rather listen to the cave people banging on stones just like my ancestors did in the early days. (I think that’s where I got my musical talents from…Music is strong in my family…My Father has it….I have it….and….my BROTHER has it….yes…it’s you Tony! Whoops…forgot this isn’t a Star Wars recap…we’re still on Idol). Anyways…back to Bo. Bo did what he could with this song…but is this really what Idol Music writers envision as a ROCK BALLAD that is marketable for Bo? Judging by the rest of the songs performed in this competition…it doesn’t seem like they wrote it for Carrie. Bo’s limited range was exposed on this song as he missed high note after high note and even some low notes. His singing was middle of the road…it’s like…he knew the song was awful…and didn’t even try to sing his heart out. That’ what I came out of it with. But…if you ask Paula….well…Bo can sing the Webster’s Dictionary. Sign me up for that concert! Just to get people started…here’s what Bo would sing first mmmm…whets the appetite for more doesn’t it?
Carrie – “Inside Your Heaven”My heaven? Aww that’s so sweet. Another lame ballad entry from the Idol team. One big difference in this song vs Bo’s song. Carrie made the most of it…and made the song her own. She brought the emotion that she had been lacking until the competition got serious…she out sang the crazy finale choir (I’m telling you…they can make or break you!!) Also, even as lame as the song was….I could still find myself hearing it on the radio, and leaving it on because it was Carrie. Well…I mean…I did that with Kelly’s first 2 singles…(ahhhhh chalkboard….ahhhhh scratching!!! Noooo!) Afterall…it can’t be worse than the worst song ever written in the history of music, now can it? So Randy gives the 1-1 tie to both performances. Even with Carrie hitting some flat notes here and there…I was already giving her the edge….and Simon confirmed it for me. Attribute it to nerves….it was better than Bo….was it better than Bo in a fair way? You’re still gonna have to wait for my soap box speech! DING DING! The bell rings…Round 1 complete. Bo: 0 – Carrie: 1 (you go girl!) Bo came in with a big edge and the favorite to win….definitely fell a few steps back with song #1….but…they don’t call Round 2… “Round 2” for nothing! (it’s probably because it’s the one AFTER Round 1!)

Round 2- Favorite Performance vs Favorite Performance


Bo – VehicleAll I can say is….WOW! What a difference it makes to put Bo in his comfort zone. He’s singing a classic rock tune…and he’s singing the hell out of it. While I watched him perform, I remembered why we all enjoyed him sticking around in this competition. I wrote in my notes that it was a SIGNATURE BO performance. Paula matched my writings by calling it an AUTHENTIC BO performance. Wow..Paula…just when I write you off…there you are backing me up! (By the way, Bo still hasn’t gotten to “B” in the dictionary performance yet). Anyway…the crowd loved it…The judges loved it…Simon said we have a competition…..can Carrie top one of Bo’s best performances?
Carrie – “Independence Day” This was always a favorite performance of mine when Carrie did it before. Again, she’s in her comfort zone. I thought it was a great choice, although, I sort of wished she had sang Heart’s “How Do I get you Alone” again. But that is NOT signature Carrie. She’s a country girl at “heart.” So I thought this was a good choice. Showcased her voice…even heard hints of some of the most well known country voices in there including Martina’s. But it was all Carrie at the same time. Consulting with my Country Fan analyst, I was informed that the previous performance was better than last night’s. That may be true. To a non-regular country listener…I saw Carrie up there doing her thing and sounding good. Simon gave a thumbs down on the performance because he wished she would’ve sang “Cryin’” again. Are you kidding me? Simon may have temporarily fallen off his rocker. How could singing 3 ballads improve Carrie’s chances? DING DING: end round 2. I was going to give Bo and Carrie a tie at the end of this round, but judging by Bo’s flawless performance and some of the negative responses to Carrie’s….I guess Bo gets the edge on this one….so we’re dead even! Bo: 1 – Carrie: 1

Round 3 - Original Song 2 vs Original Song 2


Bo – “Inside Your Heaven”Well well well…we’re trying the season 1 and 3 tactic here, are we? Apparently Carrie and Bo only have 1 original song that were for them….and “Inside Your Heaven” was for both of the final 2 to perform. For me…I couldn’t get Carrie’s performance out of my head…and it just seems like a song a female would sing, doesn’t it? Sure “How FAR is Heaven” is a dude song…and Bo sang that. “INSIDE YOUR heaven”…hmmm. I don’t know. Feedback I got from my many avid readers is that this song came off a little dirty with Bo singing the chorus. I’ll let everyone elaborate on why. I dare not go there! Anyway…what I heard was another flat performance, a lot of bad notes….and another song that just wasn’t written for Bo. So what confused me even further were the judges’ comments. Randy: Forever in the Dawg Pound. Seriously??? Paula: You sang outside your range. Actually…I agree with that…because his range is limited…most of his bad notes are OUTSIDE his range! Simon: better than Carrie’s version. Okay…what Simon? Simon justified his comments when he pretty much gave Bo his walking papers. “It’s been a pleasure having you in this competition, and we all agree” It was almost like instead of giving him more compliments about THAT performance…he chickened out and just said “We loved having you…but this is as far as you’re going.” This could be me reading into things though.
Carrie – “Angels Brought Me Here” Okay…there is a trend with these original songs. None of them are terribly good. But all will sell millions of copies. And well this was the best of the bunch. This was a song clearly written for Carrie. She could showcase her voice and by winning the coin toss early on…. assured voters that this would be the last song they heard performed. Sure…she stood there like the statue of liberty again…. but the facial expressions were all there. This song was convincing to me that Carrie deserved the crown over Bo. It reminded me of her powerful voice and her marketability. And the latter comment is why I think the final night of the competition was fixed to favor Carrie. (I’m getting there soon hold on!) Randy praised Carrie on the performance. Paula lost the ability to speak in her review of it. I was going to rewind the TiVo and write down what she actually said…but it went something like this “Flumba Dumba balooba ding dong bibble bobble…..and Watermelon!” Yeah…I know…mine made a lot more sense. Sorry! Simon went on to say that Carrie might have done just enough to secure the championship Idol belt. And the crowd goes Wild!!!! Bo: 1 – Carrie 2

Alright, so what’s my gripe? My girl is favored to win now. The Girl I’ve been rooting for since her audition of Constantine’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”…. whoops…that would be Bonnie Raitt…sorry…Little Constance’s version was just so memorable! My problem with how last night went down is that it was an unfair competition. All season they’ve been tailoring their theme nights to the new broad range of talent they have in these competitions. But when we get to the end…. they again go with the Unbearable Ballads that surely favor the more powerful voice than the most overall performance. Why drag Bo along all of this way to pretty much tell him to his face that he’s not the most marketable contestant for Maintstream Pop? Simon says it was an honor to have him there…but in no way does he want him to win??? These ballads were AWFUL! And it was a shout out back to the days when they were looking for the next Celine, Mariah, Whitney. So what’s my problem? A Lack of consistency. This was Carrie’s night. And they made sure they gave her the advantage. I also have suspicions that the judges are aware of the vote tallies from each week…and Simon, who always is claiming America is listening to him, probably knows that Carrie has the edge over Bo. This is why it was safe for him to make his prediction. That, in addition to my previous comments giving Carrie the edge. Does that give Carrie a shoe-in for victory? No, of course not. Idol loves being unpredictable. But I’ll tell you one thing. Those Ballads will not sell as much with Bo as they will Carrie. “Vehicle” and “Angels” were the best performances of the night. And….well Bo has been the more consistent of the two over the course of the competition in terms of overall performance.

So, in that respect…we may have a tight race still. And I’m sure Ryan will tell us how close the vote was after 2 grueling hours of recaps and Top 12 (we voted you off for a reason!) performances to promote the final concert. I’m mostly upset because Kelly probably won’t be making an appearance tonight. Under her new management, it has been stated that she will make no more Idol performances as she is trying to distance herself from the show.

Alright…it is time for me to declare the winner. And even with the odds being put in Carrie’s favor…she is still the one I’ve rooted for all the time. And I’m going with her now:
CARRIE UNDERWOOD winner of Season 4 American Idol (bonus wildcard: Can’t wait to buy your CD!

Anyone sleeping yet? I figured I’d just type a nice long review, as this is the final AI recap of season 4. Well, as we reach the end, I hope you enjoyed season 4 as much I did. And I hope you enjoyed my recaps. They started off as a paragraph, and now…we’re hitting 5 pages. Good luck on this final night of the traditional TV Season. Lost vs Idol! Tough decision! TiVo and VCR will be working wonders for me.

Have a great summer…and good luck finding something to do until January! The End.

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