American Idol 2, May 20: Decideby Sting7 -- 05/21/2003
It's down to this. We started with 70,000 and it has come down to these two southern boys who have charmed away the many bad memories of a tumultuous American Idol 2. If you are reading this recap because you missed it, you forgot, you blew it off... I have to tell you that you missed what will go down as the finest night of American Idol performances I have ever seen.
Ryan welcomes us, he's so excited his voice cracks. The crowd is absolutely rabid. Ryan tells us that this is it, please vote. Every vote is vital. Vote for "your favorite." (There he goes again! Vote the better singer, damn it!)
Ryan also tells us that tonight, we have three hours to vote! It is that important.
He introduces Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard. Clay says it's absolutely amazing. Ruben says it's unbelievable. Ryan introduces the judges, who look set to explode with excitement. Even Simon is smiling. Ryan reminds us that Clay won the coin flip on the special final two show, and opted to perform second.
So, Ruben kicks it off. We get a longer version of Ruben journey. Then...
Ruben Studdard, "A House Is Not A Home"
Randy - "that was great... you almost gave me chills, a grown man!... that was hot!"
Paula - "you radiate warmth and power... home is where the heart is and it's with you"
Simon - " it was good, not the best I've heard from you... but good, yeah, good"
Sting7 - From the second verse, I had a big lump in my throat and by the time he was done with those beautiful range changes, I was teary. He took me right to my last heartbreak. Damn, that was good. Ugh! Absolutely velvet gorgeousness!
We get to revisit Clay's journey, more footage than last night. Then Clay performs his single, which you can order here. It's already number one on Amazon's chart...
Clay Aiken, "This Is The Night"
Randy - "what's strange, as much as I hated that song, you blew your brains out on it... you sung your face off!"
Paula - "you have the ability to take us to your world... you take us the matrix of the song and make it your own... very very nice!"
Simon - "what's astonishing is how handsome this show has made you... before you were really ugly!... what I didn't like about the song was that it was like American Idol the Musical... you are capable of better"
Sting7 - Oh boy. Vincent The Sequel. Peeewww to the song, but like Randy, I think he sung his face clean off! A masterful, winning performance on any other song. On this song? He did his best with it. He showed even more range than he has before, his most passionate performance of the season. He almost... almost... made me like the song.
Round One: Ruben. Tears. You choke me up, you get my vote.
Ryan says we get Lennon and McCartney performed by Ruben and Clay. First...
Ruben Studdard, "Imagine"
Randy - "that was great, man... very nice, very different"
Paula - "one of my favorite songs of all time... we don't have to imagine, you've already made it!"
Simon - "that was risky, but you pulled it off... good job!
Sting7 - First, the mike was malfunctioning, we couldn't really hear him until he was done with the first verse! (The judges comments were curiously brief, they went to a commercial really fast. I think an engineer will be leafing through the want ads!) The accompaniment was just four or five violinists, and the performance was stunning! Stunning! Ruben brought me to tears for the second time tonight. Thank god I'm doing this as the show goes along, I may be too emotional to continue if he does it again!
Now, for the McCartney side...
Clay Aiken, "Here There and Everywhere"
Randy - "very safe song, but you still the bomb!"
Paula - "your most haunting and vulnerable performances yet... beautiful"
Simon - "very pretty... not blown away... I think both of you are saving the best for last... I hope so"
Sting7 - This is one of my favorite songs ever and it was gorgeous. Clay gave it gentle stroke instead of overpowering the lush string arrangement. A wonderful treatment, and this song should be on his album! He's performing the performances of his life! But, no tears.
Round Two: Ruben. He's killing me tonight. Flat-out.
Now, performing his single, currently climbing Amazon's chart (and which you can order here)...
Ruben Studdard, "Flying Without Wings"
Randy - "from me and Paula (standing ovation )"
Paula - "that was like the church of Ruben!... amen!... I believe!"
Simon - "you saved the best for last! Over to you Clay!... that was fantastic!"
Sting7 - A choir! Oh, I hope they are staying for Clay because the unrest will be devastating among Clay Nation otherwise! A song I absolutely despised, but Ruben delivered it for me. There were some singing glitches, I bet he would have liked more time with the song before performing it, but he made me believe it. He felt it. He conveyed that touchy, feely, hug your kids schmaltz like he has a house full of them. But no tears this time.
Here comes the pressure.
Clay Aiken, "Bridge Over Troubled Waters"
Randy - "me and Paula (standing ovation) what are you doing dawg! ... I didn't know you could hit that note!"
Paula - "you gave us chills... you are a true artist, you took a classic song and made us feel like we were hearing for the first time... this was your personal best!"
Simon - "I think you have been a little off this evening, ... I think that performance may have won you the competition."
Sting7 - Damn! That was gorgeous! The choir stayed (thank you) and Clay choked me up. My goodness. That was wonderful. I can see why he saved this one for last, it was another smart move! I'm out of adjectives. He absolutely saved the best for last. The best of his whole season. Damn.
Round Three: Clay. That was big.
Astonishing performances. Backstage, both say they weren't nervous. Clay says it's in God's hands now. It must be, because I can't see how anyone will be able to say one was decisively better than the other. I don't care what camp you are in. Beautiful performance, two very different vocal styles, both performers left it all on the stage.
As if things weren't special enough. Ryan says Paul Anka is here to perform a new version of "My Way" (think Frank), especially written for American Idol. Paul comes out and sings this rendition as the video screen shows some of the funnier images of the season. It was so cute, I have to share it with you. It goes like this:
"Hey, I just have to say
All season long, as you probably know, I've predicted the outcome. So, tonight, I must make my last prediction. I think the American Idol should be Ruben Studdard. (I wish it could be a tie!) I predict the American Idol will be...
Now that you've read the full recap, see what David Bloomberg has to say. (Hint: This time, he and Sting7 disagreed almost all the way down the line.)
Sting7 can be reached at email@example.com.
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