American Idol 2, May 21: This Is It!by Sting7 -- 05/22/2003
It's almost done. A new American Idol will be crowned. It's a two-hour show! How in the world will they fill the time???
Ryan Seacrest welcomes us from backstage. He joins Ruben Studdard in his dressing room, and shows us the cheering throngs from Birmingham, AL. Ruben is cool as usual. Ruben's uncle and college music teacher babble something inconsequential.
Ryan then shows us a montage of bad American Idol auditions, and more bad auditions from around the world! (My favorite clip is still Goat Girl singing "It's All Coming Back To Me" and Randy looking up at utter horror at what he hears! Priceless!) Then, Ryan dashes across the hall to Clay Aiken in his dressing room. He intros the huddled masses in Raleigh, NC; 8,000 strong at the RBC Center. Clay's mouth gapes open in shock. Clay's ninth grade music teacher and his best friend, Amanda, gush.
We see that celebrities have their own opinions whether Ruben or Clay is the winner:
Wanda Sykes says Ruben.
Brooke Burke says Clay.
Regis and Kelly say Ruben.
Missed the name, sorry, but the dude says Clay.
Quentin Tarantino says Ruben.
Ryan backstage with the judges, dressed in their finery. Paula says it's time for Ruben and Clay to "get on with their careers." Simon says the contestants have become like a family to him, but just when you think that ice has melted around his heart, he sarcastically urges them to "give something back to the community." Ryan and Simon (they sure are chummy lately!) offer us ten points for every face we can place, as a group of unsuccessful Idol hopefuls perform "Sing A Song." (I recognize Pick To Click Patrick Lake
Ryan brings out Ruben and Clay. He informs us that the winner won by the narrowest of margins (out of 24 million votes it's 50.28% to 49.72%, a difference of 13,000 votes!). Sugar Ray Leonard gives up an amusing Tale of the Tape between "Big Ruben" and "Shakin' Clay Aiken."
Kelly Clarkson leads Clay and Ruben, then the other finalists (minus Josh Gracin and Corey Clark) for a tuneful "One Voice."
That's Michael Chiklis! He's not on Fox anymore! But, he tells Ryan that his is a Ruben household, but after Clay did "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," he thinks the contest is wide open.
Kelly Clarkson comes out, after a mini-costume change, and does a shortened and somewhat screechy "Miss Independent." Poor thing is being run ragged. Surprise! Ryan brings out music super-honcho Clive Davis, who descends like visiting royalty. After a rather long-winded speech (including that they've finished Justin Guarini's album and they've started recording Clay and Ruben! They already have deals!), tells Kelly that Thankful has gone platinum, baby! (You are required to say 'baby' after 'platinum' in this context.) Kelly is genuinely surprised as Ruben and Clay carry the plaque out to her.
We have a "music video" of Simon and Paula seductively feeding strawberries to each other to the strains of "Love To Love You,", and then kiss! French! Eew! Oh! Simon wakes up! What a horrible nightmare, then pops Randy in the same bed telling him to go to sleep. Split a gut.
Then the intro to the show cranks up again. Huh? What was the last hour, a dream? What is this, Dallas?
Ryan says the show officially starts now. I'm looking for Victoria Principal and Miss Ellie. Ryan points out the celebrity judges from this season who are in attendance: Olivia Newton-John, Neil Sedaka, Verdene White, and Gladys Knight all smiling like proud parents.
We get a medley of songs performed by all the finalists - songs originally performed by the celebrity judges.
Then Ruben, Kimberley Locke, and Clay perform a medley of "Superstar," "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," and "On the Wings of Love," respectively.
(How much more!!!)
Ruben performs "Flying Without Wings" with the choir again. Then, Ryan takes us back to Birmingham, at Ruben's church. They are very proud.
Clay performs "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" (and nails that final note again!). Choir still doing double-duty. Then to Raleigh. They are proud, too.
Okay, it must be time now.
No. Clay and Ruben perform "Ain't No Stopping Us Now." Ryan promises the winner will be announced next. Then we see the winning "music video" from last night, "Ride Wit Me."
Finally, Ryan is standing flanked by Ruben and Clay. Ryan recaps last night's judges' critiques, which you can read in detail here.
Ryan says the tally he got was off, the difference was really 1,335 votes! [Editor's Note: That number is still wrong! It apparently should have been 133,500 votes.] That's it! Oh, man... that could mean...
Ryan asks for judges comments:
Randy - "You know what, the best man will win, but you both are winners, I love you both, it was great having you!"
Paula - "It's been an amazing journey, you've both been great, follow your own path, the world is looking at you with different eyes, do what your mama's told you and remember; no one grows up wanting to be a critic!" (I cleaned it up, she fairly babbled)
Simon - "I still don't understand a single word she's saying! (Me neither) We said it will be image vs. talent, talent won. I think America absolutely got it right, now the real competition starts, both your singles are being released the same week. Congratulations to both of you!"
Here it is. Ryan says it is the closest vote in American Idol history (all both seasons!)... the new American Idol is... (all through this, Clay kept up continuous chatter in Ruben's ear!)
Ruben looks like he may faint. Clay winces for just a second, and then hugs Ruben good-naturedly. In the crowd, Mrs. Aiken and an elated Mrs. Studdard are hugging, that's so classy! Ruben thanks America and family and friends. Ryan asks how Clay is doing. Clay gives a very gracious speech. Do not worry Clay Nation, Clay will be just fine. (And for those members of Clay Nation who sent the nastiest, silliest, most juvenile, insulting emails I've ever seen for saying Ruben will win, I expect to see concession emails from all of you, if you have a scintilla of the class your hero does! Clay would not approve of your behavior.)
A choked up and teary Ruben sings "Flying Without Wings" (why do they make him sing after he won??), as the fireworks go off and the other finalists hug Clay and Ruben, when he's done.
It all reality, there were two winners this year. Two extremely talented individuals will step out into the market place with more talent in their pinkies than most people on the charts today will ever obtain in their whole lives. For those like Justin Timberlake (weren't you in Mickey Mouse Club? Yeah, I thought so), and John Mayer (I like you, but you wouldn't even make the Top 32) who scoff at Idol, prepare to be stomped.
Wow. What a season! AWOL judges, three expulsions, two prior arrests, even through all that, American Idol posted the biggest rating it ever had. What will we do until Idol comes back in January? Well, we'll have deal with the copycats like American Juniors (I'm here for that), Fame, and so on, all dutifully covered here. But, when Idol returns, I'll be here. And, I know you will be, too. Let's all bask together for once; Ruben-ites, Clay Nation, your soldiers have served you well.
If you haven't ordered your copy of either single yet, now is your chance:
Clay's Single: "This Is The Night/On The Wings Of Love"
Sting7 can be reached at email@example.com.
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