American Idol 4, May 24: The Finale - Bo vs. Carrieby Sting7 -- 05/25/2005
Ryan welcomes us to the Kodak Theater. Thirty thousand strong are screaming in excitement. Ryan asks who is the next American Idol Ė I closed my eyes, and I clearly heard Bo, resoundingly. Ryan says just as he expected Ė right down the middle. Right.
"Itís a very, very close competition!" Ryan crows. I am not a conspiracy theorist by any shake of the imagination, believe me, and those of you who have emailed me complaining about this, that, or the other inequity know I give short shrift to conspiracy theories, but I canít see it being that close! I just canít!
There is a difference between lying and puffery. Youíre selling a car and you say it runs great! Secretly, you know that it gets dodgey when itís cold out, but it will start eventually. You donít say anything about that. Did you lie? Not by law, just a bit of puffery. Thatís how I see American Idol and this "close vote." Of course, neither Bo nor Carrie has sung a note tonight, and this being the finale, a lot is riding on how they do THIS night. I think there are a lot of undecided voters out there who are waiting to be impressed. They will decide this competition.
We are reminded that it is boy vs. girl (which sort of justifies the Top 24 boy-girl ruling), the first time since Kelly beat Justin. Ryan asks will there be another movie spinoff, and with bugged eyes, he says, "Letís hope not!" I second that. Ryan says each contestant will be doing two original songs and one favorite from throughout the season.
Ryan tells us last week there was a coin flip, and "things didnít go quite as planned." A special coin with Bo and Carrieís pictures on either side was declared. Ryan flipped it, dropped it, and it bounced immediately into a grate! Ryan has turned a lovely shade of crimson as he tries to tear the grate off. Hilarious! Another coin is eventually produced, and Carrie wins the coin flip. She opts to go second. So, up first is:
Bo Bice, "The Long Long Road"
Randy - "This is the most important show ever... bad news is I did not love that song... good news is you still brought it home in the end. I did not know you had that kind of range."
Paula - "Congratulations... I told you we'd see you in the finals, I told you! ... itís hard to sing a song nobody knows... I see everyone buy in and thatís the mark of a great singer. You could sing the Websterís dictionary."
Simon - "Probably the closest final weíve ever had. You look like my chemistry teacher. No, itís not a good thing. It was a very dreary song. And, Iíve gotta tell you. You are going to have to do a hell of a lot better than that tonight."
Sting7 - In Ryanís interview, it sounds like Boís song is an original song he performed. It seems like the judges didnít know that, based on their critiques, because blaming Bo for the song is silly, unless he wrote it! Bo did a fine job, showed more range than I was expecting, but I am curious if he will turn it up for the other two numbers.
Carrie Underwood, "Inside Your Heaven"
Randy - "Wow. Wow... good news and bad news... I didnít love that song either... the first half was really pitchy... the good news is in the end, because youíre a great singer... you brought it home in the end. You guys are even - 1 and 1"
Paula - "Congratulations... you had a couple of not-so-great notes in there, but who the in heck cares? They love you!"
Simon - "Carrie! I can see how nervous you are with you standing up there. I thought the song was much better than the first song. You are going to have pace yourself because your vocal was on the edge. But round one goes to you."
Sting7 - Sorry, Simon, I donít agree. Carrie had some hideous notes in there. I think the entire bridge was off-key. Hard to say with a song youíve never heard before, it could have been singerís choice on where she went with it, but it was a bad choice at best. She ended it very nicely, and someone turned up her mike so the background singers didnít swallow her like they did Bo. Still, I think round one went to Bo.
Bo Bice, "Vehicle"
Randy - "Thatís what Iím talking about thatís the way you put it down... (swallowed by audience applause) ... now Iím happy!"
Paula - "You couldnít perform that better than you just did, thatís the authentic Bo we know and love."
Simon - "Okay, Bo, welcome back, now weíve got ourselves a competition."
Sting7 - I do love when he does this song. Heís about to own it! The confident, low-key kind of swagger that we saw from Bo was far more in evidence in this song. Iíve run out of adjectives for him. Heís Bo! He is his own creation, you never get an ounce of affectation from him, Bo is who Bo is, on stage, off stage Ė authentic. All you can say.
Hey, there is Constantine! In a parallel universe, Constantine is in this finale.
Carrie Underwood, "Independence Day"
Randy - "I gotta say for me, welcome back.... that was an amazing vocal... that was hot!"
Paula - "That was brilliant, great vocal."
Simon - "I donít think that was a great vocal, it sounded very strained, I wouldnít have chose that song... I would have chosen "Crying" from a couple of weeks ago, now round two goes to Bo!Ē
Sting7 - I also donít think it was a great vocal, but I think it was a good one. Like Simon, I thought it sounded very strained. Maybe sheís pushing to catch up to the "Vehicle," heh heh, but it wasnít as effective as the last time she performed it. "Crying" might have been a better choice, I would have chosen "Alone." No question in my mind that round two went to Bo.
Bo Bice, "Inside Your Heaven"
Randy - "You know what? What can I say, youíre forever in my dogpound... you made me love the song. That was amazing. Amazing! Great range, great vocal, great tone, that was hot baby!"
Paula - "You went outside of your range on that one, I just fell in love with the song on that one, I really did. You really gave it your all on that one. My props to you."
Simon - "This is the only time Iíve seen your nerves throughout this competition. It shows how much this competition means to you. I think you did outsing Carrie on this song. And Bo, this is the may be the last chance I get to say something to you in the competition and it has been, for us, an absolute pleasure having you on American Idol."
Sting7 - What I will remember most about Bo is the look of utter relief in his eyes right after he finished that last note. He knew it was the last song he will ever sing in front of judges, but I doubt it will his last before humongous crowds! Boís rendition of this song is still ringing in my ears. There seemed to be some problems in there, flubbed a lyric or two, but somehow, it was more sonically pleasing. He connected with the song, he understood it. While Carrie sings beautifully, you wonder if she has the experience to emotionally connect with some of the songs she sings. That has been my problem with her all season long, and it just dawned on me what the problem actually was. Carrie, I think, is nowhere near as great as she is going to be with some maturing.
Carrie Underwood, "Angels Brought Me Here"
Randy (voice also cracking) - "You know what... itís the first Iíve given this this season, but you got the dogs standing up, that was amazing!"
Paula - "Carrie, what youíve been able to accomplish in this last six months is a lifetime of achievement. Youíll never face anything more scary in your life. Youíve done a wonderful job."
Simon - "You have a lot of guts. Youíre competing against someone who is older than you, had more experience. Again I felt your emotion in that song. Ah, Carrie, I think youíve done enough to win this competition."
Sting7 - Now that was something! That was beautiful. That last note, that last "here" was broken because she got emotional, and the shy smile that came with it was absolutely adorable. It may be her most emotional and beautiful vocal of the season. Is Simon right? Was it enough to win?
We get a montage of the entire season. Nice to see some of those faces again. Ryan asks Randy to sum up the season. Randy says it has been the best season so far and is happy to see a southern girl and a country rocker still standing. Paula says it has been the best season with the best talent so far. Simon thanks America for listening to him this year. Full oí pithy, isnít he?
Ryan implores with us to vote. He says less than 2% separated Bo and Carrie last week. I have to echo that it is so important to vote. Do so, do it often! If you donít vote, you donít have the right to complain!
The competition is over! What a season! This is my third and a half season of Idol. The lovely Dana Walker had the chief recapping duties in season one, and I did a companion piece once the Top Ten started. Iíve never seen a season like this. Controversy, yeah, there always is. Shocking eliminations? Yep, knew that. But, this is the first season that I can think of that the Top 12 was so talented! Weíre down to Bo and Carrie, but look who lost along the way? Constantine, Nadia, Anwar, Anthony, Vonzell, Nikko, Jessica Ė any of them could have been in a finale with Kelly, Ruben, or Fantasia in earlier seasons! Who knows, they may have even won! This year was the first year singing ability was really not a question. All 12, yes, all 12, are absolutely recordable. I have no doubt that all of them will have recording contracts by 2007.
The line of demarcation this year was star-quality. Likeability. Look at the top five Ė scrappy Scott Savol who was brave enough to tell the public to shove it in his own way with all the false stories floating around about him, Anthony who seems to be devoid of ego, he absolutely took every day of his Idol experience as a blessing and a gift. Hard not to like him. Vonzell grew from a pretty good singer to a powerhouse. I think she surprised herself with all she could do. Itís like she discovered a new toy and couldnít wait to show us what she could do with it! Carrie, I think, really battled some confidence issues. I think Carrie was very used to being the prettiest fish in the pond, and found herself surrounded by others who were just as pretty. Carrie may have found some strength that she had long overlooked. Bo raged against the machine. He was true to himself. No, he wasnít cutting his hair. No, he will not be made a monkey of on national television. Bo showed us who he was because there was no sense in trying to be anyone else Ė let America decide if itís good enough.
Who will win? That is the question. Itís been about ten minutes since the show ended, and Iím still hearing Carrieís song in my head. And, Simonís prediction. Was it good enough to win? I canít say no. I canít say yes, either. Iím thinking Bo. Iím sticking with Bo. Hard to disagree with Simon, but my gut says Bo. Iíve gotta stick with it.
Based on what weíve seen all season, Bo has been the most consistent. There were three nights I can think of when he commanded the show! Carrie has never been in the bottom three. Sheís been solid. The only other two contestants who can say that are Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken. Sheís definitely in good company. Her future is secure, and it will be fun to watch her grow and mature as a performer. However...
The next American Idol will be:
Join me tomorrow, letís see if Stinger can be four for four!
While youíre waiting for the finale, be sure to relive the performance that earned Bo a Hall of Fame Moment!
Sting7 has been a respected published writer for 16 years, as a music editor, entertainment critic, columnist, and interviewer. He also has a curious love for pro-wrestling! You can email Stinger at email@example.com.
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