Archive for the ‘Carrie Underwood’ Category

Channel Flippin’ – What a Show

May 23, 2009

The 2009 season finale of ‘American Idol’ was the program’s most impressive conclusion ever. (Spoiler warning!)

By Blake

Originally posted May 23, 2009; updated May 29, 2009.

***Spoiler Warning***
This post contains commentary about the American Idol 2009 finale. If you haven’t yet watched the finale and wouldn’t like to know who won yet, don’t read any further!
***Spoiler Warning***

I knew the American Idol contestants and crew could put on a great show. Year after year of amazing season finales and Idol Gives Back specials had proven that Fox could throw a seriously awesome TV party. Even knowing that, I was still blown away by the outstanding performances showcased on American Idol’s two-part season eight finale, which was broadcasted on Tuesday, May 19 and Wednesday, May 20, 2009.

The finale was the epilogue to a great season of talent, showmanship, and shockers.

The season started out with a new judge, singer/songwriter Kara DioGuardi. At first I had thought that the decision to add a new judge to the show would result in “jumping the shark,” though thankfully that didn’t happen at all. Instead, DioGuardi gave the contestants constructive criticism – telling it like it was without getting mean.

Kara DioGuardi was a new judge this season.

This year, the show returned to its former “Top 36” format as opposed to recent years’ “Top 24” layout. This meant that the top 36 contestants were put into groups of twelve, with one group performing each week and three of each group’s twelve contestants moving on to the top twelve. After that, a “wildcard” show admitted three more performers (that had previously been voted out) into the top twelve. However, a slight twist this year revealed that there would be a top thirteen, putting one more contestant through to the final round of the show.

Once the top thirteen contestants were established, another twist was revealed: the “judge’s save.” Through this new rule, if for any given reason a contestant was voted out and the judges didn’t agree with that person going home, they could “save” that contestant, letting that person keep competing in the show. However, this also meant that the week following the save, two contestants would go home instead of one. The save could only be used once the entire season, and could only be implemented through the week of the top five.

The judges decided to use their save on Matt Giraud. If they hadn’t used their save on him, Giraud would have gone home in 7th place. Instead he ended up staying two more weeks, going home in 5th place.

The judge’s used their only “save” for the season on contestant Matt Giraud.

Fellow contestants celebrate with Matt Giraud as the judges announce their “save.”

This season, the bar was significantly raised concerning the talent level each contestant was brought to their performances. With David Cook’s win last year, the show transitioned from finding an excellent singer to finding an excellent artist. A great voice can get you pretty far in American Idol, but now it’s unlikely that anyone will go all the way without showing their own unique style by changing the arrangements of songs to better suit their personality.

Surprisingly not present in the 2009 season was a full night devoted to Idol Gives Back. An American Idol tradition since 2007, Idol Gives Back involves contestants and celebrities encouraging viewers to donate to several charitable organizations. For two years, a special had aired for Idol Gives Back, filled with spectacular performances, as well as videos of how the money that had been raised was being used worldwide to help others. There was a brief Idol Gives Back update during one of this season’s results shows, which included a video of a trip Carrie Underwood took to Africa to help the cause and a performance by a child that had benefitted from the donations, though no full-blown special aired like previous years.

Noah (center), a child that benefitted from the Keep A Child Alive organization as a result of the donations viewers made for Idol Gives Back, stands with Alicia Keys and Ryan Seacrest after performing on American Idol on May 13, 2009.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 saw the last night of voting for the season. The top two contestants included rocker Adam Lambert and laid-back Kris Allen, who both performed three songs on Tuesday. Concluding the show was a special performance by Carrie Underwood of “Home Sweet Home,” which was this season’s “exit song” that played as each contestant was eliminated. On Tuesday, however, the song was played while a montage of the season’s highlights was shown. It was a somewhat sentimental moment, sort of a signal that the season really was coming to a close.

2005 American Idol winner Carrie Underwood performs “Home Sweet Home” on American Idol on Tuesday, May 19, 2009.

The season wasn’t quite over yet, though. Not a bit, really.

On Wednesday, May 20, 2009, the season finale aired, and honestly was one of the overall best television programs I’ve ever seen. An all-around entertaining show with something for just about everybody, it was really amazing.

Throughout the night, there were several performances by the entire top thirteen contestants (including Jasmine Murray, Jorge Nunez, Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver, Megan Joy, Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds, Anoop Desai, Matt Giraud, Allison Iraheta, Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert, and Kris Allen), including the opening number of Pink’s “So What.”

Additionally, the night included performances by contestants accompanied by celebrities, including Megan Joy and Michael Sarver with Steve Martin, Alexis Grace and Anoop Desai with Jason Mraz, Lil Rounds with Queen Latifa, Matt Giraud (and later joined by the rest of the top thirteen) with Carlos Santana, Allison Iraheta with Cyndi Lauper, Danny Gokey with Lionel Richie, Adam Lambert with Kiss, and Kris Allen with Keith Urban. All of them were exceptionally wonderful performances.

Not only all of those, but the top girls also performed with Fergie, which subsequently followed with a performance by the Black Eyed Peas.

Three “Golden Idol” awards were given throughout the night to contestants who didn’t make it very far in the show, but were very memorable enough from their brief airtime. The first went to Nick Mitchell, who at first seemed very shocked, claiming that he wished he had something prepared. In mid-sentence, he shouted “Hit it!” and proceeded to take off his jacket, revealing his “Norman Gentle” attire. Hysterical.

Ryan Seacrest (left) and Nick Mitchell.

The next awards went to Katrina Darrell aka “Bikini Girl” and Tiana Del Toro. I’m not going to say much about either of their performances, but I couldn’t help feeling a little bit sorry for them, hoping that they’d both feel accepted for who they are without having to take extra measures of attention-getting.

Also included in the night’s agenda was a sentimental performance by season seven American Idol winner David Cook of his new single “Permanent,” which relates personally to him with the recent loss of his brother. After he sang, Cook announced that all proceeds from the downloads on iTunes of the performance would go to Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure.

2008 American Idol winner David Cook performs “Permanent” at the 2009 American Idol finale.

The last surprise performance of the night was the two finalists Kris Allen and Adam Lambert singing “We Are the Champions” with Queen.

From left: Adam Lambert, a member of Queen, and Kris Allen.

Lastly, it was time to reveal the winner. The lights were dimmed, the two finalists took center stage along with host Ryan Seacrest, the envelope containing the results was delivered, and the winner was announced to be . . . Kris Allen!

American Idol 2009 runner-up Adam Lambert (left) with winner Kris Allen.

You can see the obvious shock Allen felt by the win from the picture below:

From left: Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, and Ryan Seacrest as Allen is announced as the American Idol 2009 winner.

Closing out the show was a performance by Kris Allen, the newest American Idol winner, of his single “No Boundaries.”

Kris Allen (in white shirt, black jacket, and jeans, fifth from right) with fellow American Idol 2009 contestants as he performs “No Boundaries.”

As the show came to its 2009 close, this touching picture of Kris Allen with his wife, Katy Allen, was the last shot that television viewers saw as the credits rolled:

Kris Allen with his wife, Katy Allen, just after Kris was announced as the American Idol 2009 winner.

Update from May 29, 2009: Kris visited Walt Disney World on May 29, 2009, where he appeared in a parade at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with Mickey Mouse, and then performed outside of the American Idol Experience attraction. You can check out coverage of the event at DISUnplugged.com.
I was overall very content with this season of American Idol. It’s hard to believe it’s already completely over. It’s been an amazing ride.

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By Blake; posted May 23, 2009; updated May 29, 2009. All images (C) Fox.

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