May 16 Review | Season 5 Index | Finale

American Idol Season 5 (2006)

May 23 - You had a bad day (Final Two Contestants)

Ryan does his best Rod Serling imitation and introduces us to the Twilight Zone of American Idol in the Kodak Theater.  So does this mean that Kat will wake up and find out that everyone looks like Taylor, and she's somehow the deformed one?

We are supposed to care that Mandy Moore, Ben Stiller, Taye Diggs, and Christina Applegate are in the audience, and that Simon is wearing a jacket.  All I care about is that Constantine is there, and they show him twice.  SQUEEEEEEE!!

Ryan claims that this is a really big battle between the West Coast and the South, between a girl and a boy, between light and darkness, blah, blah, blah.  And then we find out that Taylor won the coin toss and has opted to go second throughout the evening, so we start with...

Katharine McPhee (reprises KT Tunstall's "Black Horse & the Cherry Tree"): I thought this was one of her better songs during the season, and I was glad that she opted to get off the floor and dance around a bit this time around.  Unfortunately, the song itself turned out to be too subdued for the flamboyance of the finals, and she mostly just dances around the drummers on stage, instead of trying to go out and connect with the audience.  So while the vocals are much better than the first time around, the overall performance is a bit of a letdown.  Rats.  Randy likes that she had a little fun and says it came across better than the first time she sang it.  Paula thinks it's a fun way to open the show and is looking forward to "more and better" from her.  Simon calls it "good with a small g" and considers it a warm-up.

Taylor Hicks (reprises Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City"): Okay, the purple velvet jacket is fugly, but once you get past that, this is the kind of performance that you expect for a show opener.  Taylor works the audience, he infuses the song with lots of energy, and he manages to do so without totally spazzing out.  Mike and I are grinning and bouncing in our seats, fully realizing that Taylor has a lot to live up to now for the rest of the show.  Randy shouts out one final, "we've got a hawt one!"  Paula rambles about how their clothes match (wha?? They're both bad 70s styles fished out of thrift stores?), then claims that everybody got Taylor's dance down.  Shut.  Up.  Simon thinks it was a great way to start the show and states that that's the worst jacket he's ever seen, "but what do I know?"  Heh.

Round 1 winner: Taylor

Katharine (reprises "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"): You know, I think the fact that her ear monitor wasn't functioning actually worked in her favor, because it kept a sort of wistful expression on her face for most of the piece.  Consequently, I liked this better than the first time she sang it.  In fact, I wish that she hadn't mentioned the ear monitor not working and patted herself on the back for coming in on key anyway, because I thought that she'd actually worked out what kind of emotion was supposed to go in the song.  And, uh, I've been in situations where I've had to come in on key without piano prompts.  If you're a trained singer (which she is) and have rehearsed a song enough times (which I'm sure she has), then it's in your head, and you can do it.  So it's not that amazing that she was able to pull it off.  All that aside, the performance was very, very good.  Randy says she worked it out again.  Paula gushes over Kat's God-given talent and says she owns it up there.  Simon says that this was her best performance of the competition and that she's back in the game.

Taylor (reprises Elton John's "Levon"): This may have been Taylor's favorite song of the season, but it wasn't mine.  There's not as much passion in it as the first song.  And like Katharine's first selection, it's too subdued for this stage of the game, although he pulled off some interesting vocal gymnastics near the end that made it better than boring.  I'm thinking that the competition will now be decided based on the last songs.  Randy thought the song was nice but a little pitchy (I wish he'd stop using that meaningless term), and thus just "okay."  Paula garbles her comment so that it sounds like she's saying that the essence of Taylor is pitchiness.  Can someone take away her drugs now?  Simon thinks the song wasn't as popular as Taylor's first choice, and that Kat took this round.  I agree.

Round 2 winner: Katharine

Katharine (sings new original, "My Destiny"): Oh, Gawd.  She should go on a rampage against The Powers That Be for sticking her with this suckiest of sucky songs.  We aren't even singing about rainbows and pots of gold here - it's all dullsville clichés about a "moment of bliss" where "I didn't give up" though "I sometimes lost hope."  Gag.  To her credit, Kat doesn't stray too far from the melody and tries to mold the song into something a little more subtle at the beginning - something with a sound more suited to her voice - but when the obligatory gospel choir comes on stage, and the music swells, she has no choice but to oversing and nearly screech the chorus.  Bleh.  Katharine can stay, but get that song off the stage.  Randy starts off with "You look amazing," which is always a bad sign.  Then he says Kat sounded really good but he didn't love the song.  Paula says that Kat is brilliant, and the song isn't her fault.  Simon tells her that she's a great artist, and that if people want to vote for her, they should remember the second song.

Taylor (sings new original, "Do I Make You Proud?"): This song is only marginally better than Katharine's.  "Because of you I am standing tall!"  I guess it's supposed to be an ode to one's father?  Whatever.  The main difference in Kat's and Taylor's performances is that Taylor is able to make the song his own in the chorus, which people will remember better, rather than waste time with the sucky verses, where he sings it too straight and struggles a bit with the pitch.  I really don't think he likes this song at all, but he shouts down the gospel choir convincingly, so the song ends with a better feel and a much bigger round of applause than Katharine's.  Randy says this was a slightly better song than Kat's and points out that Taylor knows how to make it into a Taylor Hicks song.  Paula claims that Taylor is better than this song and then gives out a drunken shout to the Soul Patrol.  Simon, who has been wrong about his predictions all season, phrases his words carefully: if he was right that the show was tied to this point, then Taylor just won it.  The entire auditorium erupts in manic "Woo"s and applause.

Round 3 winner: Taylor by a slim margin.

Now we are treated to the real winner of this year's American Idol, Daniel Powter, who performs a live version of his current hit, "Bad Day."  Ryan introduces it as the theme song to the show and says it's what Taylor and Kat are being sung out to.  So, uh, they're both being voted off tonight, right?  And then we have the single best moment of the show, where a video of the season's "highlights" is played, and Daniel Powter is sitting at the piano looking confused, and someone finally shouts out to him from stage right, "Play!"  Bwa ha ha!!  He plays, he sings, and the camera mercifully cuts away from the stupid highlights video every now and then to show us Powter's face, thus further proving that there was nothing, really, to get that excited about this year after all.

Unless the phone lines somehow get so jammed that we end in a near statistical tie like last week, I predict that Taylor will win.  Because, really, does anyone doubt that his Soul Patrol won't vote for the full four hours (FOUR hours!!!) that they're being given this week?  And then he can have a whole album full of drek that the producers will foist on him - and us - for the next year.  Joy.

Watch this space tomorrow for the recap of the finale... They're going to do a Burt Bacharach medley, everyone. Aren't you just peeing from the excitement?

Review © 2006 by Patricia Lowhorn.  For comments, e-mail tricia@lowhorn.org.

May 16 Review | Season 5 Index | Finale