I've just watched an extremely bloated 2011 American Idol finale and for some reason all I can think of is "MUST GO SEE KUNG FU PANDA 2." Yes, Kung Fu Panda 2 - now twice as artistically bankrupt as the original.Here's the naughty little secret that American Idol has been doing its best to hide all season. Scotty McCreery was way ahead of the pack from week one on and never looked back. Much as this show desperately tried to amuse us with marching bands, explosions, pyrotechnics, big voices, and a really bad singer and dancer in an ever more glittery rose suit, teen girls across the country kept voting for a really laid back kid with an oh so low voice and a yen for Jesus.
Scotty was a one trick pony that exhausted his one trick in the very first episode of the show, but he never worried, never teetered, never increased the volume and never broke a sweat. Ryan Seacrest desperately wants to put on a really big show, but all he has to work with is a camp counselor singing country ditties before the (small) campfire with his acoustic guitar.
Early in the show, we got to see what the producers of AI were forced to deal with. Back in Scotty and runner up Lauren Alaina's home towns, fans have congregated to watch the show and support their favorites. Lauren's group looks to be a few shy of 100 unenthusiastic stragglers. The camera does its best to make it look like a huge crowd, but I'm just not buying it. Meanwhile, Scotty's group legitimately appears to be a healthy 50,000 strong. The camera pans over the entire stadium. There was no panning during Lauren's group. It was just one still shot of a small gathering. Apparently, 750,000 people voted last night and all but 12 of them were for Scotty McCreery.
Someone might suggest that Idol could have taken this as advice to pare down the hyperbolic hysteria for their two-hour blowout, but nah -- Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and two thirds of TLC are here tonight and they are going to do their best to show you what it means to be overwrought and lacking in soul!
My personal favorite James Durbin was dispensed with early in the night. The producers teamed James up with Judas Priest for some "Living after Midnight" and "Breaking the Law," but pyrotechnics aside, even Rob Halford couldn't buff up those flabby biceps James was sporting. The sound was a brown, soggy mess, and as punishment for once being interesting, James will eventually be forced to sing "What's New Pussycat" during the tribute to Tom Jones! Somewhere in Texas, Beavis and Butthead are crying. Thanks for playing, James.
Jacob Lusk was teamed with Kirk Franklin, Gladys Knight and a full gospel choir. Much as I hate to say it, Jacob never really escaped the fact that he comes off really gay, and not in a fun, sexy Adam Lambert or even Norman Gentle kind of way, but in a "even I think my thoughts make me a bad boy going to hell" kind of way. Poor Jacob never recovered after telling America not to vote for him if they couldn't handle looking at the "Man in the Mirror."
Remember how cute Jack Black used to be with his smirking "actually I can really sing" routine? It was a fun joke, but it was a joke, which means that Casey Abrams' 15 minutes are up way before the two start scatting to Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls." Did Jack mention that he's starring in Kung Fu Panda 2?
Oh, the pain. You know what was actually nice? Tony Bennett and Haley Reinhart were very understated and elegant during their duet. I'm going to chalk that up to Tony's age, but nevertheless, it was much appreciated.
In other old man news, Tom Jones is still alive and can still spew out "It's Not Unusual" on demand. Extra points go to Jack Black for proudly doing the Carleton dance out in the audience.
Marc Anthony teamed with his wife Jennifer Lopez and Sheila E for a little Latin song and dance. Every time this happens, I always feel sort of guilty at how bored I become. There are thousands of drummers and dancers and confetti for miles, but I somehow remain too ill-cultured to care. Maybe it's the foreign language that has me stymied. Did we mention that J-Lo has amazing legs? Ryan, where is the number to vote for J-Lo's legs?
The real Diva-off of the night came down to Lady Gaga and Beyonce and sadly both were painful. Gaga sang "Over the Edge" up on a tilting tower, but for some reason this came off as a personal tribute to the color gray. I must admit that Gaga has a good thing going. She's on every channel of every television and yet, I imagine that she can still walk the streets of America unscathed in her part time, because minus the costumes, I don't think anyone has any idea what she really looks like.
Beyonce sang "1+1=" and it sounds a lot like the end of the world being accompanied by the piano to Ben Folds' "Brick," painful and unnecessary. Divas just aren't what they used to be. Someone go out and buy the nation some Tylenol.
Did we mention that Paul MacDonald still can't sing or dance?
Were any of you as grossed out by Naima Adedapo's mention of Similac as I was?
Wasn't TLC a Trio?
Didn't they do the same video tribute to Randy Jackson's lack of a vocabulary last year and the year before that and the year before that?When did Spider-Man replace Larry Mullen Jr. in U2?
Poor Steven Tyler, they let Lady Gaga and Marc Anthony sing for what seemed like a decade and yet he only gets 90 seconds to build up and explode his way through "Dream On"? Someone call Johnny Rotten and tell him that I feel cheated!
Poor Lauren Alaina, it just wasn't her night. It's hard to be a big voiced singer when you've blown out your voice two weeks shy of the finale, and she looked pained to keep up with previous Idol wunderkind Carrie Underwood, who sang "Before He Cheats" with Lauren and did almost all of the heavy lifting. Can someone out there tell my why Carrie is wearing white shorts to show off the loudest spray-on tanned legs in the universe? If this is what winning and success look like then maybe Lauren is in luck to finish a distant second.
Cue the final results. Strike up the trite tribute to conquering mountains and dreaming dreams, because here is your winner. Scotty McCreery wins American Idol 2011! He has the effective range and versatility of a hand mower, but he's dependable and sometimes that's all we can really ask for. Congratulations, Scotty - you aimed low and delivered every single week. If Sarah Palin is ever elected president, I see you as starring in a really scary inaugural ball. Say hello to Taylor Hicks, wherever he may be! Seacrest -- out!