It was brought to my attention that perhaps my recap of last night's show was a little biased toward Garner's Scotty McCreery.
Here is my perfectly reasoned response to that allegation: I don't care.
That's sort of my attitude tonight, too. I hope Scotty wins and I think he deserves to win, especially in spite of 'Idol' shenanigans last night. If my recap reflects a little "homer" lean to it, then come on and lean with me, why don't you?
Tonight's show promises to be a real spectacle. In addition to Scotty and Lauren Alaina, we'll reportedly get to see U2, Spider-Man, Lady Gaga, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Tony Bennett, Judas Priest, and Jack Black. It's rumored that Aerosmith and Jennifer Lopez could also perform. Somewhere in there, someone (please be Scotty) will be crowned the next American Idol.
And it's showtime...
Seacrest opens the show and mentions the record-breaking 122 million votes last night. He calls out for Scotty fans and Lauren fans, and I swear I think Lauren's cheers were louder. I'm starting to sweat.
Seacrest introduces Scotty and Lauren and I'm blinded by their outfits. Scotty and Lauren are wearing shiny, all-white clothes. No no no! I'm so sorry I mocked the plaid! Please bring back the plaid! (Oh thank the Lord -- it's for a Top 13 group number of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" -- Scotty won't be wearing this all night). Speaking of the group number, not good.
What is good is the shot of all the Scotty fans at the RBC Center in Raleigh. First we see the fans gathered for Lauren in Chattanooga. I'm not sure if the Chattanooga camera was incapable of panning or if Scotty just had 20 times the fans gathered, but there are a lot of people at the RBC Center!
Reporter Sarah Nagem is out there and says fans started lining up around 5pm to make sure they got in and got good seats. I feel at one with Carleigh Hiscock, an 11-year-old sixth-grader at West Lake Middle School who says if Scotty doesn't win, she "would be sad -- and surprised." Nagem also reports that officials say there are
more than 6,000 8,262 fans at the RBC. Not too shabby! Not as many as they expected, but way more than Lauren's crowd, and with $10 parking, what did they expect??
First up after the terrible group song, metal rocker James Durbin (4th place) gets to perform with metal icons Judas Priest. Not my thing, but this has to be a dream for him. James is dressed like an S&M biker, and there are pyrotechnics and screaming (this equals Happy James).
I can't help but wonder if Paquita is in the audience. Someone, please get Scotty's grandmother some earplugs.
Finally, it stops.
Next we get a taped segment of Randy Jackson repeating the same phrases over and over and over and over all season. The man has incredible range, from "What kind of show is this?!" to "He/She/It/They are in it to win it!"
Next up is Jacob Lusk and gospel singer
Kurt Kirk Franklin. Whoa, what the what?! Is that Gladys Knight?! Sans Pips?! All I want is for Jacob to hush so I can hear Franklin and Gladys Knight. Some choir pips appear in the background. This song ("Smile") is so much better when I can't hear Jacob singing in it. But he's having fun and I'm glad for him.
Now Casey Abrams (one of my favorites) sings "Fat Bottom Girls" with Jack Black. They are wearing matching (very nice) dark gray suits. This is certainly entertaining, even if there is way, way too much scat-singing. They are both having a blast. I miss Casey.
Seacrest is back in his fancy tux tonight. He tells us The Ladies of American Idol are next. They do a really long medley that begins with Beyonce's "Single Ladies." I recognize only one or two of them. Haley Reinhart and Pia Toscano, and I'm done. It sounds like they are just singing all over each other and it goes on forever and ever. Finally, the Actual Beyonce joins them on stage and saves the performance.
Now we get a taped segment of some of Steven Tyler's finest moments on the show, which mostly involve him smoking and getting bleeped. Gems like, "Slap that baby on the ass and call me Christmas!" What?
Woooo! Haley Reinhart is singing with Tony Bennett!! This is in-credible. Haley sounds so good singing this kind of song. Something weird does happen, though -- the 85-year-old Tony Bennett flubs the lyrics of a song he's probably performed 2 million times. This makes me feel sick to my stomach, like the way I feel when I think about Regis Philbin retiring. I don't want people to get old...
Haley's great though. I'm trying not to think about Tony.
Now we get the J-Lo segment, which, no surprise, involves lots and lots of young men professing their love for her. Especially funny is how many times she got a compliment followed by Randy begging for one for himself. Also, a few cuts to husband Marc Anthony pretending to be jealous.
Now we get a live performance by Lil Jon and TLC, but then The Ladies of American Idol come out to sing with TLC. Can't we just enjoy something without them for once? I just want to hear TLC sing "Waterfalls" without the wailing.
Scotty sings with Tim McGraw and they do McGraw's hit, "Live Like You Were Dying," a tearjerker he
wrote for dedicated to his deceased dad (and one I've been waiting for Scotty to sing all season) (note: the song was written by Craig Wiseman and Tim Nichols). I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but Scotty sounded better than Tim -- at least in the beginning of the song. And because I know you want to know, Scotty is wearing black pants, a black t-shirt, and a black leather shirt jacket buttoned up almost all the way to the top. A very nice look for him, as I know he's trying to look as much like a full grown man as possible standing next to Tim McGraw.
McGraw (who is F I N E) is wearing tight jeans and a fitted v-neck tee and a black cowboy hat and a really nice tan.
Their duet is great. At the end, they high-five and do that half-bro-hug that guys do.
Seacrest says (just like a little girl): "Oh my god, wait till you see what's coming up! Sur-prise!"
I hope I'm surprised!!!
Next we get a clip of the worst audition moments from the season. I'm not surprised. But I do like the caring mother who comforts her rejected, crying daughter by telling her to "shut up" and then smacks a camera man.
Marc Anthony performs. Still not surprised. Now a scantily clad Jennifer Lopez is sneaking up behind Marc Anthony, doing some seductress Ann-Margret-cavewoman type shimmy. I think he is going to be surprised. I also think if Tony Bennett is watching this, he may have just had a heart attack. Who says "Idol" only appeals to tweenage girls?! I bet their dads are digging this part...
Next we get to re-live the moment when Casey got eliminated and then saved by the judges. The night America thought he was going to puke on Ryan Seacrest on live television. Too bad that didn't happen. As Casey and James debate whose elimination was "most shocking," Pia Toscana arrives and shuts them both up.
And now The Guys of American Idol are here, dressed all in black to ruin Prince's "Kiss." I have so not missed Paul McDonald. Paul takes them into Tom Jones' "She's a Lady" and then Durbin starts up "What's New Pussycat," and I remember that I read earlier today that Tom Jones will be on the show tonight (he covered Prince's "Kiss"). I'm excited! But Durbin is not singing "Pussycat" well. He should just drop that $8000 microphone and walk away.
Now Scotty's sitting on a step singing a more countryish Jones song, "The Green Green Grass of Home" (originally from country great Porter Wagoner). Then Jacob puts some Lusky Stank on another Jones hit and I'm wondering how much of this we have to listen to before The Man himself comes out. Casey Abrams just attacks "Delilah" (in a good way) and the other guys -- and perhaps the whole audience? -- join in on the chorus. Man, Tom Jones had some good songs.
Finally, Tom Jones! A man who is -- for better or worse -- part of the soundtrack of my childhood (you can talk to my mother about that). Jones sings, "It's Not Unusual" and he sounds great.
One of the best moments of the show so far is a cutaway to the audience where we see Jack Black dancing his heart out. I know how he feels!
Back from the break, we get one last Ford commercial with a song by Scotty and Lauren. Then clips from the hometown visit where Scotty and Lauren honor teachers who have meant a lot to them. Scotty honors his music teacher, Meredith Clayton. "She had a big influene on my musical life as well as becoming a good man." Scotty got to invite his teacher to the finale on camera, and she looked shocked. Really nice moment.
Back in the Nokia Theatre, Seacrest introduces Mrs. Clayton and Lauren's teacher, who are in the audience, and tells them they look "hot."
Scotty and Lauren are there to give their teachers the keys to brand new Ford Focus cars -- finally, someone is surprised about something! Scotty and Lauren also get brand new cars, any Ford they want. How much do you want to bet Scotty picks a truck?
Scotty and Lauren's schools also got money from Ford from their charity test drive events.
Now, Lady Gaga! She sings "Edge of Glory," and who's the big man on the sax? Clarence Clemons!
Without any introduction at all (where is Seacrest!?) Lauren Alaina is out singing "Before He Cheats" and she starts off shaky, but gets stronger as the song goes on. Carrie Underwood saunters out to join her and it ends up a great duet. But Lauren peaked last night. The magic is gone.
Now we have to listen to the "Idol" losers make fun of how young Scotty and Lauren are. Yeah, well, Scotty and Lauren will be laughing all the way to the bank, Old Timers.
More Beyonce. No, Beyonce, we don't mind if you sing to us for just one second, especially if the The Ladies of American Idol do not join you.
Are they saving U2 and Spider-Man for the end? I'm getting ready to turn off the dark over here....
I must have just conjured them up like Beetlejuice, because Seacrest comes back from the break and intoduces Bono, The Edge and Reeve Carney. Immediately, Spider-Man drops from the ceiling, lands in an aisle, and springs back into the air. Thrilling! And suddenly this show becomes about waiting to see Spider-Man die on live television. At the end of the song, Spider-Man drops upside down from the ceiling in front of J-Lo, and she peels back his mask for a kiss -- and then chickens out and won't kiss him! Boo! Marc wouldn't care -- it's SPIDER-MAN! Spider-Man is on your List, right?
The good news, though, is Spider-Man lives!
And just before we get our winner, we get judge Steven Tyler singing "Dream On," which really should be the official "American Idol" anthem. Mock him if you must (and I know you must), but Tyler can still hit the high notes on "Dream On" and you still can't. Steven Tyler is in it to ... nevermind.
Finally, the time has come! Seacrest gets the official results from an official-looking man with a British accent, so we know it's all very offical and real. Meanwhile, Scotty and Lauren are cutting up on stage. They will both be fine, win or lose. But Scotty's gonna win, right?
Right!! Scotty McCreery wins!! 'Idol' cuts to the RBC Center and the crowd is going wild!
Scotty tells Ryan that he and Lauren have been together since day one and they're going to stay together. Scotty starts singing his "Love You This Big" single and goes down into the audience to hug his mom and dad and sister and a bunch of friends. Then he heads back onstage to hug all his "Idol" pals individually. A big hug to runner-up Lauren and an "I love you, baby." Awww...
At the end, Scotty collapses on the stage and begins to cry a little, then starts catching confetti in his mouth. I know we're from the South, Scotty, but those aren't snowflakes!
Don't forget, all our Scotty coverage -- including all stories and hundreds and hundreds of photos -- can be found on our Scotty Watch page.