With the addition of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez to the judges' panel, and record industry mogul Jimmy Iovine mentoring the Top 13 every step of the way, some fans agreed with executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe, who labeled this season's contestants the most talented ever.
Still others have bemoaned the light-handed judging of Lopez, Tyler and last-standing original judge Randy Jackson. No matter how you see it, it's hard to deny 750 million votes, the total cast during this 10th outing and the most of any season of ' American Idol ' ever. Both Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery have endeared themselves to America but only one could take the crown tonight. But before we get to that, there's tons of finale pomp and circumstance to go over.
The night began with just about everyone except J.Lo and Ryan Seacrest dressed in white. Isn't Memorial Day this Monday? Maybe I'm just old fashioned.
Seacrest checked in with the crowd gathered at the UTC McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, TN to cheer on Lauren and Scotty supporters at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC. Both kids are capable of filling stadiums without winning 'American Idol,' it seems.
The Top 13 took to the stage for the first performance of the two-hour extravaganza, which would featured the likes of Bono, Beyonce and Lady Gaga. Decked out in white, the finalists put on a decent performance of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way." It was great to see this season's more dynamic performers, like James Durbin and Naima Adedapo, back on the 'Idol' stage again.
As rumored, James Durbin followed up the Top 13, accompanied by the band voted "least likely to ever appear on 'American Idol,'" Judas Priest. Though I've been tough on Durbin before, he was right where he belonged, screeching next to metal legend, Rob Halford, performing Priest classics "Living After Midnight' and "Breaking the Law." It was a great moment for 'Idol' and yes, for Metal, too.
In the first of three inevitable gag reels, we got to sit through a montage of Randy Jackson saying "in it to win it," over and over again. At the end of the package, Ryan suggested Randy get a new writer. Seriously, "yo, dawg" was at least funny, especially when he was addressing a sixteen-year-old girl but "in it to win it" must end with season 10.
Next up, Jacob Lusk returned to the 'Idol' stage with gospel legend, Kirk Franklin for a performance of Franklin's "I Smile." In one of the night's early surprise appearances, the legendary Gladys Knight joined Lusk and Franklin. Like James, Jacob was right where he should be, singing the type of music he loves with two legends of the genre. I wish he and James had gotten to do this all season, instead of shoehorning themselves into the ill-fitting music of Carole King and Elton John.