So we watched the Idol finale last night. It was stunningly awful. This week’s theme? “Musicians You Thought Were Dead”.

After about ten minutes, I was actually rooting for it to stay consistently bad, just to see if they could keep the drek level going all the way. It was like a perpetual rickroll of itself: we tuned in to see who won, but instead were treated to a never-ending parade of washed-up eighties has-beens. When zombie Hall & Oates came on the stage, I actually cheered. Part of me kept hoping they’d bring the actual Rick Astly up, as a sort of “wink wink, we know how bad this is” self-referencing joke.

Here’s the list of the…ahem, older…”guest stars” for those who missed it: Alice Cooper (“School’s Out”), Barry Gibb and Robin Gibb (Bee Gees “How Deep Is Your Love”), Michael McDonald (Doobie Brothers “Takin It to the Streets”), Christina Aguilera (“Beautiful”, “Fighter” and “You Lost Me”), Daryl Hall and John Oates (“I Can’t Go for That”, “Maneater”, and “You Make My Dreams”–yes, THREE Hall & Oates songs!!), Alanis Morissette (“Ironic” and “You Oughta Know”), Bret Michaels (Poison “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”), Chicago (“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”, “If You Leave Me Know” and “25 or 6 to 4”–again, THREE Chicago songs! Surely a sign of Armageddon), Janet Jackson (“Again”, “Nothing” and “Nasty Boys”), and a seemingly post-stroke Joe Cocker (mangling his own cover of the Beatles “With a Little Help from My Friends”)!

I think Simon has the right idea; this may be my last year of Idol, too. Unless I decide to tune in next year just to see how bad it can get–which is what got me watching in the beginning, really. My first attraction to the show was my fascination with the psychology involved in people who can’t sing at all getting through a gauntlet of dishonest yet supposedly supportive “friends”, only to be bashed in the face by British-accented reality. Only later on did I start watching it for the actual talent. But now this show has lapped itself, and I don’t know that I’m interested in gawking at the train wreck any more.

Oh, and what were they thinking when they decided to bring Paula back and give her an open mic and no script for two whole minutes? Talk about painful! But that pain was nothing compared with the sheer terror of being confronted by Janet Jackson in all her…um…glory.

My final complaint: they are now going to take U2’s “Beautiful Day”, an amazing, iconic song (that I have wanted to use as the finale for a New Church Day pageant for a couple of years, now) and dorkified it by turning it into an “Idol Hit” for their winner, Lee. (And I’m happy for Lee, by the way. Both he and Crystal should have amazing careers.) But now a new generation is going to grow up thinking that Lee’s version of “Beautiful Day” is the “real” version. This will hurt almost as much as knowing how many people are familiar with “Ice Ice Baby” but not the much better yet still pretty lame “Under Pressure”.

I did appreciate, by the way, the irony of Crystal Bowersox singing a cleaned up “You Oughta Know” duet with Alanis Morissette. The song is an angry comparison between an old girlfriend and a new one, and it was impossible (as is often the case in these Idol duettes) to not compare the two singers performances. Crystal out-sang Alanis.

Simon’s parting words and Lee’s emotional explosion were the two glimmers of reality in this amazingly unreal two hour Oldies Apocalypse concert. I enjoyed this season overall because there were three or four really talented musicians involved, but I’m guessing I won’t be tuning in again next year unless my entertainment schedule is otherwise very dry.

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