After “a new world record of 74 million votes,” Jordin Sparks defeated Blake Lewis to become American Idol‘s sixth winner, and the youngest winner to date. Jordin said simply, “I can’t thank you [enough?] for keeping me around and thank you so much for everything.” Then she sung that awful, mood-killing song.
Blake took his loss well, telling the AP, “I picked Jordin Sparks at the top 24 as the American Idol winner. I was actually going to try to wear a ‘Vote for Jordin Sparks’ T-shirt last night but they wouldn’t let me do it.”
Jordin’s victory will be news to those who DVRed the show and tried to watch the conclusion later; they were screwed because with one minute and 36 seconds left in the show’s scheduled timeslot, another series of $1.3 million, 30-second commercials started. The show didn’t return until nearly 10:03, Ryan announced the winner just before 10:05, and it all finally ended at 10:09.
What essential content filled the two hours leading up to the big reveal and forced the show to go into overtime? A whole lot of self-serving, narcissistic filler and fourteen musical performances. This may be a singing competition, but 14? That’s ridiculous.
The performances: Kelly Clarkson; Gwen Stefani, via pretend satellite; the top six men, including Sanjaya!, with Smokey Robinson; Barry B and Doug E. Fresh beatboxing with Blake; the top six women with Gladys Knight; Tony Bennett, proving that he didn’t just skip out of a performance earlier this season; BeBe and CeCe Winans with Melinda Doolittle, their former back-up singer; Carrie Underwood; the African Children’s Choir; Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Sanjaya; Green Day; Taylor Hicks; Jordin Sparks and Ruben Studdard; Bette Midler, singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” because she apparently doesn’t know any other songs; a tribute to Sgt. Pepper featuring Kelly Clarkson and Joe Perry, Taylor Hicks, Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard, and all of the finalists. It was exhausting fast-forwarding through it all.
During one of the monumentally lame Golden Idol segments, in which Ryan handed out fake awards designed to further embarrass people who were already embarrassed by the show, Kenneth Briggs and Jonathan Jayne returned, and Kenneth, the guy Simon said looked like a bush baby, told Simon, “If you hadn’t said what you said, I wouldn’t be where I’m at.” That was a nice moment, but never ones to miss the chance to be monumental assholes, the producers showed a picture of a bush baby, and Ryan told Kenneth, “we have sponsored one on your behalf at the Milwaukee County Zoo. It’s your very own bush baby; it’s all yours, Kenneth.” The audience gasped at their unmitigated cruelty.
Also on the finale, Clive Davis showed up to ramble on and point out that last year’s winner is lamer than one of last year’s losers: “The big news has been the huge explosion of Chris Daughtry. Yes, Taylor Hicks’ new single … can still take him and his platinum album much further, and the new single … can still do it with Kathranie McPhee, but it has been Daughtry who has broken through as the entire music industry’s biggest-selling artist of the year.”
Ford advertised its cars by giving new Mustangs to Blake and Jordin, prompting Blake to do an impression of Borat: “High five. I like that.” At least he didn’t pull out Jimmie Walker Blue.
In a segment that was more horrifying and offensive than funny, Sanjaya was compared to Lincoln, Einstein, Warhol, Ali, JFK, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi; the announcer said, in an over-the-top way, that Sanjaya is “one with the courage to embrace his destiny, one who stands firm in the fact of adversity.” No, those are the people who suffered through all 129 minutes of yet another bloated American Idol finale.