Michael Slezak
May 21, 2009 AT 07:08 AM EDT

Update No. 1: We have a winner … but for the benefit of our West Coast friends, you’ll have to scroll to the bottom of this post to see who it is. Leave your comments below, and don’t forget to come back tomorrow morning for Slezak’s full recap.

Update No. 2: Due to the massive number of comments on this blog post, which may have caused some browsers to crash, we have paginated them. Look for the “More Comments” link at the bottom of the page to view older posts from readers. Thanks!

Yes, yes, y’all! You’ve weathered Hurricane Kara. You’ve climbed Mount Simon. And soon, it’ll all be over — except for the tears, the confetti, and (gulp) one final rendition of “No Boundaries,” the latest in a long list of deeply unfortunate Idol coronation ditties.

UPDATE: We’ll be with you in just a moment…just trying to get through the hurricane, the tornado, and a momentary bout with technology!

7:46 Sorry for the delay, guys! I lost the battle against our new, live-blog technology, so I’m gonna kick it old-school style. After 8 p.m., click through after the jump and keep refreshing to follow along!

7:47 This is my now. And I am breathing in the moment. As I look around, can’t believe the love I see.

7:48 My fears behind me, gone are the shadows and doubt.

7:49 That was then. This is my now.

7:50 Whoops, sorry guys! You all caught me doing my warmup exercises for tonight’s live-blog extravaganza! Really excited…KRADAM FTW! Yeah, that was a fanboy-crazy moment, but along with Allison, these guys are making for about as perfect a finale as you can get, no?

7:55 Just to reiterate: If Adam Lambert is not crowned the season 8 champ, I have to make good on my promise and dye my hair Allison Iraheta red. I fear we’re gonna be in for some Tyra Banks ANTM-style heinousness, people. But Annie Barrett promises she’ll hold my hand while Kristen Baldwin washes in the Manic Panic Electric Flamingo.

7:56 Someone on our message board today wondered if perhaps Kara was thinking about Matt Giraud when she wrote the lyrics to “No Boundaries.” Matt, if you’re out there, whatever Kara tells you, you should not go to her home studio to “lay down some tracks.”

7:59 Seriously, though, let’s give special thanks to Kara. Without her, Kris and Adam fans would not have a common enemy to unite again and mock without mercy! And you thought I didn’t have anything good to say about the “fourth judge.”

8:00 I forgot to go pee before the telecast started. Cannot promise this won’t get haywire at the first Allison-Kris-or-Adam sighting. Or Carly. Or Jason Castro. I need help. Or a lengthy commercial break.

addCredit(“Frank Micelotta/American Idol/Getty Images(2)”)

8:00 No boxing metaphors yet. Also, I am in the minority, I know, but I liked Randy’s plaid-plaid-polkadots business last night.

8:01 I wonder if Ryan practiced his “Blue Steel” in the mirror this morning. And KRADAM IN WHITE! Controversial.

8:02 Kimberley Locke should not have to share screentime with Janice Dickinson and that lady who used to be on Ellen.

8:03 Just under 100 million votes. Ten of them from my mom, who thought she’d really gone all-out last night. (Usually she only dials once or twice.) So quaint.

8:04 The “for me for you” montage. Funny? Or just a reminder that we need a jihad at the judges table? And what’s in store for Kara????

8:05 It cannot deal with the Kara. Cannot.

8:05 Where the legato at? There it is!

8:06 Simon’s ceased to pay attention to the contestants. Hilarious! And at how many million per year?

8:07 Thinking of Aretha’s “Freeway of Love” lyrics: “Knew you’d be a vision in white. How’d you get your pants so tight?”

8:08 Nice sound mix, Idol!

8:09 And of course now the mic is working now that Mikalah Gordon is talking. What did Arkansas do to deserve that?

8:09 Carly in San Diego. Where her pint at? And that was short and not very useful.

8:10 “So What” by the top 13. (Wasn’t this just on the DWTS performance finale on Monday? I’d like to be getting the royalties checks on that!) And Allison RAPS!

8:11 Is this 100% live. Let’s check Jorge’s lips, because boyfriend cannot lip-synch to save his life.

8:12 Jasmine off-key. Yep this is live.

8:12 I don’t believe any of these people want to start a fight. But I want to start my first glass of Shiraz. Thank heavens for a commercial break.

8:14 I just got an email from Jesse Langseth! Yes, she’ll be making a special appearance (by phone) on the Idolatry finale.

8:15 David Cook is here with “Permanent.” How many singles is dude working simultaneously?

8:16 Oooh. I like hearing David’s voice on something stripped-down and melodic. But seriously, is he singing “make it go away” about the Swaybots who are threatening to destroy his performance. DAMN THESE SWAYBOTS! Just when you think they’re gone, they come back, like rhythm-less fire ants.

8:18 iTunes proceeds from “Permanent” downloads going to an organization looking for a cure for cancer. Sweet!

8:20 Nothing I hate worse than a focus on the Golden Idols when it’s not even certain Anoop, Matt, and Alexis will get chances to sing solo. RAGE BUILDING.

8:21 I choose not to discuss these beastly forays into tears and caterwauling. Instead, a moment of blogging silence, as we consider some of the fabulous fallen ones who we won’t be seeing tonight: Deanna Brown. Jessica Furney. Kristen McNamara. Leneshe Young.

8:22 Anyone else able to complete the lyrics to this jam? “Nati 513, what it do let’s get it poppin’…”

8:23 I’m so sure I can’t see the disco shirt underneath the black sweatshirt.

8:24 Norman Gentle. Same joke. Bigger stage. Fewer laughs. And enjoy the perch and the power, because it’s gonna be gone in 5, 4, 3, 2…

8:25 Ryan in Norman drag. Deeply uncomfortable.

8:26 “Cue the Rain” by Lil Rounds and Queen Latifah. That’s a hot-ass outfit on Lil. How come she never wore anything like that during her top 13 run? And The Queen is wearing, um, a variation on Lil’s “I’m Every Woman” pantsuit.

8:27 Not a bad duet. This is about as good as Lil’s sounded since “Be Without You,” no?

8:28 Oh, and that’s Oscar nominee Queen Latifah to you and me, okay?

8:33 ANOOP!

8:34 Anoop singing “I’m Yours.” With ALEXIS. Happiness is an awesome duet. Let’s hope Jason Mraz gives these two underrated Idols their time at the mic.

8:35 Anoop, that’s a KILLER jacket, and I covet it. You better Tweet me what the brand is, sir!

8:36 I feel like I just got robbed of my Anoop and Alexis fix. They’re gonna bring ’em back out and give ’em some more solo time, right?

8:37 Kris Allen at Churchill Downs. Aaaaannd…give me some Rachel Alexandra, and I’m in heaven. Also: Just because the guy wasn’t an arrogant SOB when he arrived at his audition doesn’t mean he needed to “grow as an artist.” Gross, Ryan. 

8:38 Kris Allen and Nicole Kidman’s husband duet on “Kiss A Girl.” How come I never think of Kris as country? Although I bet he’d sell a gugillion records if he went that route.

8:39 Note to Simon…Kris is showing you how to do the unbuttoned dress shirt thing, aiight? And note to Danny…Keith is showing you how to make eye-contact with your duet partner, just for future reference.

8:40 As a non-country fan, I can say without fear or worry that Kris’s voice is nicer than Keith’s. Anyone else agree?

8:41 Liveblogging: The most back-breaking workout I’ve had since the last time I swam laps.

8:45 “Glamorous”: The No. 2 song on my iTunes “Top 100 Most Played” song list. Not sounding so good here by the ladies of Idol, I hate to say. Damn! Why am I filled with glee by the sound of Allison saying “Ladies and gentlemen, Fergie!”?

8:46 I love Fergie Ferg, but I don’t think she should be allowed to treat the Idols like backup singers. How about a little engaging with Allie and Alexis, yo? And what just got bleeped? Did somebody’s London Bridge go down or something?

8:48 Furthermore, I want those backup dancers in my life, all day, every day. Except for maybe bedtime, when the lack of eyes and geometrical patterns might get a little freaky deaky.

8:49 BEP: What’ve you got to do with Idol? I say it’s time for Megan to grab the mic and get her caw-caw on.

8:51 Hide the kids. It’s the Golden Idol bleep reel. Also, Kara’s about to sing.

8:52 Bets that Bikini Girl copies Norman’s shtick? Personally, I find Alexis Cohen a helluva lot funnier. “I don’t know what else to do but give you the finger.” I can’t lie: I laughed last time, and I just did again.

8:54 Ew.

8:55 The last time Ryan did the “what’s new?” joke (re. Kellie Pickler’s breasts) it wasn’t that funny either.

8:56 Now that she’s singing, it’s just getting depressing.

8:57 Kara! You better hit those notes, fourth judge! You can’t suck at judging, songwriting, and singing all in the same week. Okay, not bad. OH! She was almost having a moment till the dress popped open. Now we’re back to depressing.

8:58 The Minute Made “I think you’re the father of one of my kids.” Not sure how many times I’ll have to see it before it stops making me howl, but we’re not there yet.

9:00 ALLISON IRAHETA! AND CYNDI LAUPER! Future legend + living legend = Me having heart palpitations.

9:01 OMG! ALLISON YOU SOUND A-MAH-ZING. AND I CAN’T STOP THIS ALL-CAPS BUSINESS. SORRY, GUYS.

9:02 Wow, these chicas sound great together.

9:03 Yep. Put this down in the top five moments of season 8.

9:03 Take it to church, Cyndi! Whoo! Remarkable. ALLISON’S SMILE. Chills on top of chills. ENCORE! ENCORE!

9:04 Could Mama Allen be any more adorable? “I kind of forgot what we were doing. We were having so much fun. This is a great show.” And how about Papa Allen, giving props to his son and Adam, both as people and as singers. Love these people.

9:05 How come Adam’s parents don’t get as much time to be adorable? 1-800-not-right.

9:06 Okay, I don’t say this to be bitchy, but I literally forgot about Danny till they brought him back out. Seems a little cold to saddle him with a David Cook anthem, but he sounds pretty good tonight. And cue Lionel Richie! Oh and what’s THIS they’re singing? Can we go back to “Hello”? And can we bring Cookie and his gee-tar back out?

9:08 Love Paula loopily “raising the roof” when Lionel says “raise the roof and have some fun.” I swear she just had a mid-’80s flashback and saw MC Skat Cat before her eyes.

9:09 Literally, “fiesta forever.”

9:12 An email from EW’s master TV scooper Michael Ausiello: “LOVE Kara for doing that. One of my favorite Idol moments ever.”

9:13 A response from my Idolatry cohost Kristen Baldwin: “I think Kara’s ‘charity’ is the National Bruised Ego Fund.”

9:14 Blah, blah, blah…another way for iTunes to make money off these contestants.

9:15 Nice juxtaposition of “He astonished many” and the terrified face of Randy Travis.

9:16 WOW! Adam’s jacket looks like the glass-and-metal collection from the Mode magazine fashion show on a recent episode of Ugly Betty.

9:17 A KISS ballad. Eyeliner that looks like it’s made from chards of glass. And now we’ve got KISS themselves in full battle makeup. Clearly the warm and cozy voting portion of the competition has come to an end. And I gotta say, Adam sounds absolutely at home, and flawless.

9:18 I seriously think Adam can (and should) bring hair metal back to radio when he gets done with this show. This is all kinds of awesome. AND A GUITAR IS BEING SMASHED ON THE IDOL STAGE. Tongues out, beeotches. Fun for the whole family…at least at Casa Slezak.

9:20 APOLOGIES! Apparently only the newest reader comments are showing up. We’re trying to figure out WTF is happening, but keep posting for now…they should all show up eventually.

9:25 Honestly, tomorrow, after I film the Idolatry season finale, I’m gonna rock and roll all night. Or as much as I know how to.

9:26 Carlos Santana in da house. They better bring out Allison or Matt or JESSE LANGSETH to jam with him or I’m somebody’s gonna dial 1-800-HEATED-BEAST.

9:27 MATT! Matt, I do not just say this because you slayed during your Idolatry interview, but bright red is definitely your color.

9:28 Work those hips, Jorge! Mmmkay? Mmmkay.

9:29 Oh, and Kris…your dancing…too freakin’ adorable. Not exactly masterful, but adorable. And oh, Heather Locklear’s regular attendance at Idol only makes me love her that much more.

9:30 Aw, shucks. Ford Music Video set to “I Will Remember You.” And unlike the majority of Idol viewers, I will not forget Ju’Not Joyner, Ricky Braddy, or Felicia Barton.

9:31 Michael Sarver, Megan Joy, and Steve Martin doing bluegrass. Really about 76 times better than I’d expected.

9:32 Dare I say, Megan, that this genre may be the perfect vehicle for your most peculiar warble? Girl, you better try to get yourself booked on Prairie Home Companion.

9:36 Maybe it’s because the live-blog’s been keeping me busy, or maybe it’s because KRADAM is so awesome, but I haven’t given a moment’s thought to who’s going to win this thing for the last 97 minutes. That’s kinda remarkable. ALSO WHY ARE THE COMMERCIALS 4X LOUDER THAN THE SHOW? J’enough!

9:39 Michael Sarver and Danny Gokey kicking off “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.” Oh boys, no, not even in the Godly way. (Yeah, I’m couldn’t resist referencing that hein MySpace video earlier in the week.)

9:40 Who wants to start a petition? No guest performers on Idol finales unless they’re directly dueting with/engaging at least one of the finalists!

9:42 No offense, Rod. But I’m not digging this in light of the fact that Anoop, Matt, and Alexis have gotten to sing, what, three solo lines apiece all night? And you shoulda sound-checked the sound of those over-the-head claps. And why do they keep cutting to Janice Dickinson? Suddenly I AM ALL WORKED UP!

9:44 Oh Golden Idols, ladies’ division. How many seconds till Tatiana is crying?

9:47 Wow! I actually laughed at Tatiana’s shtick! She may only be a middling singer, but she’s got better-than-middling comic timing, too. (Though I secretly wish Allison and Adam had grabbed the mic from her delusional hands and given us an impromptu, a capella take on “Slow Ride.”)

9:51 Show of hands: Is there ANYONE reading this blog who’d choose Golden Idol silliness over additional mic time for the top 13 contestants? I’ll kick us off with a large, and spicy “Hell to the no!”

9:52 WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS! Anyone who says Kris has a weak voice did not hear the opening bars of this song. Also: I’m loving being able to love these two guys loving each other.

9:53 Let’s set the record straight. Adam may be a howler, but he’s never out of tune when he does it. Thank you.

9:54 What’s the Up With People SwayBot Chorus doing mucking up this duet? Why are Kara and Paula so determined to hog the camera? Also: Remember when Brian May harshed on poor Ace Young’s “We Will Rock You” arrangement back in season 5? Waah waah waah.

9:59 I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly. And by “jelly,” I mean an encore of “No Boundaries.”

10:00 RESULTS! SQUEAK.

10:00 Simon gives props to KRADAM. I’m glad he didn’t take this moment to rag on poor Mr. Allen.

10:01 The man from “Telescope” declares a “world record.” I don’t know what that means but he has a British accent so it must be true.

10:02 OH. MY. GOD.

10:03 Show of hands: Who just crapped their pants?

10:03 “Adam deserves this. I’m sorry.” Possibly the best quote ever from an American Idol winner.

10:04 How cute is Allison pushing Adam to center stage. And how happy is Adam that at least he doesn’t have to sing “No Boundaries.”

10:04 I am shocked as shit. I can’t lie. And from the looks of it, so is Kris’ family.

10:05 This song doesn’t sound quite as bad as it did last night. Kris falls off the platform. And cue the confetti shower!

10:06 Kris crying into his wife’s shoulder. Awfully cute.

10:07 Wait a second. I have to dye my hair tomorrow. Oh crap. I am gonna look so ridiculous with Iraheta red on my thinning locks.

10:09 My mom is on the phone  devastated about Adam Lambert’s loss. But to quote Kris Allen, “Don’t cry, mama.” Adam has an enormous future ahead of him, one that doesn’t involve recording “No Boundaries.” Honestly, like I said at the top of the show, this one could’ve gone either way and I’d have been happy, so congrats to Kris and Adam (and their fuchsia-haired little sis) for making season 8 a truly memorable one. Please check back in the early a.m. for my full TV Watch recap, and if you haven’t had enough live-blog action, head over to Time.com for my corporate cousin James Poniewozik’s take, as well as a second red-carpet blog from season 6’s Blake Lewis. Also, later tonight at EW.com, we’ll have Adam B. Vary’s Q&As with Kris and Adam, Whitney Pastorek’s On the Scene post, and next week, Idolatry interviews with Kris, Adam, and Danny. Please keep coming back, and thanks for helping me get through this live-blog.

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