Say what you want about it now, but American Idol is still the only singing competition on TV to produce legitimate music stars from its winners like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Phillip Phillips. True, the ratings have been down this season and not every season has produced a real champ, but most people on the street wouldn’t even be able to name one winner of The Voice so let’s give some respect for the show that started it all.
It’s still unclear as to what side of history season 13 will be remembered for but tonight a new winner was added to that list. Caleb and Jena proved they deserved to make it to the finale weeks ago with consistently strong performances each week compared to an overall very young and lackluster group of finalists. But the competition is done, the votes have been counted and all we can do is wait. And wait. And…wait.
Idol finales have been known now for the guest musical performances on the last night, usually giving the finalists the opportunity to perform with some of their real life idols and tonight was full of those moments. Caleb, Jena, Alex, Malaya, CJ, Dexter and even Ryan got a chance to sing with their musical influences. Yes you read that right, for the first time in 13 years Ryan Seacrest actually sang on the American Idol stage. It was one of those situations where I wasn’t really sure what was going on at first or if it was real or not, but Ryan did in fact sing “Right Here Waiting With You” with Richard Marx on the piano. Let’s just say there’s a reason why he’s the host and not a judge.
Other highlights included Caleb rocking out to the KISS hits “Love Gun” and “Shout it Out Loud” with the hall of fame rockers themselves, though he wasn’t given the same platform boots to perform in and looked pretty petit comparatively. Demi Lovato performed with all the female finalists (minus MK who had tweeted that she was sick and missing the finale but will still be on tour) while all the men performed “The Man” with Aloe Blacc. Jason Mraz returned from being a mentor earlier this season and premiered his new song “Love Someone” from his upcoming album “Yes” with Alex Preston while season 11 winner Phillip Phillips reprised his performance of “Raging Fire” again from earlier this season, but this time with Sam Woolf. And Malaya looked absolutely gorgeous and like she had aged a few years since she was voted out with an extremely mature performance with John Legend, sans glasses and braces.
The biggest “Um…what?” moment for me was Jena’s performance with her favorite band Paramore. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the vocals or anything, just the hundred yellow floating balls being tossed around the audiences and pretty much into every single camera shot available. Seriously, with all the changes that have happened this season on the show, did they fire every TV director they have too? From the excess of J. Lo closeups to shots of the audience’s hands flaring around, I’ve been more distracted by the apparent lack of focus in the control room more times than I should this season. I guess it was a little of karma when the balls struck down all of the judges Coke cups and spilled on the stage. Of course the judges collaboration later in the night of “True Colors” and “Go Your Own Way” was kind of incredible in my opinion. It was also the first time all judges had performed together on an Idol stage, which is surprising I guess when you think how often they do it on The Voice, but then again not at all when you imagine seeing Simon Cowell with a tambourine.
After Jena and Caleb were given their own 2015 Ford Mustangs, it was finally time for the moment we’ve been waiting for all season. Without too much tension and anticipation, Ryan announced that Caleb Johnson was the next American Idol. Johnson is the eighth man to win the title and really the first true rock and roller to go all the way. Though some may argue David Cook and Lee DeWyze have rocker qualities, Caleb is a throw back to classic rock, something not seen much on the pop-oriented. I’m not sure who was more surprised by the win, me or Caleb. He seemed pretty surprised as many seemed to think Jena was going to win after Tuesday’s show. He was so surprised in fact that he wasn’t even able to reprise his coronation song “As Long As You Love Me”, mostly because he was overwhelmed by the other finalists congratulating and surrounding him in one giant group hug. But does he realize how much money was probably lost in that empty 60 seconds of time? It’s pretty standard that after you win, you sing right away so I was a little annoyed by that, but probably just because I wanted to be hearing Jena’s song instead.
Well there you have it music lovers! All things considered, Caleb and Jena both have incredible potential in the music industry, winner or loser. And if all else fails, they really should just tour together. Seriously though, when was the last time a final two sounded so good together? I hope they sing together at prom. Too bad Duets was cancelled already.