'American Idol' recap: A tale of two Idols | EW.com

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'American Idol' recap: A tale of two Idols

Adam Lambert and Kris Allen wage a bloody battle -- not versus each other -- but against a ghastly ''Idol'' anthem that sullies Kara's songwriting credibility

American Idol, Adam Lambert, ...

(Frank Micelotta/Fox)

It was the best of finales, it was the worst of finales.

On one hand, not even the most rabid American Idol addict — even someone who’s, say, starting to think of the SIMS people in the show’s opening credits as a second family — could’ve scripted a better story arc than the one we got for the final Tuesday-night performance episode of season 8. In Adam Lambert and Kris Allen, we were treated to two wickedly different types of singers, bonded by mutual admiration and respect, singing not so much to win our votes, but rather, to win our hearts. (”We just came to give a good show,” was how Kris so succinctly put it.)

And indeed, there was Adam, his falsetto swooping across the Nokia Theater like some rare, exotic bird, fanning out his feathers of vocal virtuosity and unflinching showmanship, without which this season of Idol might never have left the ground. (Whoa! That sentence just outed itself!) And there was Kris, behind the piano one minute, strumming his acoustic guitar the next, getting our attention with a whisper, and reminding us that his own brand of magic, while more subdued than Adam’s, is just as powerful. I say this without the slightest hesitation or embarrassment: I can’t wait to buy my first Adam Lambert concert ticket. I’m counting the days till I can download Kris Allen’s debut CD. And, despite that promise I made a couple weeks ago to dye my hair Allison Iraheta red if Adam doesn’t take home the season 8 crown, I’ll have a smile on my face when I finish my live-blog of Wednesday night’s season finale sometime around 10:15 p.m. EDT. (Look for it at popwatch.ew.com, and do comment like crazy using our new ”CoverItLive!” technology!)

And yet, would it really be season 8 of Idol if there wasn’t the intermittent sinking feeling that Idol’s producers are, at heart, NCIS megafans, hellbent on surreptitiously torpedoing their own program for the greater glory of Mark Harmon? I mean, why hamstring Kris and Adam by demanding they choose a ”greatest hit” from earlier in the season, instead of giving them the freedom to pull a David Cook, who offered up a brand-new performance (of Collective Soul’s ”The World I Know”) during Top 2 night during season 7? I know I can’t be the only one who thinks repeat Idol performances are always something of a letdown, since they always lack that essential element of surprise that’s absolutely essential for creating an ”Idol Moment.” I mean, why not just replay footage of the earlier performances and let the judges weigh in on that? (Okay, now I’m being too curmudgeonly by half.)

What’s more, why, at a point in the season when our two young finalists have more than proven their artistic mettle, were they forced to dance to Idol creator Simon Fuller’s socially conscious tune, rather than be allowed to choose their own numbers?

Oh, and don’t even get me started on that bloated corpse of a coronation song that bobbed horrifically across the final 15 minutes of Tuesday’s telecast, threatening to turn my favorite TV show into some kind of torture-porn horror flick like Saw or Hostel or Texas Chainsaw: I Left the Theater After 15 Minutes. Yes, ”This Is My Now” sounds like a rejected cut off the Mulan soundtrack, and sure, ”Time of My Life” contains the phrase ”magic rainbow,” but at least those prior coronation songs had melodies. ”No Boundaries,” co-written by Kara DioGuardi, ’90s pop chanteuse Cathy Dennis (who also wrote Britney Spears’ ”Toxic”), and Mitch Allan.

Yes, folks, I know I’ve been against the ”fourth judge” since back before Paula started predicting this season’s Top 2, but really, you have to admit that ”No Boundaries” was the moldy olive atop the triple-decker s— sandwich of Kara’s tenure on the show. Honestly, the woman has some songwriting ability — anyone who’s heard Kelly Clarkson’s ”Walk Away,” or Xtina’s ”Ain’t No Other Man,” or (forgive me) Ashlee Simpson’s ”Pieces of Me” knows this — but these so-called lyrics! Let us pause and consider:

With every step you climb another mountain
With every breath it’s harder to believe
You’ll make it through the pain
Weather the hurricane
To get to that one thing

And, look, this isn’t even getting into the ”You can go higher! You can go deeper!” bridge. The only positive outcome of ”No Boundaries,” in fact, is that I now get to use the word ”nincompoop” in a TV Watch for the first time in 2009.

Kara DioGuardi, you are a nincompoop!

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