The Grand Finale

Congratulations to Fantasia Barrino for winning the whole thing. I’m sure she’ll sell lots of albums. You could see Simon grinning at the very thought of it.

Lots of discombobulated thoughts about the show tonight. I know I’m going to forget lots of stuff, but that’s what the comments thread is for. Feel free to add on in there.

They did a great job with the “pre-game show,” limiting it to about 35 minutes and not making it just a clips package. That said, Christina Christian and Jennifer Love Hewitt were awful. I understand the loud crowd made it difficult at times, but they couldn’t vamp enough to make it look anything near decent.

Too bad they wasted Clay in his home state. I would have loved to hear him back on stage, but I understand the decision to limit it to the winners.

LaToya was as great as ever. George was a lot of fun, singing a great song for his style. Jasmine was not so great. And I’m being charitable there. I felt badly for her.

I know Jennifer Love Hewitt is a ballerina and all, but have you ever seen someone so sickly looking? Pale and skinny. Horrible. And what happened to the huge breasts she used to have on movie posters? They’re all gone. Weird.

Christina Christian’s hair was horrible.

Moving onto the show, itself, now:

Tamyra Gray is obviously the new Golden Child of AMERICAN IDOL. They can’t get enough of her, can they? She did a stunning a capella job with the National Anthem, so long as you ignore the ending. I thought she crossed up a lyric in the middle of the song, but it was probably me not paying attention for a second and losing my place in the lyrics.

Putting together Kelly, Fantasia, and Diana worked really well, though. They had great harmony together. You remember harmony, don’t you? That’s when two or more singers work together to create a single memorable sound. It’s not when two people attempt to out-warble each other and steal the spotlight and “make a song their own.”

I still can’t believe Clay lost to Ruben. Ruben was awful on the group singalong. And in his own song? Well… It’s not my thing, but it just sounds funny to hear The Velvet Teddy Bear talking about his “crib.”

Still, it raises the ages-old AI question: “Should the perfect AI contestant be diverse enough to handle a variety of musical styles? Or is it just good enough to be great in one particular genre, and we’ll forgive him or her in the rest?”

The group singalong was a lot of fun and somewhat revealing. Camile Velasco danced like the only one on stage and still needs a lot of work with her voice. Half the time she was busy doing her own thing, it looked like. John Stevens faked it well enough to not make an arse out of himself. I think the lack of pressure and the general fun feeling of the night helped him relax enough to dance. He also stole the show for ten brief seconds. They gave him two lines to sing from his wheelhouse. He snapped his fingers, he looked confident, and he even got Simon to smile.

Jennifer Hudson sounded great. Amy Adams is the overlooked Idol of the season, I think. She got robbed just as much as Jennifer Hudson, but there was no great “racism” tag to apply to her case, so everyone shrugged and moved on. She certainly deserved better.

JPL was tolerable tonight. I would have liked to have heard more from Matt Rogers, but there’s only so much time.

65 million votes. Boy, that’ll anger a lot of people. They should have opened up the extra phone lines weeks ago, plus given the extra couple of hours. They almost tripled their normal vote totals in double the time with triple the lines. I bet there were a lot less busy signals. Always a good thing. Hopefully, the producers learned something from this. While it could get awkward to give out two different phone numbers to six different contestants for the Round of 6, I think it might be worth the effort next season.

Kelly stunk tonight. She had no lower register on her own song, from her own horribly overproduced album. And why is she trying so hard to sing like Christina Aguilera, anyway? Enough with the friggin’ warbling.

Diana nailed the Idol song again. Amazing. Kelly cried. Smart girl.

I believed Fantasia’s emotions during the Idol song this time around, even as her accessories fell apart.

They both looked exhausted by the end. In the closeups on both of them, you could see the bags forming under their eyes. AI is a grueling 3 months of work, and making it to the end like that has to be killer. Hopefully, they’ll be able to get some sleep soon between morning show appearances.

Did you catch the list of cities IDOL is visiting next year? They’re really looking for something new. While prospective contestants have been known to fly all over the country for a chance in front of the judges, it sounds like they’re really trying to find new people from different corners. More stops in Middle America this time, plus one in Alaska. Be careful to note: None in Hawaii.

That’s a wrap for Season Three. Thanks to everyone for visiting here week after week to join in the discussion. This isn’t over yet, believe it or not. I still haven’t seen Sunday night’s special, which I plan on reviewing here. And there’s always more AI news in the days after the finale to talk about and discuss. So please stick around. ain’t going anywhere.


13 Responses to “The Grand Finale”

  1. Ron Phillips
    26. May 2004 at 23:16


    You did a great job. I didn’t realize you were a big fan till the season was nearly over, and scary to think we share some similar views.

    Catch you next season.

  2. BronteJD
    26. May 2004 at 23:27

    Okay, that’s it. I’m watching from the beginning next year. I caught the whole thing tonight, and would have loved to have followed the progress of everyone and picked a favorite. I have been reading here devotedly, though, so I feel like I HAVE seen the whole thing!

    I also wanted Diana to win – a bit frustrating that the less than perfect performance could be to blame for her loss, when she’s obviously done such a good job the whole time.

    I still don’t understand why Ruben won last year – yes, he can carry a tune, and his voice IS smooth, but that doesn’t make him….hmmmm…magnetic? Interesting to watch? Dynamic? I was bored to tears when he was singing.

    So who has been your favorite AI contesant so far? Kelly? Clay? Somebody this year? And if it’s someone who DID have CD recorded, has the CD lived up to expectations?

  3. Chad Anderson
    26. May 2004 at 23:35

    Augie, just wanted to say that even though our musical tastes couldn’t be more different, I really enjoyed reading your take on American Idol each week. I got kinda bored with the show this year and didn’t even watch every week, but I still always headed over here to read your take. Entertaining stuff.

  4. Noel Murray
    27. May 2004 at 00:48

    By the way, though we differ on Fantasia and Diana, we’re right in synch on Clay and Reuben (which I may have expressed to you last year, in some ancient blog comment). Reuben had a nice vocal tone and a cuddly look, but his personality was/is practically nonexistent, and he’s really not that distinctive as a singer, as his poorly reviewed debut album revealed. Clay, however, has a voice you can’t miss, and even though he used to play to the cheap seats too much, he’s matured as a performer since leaving the show. I didn’t buy his album, but I still look forward to hearing what he does next, as he’s allowed to grow away from pop pablum.

    I predict that he and Fantasia will both still have viable singing careers at the start of the next decade. The rest of the Idol finalists (Kelly Clarkson included) will be either out of the business altogether or touring in summer stock. (Possible exception: Tamyra.) Still looking forward to next season, though … and I hope there’ll be some changes in voting and maybe even format. It may be time to retire this set of judges after one more year, which is when I think their contracts expire. New voices will keep the show fresh.

  5. Robbo
    27. May 2004 at 08:59

    Was it just me or was Simon’s live, pre-game interview really weird? The guy, who seems to consistenly know what makes for good TV, was off on another planet or something. He didn’t seem to know what was going on and couldn’t answer Ryan’s simple questions. It was very strange. Was the X was just kicking in right at that moment?

  6. John C.
    27. May 2004 at 09:40

    I’m still having to fight off the dry-heaves after the group tromped all over my beloved The Impossible Dream. Really, really horrid.

    I loved how Fantasia was able to use the emotion in her final performance; it was yet another example of her ability to really convey a song’s meaning, and not just the notes.


  7. WebmasterMama
    27. May 2004 at 09:45

    Fantasia deserved to win, Augie. I dont know why Diana is your favorite so much… she is fine, but she’s 16 and doesn’t portray emotions much during her songs. Fantasia has been through a lot and although she’s only 19 – she comes across as a lot older. Diana will get hers – maybe – someday. She has a way to go.

    Camile needs work…but I sure loved seeing her back on stage. She can come sing and dance privately for me any day!!!!!!! Yum!

  8. Broc Heasley
    27. May 2004 at 11:29

    I believe Simon was having a little fun with Ryan.

  9. Hector
    27. May 2004 at 11:35

    Augie… excellent job in your reviews. I’ve enjoyed reading your comments week after week (and even day to day). I was almost in 100% agreement with you in almost all aspects of your critiques. I just want to add about Diana’s “Don’t Cry Out Loud” performance on Tuesday night and for those of you who didn’t hear but there was a technical problem with the earpiece. She claims that there are “Dead air pockets” on certain parts of the stage and she hit one in the middle of the song and you could see her trying to locate a spot where the earpiece would work. It was probably better that she didn’t win eventhough I wanted her to win. She is not owned by AI for the next year as Fantasia is. Well maybe until after the summer but then she can go on and record a successful album. I’m just really curious as to find out how many votes Diana and Fantasia got the week prior to the finale. Did Diana have more votes than Fantasia? Did the judges KNOW and that’s the reason for the greater praises on Tuesday? Conspiracy? Maybe. You mentioned that it seemed one-sided on Tuesday and I agree. Is it coincidence that Diana has a dead signal in her earpiece while on stage in her last song of the night? Is it coincidence that her mic seemed to give out echoes and reverbs throughout most of the night, after her better than Fantasia’s performance of “I Believe”? Again, maybe. Finally, I’m tired of hearing Simon claim that Fanta-s-i-a is the best Idol of all Idols over the world. I TOTALLY disagree. While I think she a great singer but this year alone I think (and many people will agree) that LaToya was and should have been this year’s Idol. She’s classy, elegant, beautiful and she CAN sing her arse off. I would even go to say that Kurt Nilsen of Norway is a better singer than Fantasia. I want to hear more from this guy. Thanks for your reviews and comments and look forward to reading some more next season.

  10. bluuzman
    27. May 2004 at 11:44

    Yes, Fantasia deserved to win against the way-in-over-her-head Diana.

    But, at the very start of the show, the “boring” LaToya came out and gave an absolutely riveting performance of “All By Myself.” This performance was better than anything anyone else did the whole evening: Kelly, Ruben, Tamyra, Diana, or Simon’s “greatest A.I. contestant of all time,” Fantasia.

    LaToya. That’s who should have been the other final-two contestant. Not Diana.

    Next season, all.

  11. teddy
    27. May 2004 at 12:53

    great job augie i like your critiques i might not have agreed some times but thanks for creating a forum for us to discuss this thing called american idol

  12. Jen
    27. May 2004 at 19:51

    Augie, you rock! I love your honesty and enjoy reading your take on the festivities. I found La Toya London’s song at the beginning of the show very boring, she is capable of better. George ended his song very ackwardly, don’t you think? They wasted Clay Aitken by being via satalite. I wish he had sung. Although I don’t find that he has that sex appeal of other male singers, I absolutely love his voice. I was totally all for Diana, I just liked her voice and bubbly personality, although I think that Fantasia is a stronger and more consistant singer. I am however very tired of hearing about how Fantasia had a kid really young and has had a rough life? Puuuleezzz!!!! Anyways, keep up the daily updates !!!

  13. Christopher J. Arndt
    2. June 2004 at 00:20

    Jennifer Love Hewitt no longer has huge breasts?

    Then what, where’s the appeal?