Live posts of the show while in progress, after the jump.
Flashbacks to "Idol" auditions, etc., comments from judges re Adam and Kris, interspersed with comments from A&K. Ryan declaring "THIS is 'American Idol.' " Camryn Manheim in the audience. "The battle of the acoustic rocker vs. the glam rocker," Ryan declares. " ... The guy next door vs. the guyliner."
Randy's wearing a tie! Sort of an early '60s sportscaster look. Carly Smithson's in the crowd.
Adam and Kris enter. Ryan asks if they are ready. "Totally," each says. There was a coin flip for order, and Kris picked to go second. Three songs: Favorite from season, one chosen by producer Simon Fuller and the inevitable single, co-written by Kara.
Ryan says tomorrow's show will go "a little long ... so set your DVR accordingly." So where was that warning all the times they ran long earlier in the season?
Video of Adam and family, leading into "Mad World." Going for that "Idolmaker" look. Not as revelatory as when he first did it, but solid and understated, melodic and not shrieking. Randy gives him an A plus. Kara manages to get "artist" into her praise, with the sort of emphasis that makes you think she's thumbing her nose at everyone who's criticized her comments about artistry. Paula, looking spray-on tanned, tells him "this is your moment." Simon thought it was "a little bit over-theatrical," hostile reaction from crowd and other judges.
Video of Kris and family, leading into "Ain't No Sunshine," at the piano. Where Adam took a victory lap, Kris is pleading for the audience's love in his Jason Mraz-y way, and audiences like to be asked for their love. Not something I'd download, but OK, and putting him pretty even with Adam. Randy says he can tell exactly what kind of artist Kris is and "that was one of your best performances ever." Kara concurs, saying "there's something wrong with you" if you can't feel a Kris performance. Guilty. Paula says "you have awakened the spirit in all of us." Simon says "this is a competition" and he wasn't sure if America made the right choice a week ago by keeping him instead of Danny -- but takes that back after this performance.
Simon Fuller picked "A Change Is Gonna Come" for Adam. Good start, and an interesting charge at Kris's soul-man style. But he has to go shrieky, and he's lost me. And he didn't need to, because he had the song completely under control without it -- electric until then. But there's still something a little distant about him tonight. Randy says that "you can sing your face off, and that was unbelievable." Kara calls it his best performance and interpretation. Paula says it's the best she's ever heard him, and "you are going to be iconic." Simon says "you are 100 percent back in the game."
Katie Holmes in the audience.
SF picked "What's Goin' On" for Kris. On guitar. Pleasant but unremarkable. I don't fault his vocal, I just think he's taken a music landmark and made it into smooth jazz. Randy says it's a great song choice for these times but "a little light." Kara says he can uplift people and "make them change." Paula says he made Marvin Gaye proud. From the grave, of course. Simon thought it was "like three friends in their bedroom strumming along to Marvin Gaye" and "too laid back." I'd give Adam the edge in this round, though not by the "million percent" Simon thinks. But I'm still not sure that Adam's reserve is playing well with viewers, assuming anyone is still undecided out there. (I wish I had a clip of Peter Cook doing "I'm Bored" to embed here for comparisons.)
The single: "No Boundaries." A string of cliches in an anthemic frame, of coursel; it's an "Idol" single. And for the first time tonight, it feels as if Adam is trying to sell a song, and himself. Fine performance, and a song I have no need to hear again. Except, of course, I will. Randy says -- and admits again -- "you can sing anything" but that this was not his best performance. Kara says on behalf of her cowriters that it's amazing to hear him and "I'm moved, I'm proud." Paula is in awe and "I will be a fan forever." Simon mocks the song and then says that Adam is "a worldwide star."
By the way, if you haven't already planned to watch "Glee," please do so.
Kris with "No Boundaries." Out of his jazz box, embracing the anthem. And, for a reason I can't quite pinpoint, the song at first sounds marginally more interesting when he does it. But he lacks some authority when he first tries to make it big. And the second time, as if he can't quite get over those mountains in the song. Randy says the key was a little high, but "you are an amazing competitor" and he thinks the song fit his voice better than Adam. But it sounds as if he's putting Kris in second place. Kara says "I hope people go on the season." Paula says he has done an amazing job to get this far and this was a "compelling" finale. Simon says he thinks Kris's highlight was his first song but "you have thoroughly, thoroughly deserved to be standing on this stage tonight." So all the judges are basically saying Adam's the winner. I don't disagree, but Adam is more to my taste than Kris. We will see how the voters react.
Interesting how the show can run on time when it wants to. Goes out with clips from the season with Carrie Underwood singing "Home Sweet Home." Seems prerecorded.
And the new "Idol" single's bad cheese.