I've been watching the pre-finale show on Fox (Teri Hatcher's on the red carpet right now) and both Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson have pretty much declared Jordin the winner. ...
(and a little later Paula, who hates to predict, concedes Jordin "might" have the edge).
JORDIN WINS. The rest of the live recap follows, if you care.
No big surprise there, if it happens. In fact, the only surprise right now is what a big piece of cheese the pre-show is. Looks cheap, and hosts Steve Edwards, Dorothy Lucey and Jillian Reynolds are doing their morning-show, talking-over-each-other thing, and it's even more annoying at night. Plus the celebrities can barely pay attention to them. I foresee considerable channel-flipping in the pre-show and beyond.
Pre-show's over. Let the bloat begin.
Ryan asks for a hand for the people who discovered Jordin and Blake. Let's pan to all those assistants who had to listen to people in the first round -- oh, no, he's talking about Randy/Simon/Paula.
J&B duet on "I Saw Her Standing There." Not a song that favors either.
Remote to Gwen Stefani, who performs her new single. Still getting payback for being a celebrity mentor.
Kelly Clarkson onstage. "Never Again." Angry song, rocking hard. I don't hate it.
The annual contestants-who-stunk awards. One for "best presentation" goes to Margaret Fowler, that woman who dressed like Big Bird. She plans a major one on Ryan. She has considerable enthusiasm. I don't care.
The top 6 men perform. "Ooh Baby Baby." Unfortunate, especially with Sanjaya starting. And isn't Smokey supposed to be in the house? Points for Sligh, half-points for Phil.
And there's Smokey. "Being With You," not at his best. The guys do the steps behind him, offer some minimal backup. "Tears of a Clown." Each guy gets a verse line before harmonizing with Smokey.
Hype for the band series.
Blake with Barry B., Doug E. Fresh. You know, for the kids. Blake's very entertaining in a totally not-American-Idol kind of way. Ryan refers to it as "just like the days of Justin and Kelly."
Another crappy-contestant role, for "most original vocal." I would have given it to the woman who was both terrible and incomprehensible. But it goes to a guy named Sholandric Stallworth, who was merely terrible and loud.
Top six "girls" perform. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" with Jordin getting the opening. Then enters Gladys Knight. "I Feel a Song in My Heart" and "Midnight Train to Georgia." The women are more prominent as backup singers, and Melinda and LaKisha get solo lines in "Midnight Train."
Smokey is one of my idols, but Gladys and the women are kicking him to the curb tonight.
Tony Bennett, the most disrespected of the celebrity mentors. "For Once in My Life." Raspier than usual. But the man knows how to phrase. Crowd goes wild.
More singers-in-mockery. "Best buddies." Jonathan and Kenneth. Still uncomfortable to watch. Amanda and Antonella. Simon and Ryan. Oh, could we just give up their snooze-some banter? Prize to Jonathan and Kenneth. More bush baby jokes.
Melinda with BeBe and CeCe Winans. Is Melinda thinking about a gospel album? As we know, she likes church. And she's not stepping back with these two.
Car video, "Time After Time." Ryan gives Jordin and Blake a new Mustang each.
Carrie Underwood, onstage for a reprise of her version of "I'll Stand By You."
Chrissie Hynde on the song, in the liner notes for the Pirate Radio collection: "I was embarrassed by this song because it was so intentionally commercial, but I played it to some girls I knew from the boxing community and by the end of it they were both in tears. So I guess it moved them. Once, when I apologized about its commerciality to Noel Gallagher, he told me, 'I wish I'd ... written it.' "
Clive Davis reports on the American Idol brand, and his big news is Chris Daughtry's sales -- which, he notes, are better than McPhee's or Hicks's. Lots of hot air, and a presentation to Carrie Underwood.
The African Children's Choir. Then attempted humor about Sanjaya, leading into his performance with Joe Perry on "You Really Got Me." Still not thrilling, although Perry's sounding pretty good. Could have done without Crying Girl, too.
Green Day performing "Working Class Hero." Good stuff, even with the lyrics cleaned up. Nice ending with a bit of Lennon singing.
An extended soul segment: Taylor Hicks works very hard. Jordin sings with Ruben Studdard. Ruben's sounding good.
Bette Midler. "Wind Beneath My Wings." Is this to warm people up for "This Is My Now," or a way of saying that "This Is My Now" is in a long tradition of better big-sentiment songs? She keeps it simple, too. Randy and Paula sway, arms extended wing-like, which might not be deemed entirely respectful.
Tribute to "Sgt. Pepper." Looks as if we're going to go into overtime.
Kelly Clarkson sings "Sgt. Pepper," Joe Perry plays. Considering her work with Jeff Beck on "Idol Gives Back," Kelly's turning into quite the guitar-hero gal. And I don't mind it at all. Taylor comes in for "A Day in the Life." Again, working very hard. Carrie Underwood for "She's Leaving Home," and she has some trouble with the verse before getting ahold of the chorus. Ruben gets "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds." More struggling.
Group sing with all the contestants, leading into the contestants doing "A Little Help From My Friends." Thence to a break.
The announcement. 74 million votes, Ryan says. Asks the judges for final thoughts. Randy says Jordin. Paula says she's just proud of both of them, congratulates both, calls them both stars. Simon says, if he's going to call it, congratulations, Jordin.
Jordin wins. And so is stuck with "This Is My Now."
This is my ... gone.