I had a meeting early this evening and got home about the time Taylor was starting to sing, but held off listening until I finished some business. Then a phone call came as Kellie was singing. So, between what I saw live and what I watched later on my recording, I saw the singers in this order: Lisa, Kevin, Elliott, Ace, Mandisa, Bucky, Paris, Chris, Katharine, Taylor and Kellie.
So you may begin to understand why I thought the show was pretty disappointing at first -- far more than the judges indicated. (One plus in going back to the recording: I could skip through Paula's goofy ramblings. For a bit it made me think I had waxy build-up in my hearing. Then I heard the opening acts and realized that the trouble was not in my ears.
I found myself longing again for a Mandisa/Chris final, although I don't trust the ''Idol'' voters to see it that way, and I have to admit that -- in pure pop terms -- Katharine was right up there with Mandisa and Chris. B pluses for everybody, but I give Mandisa and Chris the edge for bringing more personality and style to bear -- while Katharine simply sang the daylights out of ''Come Rain or Come Shine.'' Can't break the tie between Mandisa and Chris, though, although they took different, smart approaches, with Mandisa drawing on a Dinah Washington song that few in the audience would know (and so could claim it for her own), while Chris turned ''I Walk the Line'' from a Johnny Cash song into a Chris Daughtry song.
Rest of the field: Enh. Particular thumbs down to Paris (grade: C) for doing ''Fever,'' a song where she hit the notes but didn't have the wisdom to understand, and Kellie (C minus), dulling down ''Walking After Midnight'' with a clueless, numb rendition. (Patsy Cline GOT the song. Of course, Patsy Cline got almost everything she sang.)
I also chucked C minuses at Bucky and Taylor, neither of whom brought anything to their Buddy Holly efforts. Ditto for Kevin, who never got out of his soft-and-mellow groove on ''When I Fall in Love.''
Let the record show this may be the only time that you'll see ''Kevin'' and ''groove'' in the same sentence.
Ace was also a C minus on my card. But, as usual with Ace, I must offer a dissenting dialogue with my bride.
''Isn't he a little off?'' I said.
''Who cares?'' she replied.
D plus to Elliott, who may have understood ''Teach Me Tonight'' but didn't get hold of the melody. And a D to Lisa Tucker for a tiresome ''Why Do Fools Fall in Love?''