1. Wednesday, May 21st 2003

    Posted by @IDOL_Insider

    Once again, the finale of American Idol has graciously descended on us like manna from the heavens. And once again I've been crammed into a press room with reporters from such illustrious outlets as The Charlotte Observer and 102.7 FM. Last year we were indoors with air conditioning and a fruit basket. This year, we were outside under a tent and it was at least 100 degrees out judging by my level of sweating and irritation. Hopefully by next year, I'll have graduated to the VIP press area where people sit on silk pillows and eat prosciutto while watching the show.

    Whooooo! Shrieeeeeeeek! And that's how the show started. Ryan tells us we'll be checking in with Raleigh tonight. Whooooo! And Birmingham. Whoooooo! So there will be no shortage of screaming tonight. This episode could power Monsteropolis for a decade.

    As a reminder of the good times this show brings us early in each season, we're treated to a montage of bad auditions. Wow. No more can or should be said. Wow. But although the best recapper in the world (aka, me) lives in America, bad singers can be found around the globe, as the next montage proves. My favorite part of the World Idol montage? No, it wasn't the 7-foot Frenchman that talks like a character from Lord of the Rings. My favorite part was seeing the show logo in various languages. It was like looking at the directions for a Japanese appliance. En francais, la plouf. Which, of course, in French means absolutely nothing. Wrapping it up, we see my god, Keith. I think I'm going to start a religion based on him where harmony is out of tune and up is down.

    Ryan then visits Ruben in his locker room, where he's chillin' in the white on white duds. Ruben and Clay have "separate" dressing rooms. Ryan tells us that Ruben has taken Alabama. So Ruben gets those tallies in the electoral college. Ah, electoral humor. In Birmingham, an entire church is rooting for Ruben, which makes sense. Over in Raleigh, we see the dandiest reporter in the whole wide world talking to people in a packed Sponsor's Name Arena. You know, it would've been pretty funny if the crowd in Raleigh suddenly went all Ruben. "Sorry, Clay, even though this is your town, we like him better. Roooooooob!" But no, they love Clay so much they just want to hug him all day. Ryan says that Clay has taken North Carolina. Ah, electoral humor.

    After we've dealt with the combatants, Ryan heads over to the judges, who are relaxing in a posh hotel lobby, it seems. Boy, they're really all dolled up! It's like judges prom! That leads right into a piece featuring the show's reject pile screeching a mangled medley. The "performers" include the Matrix twins and Edgar, whose story that the judges asked him back has finally been validated, nearly seven months later. Man, that was awful. And great!

    Seacrest finally hits the stage and asks the crowd who's going to win, Ruben or Clay. "Ruuuuu-ayyyyyy!" squeals the crowd. Well, that was helpful. Then we go to a break. Then the break ends. You know, Ryan is looking extra tan tonight. Maybe it's just his all-black ensemble. Ryan trots out the two big show ponies, and as they flank him, their outfits make it look like a reverse Oreo standing onstage.

    Next, Sugar Ray (Leonard, not the light pop band) gives us the tale of the tape. Ruben is taller and heavier, as expected. Of course, Clay only weights 145 pounds, 148 with the hair gel, so outtipping him on the scales is no achievement. For the record, I weigh 162 pounds, and it's 162 pounds of pure funk. Following the stats, Europe rocks us so hard we're transported back to 1988. Buh na na na! The final countdown! Ruben and Clay stare each other and I start to wonder if they're about to kiss. They're very close right now!

    Now it's time for the music! Wheee! The group of finalists, led by Kelly Clarkson, and dressed by Whitey Whiterson & Sons Fashions, sing a whole bunch of songs. That's probably all of the details you need on that. After another break, Ryan is in the crowd with Michael Chiklis, whom he cleverly dubs, "The Chik." Fortunately, The Commish doesn't put Seacrest in a headlock for the transgression, so Ryan's hair doesn't get messed up. I mean, messed up on accident. It's already kinda messed up, but on purpose. Ah, you know what I'm getting at here.

    Trailing that amusing exchange, Kelly comes onstage. Again. And sings "Miss (Miz?) Independent (Induhpindunt?)" Again. I don't know if that song is spelled 2Pac style or not, mah homeyz. Watching this performance, I start wondering if maybe I'm watching a tape of last season and nobody told me. Is Justin going to be performing "Feelings" later? We can only hope! Kelly's song ends and Clive Davis comes out. I have nothing bad to say here. The man is a damn genius, nearly on par with myself. Clive lets us in on the secret that they've started recording Ruben's and Clay's debut albums already, so maybe we don't really need the second half of this show. Speaking of the boys, dressed like theme park employees, they tote out a platinum album to present to Kelly. I have one of those myself for my 1992 dance hit, "Too Hot (Feelin' It)."

    Before the next round of commercial advertisements, we get to see a Simon dream sequence in which Paula calls him Cuddles and they make out. But he actually sleeps in a bed with Randy! Cheeky! British! Comedy! The ads end and Ryan asks to hear from the Clay fans in the audience. Then the Ruben fans. Hmm. I can't tell much difference.

    After that, we're treated to a medley of denim and music. I blacked out about halfway through it, so I couldn't really tell you what happened. Following another spendy break, Ryan tells us that Clay has won New York. Ah, more electoral humor. Brit Hume must be cracking up at this. Time for more singing! Ruben, dressed in black, sings. Then Kimberley, dressed in black, sings. Then Clay, dressed in black, sings. I appreciate the uniformity.

    Yet another break follows, and when we come back, Ryan quips that Ruben has won Florida. Ah, even more electoral humor. To celebrate his victory in the Sunshine State, Ruben breaks out his suit from Tuesday night and performs another number. Then Clay sings, which I suppose is only fair. Back in Raleigh, the crowd goes nuts. Man, look at all of those people. Clay outdraws the Carolina Hurricanes, for heck's sake, which I'm sure infuriates Jan Hlavac. The song finishes and Ryan says that Clay has won Ohio. The Buckeye State fills in red on the big map and we all laugh. Ah, more electoral humor. ALL RIGHT! WE GET IT!!!!!!

    After what I hope is the final break, Ryan says "we have something special for you now." Aw, the whole show has been special so far, buddy. Clay and Ruben perform a man duet of "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now." How symbolic! Didn't Staples use this song a few years back to sell ergonomic chairs or laser printers or something?

    And we're back! Again. Now that definitely has to be the last round of commercials, right? Our suited buddies are onstage and.eh, enough dramatics. Ruben won. Now we'll see if Ruben's album can outsell Clay's since Simon says they're coming out the same week. Which radically redefines the thinking that Clay "lost" this show. I mean, if the grand prize on American Idol is a recording contract and the consolation prize is a different recording contract, I think I'm missing something.

    So there it is! Another season in the books! The kids will go on tour now, and our two protagonists will be big music stars and everything will be right with the world. I'm really excited about seeing the Clay and Ruben movie, which I think should be a remake of the Rosey Grier/Ray Milland classic, The Thing With Two Heads. Imagine the hilarity of Clay's head attached to Ruben's shoulder. Comic gold, baby!

    As for myself, I guess I'll spend the next six months making fun of other stuff so I can stay sharp for next season. I feel I owe at least that much to you, my 12 fans. Thanks for sticking with me, buddies!