'American Idol' on the scene for finale results show: Prom dresses, Tom Jones lyrics, and exhaustion, oh my!


Image Credit: Vince Bucci/Fox/PictureGroup

Where is probably the one and only place in the world where you can find Midwestern ladies in prom/bridesmaid dresses, people speaking a wide variety of languages, poster board signs covered in blinking lights, dozens of cowboy hats, and a mish-mash of the oddball celebrities? The American Idol season finale, of course! I was there last night as the show went down at downtown LA’s Nokia Theater, and the only way to really describe what was going on is to call it exactly what it was: a crazy spectacle. I’m not exaggerating: Moms were really prowling around in prom/bridesmaid dresses! (True: Things such as this make me really happy.) I love that, for some, the American Idol finale is something on par with a seminal life event like a wedding. To each his own, I suppose! But I digress. On to my other observations…

I couldn’t help but spend a little time outside of the theater before the show started, just so that I could soak up some of the American Idol realness that was oozing out everywhere. There were, of course, folks like Ace Young and Naima Adedapo and David Archuleta padding into the venue on a red carpet while waving to the throngs, but more interesting than all that, really, were the folks who were there to watch the festivities, the adoring fans. They’re a fascinating set, those who’ll brave the American Idol live show over just enjoying the madness from the comfort of their own living rooms. For instance, did you know that American Idol splits households? I watched one pair of ladies, who appeared to be sisters, duke it out over who should win the crown, Lauren or Scotty, while standing in line to get into the show. “We’re still friends,” said one, holding a Lauren sign up in front of the other, who was holding a Scotty sign. “We still love each other.” Really, this show could split your sisterly bond? Wow. A friend of theirs nearby, though, tried her best to dose the flames: “They’re both going to go far, no matter what.” That remains to be seen, of course.

After I amused myself with people watching for a while, I headed in to Nokia to what, honestly, ended up being one of the most entertainingly random concerts I’ve been to in quite a lot time: Lil’ John and…TLC! Tony Bennett! TOM JONES! Beyoncé — twice! In fact, the whole Scotty-or-Lauren thing seemed almost like a footnote to all the performances and other festivities that were going on. I’ll give you a run-down of what I observed from the belly of the beast — the truly few things you might not have seen on TV — but I will warn you first: The seat I was in wasn’t all that close to the stage, so the observations are pithy and short. Many times, I found myself watching the jumbo screens next to the stage that were broadcasting what was happening. As my colleague Adam B. Vary explained in his on-the-scene recap last night, EW was relegated rather far back. (The nerve!) Watching on TV might have been a better experience! But alas, here’s what it was like being at last night’s American Idol season finale:

Dancers with…Bicycles? Yes, that’s what I found on the stage when I walked into the theater about a half hour before the show started. What on earth? That’s all I could think. It wasn’t until a ways into the show that I discovered that, indeed, it was Casey Abrams performance with — and now it makes sense! — Jack Black that would use the dancing bicyclists. Of course, right?

Sign Rage! About 10 rows in front of me was a six-person group, holding huge blow-up balloon letters spelling S-C-O-T-T-Y. They significantly blocked the views of rows of people, and boy oh boy, you would have thought it was the end of times. “They’ve gotta go!” screamed one guy behind them, a few rows in front of me. “Are you kidding me?” one lady asked the crowd around her. It’s true: We couldn’t really see. But the culprits’ arms eventually got tired, and we got to enjoy the show, but not before many of the folks behind the huge balloons decided to watch the show from the aisle instead of their seats.

The Warm-Up Comic Cory: Much Too Much? Yes, Cory the Warm-Up Comic is always over the top. But last night he was nearly insane before the show went live and during commercial breaks, with his platitudinous remarks. “Don’t you think our judges this season have been absolutely amazing?” he screamed after the judges were introduced. “This will be the biggest show of your lives!” he shouted later. We get it: You love Idol! It almost seemed like he expected an audience member to rush the stage and sacrifice themselves to the Idol gods.

Jennifer’s Entrance Based on my past on-the-scene posts, you know I can’t write about the show and not comment on The Queen herself. Tonight, since I was so far back, all that Ms. Lopez looked like was a glittery blob. But still: striking! Even from a distance! Based on what I could see on the jumbo screens, she was wearing a sparkly pantsuit type of thing. Dressy enough? Not sure. Reminiscent of that sparkly, flesh-toned bodysuit Britney performed in at the 2000 VMAs? Definitely. The possibility that she was only wearing body glitter and nothing else (at least from my vantage point)? Pretty good.

Note to Audience: Do Not Sit Down! After the first performance, where all the Idols sang Gaga’s “Born This Way,” it was time for a commercial break — and some very important directions from Cory the Warm-Up Comic. “During performance numbers, we want you all up on your feet!” he told the crowd. “This is a party tonight! That is the first and last time where you will be seated.” Aye, aye, captain.

The Judges Like to Laugh at Themselves (And Smack Each Other Sometimes)! During the video segment that ribbed judge Randy Jackson for his repeated use of “in it to win it” this season, you could find one Mr. Randy Jackson sitting at the judges’ table, heartily laughing at himself. Ryan, of course, was next to him, laughing right along with him. Steven, of course, found his segment later in the show to be very hilarious, too. And during her segment, Jennifer Lopez gave Steven a friendly smack when he made one of his trademark wacky comments about her.

Gladys Knight Owns the Stage There’s not really much more to say that that. Not sure if it translated as well on TV, but lady ruled the Nokia with her duet of “I Smile” with Jacob Lusk. Like, there really are no words. (Yet, somehow I keep rambling anyway.)

Who’s In The House? There were undoubtedly many, many more than this, but Cory the Warm-Up Comic announced a few of the celebrities inhabiting Nokia during the commercial breaks: So You Think You Can Dance judge Mary Murphy, Idol alums David Cook and Adam Lambert, and Hell’s Kitchen judge Gordon Ramsay were all in the house. Holler!

Tony’s Standing O Tony Bennett got one from the judges. But then again, how can you not give this guy a standing O? Especially when he’s singing alongside the lovely Haley Reinhart.

The Unofficial Cheer-O-Meter Being inside the theater, you really get a chance to see which performances the audience really responds to. The biggest craziness went to Beyoncé, TLC, Steven Tyler, and probably the biggest of all, Bono/The Edge.

Keep That Stage Dark One of the interesting things is that, even at the live show, the audience has no idea what’s going to happen next. You might assume that during the commercial breaks, we’d see which artist is on deck, but most of the time, that wasn’t the case. The Idol production team did a very good job of keeping the stage extremely dark during commercial breaks and set changes so that the next performer would be a surprise for both the TV viewers and those of us lucky enough to be in the house. There were times, however, that you could guess what was coming up next. Feathery dancers on stage and J.Lo gone from her seat? Yup, she’d be performing with Marc Anthony. Steven out of his chair? Yup, he’s next. A huge monstrosity appearing in the shadows on stage? No question: Only Gaga would bring such a thing with her.

Sing Along With Tom Jones! Please! So you probably noticed the crowd singing along when Bono, The Edge, and Reeve Carney sang the Spider-Man song (we were instructed to do so by Cory the Warm-Up Comic much in advance!), but that wasn’t the only time we were encouraged to sing along: Lyrics to Tom Jones’ “Delilah” popped up on the jumbo screens when he appeared on stage. It felt a bit weird because, like, doesn’t everyone know those words? Maybe not the younger folks, I guess. Sing, monkey audience members, sing!

The Final Moments Everyone stage at the end was a nice touch, right? From where I was sitting, though, it was interesting to watch it all go down. After Scotty was crowned, it wasn’t long before he sang and the show cut out. And that’s when you could see how everyone on stage was really feeling: totally tired! The jumbo screens zoomed in on everyone, hugging and congratulating Scotty, but I wouldn’t help but notice how exhausted everyone looked. It’s been a long season, which started way back in January. Ugh! But alas, it’s over. The final words to come over the PA in the theater last night? “Be very, very careful when you walk,” Cory the Warm-Up Comic warned we audience members, as we left the theater. “This confetti gets very slippery.”

Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky

Want more Idol? See EW expert Annie Barrett answer questions on camera about American Idol and Dancing with the Stars here:

Read more:
Scotty McCreery: ‘Idol’ finale Q&A
Lauren Alaina: ‘Idol’ finale Q&A
‘American Idol': Scotty and Lauren duke it out in the Nokia, on the scene for the performance finale
Which is the strongest final two in ‘American Idol’ history? Poll!

Comments (85 total) Add your comment
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  • Squishmar

    Glad Scotty won out of those two…he was consistent…you have to give him that.

    • fantastic music

      Haley and Tony were fantastic. Haleys voice is awesome. Every expensive Manhattan restaurant and business is going to be playing Haleys Jazz music. I can’t wait til her CD. She will be popular on the radio.

      • dream

        I’m happy Scotty won. He is kind of like a young little version of Johnny Cash a little bit. When he gets older he will be amazing.

      • music genre

        Haley should do soft rock music. Her music would be great if it was similar to Bruce Springsteen’s music. Listen to Bruce’s song Secret Garden…Haley would rock at Bruce’s type of music.

      • anonymous

        Since when did you ever hear jazz music on popular radio??? Her cd will be a flop!

      • Mildred Baena

        Haley should not do Jazz. Sorry, but Jazz does not sell. Haley has to do some other type of music to sell.

      • Squishmar

        To dream: Scotty never did do a Johnny Cash song, did he? I remember Paul did “Fulsom Prison Blues” but you would think Scotty’s deep voice would sound great doing Johnny…

      • Petra

        Jazz sells. It is international. Jazz singers tour the world, make a fine living, and the better ones have longevity in the 4–50 year range.
        Haley is in what she calls a “smokey jazz, blues, and pop zone”. And we know if she wants she can yodel country “Blue” and rock out as in Zepplin…quite credibly.
        Good looking, quick learner, crazy talent. Reinhart has blossomed on Idol into what is looking like the “full package”.

      • Fridge

        You’re comparing Scotty McCreery to Johnny Cash? Have you lost your mind? I’m sorry, but this time next year I doubt anyone is going to remember either one of these kids, and can we really be honest now that this season is over–no one was that great. I know there was a ton of hype over Pia, James, and Casey, but sit back and really listen. I’m so tired of all the exageration given to these constestants like they’re the second coming.

      • Brigette

        Haley should do a jazz album, and a rock album, and a whatever-she-wants album. I see this girl crossing genres and doing very well.

      • Fernditpkolus

        Mildred, ask Arnold to tell you about Norah Jones. Soft jazz sells.

      • Tom K

        I think Haley has stated that her preference is a bluesy rock feel – with maybe a little jazz mixed in somewhere. I think her CD will be diverse – but in order for it to sell, she needs a song that can be played on mainstream radio. So I’d expect her first single to not be a jazzy type of song; she will need something with more of a hook. The jazz numbers would be to appease her growing fanbase that love that particular genre.

      • Esox

        Hey yo Fridge…”Compare” and “Equal To” are not the same thing. You can compare Scotty McCreery to Johnnny Cash. That does not mean they’re equal. You can also compare a minnow to a killer whale. Get it? Now settle down.

      • Gran in Can

        Haley and Tony Bennett was my favorite performance. Haley should have won, she had the best voice and all the trimmings that go with an idol. Scotty kept his relationship with Lauren well hidden. Smart move or him and Lauren might not have made it to the top two. The teeny weeny voters like some someone who is available.
        I absolutely hated the pimping from the judges re Lauren. Shame on them.

  • debbie duffield

    i love scotty. wish i was 17. he is absolutely adorable and such a great singer. i enjoyed lauren as well. i believe she will do well also. they are both young and have long careers ahead of them, best of luck to them both.

    • Jayme

      @debbie duffield; Oh how I feel the same way as you do! Scotty is such a handsome, well rounded, kind, respectful young man that can sing so well. He has come SO far since Idol first started this year and he is one of those people that I’d love to meet!

      Good Job Scotty! So proud of you!

  • Barack Palin

    At least with his win, one-quarter Puerto Rican Scotty can lay claims to being the first Latino winner of “AI”.

    • Mildred Baena

      lol…I guess Scotty is the first Latino winner of Idol.

      • Petra

        Scotty was my 3rd favorite all season and I don’t really like country music that much.
        I just liked Scotty, his singing, and how well he carried himself as a young man. Unique voice, A+ character.
        I just wish it had been Scotty vs. Haley as a Finale.

  • Jujubee

    Didn’t even watch. I’ve never been less interested in a final. Which bums me out really. In the past, even if my personal favorites weren’t there, I still watched & still voted. This year I didn’t care one bit. Just got home from a night out and checked here cuz I was curious, but that’s it. Yay for Scotty. I’ll watch on DVR someday to see some of the performances I suppose. Did they say how many votes there were?

    • anonymous

      They said a record of 122 million votes!

      • Donna

        Really? A thirdof the country voted???? Oh wait, I forgot, people can power vote. So, per my calculations, every 13-17 year olf girl voted 100,000 times each!

      • Jennifer

        Now that you can vote online, there SHOULD be more votes than ever coming in. The one time I voted (for Haley) I was able to get 100+ votes in online before I got bored.

  • Dee Jones

    I didn`t watch, only when they crowned the winner. I would`ve watched if I knew Gladys Knight was going to be on there. Some of those contestants could learn a lesson or two from Ms. Knight on what REAL singing and performing is all about!

    • Petra

      Your loss, Dee. James had a wonderful opening performance with Judas Priest. Lady Gaga inc the 20-foot fall was all breathtaking drama.
      Casey Abrams was a riot with Jack Black then the “Biggest elimination whiner” skit he did with James, capped by Pia dressed as a beauty pageant singer with crown, gown, and sash saying #1 shock elimination.
      Obviously, the young performers could learn a thing or two from Knight and many other longtime pros. Who would argue differently?

      Pure magic? 20 year old Haley Reinhart and 85 year old Tony Bennett. Everything worked on that duet. Both deserved the judges standing O.

      I thought Scotty and Tim McGraw was very effective in showcasing Scotty’s potential in the industry. The Lauren and Carrie number made me think Carrie is amazing.

    • Mischa

      The writer of this article forgot to mention the new Lady GaGa single and her awesome live performance (unlike many others who were lip singing).

  • anonymous

    It was a real snooze fest right up until the end. Loved Scotty w/ Tim McGraw and Lauren w/ Carrie Underwood(Fisher) and Lady Gaga and of course Scotty winning! YEA! I will get both him and Lauren’s albums but that will be it. Really didn’t like the rest of the contestants…blah!

    • Ghost of Kelly Clarkson

      And maybe those albums will come with a basic grammar text book so you will learn not to use the phrase, “him and Lauren’s”.

      • Donna

        Way to go, Ghost! I’m happy now, knowing that Lauren and Scotty will sell at least 1 CD each. That said, it’s a real crapshoot whether they will sell >50,000 CDs each.

  • Mildred Baena

    I actually like Scotty and hope he is successful. He seems like a very nice guy and he has never acted like a douche on the show.

  • Jim

    Bombastic is the word I would use to describe the finale. The celebration is way over the top. Having the ladies perform with Beyounce shows why most of them were not meant to be perfomers…they lacked star power and the talent to deliver the kind of magic the soul sister does. And please, Ms. Lusk, just calm down and sing. You’re NOT Luther…nor will you EVER be and so just go away. This season was a major disappointment. The most boring final two ever–Casey and James showed how electrifying they can be (except when performing with the entire cast or just the boys). But the most startling revelation occurred during Gaga’s BORN THIS WAY: Stefano could have a career in porn!

    • lori

      Stefano can get it anytime

  • Mildred Baena


    Not happy campers.

    • Heather

      They ignored him the entire time. Kind of felt bad for him. Seacrest was right in front of him, you would have thought he would acknowledge last year’s winner!

      • tina

        I thought the whole show was off and kind of lame. Usually they have the past Idol winners up there to sing and you would think it being the 10th season and all they would do that. I was rooting for Lauren because I thought she out-performed Scotty but in all honesty there really wasn’t a person who blew me away this year like in past seasons.

      • k

        I felt bad for him because he didn’t get to perform. The other years they had the winners perform on the finale results show. The American Idol workers need to get it together, they are too careless.

    • Hilda

      Fully agree that Ryan Seacrest should have acknowledged Lee DeWyze. Lee
      looked out of his element and he did not appear happy.

      • Squishmar

        I don’t understand why he would even show up if he refused to present the trophy… It didn’t look like he wanted to be there at all. He just performed a few weeks back, so I can understand why they wouldn’t have him do it again, but he knew that ahead of time. Why would he even go to the finale if he wasn’t going to do *anything*?

  • Mildred Baena

    Nigel Lythgoe just tweeted this;

    Nigel Lythgoe

    @dizzyfeet Nigel Lythgoe

    I was so upset Lee DeWyze wouldn’t present the winners trophy to Scotty. Especially as he’d been on the show this Season. I guess he was shy

    Apparently Lee didn’t want to present the trophy to Scotty.

    • meme

      Lee who? He should of presented the trophy so I could remember what he looked like. I forgot the kid won last season.

    • Vicky

      Lee wasn’t asked to sing on the show, why would he want to present a trophy. Nigel is an a…..hole!

      • Hilda


      • Squishmar

        He sang a few weeks ago on the show.

  • Henry Kobasky

    Lauren needs to lose weight! Even though she’s only 16, she looked like a sloppy 40 year old housewife when she stood next to the sexy, incredibly fit Carrie Underwood.

    • meme

      Oh stop! You think Lauren should loose weight? Please. If you remember during Carrie’s Idol run, she was probably 30lbs heavier and dressed like a hot mess. Give Lauren a break. She’ll come into her own…and I’m sure she’s already getting the “Hollywood/Nashville” pressure to become what people think is a perfect size 00. *eyeroll*

      • Squishmar

        Yeah, have faith, Henry… she’s already lost 20 pounds since she’s been on Idol… don’t you worry at all.. she’ll have a nice, unhealthy eating disorder in no time… then you can be happy!

    • nunnya

      Don’t get me wrong, I think Carrie is beautiful, but she looked extremely thin last night. It was a bit shocking.

      • El K.

        Underwood is WAY TOO thin.

      • carmen

        I didn’t really notice how thin she looked cause I couldn’t look past the glowing legs. that did not look too good. Kinda weird.

    • Brigette

      OH MY GOD enough with the “Lauren is fat” comments. She is a beautiful girl and doesn’t need to change a thing about herself. I hope you don’t have a daughter.

    • Ms. Dipesto

      Sure, even though Lauren is NOT fat, she can lose weight. You’ll still be a d!ck.

      • Squishmar

        Very good point, Ms. Dipesto. (‘Moonlighting’ fan?)

    • Done With Idol

      SHAME ON YOU! Who are you to judge someones appearance? Let’s give a young female a complex on her looks. You make me sick.

    • Peyton

      I don’t agree with Henry’s comment about her looking like “a sloppy 40 year old housewife” because I think that was a bit harsh and just plain rude. She is a young girl who doesn’t need us to make her feel bad about herself. But that being said, Lauren does need to lose some weight. I’m not saying she’s fat because she isn’t, but for health reasons she could benefit from losing even as little as 10 pounds. Living an active lifestyle and eating right are things that are learned and hopefully Lauren will learn and embrace those soon so that she can be a healthy, well-adjusted girl as she approaches her budding music career.

    • marie

      Henry, you are a jerk.

    • MJBChicago

      Lauren’s style is Toddlers & Tiaras atrocious, so wrong. She really needs an intervention, especially that disgusting skunk hair and spackled on orange makeup. Although, poor thing never stood a chance with that bumpit-abusing mother.

  • sonny

    one persons opinion! it is hard to watch the 4th or 5th best performer take the crown! give me Pia, James or Haley any day!

  • lo

    I’ll say this…Tony Bennett made me like Haley even more!! but I mean he gets a standing ovation no matter what. He is a living legend!

  • nunnya

    I loved the AI kids getting their moment. I would have loved more Haley, but I really enjoyed James with Judas Priest, Casey with Jack Black…what I didn’t care for as much was Bono and Beyonce singing to promote something that wasn’t Idol related. I give Lady Gaga a pass because she let Haley sing You and I this year. I heard Nigel say that Beyonce didn’t clear any of her songs this year. I also though the lyrics were a little odd for the audience that was right in front of her. She sounded great though.

    • Jason

      I agree. I always enjoy when the idols sing and the stars join in. I can see Beyonce, Gaga, etc. on tons of other shows. I would much rather have seen more solo chances for Pia, Naima and the others. If Mark wants to sing spanish, let him sing with Karen.

      • tina

        Exactly. It seemed they did more of that in past years. They would break them up into duets, trios, etc. They let anyone and everyone on there who had something to promote sind on there last night. What a shame. More time should have been devoted to the contestants IMO.

  • Nee Nee

    I can say I truly didn’t care who won. In my opinion, the more talented contestants were kicked off a long time ago. But it still was an entertaining show. There were moments when it was so cheesy that I was rolling with laughter (Tom Jones and the guy’s performance). And others when I was so stoked to be watching a performance (U2 and Steven Tyler). I’m so glad Steven performed. It wouldn’t have been right if he hadn’t.

    • Ms. Dipesto

      I was glad to see Steven perform too, I just wish it was longer.

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