American Idol: Performance Recap

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From The Scrivener’s point of view…

Lee kicked off the night with The Boxer. He actually seemed pretty relaxed to me when he took the stage, but I watching him in person, I was struck by how stiff and uncomfortable he still looks onstage. I think you don’t see it as much on tv, but it was like he was trying to make himself very skinny and small on this whole stage. He was a bit pitchy in places–you know, I hate that word and they use it all the time. I mean can’t we just say “off-key”? I suppose there’s a difference between “pitchy” and “off-key” but either way, it’s that “not quite right” feel. Anyway, I was surprised watching it at home because he actually sounded a lot better in the theater than he did at home. Sitting in the audience, we couldn’t see the judge’s faces, so it was actually pretty hard to hear what the judges were saying, but it was very clear that they shook his confidence with their remarks.

Crystal then came out and sang Me and Bobby McGee, and I was thrilled about her choice. Her performance set her tone for the night and let me tell you, she was on fire. She hit every note perfectly. In fact, with the noise level of the equipment, she left our ears ringing after every song. Her confidence level was perfect–she went out and sang like she’d already won. One thing that surprised me was that she’s much shorter and smaller than I thought she was. Ryan Seacrest, however, is exactly as small and short as I thought he was. I was pleased he was on his best behavior, although the worst of him really only comes out at the results show.

Lee came back out for his second performance of Everybody Hurts. While I thought that this was a good choice for him, he looked shaken to me, like he hadn’t quite recovered from the first performance. It had to be extremely stressful for them because he finished performing, ran offstage, changed, and was in front of the microphone again in minutes. Once again, for this song the stage seemed too big for him. I thought he really stepped up his game vocally with this performance, but again it wasn’t perfect. Song 2 was better than Song 1, but his Song 2 wasn’t better than Crystal’s Song 1.

When Seacrest announced that Crystal would be singing Black Velvet I was a bit worried because that song is so overdone. You hear it at every karaoke bar and probably every third or fourth person auditioning for American Idol. Still, Crystal managed to hit it out of the ballpark again. Having her descend the staircase was a bad idea, really. She didn’t look comfortable doing it, and she looked like she thought she was going to fall any second now. I think the staircase descent can be a great dramatic move for, like, Scarlett O’Hara, but not for Crystal. Despite that, she did a fabulous job and left our ears ringing again.

When Lee dashed on for his third song, I felt kinda bad that he was on the same show as Crystal tonight. Had he been up against anyone else he would have really stood out, but Crystal was kicking his butt all the way around. We were very confused when he started singing Beautiful Day, since we were all expecting some awkward and forgettable written-for-American-Idol swan song like they’ve done in previous seasons. It occurred to me walking out of the theater that they probably picked final songs that people would really want to buy should the contestant win. I mean seriously, can you imagine either Lee or Crystal up there singing “A Moment Like This”??? Or that horrible No Boundaries song from last year? Anyway, glad to hear Lee doing something different, but the song was way too big for him. Well no, I won’t say that. I’ll say the performance was way too big for him. The whole stage and backup music and singers and the whole ensemble, it’s like Lee just got swallowed up.  I think this was the one performance that was the most different in person than on tv. In person you really couldn’t understand what he was singing, but on tv they toned down the background music a ton. I guess that can cut both ways, as in Lee’s second song, which sounded a lot more pitchy on tv with the background music toned down. I didn’t think it was a strong finish for Lee at all. He looked exhausted before he even started singing, and utterly defeated afterwards. Yikes.

Crystal’s final song was Up to the Mountain, which I loved. I thought she was uh-may-zing performing this one. Absolutely. I’d buy that record. I’ll probably buy whatever record she makes. Once again, she sang like she’d already won and the effect was chilling. The volume level was so high, however, many people actually had their fingers in their ears, and honestly mine are still ringing. Thank goodness she was pitch-perfect on all of those notes. I was very glad they got her off the staircase too. She did a fabulous job.

My vote for American Idol goes to Crystal, but I don’t think she’s actually going to win. I think the Lee fans will overlook tonight’s weak parts and come out in droves. But it may even be better for Crystal if she doesn’t win, since she’ll have more control over who she signs with for her future albums. Either way, both are going to be extremely successful.

It’s probably not too early to put your name on the waiting list for American Idol tickets next season!

Adding: Congratulations to our winner, Lee!

Read about our audience experience and check out our photos of AI alums we saw.

American Idol: The Experience

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A joint post from The Scrivener and The Librarian answering that burning question, what was it like to be in the audience???

The Scriv and the Librarian


What a day! Seeing American Idol in person was a real treat. Because it was the final performance show, it was held in the Nokia Theater in LA instead of the normal studio. Once we were allowed into the seating area, my jaw hit the floor. The entire theater was done up top to bottom in all of the American Idol paraphernalia, from those steel beams to the rotating globe things. The set was huge. And you know how things always look larger on tv than they do in person? Well, everything looked much larger in person. I know the theater is bigger than the studio but the set was the same and was it ever impressive. For me, it was the first indicator of what a true franchise American Idol has become.


Okay, Scriv stole my observation about the AI venue seeming larger in person. I’ll forgive her because I botched up a photo of her and Allison Iraheta earlier in the day. Sorry, Scriv! We actually arrived way early expecting to stand in line all day waiting to exchange vouchers for tickets. With the exception of our friend Kelly, who arrived an hour earlier to hold a place in line (thanks Kelly!) we hardly stood in line at all. We got our tix around noon and then had four hours to kick it.  Had a leisurely lunch and a few drinks at Yard House. Plenty of time to make our tacky signs. Then we tooled around in front of the Nokia Theater for a while where we spent our time spotting and taking pics of AI alumni. We saw Big Mike, Brook White, Justin Guarini (Does anyone still remember him from season one? Don’t think he’s done much since!),  and Elliott Yamin. Check out our photos. But I digress from the audience question. It was FANTASTIC being in the audience especially since I scored an aisle seat and had an excellent view. There was no mistaking what show we were watching as the branding was way over the top. Oh and Scott McIntyre walked right by me.


There was an audience warm-up person, but honestly I expected more direction. We kind of sat there on our own and then like 3 minutes before the show went live, the warm-up guy, Cory, was like “Hi everyone! I’m the warm-up guy and we’re going live in 3 minutes!” Hunh? He got us on our feet clapping and cheering, and then gave the world’s most obvious direction–“Ryan Seacrest is going to walk down the stairs and say ‘This is American Idol’ and then the camera will pan to the audience and you should clap.”

Really? Is that when we’re supposed to clap? Phew–I almost did it wrong! (Me, too, I was so lost at this point!  – Librarian)

MY sign is better

After everything we’d gone through to get in there, I was shocked to see there were 3 empty seats in front of us. At the very beginning, those seats were filled by a couple of Idol technical crew who sat down at the last second. Then sadly they were filled by a woman and these two rather obnoxious little girls who spent the entire taping casing the joint for better seats, blocking our view, and running around trying to get celebrity autographs.

Other than that, our seats were awesome. We were in row T, which was 20 rows up from the front. In fact, we were in the same row as all of the lighting and sound equipment, so we had the ideal view of the stage. (We really did, especially me by the aisle. Woo hoo! – Librarian)

We’d made 3 signs–the original “Keep Shineing Crystal” which was not featured on the show (too bad I couldn’t slip a misspelling by them–everyone else did), and at lunch we made an orange one that said “Gen X Mom’s only have (picture of eyes) for DeWyze” (the extra apostrophe is intentional) and another green one. The Librarian sat on the aisle with the orange sign and held it up at every opportunity, which turned out to be quite helpful watching the show later. Although the sign was never featured, I could pick us out of every audience shot in our direction because of the neon orange sign.

No, MY sign is better!


I couldn’t make out the words on the sign when I watched on tv, but I could totally see the picture of the eyes that Diana drew for us. She’s talented that way. So the sign proved useful for spotting our location in the audience. In that sense, my sign kicked butt over Scriv’s Crystal one. (Diana was less enthusiastic about holding up her sign than either I or the Librarian were – Scriv)


Once the show started, things moved very, very quickly. It was almost disturbing the way the entire thing ran. It was completely mechanical. I mean obviously they’ve been doing this for almost a decade, but it seemed completely robotic at times, and it was almost disorienting. The performer would run onto stage (literally, run), set up, get introduced, play, four quick comments from the judges, BAM–commercial and the performer ran off the stage again.

And I gotta say, the commercial breaks are a LOT longer at home than they are in the theater.

The performances were awesome, however. My ears are still ringing.


The Librarian and her sign

I wanted them to do more for the audience. The lame warm-up guy was hard to hear and spot. Once he came up our aisle, offering free t-shirts. I waved my sign and did my best impression of an excited 13-year-old girl but alas, I lost out to actual kids. Damn you Cory for favoring kids over me. I am just as worthy! (Scriv–I was irritated too, because the tickets said specifically that nobody under 12 would be allowed in and there were a ton of kids–the one who got the t-shirt said she was 10).

Loved the montage at the end but it took us a while to figure out that there was an actual live singer named Will Young on the stage. He was the first winner of American Idol’s British predecessor, Pop Idol. That was years ago, he should be a polished performer by now. On this night, he had no stage presence. If they are looking for him to breakthrough to American audiences, he’ll have to do better than that!

Finally, we saw the whole top 12 go up on stage. I could see the bright glow of Urban’s teeth even from across the room. I never thought he was one of the best singers but he sure is pretty.

The whole gang! Kelly, Librarian, Scriv, Diana