momlogic's Vivian: Well folks, we have us a new American Idol! But before the champ was crowned and Simon bid us his emotional (really!) adieu, we bore witness to a series of surreal resurrections from today (Bret Michaels! Paula Abdul!) and over 30 years ago (Chicago, Hall & Oates and Michael McDonald). Read on!
First, the top 12 contestants returned from their day jobs to give us a taste of the upcoming "American Idol" tour. Contestants like Didi and Siobhan visibly relished each opportunity to reduce the chosen covers to show-tune status, but watching someone innately cool like Casey James do a clumsy prance around the stage is always completely ridiculous.
Orianthi and Alice Cooper joined them to perform Cooper's rebel anthem, "School's Out" -- a completely and utterly surreal moment on television. Alice Cooper goes Broadway?! Mind you, I'm a crone, so songs like this -- and many others on the set list -- hurled me back in time to when the tunes first hit my ears in the backseat of my dad's Galaxie 500. (What's that? You say you don't recognize that make of car ... or know who Alice Cooper is? Neither will "Idol's" target demographic.)
Throughout the night, more '70s pop-rock dinosaurs were sprung, a halo of smoke surrounding them as they emerged from their cryogenic crypts. But I must say -- many of these artists sounded pretty fricking incredible. Siobhan and Aaron had a blast harmonizing with The Bee Gee: Barry Gibb has painstakingly maintained his blowout and nasal vibrato all these years. In a particularly enjoyable moment, Big Daddy Michael Lynche was joined by former Doobie Brother Michael McDonald. Another highlight: Lee and Crystal were joined by Joe Cocker to sing "With a Little Help from My Friends" -- and MamaSox just WAILED. Also deep on the '70s tip: Lee DeWyze performing a great set with Chicago, and the male Idol top 10 contestants doing a medley with Hall & Oates.
Some powerhouse lady performers were in the house also: Christina Aguilera, Alanis Morissette (who performed a lovely duet with MamaSox -- who went toe-to-toe with her!), Janet Jackson and Carrie Underwood (who actually blew my mind with her new tune, "Undo It"). Audition fave General Larry Platt did an all-out production of "Pants on the Ground," complete with backup dancers and former "Idol" audition fave William Hung.
Of course there was a Simon Cowell retrospective, as it was his last night on the show. Dane Cook serenaded Simon with a song containing all his insults. Ricky Gervais hurled insults at Simon via video. Most of the former Idols -- even Kelly Clarkson, who had previously refused to come back to the show -- walked out and sang a tribute tune en masse. Providing the cake's cherry was none other than Paula Abdul, who showered Simon with goodbye-love via video and (surprise!) live on stage. She actually looked sober and amazing.
One big fat bright spot of the evening occurred during Casey James' solo, when Bret Michaels joined him to perform "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." Considering that this guy had walked into scenery and broken his nose, burst his appendix and suffered a nearly fatal brain hemorrhage just a couple of weeks ago, we witnessed a miracle in seeing him upright -- let alone sounding fresh as a daisy.
Finally, it was time to dim the lights. Lee looked like he was going to puke. But guess what? He won! He thanked everyone, then said, "Crystal, I love you" -- and gave her a big hug before launching into his hit-to-be: a cover of U2's "Beautiful Day." The poor guy lost it mid-performance.
Welcome to Idol-dom, Lee! Our girl MamaSox handled the whole thing with grace and panache. She has said that she wanted to be on the show because her kid "deserves a better life than I ever had." Even though she didn't win, she'll be able to do that -- and then some.