Okay, so first off, Kat and Taylor's Idol journeys are montaged to the tune of actual Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," so: awesome start. Ryan can't seem to get his mind past the girl vs. boy thing, which makes him no better than Trump, so I hope he's prepared to live with that. Three songs apiece tonight.
Round 1: Katharine sings decently, but more importantly stands, while performing "Black Horse and a Cherry Tree." The judges are tepid, but I don't think unreasonably so. Meanwhile, Taylor is dressed like The Joker and reprises "Livin' For The City." He tries his best to act a fool, but the fear has taken up residence in his eyes. The judges act the fool in his place, though, and he takes the round.
Round 2: Katharine reprises "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," because after last week, she totally had to. In your recapper's opinion, it was better than last week. The judges loved it. Then, Taylor delivers a hugely affected "Levon," that song about tradition and family planning. A lot of it was pretty nasal, actually. Randy calls him "pitchy," but Paula says Taylor is pitchy (oooookay), and Simon gives the round to Kat.
Round 3: Oh God, the coronation songs. Katharine's is called "My Destiny," and it's basically a low-rent "A Moment Like This." Yeah, yeah. "They all are." What it also is is sung flatly, then sharply, then flatly again by our girl. So that can't help matters. Randy and Paula throw the awful song under the bus, but Simon cops to the vocal ordinariness. Taylor's song is called "Do I Make You Proud?" It's by far the more "I just won American Idol" song, if that's any indication. This would be the low-rent "Inside Your Heaven," melodically-speaking. You can tell exactly when the gold sparks will start to cascade down. Taylor sings it well, if unavoidably boringly. He's totally winning. The judges all think so. Simon even says so, because he's hoping for Katharine sympathy votes. Not gonna help.
Daniel Powter plays us off with a live, acoustic "Bad Day," as we reflect on the season as a whole. Again.
Tomorrow: Taylor wins it. He certainly worked harder for it. I mean, all that spazzing out and hugging himself ticked me off, but it worked for a hell of a lot of people, so...well done. You giant pile of jackass. Once again, America gets the Idol it deserves. This year, American Idol does, too.
Ryan Seacrest is once again clad in funeral garb as he welcomes us to this, the penultimate episode of a season that has only been running since January, even if some days it feels like we've been hearing the words "Taylor Hicks" and "Katharine McPhee" for much, much longer than that. I guess the laws of time and space tend to bend in Taylor's presence, where what feels like a year and a half is actually five months, and what looks like someone who voted for LBJ passes for twenty-nine. Ryan is facing the camera, his back to a pitch-black abyss. I don't know how I manage to keep getting fooled by this switcheroo, but I do. He talks about how Kat and Taylor are vying for the "most sought-after title in television." Take that, bitches! Then he says they'll have to do it "in front of these guys here." And the house lights go up in the Kodak theatre, and it's really quite impressive. The theater, I mean. I always think so on Oscar night, as well. If the point is to simultaneously stroke egos and scare the crap out of people, this is the venue for it. Ryan gets extra-super into it as he says, once again, "THIS is American Idol!" It's like he waits all season for it to matter like this. This is both his Super Bowl and his Gay Super Bowl. You can see how he'd be very excited.
Since this is my last shot at the credits for the season, I should mention that it's kind of annoying that Carrie gets shunted into that barely-visible afterthought there at the end, especially since she outsold Fantasia and Ruben (...right?). Also, since I won't be recapping Wednesday's carnival of the absurd, I have to say now that out of all this year's finalists, I wouldn't pick one of them over Carrie. I wouldn't be caught dead at a Carrie Underwood concert, but as a short-term TV karaoke singer, none of these fools could touch her. Ryan takes the stage via the "FANT ASIA" doors, even though we just saw him on the stage not ten seconds ago. Mandy Moore is in the audience, as a goodwill ambassador from the flaming wreckage that was the American Dreamz box-office receipts. Ben Stiller is hunched over in the audience looking like he's trying not to be recognized. I don't think anyone's told him how nobody likes him anymore. Seacrest looks especially orange tonight as he welcomes all three thousand audience members to the Kodak.