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.
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. He introduces the "three very smug-looking judges," and if any and all permutations of the "pot calling the kettle black" cliché hadn't already been ground into paste, I'd probably haul it out for this occasion, because Ryan Seacrest calling someone else smug? That would be like him calling Simon vain and gay. How weird would that sound? Randy, blessedly, fails to boo Simon. And I think Paula fails to punch him, so maybe Simon remembered to hand out those end-of-season gifts this year. Ryan refers to the competition as neck-and-neck (it's not), and he asks Randy what the final two have to do to get ahead. Wait, wait, wait! Don't tell me, I know. They need to choose good songs and sing them well. They need to bring it. Am I close, Randy? "It's now or never, baby. They need to lay it all on the line tonight." Partial credit, then? Paula picks up the rest of the slack by bringing up "song choice." Simon's suggestion? Prayer. And not your normal Christian prayers for good luck and inner strength. No, he means praying the other guy fucks up. Ah, yes. The Serenity Prayer's long-time nemesis: the Turmoil Prayer. I know it well. Ryan lays down the format: three songs, three phone numbers. Two songs apiece will be culled from the last three months of performances, while the third will be the show-appointed Crappy-Ass Single and Thinly-Veiled Coronation Metaphor. Then Ryan continues his obsession from last week about the gender makeup of the finale. He reminds us that there have been "girl-boy" finales twice before, and both times the girl has emerged victorious. Of course, Clay Aiken was a girl-boy finale unto himself, and I believe they're still counting the votes on that one. And, not to be a spoiler or anything, but Wednesday's show will only confuse that issue further. Anyway, Ryan's got a huge boner about the boys-versus-girls thing, painting Taylor as an AI gender pioneer. Do it for Bo Bice, Taylor! Do it for Guarini! Next...okay, I rag on the clip packages that litter the AI landscape like so many discarded Diana DeGarmo CDs, but this next one is pretty cool. Mostly because it's set to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing," and I went into the Journey thing last week, so I don't feel the need to do so again. Suffice it to say, this song effing rules. The videos are of Taylor and Katharine's Idol journeys. Get it? Journey/journeys? I'm hoping tomorrow will feature a retrospective on the finalists' air supplies. Of note: baby pictures of Katharine. Photos of Taylor with dark hair. Taken the day before the Las Vegas auditions when he dyed it, no doubt. I'm just saying. Believe it or not, they were both very excited to be on the show. They auditioned. Taylor the Alabamian gets lumped in with Bo and Ruben, which actually speaks far better for the diversity of Alabamians than anything I can think of. The only thing I can think of to tie them together is how I don't really care for any of them. Sorry (2006), Rube. Hey, remember when Simon guaranteed that Taylor wouldn't make the Top 24? And then he went back on his word in Hollywood and doomed us to the finale we've got tonight? Seriously, the second Taylor's fate was placed in the hands of the American public, his spot in the finals was all but assured. I'll let Ryan explain it for me. Taylor "defied the odds." No longer would the prematurely gray and incredibly old be treated as second-class citizens on this show. As for the whole "drunk, spazzy asshole" thing, Ryan would rather you think of it as "soulful spirit and contagious dance moves." And just so Katharine doesn't start running away with the title of "Most Self-Centered Idol Experience," Taylor tells us that we're experiencing "The American Dream, by Taylor Hicks." Dude, I know. I keep trying to scream, but I can't wake up.