"American Idol" - Final Two Performance Show - May 19, 2009
Theme: Three songs each: Contestant's choice of a favorite from the season; producer Simon Fuller's choice; the song co-written by Kara which will be the first single.
Contestant #1: Adam Lambert
Song: "Mad World," Tears for Fears
Performance: Adam reprises his season favorite and this time he gets a stage full of dry ice and the staircase to work with. He sounds lovely and understated and it is very dramatic and windswept.
Randy: Gives him an A plus
Simon: Says it was all a little too "Phantom of the Opera" for him.
Contestant #2: Kris Allen
Song: "Ain't No Sunshine," Bill Withers
Performance: Kris' season favorite is very quiet and earnest. And then the band kicks in. He acquits himself nicely, emotional but not overwrought. (I would've voted for "Falling Slowly"). He gets a big ovation.
Randy: Calls it one of his best performances ever.
Kara: Agrees and says if you can't feel a Kris Allen performance there's something wrong with you.
Paula: Thinks he awakens the spirit in all of us by "Allen"-izing his songs.
Simon: He's honest that he wasn't sure America made the right choice when his name was called last week but he takes it back now after that performance. He calls round one for Kris.
Adam Performance #2
Song: "A Change is Gonna Come," Sam Cooke
Performance: He looks good in his suit and he sounds fine but something about the song choice - not his I know, I know- just doesn't fit right, it's like he's impersonating someone's old southern grandma. Until he wails. Wails on key of course, but good God almighty, it's like taking the juke joint to the Steel Dragon show. It's fine but again, totally overbaked.
Randy: Thinks he can sing his face off and that it was unbelievable.
Kara: Thinks it may be his best performance and interpretation yet.
Paula: It was the best she's ever heard him sing. She thinks he's going to be iconic.
Simon: Says he's 100 percent back in the game.
Kris Performance #2
Song: "What's Goin' On," Marvin Gaye
Performance: He starts out solo acoustic and then the small band - percussion, bass- around him kicks in gently. It's earnest but not revelatory.
Randy: Calls it a real live dual competition. His only thing was that it was a little lite for this point in the competition.
Kara: Loves that he's been true to himself and that Simon picked a socially conscious song for him.
Paula: She thinks he tore the song up and made (a dead) Marvin Gaye proud
Simon: He thought it was like three friends in their bedroom strumming along with Marvin and not substantial enough given the night's gravity. He calls round two for Adam.
Adam Performance #3
Performance: It's a ballad, of course, that builds slowly. The back-up singers sound out of tune and they might be throwing him off. He's very emphatic and working his on the verge of tears face. The song is mediocre and it's all about climbing mountains and digging deep within yourself etc. It's fine but definitely short of special and the song is part of the problem. (It's worth a reminder that Kara really has written or co-written some terrific, catchy pop songs including Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man," Kelly Clarkson's "Walk Away," and Pink's "Sober").
Randy: Reiterates he could sing the phone book but that was just alright for him and a little pitchy in spots.
Kara: Speaks on behalf of her co-writers Cathy Dennis and Mitch Allen that it's amazing when someone with his level of talent sings a song they've written. She's moved and proud and thanks him for giving her that moment. He tells her he digs the song.
Paula: She says she can't express what he's brought to the show and she'll be a fan forever. (She's forever his girl.)
Simon: He says he's not going to judge the song but Adam and says over the entire season he's been one of the best, most original on the show ever. He says the point of the show is to find a worldwide star and he genuinely believes they've found that with him and he congratulates him.
Ryan asks if he got the job done. Adam thinks he did and enjoyed his songs.
Kris Performance #3
Song: "No Boundaries"
Performance: It starts a little low for him and the arrangement seems a little faster and less contemporary in terms of the rhythm track. But as it builds to the chorus he makes it work for him in the higher register. His puppy dog earnestness works better for this song than the mournful tearfulness of Adam. Although the speed of the middle bit seems to get away from him and his breath control. He recovers well and the shouty part of his voice works well on this kind of song.
Randy: Says he should be very proud of himself since he was an amazing competitor even though the key was probably not quite right. He thinks the song fit his voice better than Adam's.
Kara: Doesn't want him to be judged on that song since the key was problematic but on the fact that he's been such a compelling artist all season.
Paula: She tells him to take it in and be proud and that this has been one of the most compelling final showdowns ever. She wishes him the best of luck.
Simon: Thinks his highlight was the first song he sang but watching him tonight has been incredible since he came so far from the audition. He sees the pride on his parents' faces and he says he deserves it and his spot on the stage.
Performance: "Home Sweet Home," Carrie Underwood. Carrie sings the Motley Crue ballad over a montage of season highlights.