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The Buzz with CCX - Season 18 Episode 16


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Welcome to the live season finale of American Idol Season 18! Right now, we've still got 7 contestants, but at the show's start, we'll be down to 5, and then unlike the past three weeks, voting will immediately open, allowing a winner to be crowned by the time the show ends at 10 PM Eastern, 7 Pacific. And, uh, then the finale will begin airing in the Pacific and Mountain time zones at 8 PM Pacific, just like it has all season. Even though the winner has already been decided by live voting. Seriously, why? I get that they originally intended to do "live voting all the way through" like they have the past two seasons, so they don't have the airtime to separate the finale from the final performance episode, but if they were originally supposed to be airing the shows at 5 PM Pacific, why can't they still do that?


Anyway, for tonight, I had part of a can of lemonade sitting open in the fridge that my mom was pushing me to finish off, so not enough to make a full drink. The vodka was the only part I actually measured out, but if I had to estimate, it's probably 25% vodka, 25% lemonade, and 50% orange juice. ...It tastes oddly like ruby red grapefruit juice. Good enough.


We get an intro set to "Come Together". Katy's off-screen, and...she's not wearing a costume! Though Ryan's quick to point out that there's still significance to her outfit; her new single, debuting later in the show, is called "Daisies", so she's wearing a daisy-print dress. Luke will be performing "One Margarita", and of course, Lionel's doing "We Are the World". Dillon is the first to be announced into the Top 5, followed by Jonny West, then Arthur Gunn, then Francisco Martin, and finally Just Sam. And voting is now open! 12 is the number for Francisco, 15 for Dillon, 16 for Arthur, 19 for Sam, and 20 for Jonny. I'm putting that in here for my own reference, because I want to wait until I've started hearing performances to vote, but that won't leave much time!


The theme for round 1 is "the song you'd celebrate with when this pandemic situation's all over". That's delightfully vague. Dillon's up first singing "Change the World" by Eric Clapton. He followed up last week's triumph with a strong first song! 86 I'd say. It says that voting will close after the second round of music...wait, what? Are we only getting two performances each, or are they so far off the deep end that there's going to be an entire round of performances after the voting closes? Francisco's up second, with "Adore You" by Harry Styles. Is this what Francisco sounded like? This sounds good, but it doesn't sound like him. It's very generically pop-rock. I enjoyed it, but it didn't "wow" me, so 78 I guess I'll go with.


Sam reminds all of us that she came from the projects of Harlem and that her grandmother always said that "people like us" don't get to have their dreams come true. She's singing "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" by Kelly Clarkson. Oh no Sam why?! I mean, this is not a bad performance at all, but outside of that week in S14 where they made an entire theme week out of her, singing a Kelly Clarkson song on Idol has never been a good idea, ever. 63; it was fine, but Sam doesn't have the pipes to take on Kelly Clarkson. Few singers do.


Extended product placement bit for Lowe's, providing the home stages. Arthur Gunn's up fourth, singing "I Don't Want To Be" by Gavin DeGraw. I'm just now realizing how poor my knowledge of the lyrics to this song are; the opening verses rhyme "son" with "one" (it sounded like Arthur sang "song" for one of the "son"s); the way DeGraw sang it, I thought it was sign/wine! This performance was generic, maybe because this song's been so played out on Idol; I give it a 58. Jonny closes out the first round with "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down" by James and Bobby Purify. Never heard of them. And frankly, I don't feel like that's a great loss; there's absolutely nothing going on here. His voice is being drowned out by the piano half the time and that's probably a good thing. The judges give him an ovation. 46. It wasn't bad, but it was just such a non-entity! The judges are giving him the full pimping, which is very bizarre.


Bobby is being useless, though he tabs Dillon as a potential winner and praises him for turning his life around. That may be the smartest thing he's ever said on this show. Dillon's doing "The Times They Are A-Changin'" by Bob Dylan, which I think Arthur did in Hawaii? Maybe it was someone else. I'm almost certain someone did it. Unless it was Dillon himself and this is a reprise round, which is certainly a possibility because I haven't heard any theme for it. Lionel says that he's "in love with the Bob Dylan version but you've turned it into a Dillon James version". Katy confirms that, yes, this is the reprise round and Dillon was the one who did it in Hawaii. 82 from me; I feel like I'm being biased for my favorite which I usually try not to do, but it's just amazing! Dillon wasn't even on my radar until last week and he's just caught my attention. Francisco's singing "Alaska" by Maggie Rogers. I quickly get my feed cutting out during it, which is disappointing because I'm loving this! It was like less than a second of missed time though. 88. Best performance of the night. This silly app keeps telling me I need to update in order to vote, and then after I fail to log in to update because I can't remember which of my passwords I'm using, it lets me vote anyway. I'm saying that now because even a perfect 100 wouldn't be able to get Sam, who was my #3 in round one, into my top two for the night. I'm voting for Dillon and Francisco. I guess only two total performances makes sense; we have 5 contestants, so we're still getting the most Finale performances ever. (By the way, we're now up to five straight finales without the same number of performances twice. Season 14 was the last of the "2 contestants, 3 songs each" years, for the same total of 6 performances as the 13 seasons that preceded it; Season 15 didn't eliminate the third place finisher until they'd already done one round, for a total of 7; Season 16 went the full 3 times 3 for a total of 9; Season 17 eliminated the third-place finisher after just two rounds, for a total of 8; and now Season 18 has a 5-person finale with two each, totalling 10.


Ryan says that this round is the song that the contestants will release if they win. So is it the reprise round or not? I guess given the circumstances, it makes sense that they'll go the Season 9 route and have the contestants release covers for their winner singles. Just Sam is doing Andra Day's "Rise Up", and it's...certainly passable, but I feel like it's been done better on this show this season. Possibly even by Just Sam--they confirm that she has done this song on the show already. 75 we'll say; I vacillated back and forth whether to put it above or below Francisco's first song, but in the end I had to give it a few points separation. Arthur's doing "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, which he's done twice on the show before, in two different arrangements. This one's closer to his Hollywood Round arrangement than his audition. Which I guess is a good thing since it means he's not just "covers the oldies"? Ryan says that it's a third arrangement. And that's why I had to go with my initial instinctive 75 for Sam even though I thought it was pretty close with Francisco's first. 77 is the score; my initial instinct was a little higher, but I far more clearly want to put it behind Francisco's first performance. I blame it on the fact that Francisco sang a Harry Styles song; there's a cap on how high I can go on that, so we've got this performance that probably deserves to be higher than it but I can't because I didn't like it as much, and then there's Sam's performance which doesn't but I might actually like it more. Against each other, it's clear that Arthur beat out Sam in Round 2, but Sam's is the one that I'm far more likely to put ahead of Francisco's Round 1 performance.


Jonny's doing his original song, "Makin' Love". Yes, it's his audition song! The only time all season that I really considered myself a Jonny West fan. I give it...an 85? I don't think it beats out the top performances from Dillon or Francisco, but it's really good. I feel like my scores ended up really bunched up. They weren't really as close as the scores say, but I'm unwilling to bump any of these performances into the 90s, nor am I willing to give a truly poor rating to any of them because they were all at least acceptable.


Ryan says that we have one minute left to vote. It's actually even less; I realized that I'd forgotten one of my three methods, and it closed on me before I could finish putting the votes together. Montage of various audition crap and other stuff...and then cutting to the news reports about corona. We're montaging the finals too! Nice. I'm glad they're not focusing entirely on the audition crap. Luke's up next with "One Margarita", because we need a drinking song right now. ...Congratulations, Luke, you've got the new worst performance of the night. 35 seems about right; this is just a ridiculous piece of pre-processed crap.


And we get another call-in to Douglas Kiker, who's going to be performing his audition song, "Bless the Broken Road", along with the original artist, Rascal Flatts! He's looking better, and sounding better too! Apparently just being on Idol is still enough to improve your life. Oh, and we get some news about a Season 17 finalist who's not Alejandro! Laci Kaye just got a recording contract.


So the "We Are The World" performance is going to be the three judges along with Idol alums Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Kellie Pickler, Katharine McPhee, Jordin Sparks, Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery, Phil Phillips, Gabby Barrett, Alejandro Aranda, Laine Hardy...and it's all going to be led by the Season 18 champion! And now we get Just Sam dueting with Lauren Daigle on "You Say". It's...uh...well, Sam's good at any rate. What's with established artists outright bombing tonight? Even Douglas, who got cut early in Hollywood, probably went about even with Rascal Flatts. Maybe Katy can break the trend with "Daisies". It's an interesting music video, at any rate. I rate this as "entirely acceptable", maybe about a 64. On pure singing, that is; the cool visual effects jack it way up.


"Shining Moments", sponsored by Lipton. Okay, at least this segment's entirely focused on the five finalists. Lipton's parent company, Unilever, is making a buttload of donations to COVID-19 research, as well as to people in the five finalists' communities. Now, Cynthia Erivo and the Season 18 Top 11 on an Aretha Franklin medley. "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)" is up first, followed by "Rock Steady". Well, that certainly explains why they used a save; they needed another soul singer for this medley. "Chain of Fools" is up third. Still, this entire medley is reminding me what an absolute travesty the Top 11 voting wasAll four of the eliminations were better than most of the Top 7! And we're getting a reveal of who the Top 2 are. The first one is Arthur Gunn. Oh, we're getting close to the end of the episode! And the other one is...Just Sam?! What? I did not see that coming. I figured Francisco had this on lockdown, and that one of the white guys was the most likely to prevent him, because hello, white guys.


And while we got some "dead audio" time (the preferred method of dealing with profanity now) after Arthur was announced for Top 2, and not when Just Sam did, we get it on her side when she's named as the winner! See, I knew that America would never allow an immigrant to win it! ...Oh, but we get the rest of the Top 11 in the performance anyway. ...Wow, Ruben looks old. And Scotty's got a full beard!

Edited by ScarletDevilCCX
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