Top 13 “Born This Way” Normally I hate the forced group number, but this wasn’t as painful as in years past. Everyone could dance enough to get by and their voices sounded good together. Plus, who was really listening? I was mesmerized by how the wardrobe department managed to capture all of their personalities in white.
Top 13 Guys: Tom Jones Medley Tom Jones? Random. But I still preferred this medley to the ladies’ because the comparison wasn’t as direct. The boys were loose and had fun with it. Of course, Casey was going to take lead on “Delilah.” Jones joined them for “It’s Not Unusual,” and really, someone should’ve invited Jack Black up onstage. He was dancing his heart out in the crowd.
James Durbin and Judas Priest: “Living After Midnight”/”Breaking the Law” I wish their mic levels had been equal, but it was great to get another close-up of Durbin’s teeth again.
Jacob Lusk, Kirk Franklin, and Gladys Knight: “I Smile” This is the kind of song that could actually get Jacob Lusk radio play.
Casey Abrams and Jack Black: “Fat Bottomed Girls” Black was definitely the most in it to win it of the celebrity collaborators, but Ryan Seacrest ruined the moment for me when he announced “Jack’s new movie Kung Fu Panda 2 comes out tomorrow” while the audience was still clapping.
Haley Reinhart and Tony Bennett: “Steppin’ Out With My Baby” For me, the best contestant vocals of the night. She opened her mouth, and I realized how much I’d missed her tone. And their dance break? Adorable.
Top 13 Girls Whose Names You Can’t Remember, TLC, and Lil’ Jon: TLC Medley Honestly, this make me feel as uncomfortable as T-Boz looked when it was over.
Scotty McCreery and Tim McGraw: “Live Like You’re Dying” There is nothing quite like a shot of Tim McGraw standing in the spotlight on a dark stage. I was worried we weren’t going get a butt shot, but they just made us wait a bit before delivering it. (Classy!) Singing alongside McGraw, you had to acknowledge that McCreery has a solid country voice, even if his stage moves are still a bit awkward.
Lauren Alaina and Carrie Underwood: “Before He Cheats”: Like McGraw, Underwood didn’t work the stage as hard as she usually does out of respect for the finalist. Carrie wanted Lauren to bring it, but although she sounded good, she seemed too timid in the end. All we’ll remember is Carrie’s last note.
Marc Anthony, Sheila E, and Jennifer Lopez: “Aguanile” Okay, so perhaps you were thinking, “Was this in Jennifer Lopez’s contract?” But the man sounded great, the band was tight, and Lopez’ ass shake was probably the finale’s most rewound moment.
Lady Gaga: “The Edge of Glory” Of course she sounded incredible and jumped off her rock mountain at the end. What I wasn’t expecting: That built-in keyboard!
Bono, The Edge, and Broadway’s Spider-Man Reeve Carney: “Rise Above”: No one was injured. The song was great. Good PR crisis management.
Beyoncé: “1 + 1” It’s nice that the showstopper on the final night of a singing competition did it with its vocals.
Steven Tyler: “Dream On” I love that his falsetto got the wildest standing ovation of the night. You wanted him to still kick ass, and he did. Take that, Durbin!
Scotty McCreery: “I Love You This Big” It’s unfair to judge him really. But do it!