Before we write any words about the American Idol finale, let’s just get this out on the table:
You don’t care who won American Idol last night. It was Caleb Johnson. Who? you ask. Don’t worry about it, we answer. You’ll probably never hear from him again, unless Paul Stanley chokes on an eyeliner pencil and Caleb takes his rightful place in KISS.
And that’s OK. You bailed on Idol long ago. We hung on a little longer, because we sometimes have a hard time letting go. Honestly, we only made it halfway through a semi-promising-seeming season before the old feelings of dread and futility and apathy set in, the feelings that the outcome wouldn’t matter at all, the feelings of singing competition déjà vu — the same ones you can see in Randy Jackson’s eyes every time he’s on camera, The Dawg is bored, yo — that could not be dispelled even by Harry Connick Jr.’s fresh energy and pathological commitment to explaining technical minutiae hilariously incomprehensible to the amateurs warbling, hopelessly in and out of tune, before him.
And now we bring you the best moment from last night. The only important moment, really.
The moment when Ryan Seacrest sang a duet with Richard Marx.
However many hours we threw away on Season XIII out of weird commitment, out of sad habit, were immediately redeemed in those precious two minutes of Ryan smiling like a big old dummy as he murdered music — not with evil in his heart, only joy — and jumped in a Steinway-shaped getaway car driven by expert wheelman Richard Marx.
Ryan is right there waiting for us, always. Even if we decide never to return to Idol again, the way we do after every finale, we mean it this time. He’ll be there, arms open, ready to welcome us back. There’s comfort in that. The Dawg will probably be there, too, because they leave the gate open after every season, but he just stands there in the yard, unable to run to freedom. We all do, really.
If you placed a gun to our heads and forced us to select a second-best moment from last night’s big finish, it would be this:
This is easily the best singing of Jennifer Lopez’s career. Who knew she had it in her? We certainly didn’t. If she were to announce she was doing an all-covers tour backed by the Judges’ Table All-Star band, would we buy tickets? Maybe not, but we’d at least pull up the Ticketmaster page and think about it for a minute. We’d maybe even get as far as the LUH U POPPY captcha.
And, lastly, if you placed the point of a knife against our heart — not with the intent to draw blood, but still firmly enough to make a small indentation in the skin to let us know that you mean business — and demanded that we select a third-best moment from the finale you don’t care about, OK, that’s starting to hurt now, we’d pick this one:
We’re happy for Caleb. He’s an immensely talented practitioner of a dying art, an origami master off by himself in the corner, folding exquisite paper cranes in a PDF world, fulfilled enough by his razor-sharp creases, the perfect bend of flightless wings.
You can almost see him praying for Stanley’s death. You can’t begrudge him that. There’s Gene Simmons hovering beside him, a demon grandpa watching with his always-practical eye, doing the math, wondering how he’s going to get that grease pencil into the decrepit Starchild’s trachea and clear the way for some youth to reinvigorate the brand. The kid could move so many kaskets. So many.
See you next year, Idol. Maybe. Definitely.
Ryan’s right there waiting for us. We know.