The season 9 American Idol finale had a duel mission. Not only did millions of fans tune in to see if Lee DeWyze or Crystal Bowersox would be crowned the new champ (it was Lee), they also tuned in to see Simon Cowell’s final appearance as he exits American Idol.
Throughout the Idol finale, we saw clips of Simon giving harsh critiques, laughing with Paula, and just being Simon. There was a cute segment showing Ryan and Randy celebrating and fist-bumping now that Simon is gone – all in fun.
Later Dane Cook performed a parody called The Things that Simon Said. He told Simon he had “the honesty of Abe Lincoln and the charm of the man who shot him.” It was a funny bit, and several of the most criticized past contestants came out on stage, including Tamika from season one (that’s Ta-mi-ka, Simon).
I think it was intended to be a longer sketch, if not for one of the cast-offs taking the mic and refusing to relinquish control. Cut to commercial.
The Office star Ricky Gervais provided comic relief from the singing with a satellite farewell to his good buddy Simon. He joked that it was too far to travel the half-mile to the studio, and Simon wasn’t that good a friend, so he would just do it via satellite. More seriously, he called Simon the Kingmaker and wished him well.
A farewell to Simon Cowell would not be complete without ample footage of Paula Abdul. A judge for the first 8 seasons of Idol, Paula had kind (tongue-in-cheek) words for Simon accompanied by clips of their on-screen antics.
Simon was surprised when Paula then appeared on stage to bid him adieu in person. Unfortunately for Paula, her comic efforts went unanswered, as she tried joke after joke only to be greeted by chirping crickets.
Simon’s send-off included a montage of video clips with Frank Sinatra’s My Way playing in the background. What happened next was the most moving of the farewell coverage.
Starting with Kelly Clarkson singing alone, she was joined one by one, by Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, Taylor Hicks and Kris Allen. (David Cook was the only absent alum, apparently participating in a charity gold tournament in his hometown of Kansas City.)
Then the stage filled with a couple of dozen finalists from past seasons including Justin Guarini, Blake Edwards, Matt Giraud, Kimberly Caldwell, David Archuleta, and Bo Bice. Together the group sang “Together We Are One,” a fitting tribute to the man who probably had the most influence on their careers to-date. Lyrics included, “see what we’ve all become, together we are one.”
Finally, Simon took the stage for some parting words. He began with, “I didn’t think I was going to be this emotional, but I am.” Then he thanked everyone for their support, fun and sense of humor, ending his brief but heartfelt speech with, “It’s been a blast” and a hug for Ryan Seacrest.
This American Idol finale found me a little more nostalgic than most, as it also marked the end of Simon Cowell’s run as the judge everyone loves to hate.
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