Long Long Road
American Idol 4: Finale

Eeeeee! This is it, baby! Sleazebag hops onto the dais of the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood wearing a skimpy cheerleader outfit and waves the pink pom-poms around as he squeals that he is going to take everybody to a better place. Okay, he is actually dressed very sharply in black jacket and dark purplish shirt, minus a tie - kinda like Evening Out Ken, really - and he talks like he's hosting the Miss Universe event. Of course, as we shall soon see, with the songs they are making Bo and Cattle sing, this may very well be a Miss Universe show, only with all the pageant contestants suffering from a deadly virus that causes them to sound like choking pigs whenever they grab the microphone. The light comes on one at a time, illuminating the screaming audience to his right, then the audience to his left, as if to prove that this show is at least telling the truth about the number of people in the audience, if not the number of votes that came in for Bo and Cattle. Sleazebag says that 40 million people control the "destinies" of the Two, so what are we waiting for? Let's go destroy someone's destiny today! Credits please.

Back to the Kodak Theatre, the doors on the stage open to admit Ryan "Can't Hold A Candle To Me" Sleazebag. The cameraman zooms wildly around the theatre, showing me all those people that are screaming and cheering and holding signs, people who have spent so many months overidentifying with the contestants to the point that they start imagining that Cattle, Bo, Vonzell, Trachea Boi, and Conty Bint are their best friends. These people would be so devastated when they learn that all those times when they use their image editors to come up with Cattle-Bo or Cattle-Trachea Boi or Bo-Vonzell blends, the contestants don't care to read their declarations of love. Never mind, dearies, listen to King Tut: you can soothe your pain and delve deeper into your delusions by buying seventy copies of the souvenir singles and attending every one of the tour concerts later next month.

Sleazie welcomes everyone to the show and insists that this finale is the most talked-about finale of all the TV shows in the TV season. Yeah, we are talking about those times when Corey and Miss Paula do it while hanging from the chandeliers. Good times. Sleazie announces that there are 3,000 "hyped-up hopped-up" people in the audience. I have to ask Miss Paula what "hyped-up hopped-up" means. Sleazie then asks the audience who will be the next American Idol. A couple of really delusional girls scream "Conty Bint!" but they are soon mercifully drowned out by cries of "Bo!" and "Cattle!". Sleazebag then says that it seems that the audience is "close" when it comes to the division between real Bo fans and imaginary Cattle fans and announces that the judges are here to help the audience choose. "Help the audience choose", huh? This show isn't even going to pretend otherwise, is it? Anyway, let's meet Randy "Please Don't Shoot My Dawg" Randy! Charmaine Miss "Anemic, Bullimic, But At Least She Loves Her Male Idols" Paula! King "I Am Wearing A Suit Jacket Over My T-shirt" Tut! Sleazebag then reminds people that Bo will be competing against Cattle tonight, which makes this Two a male-versus-female event never seen since Kewpie and Ruben, er, I mean Kelly and Justin. Sleazie wonders whether there would be a From Bo To Cattle movie coming out of this and hopes not. But with all those rumors flying around involving Cattle and her ex Dave and Trachea Boi and Bo and King Tut and Uncle Nigel and Uncle Ken, including that tasteful Enquirer cover story, I'm sure the show is really praying real hard that a home video of that kind, at least, will not come out from this event. Sleazie also announces that at the end of tonight's show, each of the Two will have three phone lines so that people can vote for four hours straight.

But first, let's enjoy the choreographed flashback scene where Ryan Sleazebag attempts to toss the coin to determine whether Cattle or Bo would go first tonight. Sleazie shows the coin - it has Cattle's picture on one side and Bo's on the other. He then flips the coin and it falls through a grating conveniently located on the stage. He pretends that his weedy arms can't pry open the grating. Bo comes over to try as Sleazie makes a face and runs away, Cattle comes closer to see what the fuss is about, and even the guys from the band come over too. After all that fuss is done with, Sleazie now produces a new coin. He doesn't show the coin to TV and you know why? I bet that's because it's a double-sided Cattle coin, that's why! Hah! Busted, Sleazie! How many mascaras did Cattle promise you for your part in this treachery? Cattle gets to decide who go first and she wants Bo to go first.

Bo kicks off the show with a song "written for him" (read: randomly dredged out from the slush pile) called Long Long Road. Listening to this wretched song is one of those reasons why I am so happy when he doesn't win the wretched title, I tell you, because what the hell is this crap? The crappy song is a muddled MOR garbage that has no hook, a weak melody, and worst of all, it's a song about Bo wanting to go home. "Come on and set me free!" he sings and I literally cringe at that. I don't know how Bo can salvage this song. His performance is solid even if he looks deadly pale (I believe that he is suffering from food poisoning at that time) and while he starts off rather shaky - as if he can't believe he is singing this nonsense - he finishes the performance with a strong, emotional crescendo.

Because the judges keep insisting that somehow the contestants magically compose their wretched "original songs" for the finale, Randy Randy pans the song, as if Bo has anything to do with the song in the first place. I get really annoyed when King Tut did the same with Piggy Di Guano in the last season and I am no less annoyed when Randy Randy lashes out at Bo for something that he should be sitting on the songwriter's face for. Anyway, Randy Randy hates the song but says that Bo "brought it home" in the end. Miss Paula tells Bo that she told him that he would be in the finals and here he is. She thinks he sounded great. King Tut slams Bo for singing a "dreary song". I have nothing to say. Maybe next time the show should get the judges to compose the songs for the Two. Right now it is ridiculous how the judges want to pretend as if they have no idea that the Two never have any say in the "original songs" they have to sing, as if this will in any way lend any credibility to their judging. Sometimes I really, really hate this show.

Cattle now comes out to perform another "original" song, Inside Your Heaven, which is later revealed to be the coronation song. I must hand it to the songwriting monkeys this season: they manage to make I Believe sound really, really good. What is this song about anyway? Sex? Filled with faux sentimentalism and predictable glory note moments, this song has Cattle singing about wanting to be inside someone's heaven, a heaven where this person "cries from", a heaven where there is also a "soothing wind". A crying heaven that blows wind, huh? ("Sounds like a Conty Bint affliction," says hubby with a shudder.) That sounds like a nice place to be, if I may say so. I really laugh when Cattle botches the glory note before the final chorus because she sounds asphyxiated at that moment. Like I was with Bo's performance, I don't know how she can make this song work even with help of a sleepwalking choir. It's truly a horrible song.

Randy Randy once more plays the "I hate your song" card because dawg, Cattle composed the song herself when she was having the worst PMS of her life, hence the lines about her wanting some soothing wind to stop the tears leaking from her heaven. Bad Cattle! Next time write about Trachea Boi's long road instead! Randy Randy also says that despite the choir getting "a workout", Cattle failed to connect with the audience. Still, Randy Randy says that Cattle also "brought it home" at the end and concludes that she and Bo are tied after this round. Miss Paula congratulates Cattle for her dream coming true and says that while Cattle has some bad notes in her performance, she doesn't think we should all care for that as we love her regardless. How... shockingly wise, really. King Tut, thinking fondly of Cattle's crying heaven, says that Cattle is obviously nervous on that stage and asks her to pace herself vocally. He says that Cattle has won this round. And in the audience, Trachea Boi is on his feet, clapping and smiling like an albino troll enraptured with Cattle. How sweet of him. I hope he stays strong when she moves to better things in LA while he has to stay at home and wait tables.

In the next round, the Two will each reprise his or her favorite performance throughout the season. Bo steps out with Ides of March's Vehicle. The stupid band is threatening to drown him out so Bo has to put some extra strain in his voice to be heard. The result is a strong performance that nonetheless sounds a little rough on the ears due to Bo having to make himself heard, sometimes at the expense of the melody. The judges generally agree that the "old" Bo is back. And you know why he's back? Because he's not singing some ten-cent song about long roads!

Cattle now steps out to perform her idol Martina McBride's Independence Day and she is... ouch, completely off when it comes to her pitching. To give her credit, she manages to cobble together a listenable performance. Just don't look at her though because she is smiling vapidly when she's singing about surviving broken homes and abuse. She's such a fine singer but such a lifeless performer. I guess one can argue that it doesn't matter as long as she gets to sound good on a CD, which is fair enough, but shouldn't a pop star - which is what this show is looking for - knows how to command the stage? She has to throw concerts to please her overlords after the show, after all. Maybe some dance classes are in order. Randy Randy and Miss Paula love the performance but King Tut thinks the performance sounded "strained" and adds that he would have chosen to reprise Crying if he was in her pants, oops, shoes. He gives this round to Bo.

Hey, is that Colin Farrell in the audience? He's doing some "And this is how big my penis is compared to King Tut's" gestures with his hands. What is he doing here? I know Alexander didn't do too well in the box-office, but that didn't affect his career so drastically that he had to attend this show to get camera time, surely?

Sleazebag says that the show is now moving into its most "pivotal round" because the Two have one more chance only to impress the audience. Bo comes out to perform his version of Inside Your Heaven. In Bo's hand, the song turns into something delightfully obscene. He is blessed and he feels his "revelation" coming when he's inside my amazing crying heaven. Why not? When it comes to Bo, every woman's heaven cries, I tell you. That is, unless you're a Conty Bint fan. Anyway, back to Bo. Oh yes, there's his, um, soothing wind filling my heaven! Yes, I'm crying, Bo, I'm crying! Yes, the storm is blowing us away! Away! Y-eee-eee-es!

Phew. I think I need a moment to compose myself.

To me, Bo did something I thought impossible with this indescribably horrid song: he made it magical. Sure, it's still cheesy, but his manly timbre manages to sound simultaneously tender and seductive in this song. His experience on stage is obvious because he can salvage with a song that is not written for him but for someone who can belt out the glory notes (read: Cattle) by working the cameras the best he can while adapting some of the glory note parts into fitting his vocal range. This show doesn't want him to win and it is so obvious at sabotaging him ala Justin Guarini with A Moment Like This that I would have laughed if I'm not so dismayed at the proceedings.

Randy Randy says what I am thinking, momentarily disconcerting me, when he tells Bo that Bo made him love that song. Miss Paula announces that she is in love with that song and commends Bo for "moving outside" his usual range. As if he has any choice in the matter, really! King Tut says that this is his last opportunity to say what he wants to say so he may as well say it now. He thanks Bo for being on the show and says that it has been "an absolute pleasure" for the show to have him on.

While some people view this statement as a brush-off, I personally feel that it is a classy thing to tell Bo. Bo may or may not be an exceptional rocker in the "real" music industry outside this show, but within the context of this show, Bo brought some much-needed change to the audience's way of thinking. Bo tells the audience that it is okay to like something other than typical Whitney-esque ballads and he makes these people love him when they normally won't listen to Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers. He draws fans of rock groups who are willing to embrace Bo into watching the show. Heck, even members of Anthrax start showing up in the audience to support Bo. Anthrax, people. Like Fantasia, Bo manages to get the media and the audience to look at the show in a wider context, one that isn't just limited to Whitney Houston impersonators. Fantasia and Bo help the show make inroads, no matter how slowly, into gaining acceptance from the "real" music and entertainment industry. Even if King Tut is not sincere in his statement to Bo, it is a nice thing to tell Bo as he deserves some acknowledgement for what he did for the show.

Sleazebag and Bo share some moment together where Bo says that he misses playing his guitar and he looks foward to doing so in the upcoming tour.

Speaking of people who won't be giving this show any credibility any time soon, here comes Cattle. While Bo is stuck with a song about wanting to be set free, Cattle is given the song Angels Brought Me Here, which you may or may not recall is the first Australian Idol winner Gargoyle Sebastian's coronation song. Let me get this straight: they give Bo a reject piece of fluff but they give Cattle a proven crowd-pleaser. Oh no, this show doesn't want Cattle to win, I can see that now, this show is all about fairness. Up yours, 19E. Also I never imagine I'll be saying this but Cattle's performance of this song makes me appreciate Gargoyle's so much more, just like how a gunshot wound can make me think a little fondly of that minor bruise in the head that I had a few months ago. When she is not flat, she is piercingly sharp to the point that she can open a meat processing plant powered by her voice. While Bo is trying his best to give his performance of a crappy song some much needed character, Cattle is singing mechanically in a "One, two, sing... three, four, glory note... five, six, sing..." manner. That final glory note is especially hideous. Here's what I don't understand. Piggy Di Guano from the last season has ten times the star power of Cattle and her voice is nearly as good. So why is this show crowning Cattle Underwood as Miss American Idol from Day One and mistreating Piggy so badly?

Randy Randy, whose idea of a musical masterpiece is a ten-minute glory note, gives Cattle a standing ovation while Miss Paula goes into bizarro mode with her "What you've been able to accomplish in the last six months is a lifetime of achievements! Nothing will be more scary in your life! You've done it!" King Tut says that Cattle has a "lot of guts" competing against " someone who's older and has more experience" but he believes that her emotions "showed" in the performance. "I think you've done enough to win this competition," he tells her.

Okay, rant time. I am too angry not to let this BS pass. Since when is Cattle an "inexperienced" performer? Cattle's website, which her people quickly pulled down when she came on to the show, is preserved in all its glory at the Internet Archiver website. See here for confirmation that this website is really hers and here for her list of achievements. Let me quote: "...started singing in public when she was a small child and made her first studio recording at age 13... is now an experienced stage performer and has logged many hours performing on the road and in numerous recording studios." How about this one? "...has performed at numerous festivals and various other shows in Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, and Tennessee and has been the opening act for Diamond Rio, The Wilkinson's, Exile, and Earl Thomas Conley... travels with her seven piece, high energy band, The Star Rise Band, in which each member also performs various types of music, from the 60's Rock and Roll to current Country hits." Oh, and one more: "...has done several recordings in Nashville with Chuck Howard and John Guess. She had recorded songs that were written by Beth Neilson Chapman and others that were given to her to record by the publishers Jason Houser, Willis Jones and Island Bound."

I am willing to be amused and to play along when Cattle pretends that she is this simple farmgirl who has never left Oklahoma or been on a plane, but I am no longer amused when this deception is used as a means to crown Cattle as a "worthy winner". Cattle is just as experienced as Bo - she has been in the recording studio since she was thirteen, after all! I don't know if the show producers abet her in this deception, but it seems most likely to be the case. This is why I am not impressed with Cattle Underwood's victory even if she is, in my opinion, a talented singer. This whole season reeks of cynicism and manipulation. I won't go as far as some people who claim that the show recruited Cattle to come onboard as a contestant, but something doesn't feel right about the coronation of Cattle Underwood.

Back to the show, Cattle tells Sleazebeag how "excited" she is to have come this far and she can't wait to perform with the Rascal Flatts tomorrow as she "loves" them. At least she's more eloquent than Ruben, I suppose.

Sleazebag reminds everyone to vote and recaps the show. He then stands with the Two on the dais and says that he can't believe that the "long journey" is almost over. The show then has the Freiheit's Keep The Dream Alive playing over a montage of clips of the losers as well as finalists, which is basically a recap of the whole season, including self-congratulatory and even masturbatory mentions of their self-generated scandals like that "We Messed Up The Phone Numbers, Call The Press" incident. I can give a blow-by-blow account of the clip, I suppose, but this recap is already long enough as it is without me having to describe every filler moment that is meaningless to anyone who hasn't watched the show. So if you'll excuse me, I'll just move on to more relevant moments on the show. I must say though, I'm actually more excited about seeing the likes of Lil' Ow Ow, Faith "OH! MY! GOD!" Greenwood, and Daron "Opera Goth of New Orleans" Beck than any other moment in the entire show.

Sleazebag now asks the judges what they think about the Final Two, as if they haven't already crowned Cattle Underwood as the winner since she walked in the door on day one and they decide that she will do good pretending to be an innocent farmgirl to win the hearts of the red state electorate. As if they still have any shot of credibility to comment on this show. Randy Randy says the same "best ever" nonsense that he says every season, Miss Paula bluffs the Two about the long career that they will most likely never have, and King Tut thanks everyone for listening to him. Yes, when Cattle Underwood is crowned the winner and his ego is once more assuaged, thank you America for listening to him.

Sleazebag now says that the phone lines are open and everyone can now vote. With that, he's done.

Results show. The bad news is, it's two hours long, which means there will be one hour and fifty nine minutes of filler moments. The good news is, the show at least does not reprise the horrifically bloated and pretentious "We're at the Oscars" scenario of the finale of last season. There is no nonsensical red carpet walk - only funny ones - no stage shows, nothing. Just Sleazebag surrounded by light like he's about to be teleported up into an UFO (nice thought, that) babbling about a winner being crowned tonight before we go over to the credits and then, wham!

The ten finalists minus Bo and Cattle appear on stage, in all sorts of white from Demure White to Skanky Mikalah Prostitute White, launching into a Beach Boys medley. Kicking things off is Fun, Fun, Fun ('Til Her Daddy Takes The T-Bird Away), on to Ape Boy's surprisingly cute falsetto leading off Barbara Ann, followed by Mikalah and Lindsey going off-key like nobody's business as they lead off In My Room (Vonzell is off-key as well but next to these ladies, she sounds divine). The lads take the lead in Surfer Girl and this is the best moment of the medley because these people aren't trying to sing in harmony. Conty Bint leads off I Get Around because he has, after all, been around the block. I hate to say this but Conty Bint, I've missed you. They all try to harmonize again (badly) in Good Vibrations. The solo parts aren't bad in this performance but the harmonies are non-existent and therefore the group moments are painful to listen to.

Sleazebag announces that there will be performances later on by Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Benson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Kenny G, Billy Preston, Babyface, and Rascal Flatts so I should stay tuned. Kenny Wayne Shepherd isn't dead from an overdose yet? Hmm, maybe I'll stick around after all. Sleazebag now says that the "house" is packed with "celebrities whose shows Fox has cancelled". Heh. Sometimes I really like Sleazebag when he's being so bitchy like that. The show wanted to look for someone "with class", Sleazie says, to interview these celebrities, someone with "experience" and "charm". Alas, they can't find anyone so they have to use the services of Mikalah instead. What follows is a truly hilarious moment where Mikalah takes the opportunity to mug for the cameras and make the whole event all about her. She interviews Kirstie Alley (dressed up in one of those Bo-like outfits to show her support for Bo, if you'd believe some of Bo's fans), Miss Paula, and King Tut but she never gives them a chance to talk. Marg Helgenberger is going to get into trouble with CBS when she gets home but for now, she tells Mikalah that she's all for Bo. Mikalah and Conty Bint make faces to the camera together. Mikalah then hugs Bo and Cattle and says that the world can't get enough of her. I know, she can be obnoxious and she can't hold a tune to save her life, but I marvel at her apparent limitless self-confidence to hold herself in the spotlight like that. I believe that I like Mikalah because a part of me remembers that I'd love to be someone like her when I was a little girl. I think I can sing better than her though.

Back to the show, Sleazebag says that this season has been the "biggest" and "the best" ever. To prove it, the show launches into the millionth clip show of this season, showing yet again the losers and especially the losers. This show seems to be perpetually confused as to whether it wants the world to view it as a genuine talent show or a travesty featuring tone-deaf delusional losers. With that done with, now it's time for Sleazie to peek into Bo's dressing room.

Bo is seated in a disappointingly normal dressing room, apart from this big sign beside the TV screen that has "Alabama" all crossed out. I don't know what that means, really. Bo tells Sleazie that he wants to have fun on the show. I'm sure he will. The TV screen comes alive and the two men look right into the gaping maw of Latoya London as she takes the audience to the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex where there are all those people holding signs declaring their love for Bo and how when they play Kewpie's Measure Of A Man backwards, they hear Kewpie telling them to vote for Bo. Latoya is wearing a tiara that people sell for next to nothing in garage sales because they just want to get rid of that ugly thing and has a pink feather boa thingie around her neck. Bo recognizes the pastor among the crowd (he's the one with the halo) and chuckles to himself because he can only imagine what the pastor will think when Bo goes to confessional after his weekend party with Paris Hilton.

Latoya slurs in what she hopes to be a "Southern accent" but it's more like a "drunkard's accent", really, which is the only thing that saves her NAACP card from being permanently revoked, saying that she is treated like "Southern royalty" in Alabama. Whatever, Latoya. Just stay sober enough to flee when they bring out the ropes and the torches. Just kidding, Alabamans! Latoya is standing with Beth Chapman, the representative for Governor Bob Riley (he's probably busy buying a new pair of shoes) and announces that today in Alabama is now "Bo Brice Day". Bo Brice? Still, "meet me on Bo Day" has a nice ring to it, I must say. What's hilarious is that the communication system is whacked because Latoya can't hear what Sleazie is trying to tell her. She goes, "What? What?" in that sharp manner that has me laughing hard. Latoya gives up trying to hear Sleazie and instead shrieks drunkenly to the camera that she's going to be "clobbered" by the end of the day and tells Bo to "go, go, go". Oh, Latoya, I know you went out in fourth place in the previous season but do you have to become an alcoholic to dull the bitterness? Sleazebag tells Latoya that he has the same outfit as hers at home. I'd bet. In fact, I bet he's wearing a pair of pink thong with feathered sequins sewn on them right now under his pants.

Back to Bo, he now takes the stage to perform Vehicle. I'd prefer to see him perform another song but hey, I guess he doesn't have time to learn a new song, I suppose. He sounds much better today and the orchestra is at a more tolerable volume, so Bo has the free rein to bring down the house here. This is one of those "I think I just had Bo's baby watching him on stage" moments and the crowd goes wild. It looks like BoHos and Bice Squad peeps are packing the Kodak Theatre today. The Carebears are probably at home because their parents forbid them to stay out that late.

Sleazebag says that "these people" think that Cattle has won the show - who are these people, come out, come out so that I can shove a Gaygoyle Sebastian CD down your throats - so he will now go see Cattle and, er, go see Cattle. Cattle's dressing room is deliberately girlish with flowers and doilies and what-not because I am supposed to remember that she has never left the farm, she is a virgin, and she is sweet - traits that count when it comes to choosing the new American Idol. Sleazie asks Cattle whether she slept well last night. If you can remember the finale of the last season, you may remember that Sleazie asked this very same question to Piggy Di Guano. Something tells me that Sleazie isn't very creative as an interviewer. Cattle answers that she couldn't sleep a wink because she was in a torrid orgy with the two Uncles Nigel and Ken. No, seriously, what do you think she says in response to such a banal question? She says that she "kept waking up last night". Um, yeah, the jokes write themselves sometimes. The TV screen comes to life and out comes Fatt Gross Bowel, sporting a shockingly fake tan, very red blush on each cheek, and a costume so tacky that he can only visit a gay bar back in the 1960s in order not to get laughed out of town. Fatt is in the Muskogee Civic Center just outside Checotah with 5,000 folks cheering Cattle on. Sleazie tells Cattle that she has "an unbelievable impact" on people. Keep saying that, Sleazie, and one day people may finally believe that.

Cattle laughs at a sign on TV that says "Marry me Cattle!" while Fatt goes on and on about something being unbelievable. He brings on "the First Lady" Kim Henry (what, did Oklahoma secede while I'm not looking?) whom he describes as "less crazy and more conservative" compared to the ladies in the crowd. Oh my gosh, is he saying that a lady held up that sign asking Cattle to marry her? How shocking! Checotah is being overrun by lesbians! Fatt Gross Bowel asks the conservative non-insane First Lady Kim Henry on what Oklahoma will gain Cattle wins the title. Er, nothing, I suppose? The First Lady of Conservative Non-Crazies says that Cattle is very talented and therefore will win, which doesn't answer Fatt's question but hey, who cares, right? And Fatt Gross Bowel tells her, "Absolutely!" He then jumps up and down and asks the First Lady whether she will get crazy with him when Cattle wins. Ah, so that's why he is dressed up like a piece of pink flaming fruit! He hopes to appeal to the sensibilities of these lesbian fans of Checotah. Sleazebag tells Cattle that he can't believe that Fatt Gross Bowel is "hitting on" the First Lady of Oklahoma. He also can't believe that Fatt is using a tanning bed. Or rather, someone else's tanning bed because Sleazie always believed that Fatt will come to him for tanning purposes. That hussy! That... that... hussy!

Cattle now comes on stage to sing Angels Brought Me Here, to remind people that if they have doubts about the legitimacy of her win, they should shut up because look, the angels brought her here. It's a miracle that she wins, y'all, so shut up and buy her CD today! She sounds better this time compared to yesterday. I guess she and Bo must have found a really good doctor between yesterday and today. Because she is now a pop star, she also tries to inject some stage presence, by which I mean she does this weird series of half-squat motions that people with constipation problems may want to try out some time. The choir comes out to increase the volume as she beseeches people to have faith that "it will be clear" that divine intervention helps her become the new American Idol. Yes, Cattle, angels brought you here. It's too back that they didn't leave her here. She then says "Thank you!" after the performance because she knows that she has won. Because of angels, of course.

Sleazie now heads over to talk to the judges and promises that there will be some "shocking truths" to be discovered about King Tut later on in the show. As he pauses to molest a guard, the guard tells him that "it's so on". I'm afraid to ask. Sleazie enters Randy Randy's dressing room and makes fun of Randy Randy's pink laced boots before asking Randy Randy of his opinion on who will win the competition. Randy Randy gives this well-rehearsed speech about how he saw the results and therefore knew that Cattle must win so he will make up some half-arsed excuse as to how Cattle supposedly outperformed Bo last night. By this, Randy Randy says that Cattle should win because she finally connected with the audience with her last song. Yes, Bo connected with the audience all season but Cattle should win because she finally (supposedly) connected with the audience in one freaking performance. For someone who has been praising Bo all season, Randy Randy is too happy to turn on Bo just so that he can make the "right" guess on the winner on TV. But who does he think he is fooling anyway?

Sleazie now asks Randy Randy about this "relationship" between Miss Paula and King Tut, as if these two have any relationship that exist without liberal amounts of alcohol. Randy Randy gives some truly lame answer of how those two fight and then make-up, which is the cue for Sleazie to introduce a lame montage of clips involving Angry Miss Paula and that dream sequence from the Season Two finale where Miss Paula and King Tut kissed. Frankly, the clip only proves that Miss Paula is on drugs rather than being on King Tut, if you know what I mean. After the clip is over, Sleazie is now in Miss Paula's room where the only thing she apparently has to say is that King Tut is like a fungus, he has a big ego, and she hates that dream sequence clip. Which is why the show keeps playing it, by the way, because it wants to torture Miss Paula as much as possible. One thing I must give Miss Paula credit for, though: unlike Randy Randy who sells Bo out and King Tut who cuts Bo down with lies whenever he has the opportunity, Miss Paula at least has the guts to stick with her Bo love in public. Sometimes when Miss Paula irritates the heck out of me, I remember that she chose Trenyce as a Wild Card contestant in Season Two and she stood up for Bo when the two judges try to pull him down to prop themselves and Cattle Underwood up. Miss Paula then doesn't seem that bad after all.

Sleazie now says that it's time for a commercial break but people should stay tuned for performances by Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Benson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Kenny G, Billy Preston, Babyface, and Rascal Flatts. He says these names in the exact same order as previously so I suspect that he must have taken some time before the show began to memorize these names. He probably thinks that Kenny Wayne Shepherd is the newest guy in his favorite hair salon. The show now cuts to a Ford clip, which is a montage of all the previous Ford clips of this season, played over the Twelve's rendition of Gloria Estefan's Reach.

Sleazie is now with King Tut in the man's dressing room. Eager to give the show as much Manlove Moments that has been seriously missing the whole season, Sleazie messes with King Tut's exposed chest (seriously!) as he tells King Tut that the camera is on them and he should try to behave. King Tut declares that Cattle Underwood has been his pick to win since day one. He's a smart one. I mean, his pick since day one has won the show for four seasons in a row now! Sometimes I feel like everyone in this show is not-too-subtly announcing the fact that they manipulate the show to hell and back and daring people to call them on it. And sometimes, I admire their temerity, especially when King Tut can say with a straight face that he rewatched the show and believes now that Cattle is better than Bo because Bo was "uncomfortable" on stage as it was a "new location". He must really be daring the audience to call him on to the fact that he is full of nonsense, just like how he enjoys knowing that nobody ever will, at least not until the show is cancelled and someone does a True Story style exposť on the show. King Tut then says that Cattle "forged a relationship" with the audience.

Those two then discuss Fatt Gross Bowel where King Tut deliberately makes Sleazie jealous by saying that Fatt is funny in an unscripted manner. Sleazie all but seethes that he doesn't want Fatt back on the show to steal his thunder. The TV screen in King Tut's dressing room comes on to show Latoya babbling and generally making a total fool of herself. King Tut tells Sleazie that Latoya is "definitely" drunk. Latoya then holds up a kid who is nine. The kid asks King Tut, haltingly because his mother made him memorize the question, why King Tut uses "reverse psychology" on the audience. Everyone around the kid cheers loudly so King Tut has to repeat his answer twice ("I don't use reverse psychology!") before he is heard. And then the TV screen cuts to Fatt Gross Bowel. Sleazie sniggeringly asks King Tut to watch out for Fatt's tan and pants. Fatt says that he is trying to look like King Tut and then interviews "Paw Paw", Cattle's grandfather who looks like he's at least ten years overdue for taxidermy. Fatt asks Paw Paw what it feels to have women throwing themselves at him now that his granddaughter is a star. Paw Paw says that he loves all women. I'm sure he loves his Viagra stash more. Fatt then holds up "Cattle's youngest fan", a cute beagle doggie of Cattle who will probably never see her again because she will be marrying Trachea Boi next week, or so I hear from those webforums devoted to "Clanthony" that are frequented by prepubescent girls.

Sleazie now says that King Tut may be emotionless but some wannabes sure aren't. Cue another clip show, this time featurung Regina "I pawned my wedding rings to get here - BOOHOOHOO!" Brooks, Mark "I Throw Myself At A Wall Because I Couldn't Make It To Hollywood" Scroggins, and one Mrs Clark who fainted when her son got through to Hollywood. Oh yes, when there's nothing else to fill the dead airtime, always bring out the crazies. Now Randy Randy and Miss Paula have joined the two men in King Tut's dressing room and they force King Tut to stay put while Sleazie now adjusts King Tut's collar for him. Blah blah blah stay tuned after the break.

Now, Sleazebag says that the show has finally begun. First, they have to play clips of Leandra Jackson's merciless mangling of the national anthem even when they have played that clip ten thousand times during the bad audition episodes. And then out comes the dolled-up and glamorous Leandra on stage to sing The Star Spangled Banner, well, a little better in the way that a bullet through the thigh is better than a bullet between the eyes, and the poor dear is smiling happily as everyone stands up and gives her the most condescending and patronizing standing ovation in the history of BS standing ovations. Because it is now not only amusing to put a bad singer on stage as the main freakshow attraction, it is even better to have the freakshow butcher the national anthem while she's at it. If this is the show's way of striking a blow against Uncle Sam, I don't think it's working because I'm sure even the terrorists who catches Leandra in action will be moved to call up the White House and ask whether they should kidnap Leandra for free and sell her off to some sheikh in the UAE. The profits will of course be shared with Dubby.

When Leandra is done, she is all but pushed off the stage. Off with you, fat cow, now get lost as the credits roll once more. Although if it's up to me, I'd be embarrassed to play the credits after Leandra's performance because I have dignity. This show has none, obviously.

Hello, Sleazebag. He is pretending to laugh over Leandra's embarrassing performance and after introducing the judges, says that the competition has pitted Bo and Cattle against each other so now it's time that it "puts" those two "together". Like Tab A going into Slot B? Oo-er! Thankfully, no. Those two will perform a duet together, playing Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes in the duet Up Where We Belong. They sing well in their solo parts, but Cattle and Bo do not harmonize well, just like how nearly every one of the Twelve seems incapable of harmonizing with other people. Cattle oversings a little, injecting more melisma into her riffs than necessary, but otherwise, she's pretty good. Bo's pants are so shiny. Sorry, I have to say that.

After the duet, Sleazie announces that the both of them have won a shiny brand-new red Mustang each. He holds up the car keys and Cattle asks whether she can take both keys. Sleazie tells her no. What a selfish man! Is that a way to treat the Chosen Princess of the show? Bo takes his key and ask whether anyone wants a ride. Half the women in America faint from excitement and the other half clutch at their rosary and decide that Cattle is indeed the right choice to make because she is so pure, so shiny, so innocent, so angelic, ooh. Cattle grabs her key and tells her mother in the audience that Mom can't have the car. I have this feeling that in a few years' time, she will be pulling a LeAnn Rimes on everyone and starts suing her parents for mismanaging her career and embezzling her money.

Now, Sleazie launches into the "Boy versus Girl" clip, saying that this competition has a "farmgirl" competing with a "rocker". First, a clip of Bo, featuring mostly clips from his homecoming tour where he is treated like the new Buddy Christ of Alabama. There is this beautiful still image of him looking contemplatively outside the car window as sunshine streams onto his face and highlights his handsome face. And then it's Cattle's clip, which is telling in just how many pre-show made "farmgirl" pimp moments they have made with Cattle. Cattle with her animals! Cattle singing Independence Day while wandering around her farm! Does the show have any pre-show made pimp clips featuring Bo? No, because he's not the Chosen Princess so the show has to put in footages of the homecoming trip instead. But Cattle? Tons and tons of happy farmgirl footages to enforce the deception that she is just a simple innocent farmgirl at heart who just happens to like singing a lot. This stupid montage only drives home how ridiculously pimped Cattle is by the show. Forget Fantasia and Ruben - there is no contestant pimped as much as Cattle Underwood. Who else can claim that the show is openly favoring her since the first freaking episode of the season? Sleazebag concludes the clip by wondering, between "the southern rocker with soul" and the "country girl with heart" - just stick a fork down my throat already, yucks - who the winner will be.

But first, it's "plug time" as Sleazie puts it as he asks people to go to the website and buy, buy, buy everything and anything they have to sell. Next is a clip of the ten worst bad auditions, where Daron Beck is at number ten, Toni Braxton's alleged cousin Derrick at nine, Jason Smith's multiple voices at positions eight to five (way to cheat, guys), Robert "Dancing Homeless On The Streets" Solomon at four, the psychic extraordinaire Bobie May at three, Maurice "Friends Say I Sound Like Brian McKnight" Thomas at two, and of course, the incomparable Leroy Wells at the prime number one spot. The camera then cuts to Hall and Oates in the audience. I wonder whether there's some connection between those two and the freaks in the Top Ten. Hmmm. Sleazebag says that if I can beat those freaks in the Top Ten, I should audition to be on the show in the next season. You will recognize me during the bad audition episodes of the next season because I would be the one with my fingers around King Tut's neck while screaming at the top of my voice, "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WILL THIS EPISODE EVER END?". Sleazie then talks about Adam and Dirk, the two unfunny losers who watched Canadian Idol and then decided that it would be cool to pretend to be two new buddies during the bad auditions episode. Well, it got them good seats in this finale, at least, because those two are there to put at least a hundred pounds of filler into the show (eighty of which belongs to Dirk). David Hasslehoff shows up to take a seat next to Dirk because Dirk supposedly loves him, remember. Dirk looks like he wishes that he had said he loved Pamela Anderson as he pretends to be excited about seeing the man with the second biggest fake boobs on Baywatch come give him a hug.

Wow, one hour and twenty minutes have passed and the end is nowhere in sight yet. Is this finale sponsored by the Kervokian Foundation?

Sleazebag once more announces that "Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Benson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Kenny G, Billy Preston, Babyface, and Rascal Flatts" (yup, he memorized the names alright) will be performing next. But first, the clip that the show is convinced to be very, very funny but is actually isn't, where Randy Randy, Miss Paula, and Sleazebag confide to TV dude Steve Edwards in a spoof called Bad Judgment that King Tut is acting funny, like he's having an affair with someone! Oh no! Miss Paula says that King Tut is making late night visits and showing up in clothes and corsets that are bought by someone else. King Tut is heard telling someone that he thinks this "he" looks cute. Sleazebag preens offscreen. The motto of Bad Judgment is "We Never Let The Truth Get In The Way Of Ratings!", which will be hilarious if the show, at the same time, seems so completely unaware that it is guilty of the very things it is mocking in this spoof. Randy Randy plays the role of Corey Vanilli as he makes a CD Dawg Ticks slamming King Tut and goes on interview promoting his book while insisting that King Tut is a slimeball. He even wears a "Buy My CD" T-shirt while recording his CD. Conty Bint shows up as a Greek hotel receptionist guy who claims to have seen King Tut around the place. He thinks it is funny to make fun of his date rapist glower by doing one at the camera. Hmm, what else is there? Oh yes, the clip making fun of Miss Paula's fashion sense and Randy Randy's incoherent ramblings. Randy Randy shows up in drag playing his own mother. It turns out that King Tut is having an affair with his reflection. And with that, a mildly amusing spoof falls flat in its face. Ape Boy wonders in surprise why King Tut can't find anyone else to love. Okay, that is funny. Between his falsetto on Barbara Ann and this, Ape Boy is the life of this show. Who would've thought? William Hung is called in to replace King Tut, an overused and now unfunny punchline if there ever is one. This clip is like Miss Paula being forced to go on SNL after Corey made his allegations about her sleeping with him during Season Two - it seems that it is now fashionable to play along that you are crappy in a "funny" manner without admitting anything or striving to overcome problems or weaknesses because this is the newest acceptable manner to improve your PR. Or something in the "we act like it's funny if you think we are crap so you'll now think we are funny instead of crappy, even though we are crappy, haw, haw, haw, whatever" manner.

Sleazebag and King Tut reassure the audience that the clip is a spoof and they are, in fact, still "happy together". Oh, how sweet! I must send them a fruit bowl for their next anniversary. Sleazebag then announces that the finalists (minus Cattle and Bo) would be at the Charlotte Speed Street event on Saturday, 7.00 to 9.30 pm, so everyone should be there too. And finally, Sleazebag can stop trying to remember the list of names he has written on his palm because it is finally time for the Twelve to perform with their "idols". And if you really believe that Jessica's "idol" is really Kenny Wayne Shepherd or that any one of the Twelve will actually consider Kenny G an "idol", I don't know what to say to you.

Cattle kicks off the medley with the Rascal Flatts on Bless The Broken Road. Cattle sounds great here, but personally, I prefer the lead singer of Rascal Flatts Gary Levox's voice better. Sure, Cattle sounds clearer, crystal clear actually, but Gary's singing has nuances that lend his singing some semblance of passion. I'm not saying that Cattle is bad - she's great - but this duet makes an interesting comparison between the two very different voices and styles of singing that nonetheless blend together beautifully. Have I mentioned how much I love the song?

And then Anwar and Trachea Boi ruin my good mood with their collaboration with Kenny G in that insipid R Kelly ballad I Believe I Can Fly. Anwar doesn't sound any better here than when he tanked badly in a previous performance of this song and Trachea Boi as usual oversings until cheese oozes from the hole in his neck. Kenny G goes berserk with his saxophone but he's not going to be injecting any testosterone into this utter snoozefest of cheese. Note to self: flee for dear life if I ever encounter a club with a flyer pinned to the door annoucing a show featuring these three people.

And look who come to save the day. Conty Bint struts the stage like he's the winner of America's Next Top Model as he launches into the rap - yes, rap - portion of the verse in Run DMC's collaboration with Aerosmith in Walk This Way. It's a glorious over-the-top mess that is beautiful to behold, except for Jessica and her belly that are trying too hard to rock out. Conty Bint is, to be expected, in his element, but it is Nadia who struts out with a leather ho get-up and, along with her neverending legs, gives this performance a kick in the nuts that it deserves. Her rap is the most convincing of the three - the words flow from her tongue clearly and spontaneously, unlike the affected manner of Jessica - and she looks like she's going to take out some whips and flog some serious butt. Nadia is seriously robbed, I tell you.

Next up are Ape Boy and Nikachu with George Benson performing On Broadway. Nikachu is up to his usual oversinging style, but he unfortunately goes out of tune. Ape Boy on the other hand is a little better but he too seems to lose all sense of melody later into his part and poor George Benson has to take over and finish the performance.

Billy Preston takes over the piano and launches into that beautiful ballad With You I'm Born Again. Vonzell sings the parts originally performed by Syreeta and she'll do, I suppose, even though I find myself yearning for Syreeta's haunting vocals to erase Vonzell's typically unimpressing oversinging style.

I don't know what Babyface did to anger the people on this show but he is stuck with Mikalah and Lindsey as they launch into a ghastly massacre of Everytime I Close My Eyes. Mikalah and Lindsey take turns convincing everyone watching this show to never, ever give them access to a recording studio before handing over most of the singing duties to Babyface. That poor man, I don't think he finds Mikalah's hand on his left thigh any consolation to how he is stuck with two of the worst background singers, one on each side of him, brutally stabbing his song to death.

And finally, to close the show by all but literally crashing the roof of the Kodak Theatre to the ground, here are Bo and what's left of Lynyrd Skynyrd performing Sweet Home Alabama. I really don't know how to describe this performance without completely embarrassing myself and destroying my dignity totally, so let's just say that I scream and cheer and manage to remember not to throw my underwear at the TV screen by sheer fortitude of willpower. Best of all is how radiant and happy Bo looks to be performing with Lynyrd Skynyrd. It's obvious that they are really his favorite idols and it must be some dream come true for him to be sharing the stage with them, putting on a fine show and receiving insane cheers that go on and on from the audience. Obviously the majority of America feels differently - snort - but this performance epitomizes why Bo should have won. Cattle sings very well. Bo sings well and makes me sing along, scream, shout, and go crazy along with him. He takes me into his performances, whereas Cattle excludes me from doing anything more than to watch her sing in hers. But the joke is on this show, not on Bo, because Bo just gives one of the best performances on the stage of any season of American Idol and the title goes to Cattle instead. In the audience, King Tut looks around him as if he doesn't know whether to be bemused or perplexed by the people around him who are on their feet and cheering Bo until their throats are hoarse and their hands hurt.

And now, it's time for the coronation. Sleazebag stands with the Two on the dais and announces that the new American Idol will get a recording contract (that you will spend your free time with your lawyer trying to find a way to get out of), a "new group of friends" (that will make sure that you do everything your overlords tell you to), and oh yes, a personal Marquis Jet. How exciting! But first, the judges must weigh in. They are, after all, the arbiters of good taste on this show. Randy Randy says that the both of them are winners already. Miss Paula tells Bo that she loves him (poor Corey) and he has made her judging stint this season "a pleasure". Heh. She adds that she will be the first in line to buy the tour tickets and the CDs. Yes, I really believe that she will. King Tut says that America has got it right again when it comes to the Two this season. Sleazie then invites Edward Boddington, the British guy (hence his accent) who is also the "president" of Telescope Inc, the company that tabulates the votes of this show. In other words, he probably makes coffee for Uncle Nigel and Uncle Ken. Little Boddie hands over the envelope to Sleazie, who pauses to congratulate both Bo and Cattle before opening the envelope. Someone in the audience shouts Bo's name. Annoyed, Uncle Nigel in the back of the theatre grabs a microphone and shouts in his best attempt at impersonating a female voice Cattle's name.

Sleazebag finally finishes reading the card inside the envelope, which includes a detailed map of possible escape routes should enraged members of the audience start rioting, takes a deep breath, and announces that the newest American Idol is... Cattle Underwood!

Immediately there is this unusually loud cheering, which is fine, but as the camera pans to the audience, things become a little fishy when most of the people captured on camera are either staring at the stage in surprise or just seated there and not clapping (much less cheering). So who on earth is cheering again? I suspect that someone is playing a tape recording of people cheering. How hilarious when the camera zooms to "Cattle's family", which turns out to be Bo's family instead! Bo's mother, bless her, is on her feet and clapping for Cattle. Bo is walking around the stage waving for the audience to applause Cattle while Conty Bint is up on his feet, waving his hands and urging the audience to do so from his seat behind the judges. The camera pans around the stage again, and only this time more people are getting up onto their feet. The recorded cheers have stopped playing so now it is quite hilarious that the cheering and clapping are the frostiest I've ever come across in all four seasons of this show.

I'm not trying to be a sore Bo fan here, let's make this clear. The evidence is on the show: the audience is not excited about Cattle's victory, whereas in the past Kelly, Ruben, and Fantasia received thunderous applause and cheerings from the audience. Fatt Gross Bowel is shouting something that nobody cares about from the TV screen even as the Oklahomans with him celebrate. Cattle cries and thanks everyone even as the audience is giving her a lacklustre applause. Bo is now walking up and down the stage gesturing the members of the audience to give Cattle a more enthusiastic applause - what a sweet guy - and finally, as if woken from a daze, the audience applauds more enthusiastically then previously.

Sleazebag quickly announces that Cattle will be closing the show with Inside Your Heaven, which I can buy soon as it will be released in single format. Cattle starts singing about crying heavens on stage, looking exactly like a newly-crowned pageant queen. Because she is crying in joy, the performance is all about hiccups and sobs sneaking their way into an already hideous song. Ugh. I can't help but to laugh when there are some enthusiastic claps for her that die down as quickly as they started when she starts singing. These people in the audience really don't want to see Cattle as the new American Idol, do they? The rest of the Twelve come on stage to share the cheer, or at least they are supposed to. It is interesting to see that while Trachea Boi (of course), Mikalah, Lindsey, and Jessica rush to embrace Cattle, others like Ape Boy, Nadia, Anwar, and Nikachu actually approach Bo first, especially Nadia who even turns her back to the stage and to Cattle. Conty Bint is, of course, running around trying to be in front of as many TV cameras as possible. Eventually all the other contestants stand around Cattle for the photo finish as she ends the performance by shouting "Thank you America!" exactly like a newly crowned Miss America would, but it's clear, if one watches the group interaction on stage very closely (and I did because I needed to find a way to tune out Cattle's singing), there is visible divide between Bo's fans and friends and Cattle's.

And with that, the show is done. I wish I have a way to conclude this recap on a high note but it's hard to do so when the audience in the Kodak Theatre seems to be far from being enthusiastic at Cattle's victory and it seems that half the contestants are as well. Let me reiterate that I like Cattle. The proof is there in my previous recaps. But I wish she has won more on her own merits. The problem with her victory is that it seems so manufactured and planned from day one when the show starts shoving her down the throats of the audience with nauseatingly fake "sweet farmgirl" clips and hiding her past experience in the music industry to create this fake "simple and innocent gal from the farm" image for her. It also doesn't help matters that Randy Randy and Miss Paula - and sometimes, King Tut - build Bo up on the show as the underdog to beat, someone who comes out of nowhere to seize the limelight, but when Bo threatens to beat their precious Cattle, they start insisting that Cattle did so much better than she actually did in her performances.

The show started this pattern of cynicism when it pimps its favored contestants over others from day one. And by having Cattle Underwood, the most heavily pimped contestant, crowned as the winner, it only reinforces this cynicism. It's as if the show doesn't want the audience to think independently, treating the audience like dogs it must whip into obedience instead of people who make the show so successful. Maybe we should rename the show King Tut's Idol, how's that?

I wish Cattle all the best in her career - and in getting herself out of this season's particularly draconian 19E contract. If I am annoyed by Bo losing to Cattle, it's only because it doesn't feel right to me that Bo, being the better performer, should lose to a robotic fake farmgirl with a good voice. But really, why should I be annoyed? I know this show isn't fair. I know that there are rampant manipulation and some sleazy happenings going around the place. Cattle does deserve to be the new American Idol and rightfully so, because at the end of the day, she's the more insubstantial of the Two and therefore more deserving to be crowned the new princess of fluff. Bo will be alright, Cattle will be alright, and the show will go on.

This is, therefore, a very fair ending to a most cynical season of American Idol.

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