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May 21, 2009
'American Idol': Ratings high because show was a keeper

AP Photo/FOX

The day after, the water-cooler chatter is still abuzz over Kris Allen's win last night on "American Idol." But the conversations also are turning to the finale show itself and how much fun it was to watch.

According to the just-released numbers, the Nielsen ratings give "Idol" a huge win, saying nearly 29 million viewers tuned in for the finale Wednesday night. "American Idol" viewership was one-third larger than the total audience logged by Fox's rival networks ABC, CBS, NBC and CW.

If you're into R&B, rap, hip hop, country, rock - you name the musical genre and the show had it. My personal favorite performance was Kris's guitar-dueling duet - "Kiss A Girl" - with Keith Urban (pictured). Great song, great vocals, great arrangement and, yes, very easy on these tired eyes.

Other faves?

* This season's Top 13 opening the show (dressed in white) singing Pink's hot hit, "So What." Too bad all of them can't go on the tour. This would be a great performance to see live. And, speaking of the tour, the Arco Arena show is set for July 10. More than any season, I'm looking forward to covering this one.

* Last season's winner David Cook performed a moving version of his song, "Permanent, dedicating it to his brother, Adam, who died earlier this month. The song is available for download at iTunes and proceeds will benefit ABCSquared, a cancer foundation.

* The five "Idol" girls (Jasmine Murray, Alexis Grace, Megan Joy, Lil Rounds and Allison Iraheta) rocked Fergie's "Glamorous," and then Fergie herself took the stage in some waaaay high stilettos to perform another of her hits, "Big Girls Don't Cry." As if that wasn't enough, her group - the Black Eyed Peas - joined for a booming "Boom Boom Pow."

* Allison was a perfect match for Cyndi Lauper as was Lil with Queen Latifah. I wasn't as thrilled as some with Megan and Michael Sarver singing comedian Steve Martin's "Pretty Flowers," fresh off his new banjo album. In the weeks since she's been gone, I'd forgotten how much I don't care for Megan's "squeak."

* Loved Carlos Santana opening his set solo with "Black Magic Woman," then being joined by the "Idols" for "Smooth."

* And could Adam Lambert have been in better company than with Gene Simmons and Kiss? He opened with the slow, soulful "Beth," dressed in ginormous gold platform shoes with black wing things attached to his shoulders. The requisite eyeliner and glitter were a hoot. Shift gears and Adam is a "member" of the band with "I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night." Talk about living - and singing - your dream! Guitars were destroyed. There was fire. And screaming at the end (natch).

* Kris and Adam closed the singing part with "We Are the Champions," the great Queen anthem. And, just in case you missed it, the band was there.

Aside from the musical numbers you have to give it to "Idol" for bringing back some of the audition's biggest personalities: Nick Mitchell (aka "Norman Gentle"), Tatiana del Toro and, you knew she should would be there: "Bikini Girl" Katrina Darrell, who pranced across the stage in a teensy suit and was greeted with a "Wow!" by Simon Cowell.

Host Ryan Seacrest said he was going to ask "What's new with you? I think I know." Katrina obviously had some enhancing between her audition and last night's show. The best part was judge Kara DioGuardi sneaking up on Katrina while she was singing "Vision of Love." The two feuded over Katrina even going to Hollywood Week way back. Kara said, "We'll just call you a top and a bottom." Getting her back for being snippy, Kara outsang Katrina and even went so far as to rip open her dress and reveal her own bikini. It was a dare from the show's producers. She agreed if they ponied up some money for charity.

I'll watch the finale again for sure. The big question is, how will the show's creators/producers/judges come up with something bigger and better for Season 9? Consider this: Auditions are just a couple months away!

Check back to 21Q tomorrow afternoon for my interviews with Kris and Adam.

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