“American Idol” is ending forever tonight. I know not everyone loved the show, but dammit, I did. Every year, after coming down from the high of the holidays, I staved off the looming winter blues with one thought: “Idol is returning soon!” The instant I heard Seacrest (oh, Seacrest. I think I’ll miss you most of all) proclaim, “THIS. Is American Idol!” followed by the bumping theme music, I felt happy. I couldn’t help it. Now it’s all going to be over soon, and I’m already afraid of what will happen next January in its absence. Will it be like the return of autumn every year after I graduated college when, as soon as the weather started to change, I thought, “Wait? Aren’t I supposed to be going back to school now? I should get packing!” When in reality, no, all that awaited me was day after day of the real world, with jobs and bills and blech. No doubt January will return, and I’ll feel that swell in my heart letting me know that something good is about to happen, then the truth will destroy me, much like La’Porsha has done to all who dared to compete with her this year. (Seriously, if she doesn’t win, I’ll...what? Stop watching the show. Ugh. Sob.)
I may be being a tad over-the-top here. But what ode to “Idol” would be complete without some cheesy theatrics and intentional tugs on the heartstrings? To cheer myself up and emotionally brace myself for tonight’s loss, I’ve decided to put together a list of some of my favorite “Idol” moments. Some happened on the show. Some happened in my real life. All made me happy.
Thanks, “Idol.” I’ll miss you!
In no particular order:
- Season Five, when my whole family bet on who would win. We put names in a fishbowl, and I got Katharine McPhee. I liked her well enough, but I loved Daughtry, so I wasn’t too concerned with winning. Then, the unthinkable happened and Daughtry went home (I mean, biggest Idol eff up ever? Debatable, but up there). It was me and my Uncle Jack with Taylor Hicks left in the finale. I’d never been more sure of anything in my life - that win was mine. I’d all but pocketed my winnings when Seacrest announced that Hicks had beat McPhee, and I stared, mouth agape, at the TV screen for the next three days. And do you know, that when me and fam went to the “Idol” tour that year, McPhee didn’t even show? And then she went on to star in “Smash,” which I LOVED but it was cancelled after just two seasons. Katharine, I try so hard to be your fan. Why must you always bring me such pain?
- The year Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Harry Connick Jr., and Randy Jackson performed at the finale, starting with “True Colors” then going into “Go Your Own Way.” Way fun, and played back on my DVR many times.
- The years when, once it got whittled down to the Top 10, Justin and I would randomly divvy up the contestants between us and whoever’s contestant won got a whole day to do whatever they wanted. I mean, I didn’t really like Scotty McCreery, but his win got me a day at the winery, so I’ll take it.
- Season Nine - the year I watched the entire season with Becca, and every single time Siobhan Magnus came on stage, we both looked at each other and said, “How in the hell do you pronounce her name again?” Then screamed CEE-O-BA-HAN! every time the camera panned to her from that point on.
- The year “Idol” filmed in Pittsburgh and Justin got to go shoot it for work. I thought he’d come home super psyched to tell me about meeting one of his favorite performers, Steven Tyler. I don’t think he even realized Steven Tyler was there. Jennifer Lopez had walked by him wearing a pair of shorty shorts, and I think he blacked out until much later that day. “It’s like she’s not even human,” he said again and again for the next forever. It’s kind of freeing knowing the standards of beauty I have to live up to in his mind are 1,000 percent unattainable. Hand me that cheeseburger!
- Getting to see my celebrity crush, Ryan Seacrest. My other crushes include Willie Geist, Carson Daly and Anderson Cooper. I might have a type.
- This might be my favorite one: The year after Bo Bice lost to Carrie, he came to South Park for a free outdoor concert. I went with my mom and aunt. We were all up close to the stage, and Bo started walking the length of it mid-song to give everyone high fives. My mom was a huge fan and I could see her straining to reach him, big smile on her face. The millisecond he got to her, Bo pulled his hand back to flip his signature flowing mane of hair back from his face. Then he turned on his heel and walked away. Mom’s sad little hand hung there midair for, I swear, a full 10 seconds before the devastation of the inadvertent snub hit her. I’m still laughing about that as I type it right now. Poor Mom. But I forever love Bo Bice for that moment alone.
- Adam Lambert singing “Mad World.” Actually, Adam Lambert singing anything.
- Going to see Carrie Underwood in concert with Justin this year and just watching her kick so much ass and thinking, “Girl, I saw you audition. You rocked then, and you rock now!” Then hearing her sing a cover of Dolly’s “I Will Always Love You” and sobbing openly. Ugh. So good.
- Watching La’Porsha perform this season. Her performances of “Diamonds” and “No More Drama” killed me. And every time the camera shows her baby with those comically gigantic noise-cancelling headphones, I die all over. Love her. Love all of it.