American Idol Season 15 Finale Part One: Holding On For Tonight

Photo: Frank Micelotta/FOX.
Wednesday’s finals were a great big mess of boobs and sparkly bits — Trent Harmon and La’Porsha Renae belted the bejesus out of “Chandelier” and “Diamonds,” while Jennifer Lopez spent the evening hunched over at the perfect angle in what can only be described as a figure skating evening gown. How fitting that American Idol’s penultimate episode should present as a bejeweled light fixture just begging to shine on a little longer!

Alas, this 15-year fever dream will all be over after Thursday’s star-studded series finale. “The show must not go on!” random Fox execs shudder as they fling their once-precious gem into quicksand. “Out, out, damn time slot! We don’t need the great ratings this show is still pulling in!”

A whopping 3,500 local and visiting Idoloonies packed into the Dolby Theater to watch the judges not so subtly endorse La’Porsha over fellow Mississippi-native Trent throughout the show. The panel repeated the word “battle” after La’Porsha performed a coronation song by the same title during round one, seemed surprised that Trent was “not just gonna lay down” in round two, and made plans to ride together to La’Porsha’s hypothetical solo concert in round three. At least they’re showing an opinion beyond the well-paid indifference they’ve been exhibiting all season! Meanwhile, Texas-rocker Dalton Rapattoni made a graceful exit a few minutes into the episode. He is currently applying more eyeliner by candlelight (even if the sun is out, he’s just that emo) so that he’ll look perfectly wet ’n’ wistful during the finale.
Round 1: Winner’s Song
Photo: Frank Micelotta/FOX.
The idea here is that this will be the single the season 15 champ releases to radio once Friday rolls around and the public realizes, “Wait…American Idol was still on? SHUT UP.” Trent easily won this round with “Falling,” a darting romp of a tune that showcased the full range of both his vocals and his kicky dance moves. It had a bit of a “Killer Queen” spoken-word cadence at the beginning, but a few lines in, Trent sprayed us with the Moët & Chandon he’d been keeping inside his pretty cabinet, letting all the sparks fly. “You just keep killing me, one kiss at a time,” he sang with such angst we had no choice but to believe him.
Photo: Frank Micelotta/FOX.
La’Porsha, not so much. “Battles” did absolutely nothing for her voice, and the song felt like a tired chant performed by a girl who knows better. She isn’t even sure she wants to be a cheerleader, to be honest. It’s complicated. The most repetitive line — “Oooooh, we all got battles” — actually seemed to diminish La’Porsha’s own powerful life story. But whatever; the coronation tracks are always pretty dumb, so frankly I’m shocked I liked one of them. Let’s move on.

Round 2: Simon Fuller’s Choice
The executive producer loves nothing more than to pelt viewers with songs the teens would never know, and I kind of love him for that (though to be fair, I probably wouldn’t if I’d had to sit through another dreaded Motown Week this season). Trent tried to do his usual super-low-to-squeaky-high thing on Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me by Now,” which worked briefly, but overall the song felt limiting against his energy. La’Porsha’s assignment was much better suited to her prowess — the high priestess of vocal containment took on Dionne Warwick’s version of “A House Is Not a Home” as if the sprawling key-changer were any other ditty she’d sing to her baby. Who am I kidding? She probably does. Harry Connick Jr. went nuts over how at ease La’Porsha was with such a musically complex song, while J.Lo groped around in ecstasy because this is one of her faaaaavorites. “I don’t even smoke, and I need a cigarette right now,” panted Keith Urban. Round two goes to…La’Porsha!

Round 3: Contestant’s Choice
Ugh. Redos? I do not approve, and I’m calling this one a tie. Anyone watching these finals had already seen Trent and La’Porsha slay their respective Sia songs. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Wednesday’s more fervent, higher-stakes performances tarnished the original efforts from weeks ago; I just wish we could have heard new material. Trent understandably sounded a lot more amped up on this week’s “Chandelier,” which proved jarring during the song’s more delicate moments. But by the time he drifted ever so slowly away from that final note, clinging onto this crazy shot at fame unit the last teardrop, I was sold. Likewise, I preferred La’Porsha’s original, more even-keeled attempt at Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” But how can anyone relax during the finals? And shouldn’t I feel blessed to mark these kids’ progression on beautiful songs they’ve already damn near mastered instead of feeling bitter because I wanted more? None of us get any more! The show is almost over! Uh-oh. The waterworks are kicking in. I need more eyeliner.
Photo: Frank Micelotta/FOX.
“A woman started it, and a woman’s going to finish it,” La’Porsha assured the imaginary Kelly Clarkson in her dressing room. Based on Wednesday’s performances, either finalist deserves to win. But if I’m putting money on it? La’Porsha just spoke the truth, y’all.

Who gets to shine bright under the final Idol crown? Tune in tonight!

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