Behind the Scenes at the 2010 American Idol Finale

Note: This trip was sponsored by Ford, but all words are mine. Cross-posted at Mile High Mamas.

Friends, if you look up the word surreal in the dictionary, you will see a photo of me, sitting in the American Idol finale audience. Because that’s what happened this week – thanks to the Ford Fiesta folks* – a night where my best friend and I got all dolled up, sat in the Nokia Theater and watched America make Lee Dewyze our next Idol – and possibly more importantly – witnessed Simon Cowell’s last. show. ever. Of all time.

I started watching American Idol in its second season, long before I had this blog, pretty much right as I was having my son. And the funny thing is, I rarely watch TV. The exception being, you guessed it, American Idol.

Why do I like this show so much? I have no flippin’ clue.

It’s silly. It’s over the top. It’s snarky.

OK, never mind, I just listed three AWESOME reasons to watch the show right there!

And when I started Greeblemonkey, the American Idol recaps started with it. I even tried to stop writing them, but you all talked me back into it.

So, when Ford called me up and asked me to come, there was NO WAY I was not going. And I am so glad I did. What a fun, wild, busy, crazy, insane couple of days it has been. Even including a scavenger hunt all over LA in a Ford Fiesta, details of which I will save for another day, because – honestly? At this point I only have enough steam to warble out my thoughts about the American Idol finale.

So here goes.

The Night Before

We flew in Tuesday evening, got settled and had about two hours before we were meeting up with friends from LA. So, what does one do when one is staying across the street from exactly where American Idol is being put on? Yes! One walks over and watches the scene!

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And quite a scene it was. A ton of former Idols were standing around giving interviews, taking photos, and talking to the hordes of people hoping that they would do just that.

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Pro tip! If you ever have the opportunity to attend an American Idol finale, study up on former Idols. I couldn’t remember a lot of their names.

Case in point: S-c-o-t-t M-c-I-n-t-y-r-e. Thank you, Google.

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Some I just remember by the songs they sang. Case in point: B-o-h-e-m-i-a-n R-h-a-p-s-o-d-y.

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And some you remember by their h-a-i-r.

Just kidding Jason! I remember you because I actually bought your album. And LIKED it, too!

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We even had a producer for the show come up and ask us if we would like to attend *that* night’s show. Unfortunately, we already had plans with two of the awesome Shutter Sisters, so we had to get going. The other thing we had to do was hang out in big red waterbed pods on the roof of the Standard Hotel.


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The American Idol Finale Show

As anyone who followed my Twitterstream knows, I was pretty much having a cow over what to wear to this thing. Well, I could have saved the conniption, because apparently some people think going to the American Idol finale ranks precisely the same outfit as going to Target. Those people are NOT ME, but somehow they got past the NO JEANS, NO SHORTS, NO T-SHIRTS, NO FLIP-FLOPS, IN ALL CAPS mandate that *I* received.

Neither here nor there, as Danielle and I looked cute.

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What You Don’t See On TV

There is a Fake Ryan Seacrest (OK, a real comedian) that warms up the crowd and talks to you during commercial breaks. This Fake Ryan gets the crowd pumped and gives away AT&T and Apple related products. Fake Ryan was pretty fun, although I did think it weird how little the Real Ryan interacted with the crowd.

There is a Loudspeaker Lady who cuts in with the count for when it’s time to go back live. Her voice is blasted through a different speaker system and it’s jarring, loud and hard to understand. So, I really should call her the Teacher From Peanuts Loudspeaker Lady.

All the judges leave their table at almost every commercial break. Particularly Simon and Randy. But, I have to imagine that Kara leaves more often in the regular season when she is not hampered by a 50-pound ball gown. And Ellen probably hasn’t figured out that she *can* leave yet.

If you want the truth – we all were awed.

OK, back to behind the scenese. Get this.

– Famous Person sings.
– Famous Person ends song.
– Crowd claps.
– American Idol cuts to commercial.
– Stage hands run everywhere.
– Photographer takes photo of Famous Person on stage with crowd behind them.
– Famous Person awkwardly walks off stage in near silence.


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The Performances

We were about halfway back, and on the Simon side. Quite lovely place to be.

OK, sure, at first it was a series of greatest hits, starting off with Barry and Robin Gibb, Hall & Oates, Chicago…  But Christina Aguilera really did change the mood of the room. Sure she is a bit overly dramatic, but – like, whoah. I have watched a tape of the show from her performance – and you guys did NOT see the real deal that we saw in the room. Again. Like, whoah.

But the *REAL* whoah?

Miss Jackson.

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She brought all that, and poured into possibly one of the best live performances I have ever seen – ranking up there with James Brown and Stevie Wonder in my book. (Yes, I really have seen both of those gentleman live. And yes, they both were as amazing as you might imagine.)


Saying Goodbye To Simon

The other reason I was excited to attend this particular show is because it was Simon’s very last. So, while the sentimentality was a bit over the top, but it made the night extra cool. Especially when all those million trillion gazillion Idols came back on stage.

Two minor points, though. 1. Where were David Cook, Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry? I have been reading various accounts of why they weren’t there, all of which are lame. 2. Did Jordan Sparks and Kris Allen NOT get the memo about WINNERS WEAR BLACK, IN ALL CAPS?!?!?!?

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Speaking of: The 2010 Winner, Lee Dewyze

Everyone I know in real life was a little stunned that Lee beat Crystal. But, all I can tell you is that Fake Ryan asked people during every single commercial break who they voted for – and every single one said Lee.

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Personally, I didn’t care. I liked them both. They are both super talented and both will hopefully get to make the kind of albums they should, and will have successful careers.

As for me? I will have an amazing memory of an amazing night.

This article has 43 comments

  1. zenrain

    What an awesome experience for you and Danielle!! Can’t wait to hear more!

  2. Ms. Maxwell

    I see you took my clothing advice (you, and they, looked mah-velous!). AND YOU HAVE A PHOTO WITH JASON CASTRO. Which I find highly entertaining since *ahem* I remember your Season 7 recaps. But I forgive you because you bought his album. Love that boy! Add me to the stunned-that-Lee won camp, but also add me to the he-needs-the-AI-machine-more-than-Crystal camp as well. I can’t wait for the duet album. What an amazing event to add to your been there, done that file. Go you!

  3. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Ms Max – ha ha! Now now. Jason and I are new BFFs and if I remember correctly I liked him OK – just didn’t think he was a strong as the others. But seriously – his album has surprised me!

    And MB – I forgot you went to Oprah – I bet that is so crazy too!!!

  4. zipper

    I admit I rarely watch – but we watched looking for you. Was a fine finale – glad you had a blast!

  5. Megan

    OMG! Fun!!!!! I love this!!!!! I am bummed Crystal did not win, but still – so fun!!!

  6. Norma-ann

    So happy for you! Looks like you had a blast and you two were definitely SATC-cute!

    I’m curious…when you tweeted the question of who “we” thought would win idol…what was the most common answer? I, of course, tweeted “Lee!!”. 🙂

  7. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Norma-ann – You know, I need to go back and look in twittersearch, because that was when I had to leave my cell phone at the hotel and had radio silence for several hours, WHICH WAS WEIRD!

  8. Denise

    I am jealous! It was an amazing show to watch from the comfort of my home other then some weird sound problems. I would rather of had Christina sing a more up-beat song, and not so many old farts singing but it was still cool. I thought Crystal would win, I even voted multiple times for her. With Crystal coming in second we will hear her first album/CD before Lee’s.

  9. Adventures In Babywearing

    Aimee you look FAB!!!!!! What an amazing opportunity!!


  10. Ef Rodriguez

    The word “Sanjaya” does not appear in this post.

    Why is that?

  11. Lavender Luz

    I have never watched a show, but your description makes me curious about it. Must have been fanTAStic to be part of it, especially such a momentous show.

    Yay for Ford Fiesta!

  12. LemonySarah

    What can I say but SOOO COOL! I also want to hear more about the show live. I mean, from the judges’ critiques, I’m sure the Idols sound VERY different live, because sometimes I couldn’t disagree with the judges’ comments more.

  13. Fruitlady

    So Jason is taller than you? Or at least as tall? Never would have guessed that. He is very short in my mind. Not anymore!

    I want a red water bed thing!!!

    You and Danielle looked absolutely gorgeous!!

    I bet I would prefer the Fake Ryan to the real one, because, quite literally, the real one is why I stopped watching the show. He bugs me that. much.

  14. Haley-O (Cheaty)

    Wow! I LOVED this recap. And guys DO look CUTE!

    I hope Bret’s OK!!! So cool to hear all the behind-the-scenes stuff!

  15. Anonymous

    WOW, I mean . . . really WOW!! So happy for you! Missed you at class 🙂 (like I get to see you there regularly anyway!!! HA!) Great blog & great photos!!

    You rock!!


  16. monstergirlee

    I love that black dress! And with the red chunky necklace and red heels – perfection! Dressy and fun at the same time. Good choice.

    I think its so awesome that you & Danielle got to go. Great post, cool to hear about the behind the scenes stuff. I wondered if the super secret guest was Paula Abdul. But Janet Jackson? Wow.

  17. Teresa

    How fun! I loved reading this! I think you should frame that Jason Castro one.

  18. Jaime

    Enjoyed reading your recap….hope I make it in the Ford Fiesta recap as being the BEST driver partner you could possibly ever have!! 🙂 No pressure there!! hahahah!

    When do we find out if we won? I’m DYING to know!!!!

  19. dawn

    aw aimee…your enthusiasm is sooo contagious i might even want to watch idol again….
    and you looked so freaking mahvelous, dahlink. and janet…seriously…whoa. she is sizzling hot.
    so glad you had the bestest time. xo

  20. Wanda Rabb

    Loved reading your recap…also love your blog site and have added it to my favorites. I am Jaime’s mom…she told me how much fun y’all had on the Ford Fiesta scavenger hunt. I can’t wait to read your recap of your experiences that afternoon!

  21. Schmutzie

    Wow, what an event to be invited to! It sounds like so much fun.

  22. Gwen From MD

    What did you think of Janet’s hair???
    I’m glad you said that about her performance, because I went with some friends to her concert years ago and it was seriously the most fun.

  23. BrendaB

    Sounds like a ton of fun, and I am even one of those who could give a rats-patootie about American Idol….

    Our prayers and thoughts are with your mom…

  24. Heather

    You are so lucky!! Been a fan since the beginning!

  25. Pam

    omg.. I am so jealous. I have not missed an episode since the show started. ok I voted for Taylor Hicks. This must have been amazing. Yes I was wondering what happened to david cooke, chris and Adam. him. what a remarkable memory!! you go girl.

  26. Aunt Heidi

    You guys look absolutely FABULOUS !!!!

  27. Dana

    You look totally awesome, Aimee. What a great experience. I never watched the show until my mother-in-law moved in with us. She watches it with our little one who tries to sing along with the performers. I have to admit the finale this year was a great one. And you’re right…how cool was it to see Janet Jackson live!

  28. MB

    I love it. I felt completely surreal when I attended an Oprah taping – and you’re right, TV never captures the magic.

    I love that you got to go!!!

  29. Becky

    Seriously SO SO COOL! And you looked AWESOME!

    Thanks for sharing with us!

  30. merrymishaps

    This is awesome. So glad you got to go!

  31. Jennifer, Playgroups Are No Place For Children

    That’s so cool, Aimee! What an awesome opportunity!

  32. Jenny, the Bloggess

    Sounds like a dream.

  33. carrie

    How fun was this! And right up your alley Aimee…I’m so happy you were able to go.

  34. Bob

    Thanks, Aimee… lots of fun!

    Just as an aside, my having grown up in So. Calif., I’ve been to a lot of tv tapings (including others I’ve taken my daughter to in NYC) and I’ve always been struck by the way most of the people make a huge deal out of “leaving” their seats/positions/etc. during the breaks. I can’t tell if it’s to convey a certain kind of professionalism (I’m so good I can immediately switch in and out of my role) or they need to make the break a real “break” in character (not just actors but everyone), etc. etc.

    In my experience, ALL the shows have the warm-up guy (never seen a woman do it) and I realized this would be the gig for a 3rd tier comedian who’s given up on making the big time….

  35. Martha

    I loooooooooooooved your account of American Idol Aimee- in fact, I
    have become a great fan of your writing via the whole
    FaceBook/Greeblemonkey experience. Thanks for sharing this! And I
    did watch the final AI- loved it. Didn’t recognize Janet Jackson at
    first but then did. She was amazing on tv- I am sure fabulostical in

  36. Chris

    I’m SO glad you skipped the additional night and met with me and Tracey instead! Think of all the fun you would have missed out on had you not met with us!! lol. Seriously, I am so glad we got to meet cuz YOU, my friend, are the BOMB!

  37. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    Thanks all, for the lovely support and comments!

    Amy – actually Jason is a few inches shorter than me. I was wondering how that happened too… That he looks taller!!?!!

  38. Staciep

    Aim, I’m pretty sure that Bo is wearing the tiki idol from the Brady Bunch does Hawaii. what the crap? weird that Alison Ira-whatever could be there but Adam couldn’t considering they are on tour together. and Daughtry was here last week, so that is his excused absence I guess……what an awesome thing for you to be able to do! and to say I knew you way back in season 2….:)

  39. chloebear

    I had a wonderful time and I am so glad you brought me along for the ride!
    The Ford people were so genuine and I had a blast hanging with them…yay that they support social media!

  40. chloebear

    Oh! I forgot one thing about our experience…it killed me to see all the idols pop out of the snazzy/souped up Ford Fiesta’s (literally in front of us) right before going into the auditorium!! I could have killed for my phone/camera!

  41. Elaine

    Cute? You looked smoking!

  42. Sizzle

    I’ve been saving this post to read when I had time to savor it so I could live vicariously through your experience. Sounds SO AWESOME! Even if the cheese factor was high and people did not follow The Rules. I think I would have been pretty excited like a tween girl if I had been there to see Hall & Oates rock the stage. And Janet!

    I still think Crystal should have won but oh well.

  43. janice

    Thanks for sharing your podt!!

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