'American Idol' Finale: Kris starts strong, but Adam brings it home

46917010 Tune in here at 8pm/7pm central for the "American Idol" live blog. Tonight is the big final showdown between heavy favorite Adam Lambert and come-from-behind underdog Kris Allen.

A video montage, including Adam and Kris's initial interviews from their auditions, of the entire season welcomes us to the finale. I have to say, most seasons I really care who wins but I like both of these performers a lot this year and I think either one will be fine even if he takes second place, so I'm mostly just excited for the pageantry of it all tonight and tomorrow.

Seacrest tells us that tonight is: the acoustic rocker versus the glam rocker, Conway versus California, the Guy Next Door versus the Guyliner. He may as well just say the straight versus the gay. Good lord, Seacrest. Also, I first heard "Kanye versus California" and I was like, "One performance and Kris is being called 'Kanye' now?" I was very confused, y'all.

Seacrest then tells us that each singer gets to do their favorite performance from the season, a song chosen by the show's creator Simon Fuller, and a performance of the coronation song written by Kara Dioguardi. He then warns all you TIVO users to set the DVR appropriately tomorrow because the show is running long.

Adam Lambert, "Mad World," Contestant's Choice, Year of Birth Week
Tonight, instead of the chair and the suit, Adam is dressed like Spike from Buffy. Vocally, it's still gorgeous. I was hoping he'd choose either this or "Tracks of My Tears." It don't have too much to say, honestly. There's a lot of smoke and blue light and very pretty vocals. He doesn't shriek at any point, it's very subdued, moreso than the first time.

Randy, dressed like a hipster hobo, gives him an A+. Kara calls him an incredible artist. Hannibal Lector is there. Paula is unbelievably proud and loved the subdued aspect of it. Simon's Chest Hair thought it was overtheatrical and compares it to "Phantom of the Opera."

Kris Allen, "Ain't No Sunshine ," Contestant's Choice, iTunes Night
He's at the piano instead of the keyboard this time and it makes it 100x better. It's soulful and intimate and just beautiful. He then ramps up the bridge and brings it back down, it's just heartrending. No criticism here.

Randy says it's one of his best performances ever. Kara says if Kris doesn't move you, there's something wrong with you, and cites the intimate feel of his performances. Paula loves how he puts his trademark on every performance and calls him a great artist. Simon's Chest Hair reminds us that it was a competition and says that last week he wasn't sure if America made the right choice last week, but after this performance, he takes it all back. Awww, Simon. I love it when you do stuff like that! He then calls Round 1 for Kris. I would concur.

Adam Lambert, "Change is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke, Simon Fuller's choice
Adam has gone from Spike to attorney-chic in a gray suit. Vocally, he starts off acapella for a few notes and is very subdued again on the first verse, but I'm hoping it's so he can really tear it up in just a minute. And then he does, with some very signature Adam belted notes. He actually gets just a titch too shrieky for me, I like it when he uses them more judiciously. There's a big last glory note and we're done.

Randy says he can sing his face off. Kara says possibly his best performance yet. Paula says the best she's ever heard him sing ever. Man, I don't know that I agree with Kara and Paula. Simon's Chest Hair says he is 100% back in the game. (Like he ever fell out of it).

Also, to anybody who cares about who "wins" each round... of course they had to pick Kris for one and Adam for another in the first two, just to make it interesting.

**The Minute Maid commercial where the dad confuses his daughter's art teacher for a girl he had a one-night stand with on spring break? Cracks me up every time.**

Kris Allen, "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye, Simon Fuller's choice
Kris is rocking his acoustic guitar and we're back to crunchy granola Kris. This is one of those songs that is very pretty and nice but very "just aight" for me. It is middle-of-the-road vocally and sounds like any number of Jack Johnson or John Mayer songs you'd hear on the radio. It's too laid back. That may be the kind of artist Kris is, but that doesn't mean it's not too laid back for a night like tonight. Round 2 goes to Adam.

Randy says we have a real-live duel but says it was a little light for this point in the competition. Very true, I felt the same way. Kara likes that he was true to himself. Paula says, "I know what's going on... you tore that song up and made Marvin Gaye proud." Heh, I love Paula. Simon's Chest Hair says it was like three friends in their bedroom strumming along to Marvin Gaye. Yes, exactly.

Adam Lambert, "No Boundaries" by Kara Dioguardi, Cathy Dennis and Mitch Allan
I have to say... it's a better song than most year's coronation songs. There are still parts about climbing mountains and weathering hurricanes and world peace and crap, but it's not bad. It gives Adam many chances to show off his huge upper range. I try not to be distracted by his shiny pants because if I just listen to it, it's a very good performance. It's nice to know he wants to win and isn't just coasting at this point.

Randy says it was just alright and a little pitchy. Really? Kara was moved and is proud of him. Paula says adjectives can't express what he's brought to the show. I'm sad she didn't just string together nouns and verbs. "Paula runs, Paula hugs, Paula loves." Simon's Chest Hair snickers about the mountains and the hurricanes. Because he and I are BFF. He then calls Adam a world-wide star and congratulates him.

I didn't hear the pitchiness from Adam that Randy (and several commenters) heard, so I'll have to watch it back.

Kris Allen, "No Boundaries" by Kara and some other people
The verse sounds great on Kris's voice but the chorus does not. He's really reaching for some of it. It's not his fault, it's definitely a more "Adam" song than a "Kris" song, but it's definitely out of his range a little. I'm surprised he didn't take it down a key or two (they were allowed to arrange the song themselves). Is it just me or does the song itself seem like a lamer, more typical Idol coronation song when Kris does it (as opposed to Adam)? It really seems that way to me. Kris's soft ending is kind of a bland way to end the show, I'm glad we still have Carrie Underwood performing.

Randy tells him to be proud of what he's done and cites the high key of the song. Kara tells people not to judge him on the song because it was too high (well, whose fault is that, Kara?) and congratulates him on the season, advising people to vote on the whole package. Paula says one of the most compelling showdowns ever. Simon's Chest Hair says the first song was the highlight for him but that the change in Kris's confidence and attitude is just amazing.

Recap: Adam wooing Buffy, getting his soul on and making me believe there really ARE no boundaries and Kris giving a helluva performance on "Ain't No Sunshine," Allenizing a protest song, and getting handed a song that just doesn't suit his voice.

Now we have Carrie! I heart you, Carrie! There's a montage of the whole season. Aww, I love this show. Well, I think Adam's got this thing sewn up, but you never know. I honestly don't care either way, I think they're both great and I can't say that about many Final Two on this show. Like my writing? You can find more right here.