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American Idol Rundown: Idol Gives Back Edition

As a concept, Idol Gives Back is a great thing. Here we have the most-watched show in the country, with an active viewing and voting base, working to get people to make the world better. Can't say I recall, oh, M*A*S*H or Seinfeld doing that.

The show's second installment aired Wednesday night, taking up a super-sized two and a half hours — apparently a little more, since my DVR chopped it off somewhere just past Miley Cyrus, Part II — and showing numerous views of tragic living conditions around the globe with big-name celebrities as our guide. The bulk of the show was taped over the weekend, but live in the Idol studios, the top 12 answered phones and the top eight gave us a few more inspirational songs. Executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said he wanted the show to be bigger and better than last year — and to top its $76 million fundraising effort. So, how do you think Idol did?

Without any actual Idol-related event (there wasn't even a fakeout elimination — instead, the goodbye comes tonight), the Idol Gives Back telethon is . . . just a telethon, albeit one with well-produced packages about poverty and tragedy, appearances by major stars, and musical numbers galore. There were a lot of good things about the special, and there were a few that didn't quite hit the mark. I suppose I was expecting something more fun, considering all the talent involved — but, then again, would "fun" have been the right note for a charity special? I'm not really sure.

Fox hasn't released any donation numbers for Idol Gives Back yet, but I'll keep you posted; I believe the last number I heard during the show was $20-something million, not including the $200 million of mosquito nets from Great Britain, but I could be wrong. Were you moved to donate? Did any of the acts stand out? You can read a few of my thoughts if you


  • I admit to getting chills down my spine when Seacrest opened the show with "Together, we're gonna save some lives." I mean, it really doesn't get more stark than that, does it?
  • Also, brave of the guy to proclaim there would be 30 million of us watching at home. I'd say that's optimistic. But I get the point. (Update: Yup, the show averaged 17.6 million viewers.)
  • If I learned one thing from Idol Gives Back, it's how much I truly love So You Think You Can Dance. I got the biggest, dumbest smile on my face picking Hok and Dominic out of the crowd, and even the Mary Murphy / Nigel Lythgoe bit made me laugh. Seriously, I feel so much warmer toward that show than I do toward Idol itself. Is that weird?
  • How adorable were the kids with Snoop Dogg? Especially the ones who were really into the hand-waving.
  • It's been so long since I've seen Greg Grunberg and Jesse Spencer do anything that I'm even willing to forgive Teri Hatcher's "Before He Cheats."
  • When did this night become Miley Cyrus Gives Back? She got two performances (and both as Miley, not as Hannah) and an extended "comedy" bit with Billy Crystal. Meanwhile, seems that those planned appearances by the presidential candidates fell by the wayside.
  • Before I poke a little fun at anything else, I want to mention that I found the celebrity visits to poverty- and disease-ravaged places almost uniformly moving. The celebrities Idol sent to the various places truly seemed to connect with the issues they were observing; Annie Lennox, in particular, visited Africa for the show and returned to give one of the night's most passionate performances. And Alicia Keys talking about changing lives "for the price of a pair of shoes" hit home, too. Also, if you use "Breathe Me" as music for anything, it will make me cry.
  • I loved that Heart seemed to not really understand what they were supposed to be doing with Fergie, who had this wild "c'mon, guys, dance with me!" look in her eyes the whole time.
  • Jimmy Kimmel and Simon's nipples = too much, too much, too much. But "who parts that for you, Moses?" actually made me laugh.
  • I say this as a longtime fan, but . . . does anyone find Robin Williams funny these days?
  • When Brad Pitt is introducing Daughtry, it really is a topsy-turvy world.

And there we have it: Another 150 minutes of Idol giving back. What were your thoughts? Was the closing song (which I missed; thanks, DVR) better than last year's? Which celebrity appearances did you most enjoy? And will you be tuning in for the elimination show tonight, or are you all Idol-ed out for one week?

Photos courtesy of Fox

Join The Conversation
orisugar orisugar 9 years
Oh and I loved Jimmy Kimmels jokes on Simon! hilarious.
orisugar orisugar 9 years
I was really moved by this show, especially the Anne Lennox bit in Africa...I think that part really encouraged me to donate. I actually found the Robin Williams part really funny! And I love the song Daughtry was singing. I think it was a great idea to have the idols take phone calls, whoever thought of that is genius. I didn't like some of the performances..I muted Fergie and Heart, I muted the first song by Miley Cyrus (how the heck did she top the charts? the girl would have been kicked off idol in the first audition) I thought Carrey's song was dull and didn't compliment her vocal abilities at all. But overall great show!
HustleRose HustleRose 9 years
Buzz, I am so with you on the love for the So You Think You Can Dance crew and my love for the show. The opening number with them all dancing was the best performance of the whole night for me. Can't wait til the show is back in May. Also so with you at being moved by Annie Lennox's part and crying at Breathe Me. Could have gone without Teri Hatcher and Miley Cyrus.
spazzydana spazzydana 9 years
i agree zombie, mileys performances scare the crap out of me. i cant tell if shes having a seizure or being a 'rock star', or what she thinks is one.
Brittfish Brittfish 9 years
Also, did anyone else notice that an entire gospel choir couldn't save the idols from totally tanking "Seasons of Love"? Shouldn't that song be a slam-dunk for them?
Brittfish Brittfish 9 years
Buzz - I totally agree - they left a bunch of people out, I feel like a lot of shows like this do that because commitments change, but the "with rock royalty" announcement was made during the broadcast! I wonder what happened there - did someone drop out at the last minute?
kristyrk kristyrk 9 years
Umm, did anyone else catch Fergie Fergs forgetting the lyrics to Barracuda? A song she COVERED on her own previously???? Wow.
Entertainment Entertainment 9 years
Brittfish — they left out a lot of things they said they'd have. Here's a list of the people in the press release who weren't in the show at all, from Minnie Driver to Selma Blair to the presidential candidates. Crazy! Phasekitty, et al — yeah, I was pretty sure that last year the sponsors pledged money per vote. That seems like the best way to do things both for the charity and the show, and I'm really baffled as to why they'd drop that.
Brittfish Brittfish 9 years
Bo-ring. Also, didn't they say Daughtry was going to play with rock royalty? Did I miss something? Who were they talking about?
sarahcateh sarahcateh 9 years
I love so you think you can dance so much more than idol. I don't know what it is but that show is just perfect for me, it never gets old (where idol sometimes gets tedious and tired). I totally agree with you buzz
ayanaphil ayanaphil 9 years
Tornado warnings across North Texas caused my DVR to only record the first 45 minutes of the show.
zombielove zombielove 9 years
miley scared the crap outta me when she sang "see you again" she was TOTALLY spazzing out...and her crawling on the floor and tryna rock out, scared me most of all.
hollycf hollycf 9 years
I actually didn't think there was enough light hearted stuff. Last year we had the simpsons version of american idol, the music video of all the celebrities lip syncing and the Celine Dion and Elvis Presley duet. There was nothing like that this year which made me a bit disappointed. The videos were nicely made and very sad. But I don't think there was enough balance between the moving sad parts and the fun entertaining parts. Its a great cause and I hope they raised a ton of money, but I did not enjoy it this year.
yiddidea yiddidea 9 years
The bit between Miley and Billy Crystal went on WAY too long. I felt like I was at a Miley Cyrus concert. Phasekitty - yeah, I think the voting did factor into the money raised last year. Annie Lennox was the highlight of the show for me, hands down. The So You Think You Can Dance bits were awesome and I actually really enjoyed the Idols singing "Seasons of Love". Other than was just okay. The celeb visits to the affected areas were well done and touching, but the show on a whole seemed to have less celebs this year. I was expecting more performances than there were too. But, you have to give Fox props for even hosting the event and any money they raise is definitely worth it. Kudos all around.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Miley's the cutest! :LOVE:
Hootie Hootie 9 years
I skipped through most of the show. It was pretty bad. I watched all the actual stories. They moved me, very tragic. Robin Williams at the end was strange. Him grabbing Simons rear was funny, but odd. I would have liked more footage & stories. Less stage antics and bad performances... Annie Lennox was fab!
Phasekitty Phasekitty 9 years
It was a bit much last night. I was definitely fast forwarding through a lot of bits. My DVR cut off just as Mariah took the stage, she hadn't even gotten a note out yet. I didn't realize how much it was going to be like an actual telethon this year- that was a little weird. As much as I loved seeing Chase on violin- Teri Hatcher was downright terrible. Cringe worthy. My bf is in love with her so he wouldn't admit how bad she sounded, so I spent the whole night saying this to him, "Nicole Kidman- she busted out singing in Moulin Rouge and everyone was like, 'Hey, she's got a nice voice.' Teri Hatcher...not so much." replacing the celeb and movie every time. He was annoyed :-P Also, this was bugging me all night- last year I know they did Gives Back during the actual performance and "elimination" night...didn't they give a certain amount for every vote that was cast on performance night? I remember they extended the hours, I thought, for that purpose. I always figured that's how they raised that 70 some odd million from last year, but I could be wrong.
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