America, you got it right. You rallied behind a consistent cast of finalists on "American Idol" in 2011. And you put your money where your votes were by turning out 10,000 strong to see American Idols Live Wednesday at Target Center.
But the producers of American Idols Live must think that America got it wrong when it came to voting. Who got the most stage time at Target Center? Not champ Scotty McCreery or even runner-up Lauren Alaina. No, it was ninth-place finisher Pia Toscano.
She spent about 43 minutes onstage, participating in 10 numbers (seven in the first half alone) while McCreery got about 32 minutes, singing on six selections, all at the end of the show. Plus, the noticeably curvaceous Toscano wore eight or nine outfits and McCreery wore only two. All those opportunities for the big-but-anonymous-voiced bombshell seemed unwarranted.
Here are some other things you might want to know about Idols Live.
Why did it take 125 minutes (including intermission) before McCreery hit the stage? The producers think it's about drama but, honestly, it comes across like disrespect. I'm thinking about the 3-year-old Scotty fan whose mom said her bedtime is 8:30 p.m. but the new "Idol" didn't take the stage until 9:21 p.m. OK, enough counting.
How was Scotty? He is unquestionably the most confident 17-year-old I've seen perform in an arena since Taylor Swift. He definitely has "It," though a different kind of "It" than what's usually associated with "Idol" stars. His is a quiet strength and a winking, arched-eyebrow charisma. He's a cool customer with a deliciously deep voice and preternatural poise.
Who got the loudest response? Surprisingly, Casey Abrams. And, frankly, he deserved it. The 20-year-old was clearly the most talented of the 11 "Idol" finalists. Coming on like the Jack Black of jazz, Abrams filled the arena with just his voice and upright bass on "Smooth" and sparkled with Haley Reinhart on the bluesy "Moanin'." The runner-up in the cheers department was crowd-invigorating James Durbin, whose over-the-top shrieking rock 'n' roll made him seem like a noisy, hyper fish out of water.
Highlights? A group rendition (sans McCreery) of Cee-Lo Green's "Forget You" with everyone wearing sharp red suits; McCreery rocking out on Montgomery Gentry's "Gone;" a dance-happy Naima Adedapo topping Jennifer Lopez's version of "On the Floor," and Jacob Lusk's torridly soulful "You're All I Need to Get By" done as a solo number with female backup singers rather than as a male/female duet as Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell did it.
Did anyone disappoint? Vocal powerhouse Haley Reinhart, who finished third, came across like a jazzy, campy Kathy Lee Gifford singing on a cruise ship, and runner-up Alaina showed potent pipes but no personality in her singing or stage presence. A four-woman rendition of Katy Perry's "Firework" failed to explode.
How did Season 10 finalists live compare to other years? This crew was more consistent. There were no train wrecks and only one weak link, Thia Megia. This show was twice what last year's was -- both in quality and attendance.