Okay West Coasters, don't read this if you don't want to know.
No surprised to me that Ruben and Clay are the final two. Ryan Seacreast said there were 19 million votes and that the difference between the final three was 4%--that's 760,000 votes (Mathman will correct me ). Of course that doesn't say what the distribution was. It could have been that Kimberly had 700,000 fewer votes than Clay and Ruben, and that the difference between Clay and Ruben could have split the remaining 60,000 votes.
As for the sabotage theories, I just don't buy it. I think the producers run around too much like chickens with their heads cut off to even try something like that. And why would they want to sabotage Clay? The only reason would be to have a male-female final two, but Kim's fan base is so much smaller relative to Clay and Ruben's, I think the risk of being found out and costs of the resulting scandal (basically the END of AI) completely outweigh any benefits to arranging a Ruben-Kim final two. I think the random choice was just that--random. And random does not mean fair. As for the producers asking Clay to add a lyric, in most songs it would be no problem, but Sk8m8 is absolutely right: "Vincent" is a story song that builds, it's not a stick-in-your-mind chorus of rhymes and beats. The words also don't tumble out of your mouth; it's more like reciting poetry. I don't like the song, but certainly enough people love it to have made it a hit. Anyway, I think "Vincent" was Clay's version of skaters getting a bad skate order in the final six. Just happens.
As for tonight's show: I didn't expect much out of Justin (never do), but was very disappointed in Tamyra Gray's "Over the Rainbow." I don't know who is doing these arrangements but this was way over-arranged. It was like showing vocal gymnastics instead of the heart of the song. You don't have to do a Kansas Dorothy Judy Garland version, but give me something that let's me enjoy both meaning and the musical beauty of the song. Too slick all around. Tamyra looked beautiful, but did anybody else notice her wandering left eye? On the close-ups, it was getting distracting.
Justin: Josh sang "Unchained Melody" better than Justin. The guy definitely has charisma, but please, put him on a sitcom or in a boy band where you can't really hear him, but don't expect us to actually listen to him sing. Compared to Clay, no comparison.
You know, I didn't remember the rasp in Ruben's voice earlier in the season, but I thought I just didn't remember it. But DUH, of course it's vocal fatigue! (Idiot me:lol: ) I brought up the issue of Ruben's physical condition on another thread and some people thought there was no problem. Just to be clear, I have NO PROBLEM with somebody being a big singer. But just like there is healthy thin and anorexic, there is healthy big and obese. Ruben obviously got big man genes (just look at his brother), but I agree with Rgal: If this guy is going to get through the next six months, whether he's first or second, he's going to need to work on his voice and his weight.
As for the AI voice coach, there are voice coaches and there are voice coaches. I've always known there's been an AI voice coach and I'm sure s/he is competent for getting these people in shape for the arrangement each week. But even the best voice coach is not going to be able to work on long-term problems with technique under these conditions. Lest we forget, AI is a money-making enterprise. It's get these people popular, put out the records and put them on tour ASAP. These are made to flavor of the month singers. Anything they get after that is gravy, but as for the AI producers, they want to make maximum bucks, so what if the AI has permanent vocal chord damage? This is why I do not support AI Jr. in any way. I hope I don't get sucked into watching it because I do not like the premise, although I understand the money-making possibilities and you can't stop money nature.
As for the final, I'm more convinced after sleeping on it that Clay is absolutely, no question about it, the far superior singer to Ruben. He's stuck in some singing unfortunate habits, but it's just a matter of working with the right coaches and producers. I just can't get past the weaknesses and limitations in Ruben's voice. OTOH, it proves the "Survivor" premise: that it's interpersonal skills (or in this case, personality) that brings success more than merit. I think Simon is right that Clay could be extremely successful over the long haul, whereas as much as I like Ruben's personality, as a singer, I don't think people will buy more than one CD. Put him on TV, in movies, on stage, something where he can use his whole personality including his voice (he is pleasant to listen to), but try the Tom Jones comparison (or whomever your favorite pop singer is): Of the two, whose voice comes closest to being able to hit a vocal home run every time? I say Clay. America may say Ruben, but if they do, I think part of it's just because they like saying Roooooooben and also because the guy really does have an engaging personality--but IMO so does Clay.