There’s no doubt that Crystal Bowersox owned Lee DeWyze in all three rounds of songs in last night’s American Idol face-off night. Lee was the judges’ favorite leading in to the final, but they did a 180 when it was increasingly clear that Crystal was singing FOR HER LIFE *dramatic music* while poor Eeyore-faced Lee got bogged down by nerves and run-of-the-mill song choices.
That’s not to say Crystal has it in the bag. Lee is adored (or forgotten) by America, while Crystal’s sassy Earth Mother hippie attitude is more polarizing. She deserves to win, but who knows what America’s thinking. I do know that last night inspired some pretty awful headlines: DeWyze Bows to Bowersox! Deserving Idol Champion is Crystal Clear! Was Lee De-Mora-Lyzed? Bower-knocks our-Sox off!
God awful puns aside, tonight was also Simon Cowell’s final night of judging and he coasted through like a relaxed British Buddha who was spray-tanned until beet red (seriously, the man was looking practically purple). Combining this lame season with the loss of my favorite judge, who knows if I can bring myself to watch next season… Anyway, last night Lee and Crystal each performed three songs: their favorite from the season, a pick by producer Simon Fuller and a cover song that will become their single if they win. Recap and videos (by MJ) here:
CONTESTANT’S FAVORITE SONG
Lee Dewyze – “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkle: Hm, this wasn’t the most memorable Lee performance the first time around, so why do it again? It was just ok, nothing special and REALLY did not feel like the sort of performance to give on your final night. Maybe the massive audience was freaking Lee out. Randy, Kara and Simon wanted Lee to do well, but admitted that they were let down (read: he was totally boring and lacked passion). Wake up and step it up, DeWyze! – VIDEO
Crystal Bowersox – “Me And Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin: I loved Crystal’s first “Bobby McGee” performance, so I had high hopes. She started out a little too mellow but picked up the tempo and opened up her vocals in the middle. I heard some borderline straining/screamed notes at the end, but there was no doubt that her energy level was a hundred times better than Lee’s. I prefer her first rendition more, but the judges all loved it, especially because she’d lost momentum in the last week. They were excited to see the Crystal they all fell in love months ago and enjoyed that she was ready to fight for the final. Round One went to: CRYSTAL! – VIDEO
SIMON FULLER’S CHOICE
Lee DeWyze – “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.: Simon Fuller, your song choices are tres lame. Don’t pick a slow, dour song for a contestant whose biggest issue is he appears unhappy/scared while performing. Luckily, Lee’s voice worked well with the tune and it was much better than his first act. However, he was far from perfect and I was still bored. The judges agreed that Lee improved from his first act, but noted that he was off-key at times and didn’t fully allow himself to engage with the song and audience. Simon understood that Lee was nervous, but urged him to really kill the final song to make a powerful impact on the audience. – VIDEO
Crystal Bowersox – “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles: Why, Simon Fuller, WHYYY? How can anyone like this song or want to hear it after it’s been done to death on American Idol? Crystal seemed tentative while walking down the stairs in heels and shaking hands with the crowd, but at least she changed the arrangement to suit her soulful blues style, and did her damndest to let go and tear into the high belting notes. It was undeniable to the audience and judges that Crystal gave it everything she had. The judges all adored the rendition and the fact that Crystal didn’t shy away from attacking the song which was outside of her comfort zone. Round Two went to: CRYSTAL! – VIDEO
THE WINNER’S RELEASE SINGLE
Lee DeWyze – “Beautiful Day” by U2: BLECH? WHAT? NO! Don’t cover an overplayed U2 song for your release single! Who the hell would want to hear it on the radio again and again? I mean, I supposed if he rearranged it a lot, it could potentially be a hit… Okay, nope. It’s the same old, same old U2 cover. Lee looked really uncomfortable walking around with his little red Converse. He should’ve mustered up the swagger he had on Sinatra night, but instead he looked a bit lost on-stage. I mean, the violinists in the background were bouncing with more pep than he was! The judges didn’t seem impressed with his cover at all, so they just focused their commentary on what a “nice guy” he is. That’s pretty sad. Well, at least they didn’t throw him under the bus. After all, just cuz he sucked doesn’t guarantee that Crystal will win. – VIDEO
Crystal Bowersox – “Up to the Mountain” by Patty Griffin: I love Patty Griffin (go listen to “Let Him Fly” and “Every Little Bit”). Choosing a lesser known song could work in Crystal’s favor since fewer people would be able to compare it to the original. Although, is this the sort of song that Americans want to hear on the radio today? Regardless, it played right to Crystal’s strengths and she gave it a gospel arrangement (appropriately backed by a choir). Lord, I got chills when she nailed the HUGE note at the end. She seemed to be choking back tears during the final verse (reminiscent of her beautiful “People Get Ready” performance), but delivered it without any hiccups. Say what you will about the song choice, but Crystal was in the zone, raw, heartfelt, charismatic - she totally delivered on her final night. The judges went ape-shizz cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs over it, and understandably so. The loved her vocal delivery, her emotional investment and ability to keep up the fight amidst the pressure. Crystal also had the honor of receiving Simon Cowell’s final words as an Idol judge: “That was outstanding.” Round Three went to: CRYSTAL! – VIDEO
If you’re keeping score, Crystal outshined Lee in every single performance and hands-down owned last night’s final show. I even sent a single text message to “VOTE” for Crystal (first time I voted all season), so you know where I stand. I’m glad that the correct two contestants made it to the finale - they’re both “nice people”, passionate about music and have been working toward this goal for their entire life. I think it’s clear that all season, Crystal has been a much stronger performer both vocally and charismatically, so I’d love to see her get bathed in confetti tonight while sobbing her way through “Up to the Mountain”. We’ll see what America wants…
Expected to perform for the big finale are Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, Kris Allen and Enrique Iglesias. Not to mention a sure-to-blow-the-roof-off duet between big-piped winners Kelly Clarkson and Fantasia Barrino! Rumor has it that there will also be acts by Hall and Oates, Joe Cocker, Chicago, Melissa Etheridge, Janet Jackson and the Bee Gees. Plus, batty ol’ Paula Abdul is supposed to appear to wish Simon farewell. I hope they give him a nice tribute. Who do you predict will win? Tune in for the finale tonight… on… Aaaa-merican Idol!