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'American Idol' - 'Three Finalists Compete' Recap

by Kona Gallagher, posted May 18th 2010 11:59PM
american idol top 3
I've got to say, I'm pleasantly surprised by this Top 3. Crystal, Casey and Lee are performing tonight, and I honestly can't think of any other contestants I would rather be in their place. There's no real theme tonight, but each contestant is singing two songs: one that they picked, and one that the judges chose for them.

It's always pretty interesting to see how each song choice goes over. Generally the ones they choose for themselves kind of suck, because they end up being more indulgent. The best performances this season have often been with songs that weren't necessarily in the contestant's wheelhouse -- it helps keep things unexpected.

Casey James is up first, singing 'Okay, It's Alright with Me,' by Eric Hutchinson. I fully admit that I'm not familiar with the original, so I don't really have a basis of comparison. However, it doesn't blow me away. Casey performs the song really well, and is clearly enjoying himself, but it's pretty generic. I automatically tuned out and just listened to it like I listen to any other folksy-blues song on the Coffeehouse radio station on Sirius.

Randy basically agrees, saying that it was "just alright" with him. He points out that we're down to the wire, and Casey can't afford to do a safe, easy kind of song like that. Ellen goes on and on about nothing, really, but she says "die" a lot, which makes Casey nervous. In the end though, she agrees with Randy. Kara brings up the fact that it's hard to pick a song that nobody knows, because he can't really make it his own. Simon calls him a "salad," and says that he sounded like he was "busking for a couple of dollars," but he sounded good.

Crystal Bowersox is singing Melissa Etheridge's 'Come to my Window' as her first song, and it's hard to imagine a way in which this could go wrong. Sure, there's the danger of her being too much of a sound-alike, but overall, come on. It's Crystal, and it's Melissa Etheridge. That just makes sense. Surprisingly, there actually a couple of places in which she hits some weird notes, but she kind of goes crazy with it (in a good way) at the end, which totally makes up for it in my book.

Randy didn't love the arrangement, but he loved her vocal. Ellen thinks it was a good song choice, and that Melissa would be very proud of her. Kara says that Crystal was fighting with the arrangement because her voice doesn't have the rasp of Etheridge's, but that it was a good vocal nonetheless. Simon agrees with the other three. He doesn't think it was the most stunning version of the song that they're ever going to hear, but he loves the fact that she hasn't compromised herself as an artist.

Lee Dewyze is singing, 'Simple Man,' by Lynyrd Skynyrd. What I find most impressive about this performance is how much more confident Lee has become over the past few weeks. It's this new-found confidence that has really made me sit up and take notice of him after all this time. He seems like he's just let go, and his performances have improved drastically as a result.

Randy thinks that it was a brilliant song choice, and that "someone here is feeling like he can win this." Ellen tells him that he was a scared little lamb, but that he's like a jaguar now. Kara tells him that what he did tonight is what ever contestant needs to do. She also says that "round 1 goes to Lee." Simon tells him that his song was "absolutely on the money," and that he "crushed the other two."

After the first round, we get to see a little bit of the contestants' trips to their hometowns. In the first clip, we find out that the judges chose John Mayer's 'Daughters' for Casey. This household is not pleased with that choice. Mainly because that song is super-creepy. Poor Casey does not look like he's enjoying himself, although he does do some nice vocals near the end. The basic effect is just everybody's uncomfortable all around.

Randy, however, is quite pleased with himself and tells Casey that it fits him like a glove. Ellen tells him that there are going to be a lot of "mothers, daughters, and maybe even sons" voting for him after that. Kara tells him that it shows his sensitive side, and that he changed it up where he needed to. Simon says it was a "bit of a lazy arrangement," and that he needed a much bigger vocal moment. Also, I wish they would stop saying "climax" so much.

Crystal goes back to Northern Ohio, and finds out that she's singing 'Maybe I'm Amazed," by Paul McCartney. It's an interesting choice, if not a little safe. However, she switches it up immediately and commands your attention. I really enjoy this performance, because I kind of feel like she's going to jump out of my TV and murder me. I like it.

Randy says that "we've got somebody else in it to win it!" Ellen says that she couldn't have asked for more, while Kara says that she showed us parts of her voice that we haven't heard up to this point. Simon tells her that she just proved that she has soul, and that after that, she may be thanking Ellen next week for putting her in the final.

Lee doesn't even get off the jet in his hometown. Chicago is a tough crowd after all. However, we find out that Simon chose Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah.' Lee, of course, is doing more of the Jeff Buckley version, as that has definitely become the more popular of the two. Here's my deal: I'm calling bullshit on the soul choir right now. This would have been a fantastic performance, but this, right here, is hacky as crap. Lee does an AMAZING job with this, but the whole thing is so overdone I can hardly stand it. I will say though, that he did an excellent job of not being overpowered by the arrangement.

The judges, however, are going to completely lose their minds over this; I can already tell by Simon's smug expression. Randy says that it was "unbelievable," and Ellen calls it "stunning." Kara tells him that she's what this show is all about. She calls him the heart of the show and tells him that he just owned the entire night. Simon tells him that with that performance, he's proved that he's a fantastic singer and a great person.

I've always been pulling for Crystal to win, but I do feel as though Lee may have edged her out tonight. What do you think?

Who deserves to go to the final 2?
Casey James41 (4.5%)
Crystal Bowersox301 (33.1%)
Lee Dewyze545 (60.0%)
-delete-21 (2.3%)

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A national study conducted by Mediacurves.com among American Idol viewers found that Casey James was selected as the contestant that should be eliminated from the competition based on his performance last night and only received 15.3% of votes. The study parallels American Idol voting to determine the weekly winners based on a democratic, "one person, one vote" methodology.
More results can be seen at http://www.mediacurves.com/Entertainment/J7766-AmericanIdol-5-18-10/Index.cfm

May 19 2010 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yup. This was most definitely fixed. Giving Lee a song like "Hallelujah" and then backing him with a gospel choir? Come On. Subtle, much? The final will be Crystal and Lee, and not necessarily because those two are the most talented or deserving. Well, Crystal is. But the Idol producers stacked the deck in Lee's favor over Casey so obviously and so deliberately last night, it's not even funny. I'm actually hoping that Crystal doesn't win, so she can be more creative and have more of a personal signature on her album. I think the "Idol" title comes with some baggage, not the least of which is having to release their crappy finale song as your first "single." Crystal is way better than any crappy, fluffy pop song they're going to give her to sing.

May 19 2010 at 3:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

For Lee & Crystal the night couldn't have been better. They both proved why they have been the cream of the crop the entire season. It took many months but we are almost there. It took a Tim Urban, a depleted female contestant crop and too many inappropriate Ryan Seacrest moments, but we are almost there. Casey had a rough night. He first chose a song that no one has ever heard of, then took a slow song and made it slower. Crystal on the other hand did something with her voice that propelled her to another level. Lee definitely has stepped up his game. He saw the immense popularity and positive feedback that Crystal was getting and decided to do more with this competition than just be happy to be there like many past contestants have stated. Lee started to really believe that he could win the whole thing, and this changed the way he approached all of his performances from there on out.

Is it possible the judges want Lee to win? Sure. But the judges wanted Adam Lambert to win as well and as we all know that didn't happen. This week Lee dominated, but are we so quick to forget that he had an off night last week. Next week's Final is a whole other ball game. Crystal can still pull it off as long as she continues to do whatever she did with "Maybe I'm Amazed".


May 19 2010 at 11:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Am I the only one that's SO OVER "Hallelujah"? Not taking anything away from the song itself, but c'mon already......I've heard this song SOO many times (even just on Idol alone), that I can't deal anymore.

And Simon can't think of a unique song to have him sing? If anything, for someone who talks about lazy song choices, Simon's just as big a culprit...

May 19 2010 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sigma982's comment

THANK YOU - I would have rather heard some Pear Jam for Lee - Daughter would have been great

May 19 2010 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved Lee's first performance of "Simple Man", and thought that was the best of the night. I liked "Hallelujah" too, but it's easy to get swept up in the emotion of that song, especially with a choir of singers behind the lead, and thought "Simple Man" was more Lee and the artist he is.

I was hoping to hear Crystal sing "Come to my Window" but thought her arrangement was weird, and she hindered herself with the harmonica. I enjoyed her version of "Maybe I'm Amazed" and agreed with Kara that we heard her voice hit some great notes she hasn't this whole competition.

As for Casey, I think it's the end of the road. I truly believe his first song was the kind of music he wants to make, but I think his vocal (deeper/lower) on "Daughters" was his best of the season. I just don't think he wants it (the title) as badly as Lee or Crystal, nor do I think he deserves it as either one of them. I think a #3 finish for him is perfect; he'll most likely get a contract, but have more say over it to promote his southern laid-back style, and be able tour small/mid-size arenas around the country and make a decent living at it without compromising his privacy.

I think he's very much like Taylor Hicks in that respect. His ultimate goal is his music, his way and not the star status. Whereas I think Crystal is strong enough to have all three, and Lee is the most current and could easily fit the A.I. Star-Mold and make great hits.


May 19 2010 at 10:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I actually liked Lee's first song better anyway. The style of the song was exactly the type of music he should be making. Crystal was solid, but not spectacular, and I think the first song Casey sang was the one that sunk him. However, at this point last year very few thought Kris Allen would be moving on and he did but I don't see Casey making it past this week.

May 19 2010 at 10:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No doubt the judges are favoring Lee and Simon set him up very nicely with "Hallelujah". It's a relatively easy song vocally and always a crowd favorite. Lee did a nice job but he's not that great. He definitely should thank Simon for the assist on that one. Crystal will finish second and go do her own creative stuff. It will work out best for both Lee and Crystal.

May 19 2010 at 9:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I liked Jason Castro's version of Halleleujah much better than Lee's arrangement.
I do like Lee, and have from the beginning, but do not appreciate the transparent reactions from the judges. Crystal Bowersox has never failed to hold my attention and is vocally head & shoulders above any other contestant.
bye-bye Casey

May 19 2010 at 9:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I definitely think the judges are pulling for Lee to win, from having Simon as a kind of 'personal mentor' (choosing Lee's song this week) to teaming him and Crystal up for the duet last week, gives him an advantage in my opinion. Also, does Simon get royalties each time someone sings Hallelujah?! It was the winner's song for X Factor in England a couple of years ago and he always seems to push it onto contestants. I love the song, so it doesn't bother me really - Lee's version was OK, I just don't see the big fuss surrounding him, he's not all that great. I think Casey will go home, because his songs tonight were pretty dull.

May 19 2010 at 7:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Lee really blew it tonight. His arrangement was way over the top and cluttered. It's a dirge, not a pop ditty, and when the gospel singers came out, it was over for me. He lost the simple stark ache of the song.

May 19 2010 at 3:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to caiuslupus's comment

Huh? Are your ears broken or something? Lee was fantastic....

May 19 2010 at 8:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have to agree with caiuslupus. Lee is a good singer, but his version paled in comparison to Leonard Cohen's, Jeff Buckley's and even Justin Timberlake's (from the Haiti telethon). He did the same thing to "Falling Slowly" last week.

I have to give credit to the show, though. They only took an hour of my life last night and didn't waste time with a lot of filler. One more week and I am done for good!

May 19 2010 at 8:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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