Review: The Final 3
All three can play the guitar (Casey is arguably the best). All three can sing well (Crystal probably has the strongest voice). And all three seem like nice people (Lee likely comes across as the most humble). So, who is America ready to crown as our next American Idol? The show itself appears ready to anoint Lee DeWyze, based on the overblown star treatment he was given for the night’s closing number. But was he the best of the evening? Let’s take a closer look at each contestant’s performances in the order that they appeared:
CASEY JAMES - All of the press and online polling would indicate that Casey came in as the underdog this week and I’m afraid he didn’t do much last night to overcome that hurdle. His personal choice to sing Eric Hutchinson’s “Okay, It’s Alright With Me” was disastrously obscure, although he delivered it with his usual laid-back charm…but “laid-back” was the real problem here. He didn’t appear that he “was in it to win it”, as Randy’s always saying. Things improved quite a bit when Randy and Kara handed him John Mayer’s “Daughters” for his second number, but enough to secure a place in next week’s finale? I think not. Although I was thrilled that Casey was finally given the opportunity to interpret something that was a recent hit, Simon noted that the very slow song needed some sort of climax if Mr. James was hoping to come across as a dynamic performer.
Grade for the night: C
CRYSTAL BOWERSOX - Throughout the entire season I’ve felt that Crystal’s greatest strength is her amazing vocal prowess, and her biggest weakness is too-obvious song selection; both of those attributes were on full display last night. Her announcement that Melissa Etheridge’s Come To My Window was her personal selection of the evening had me literally rolling my eyes, but much worse was her performance, which paled in comparison to the original in every way. Also, the addition of the harmonica felt forced and made the number seem even more old-fashioned than it already was. Thankfully Ellen saved the night by assigning Paul McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed, giving Crystal the opportunity to turn in what I thought was the most impressive and impassioned singing from any contestant. But here’s the Big Picture Question: Can you imagine Crystal as a contemporary artist? Or is she just a really good “tribute singer”?
Grade for the night: B
LEE DeWYZE - First there was Chris Daughtry, then there was David Cook, and now we have Lee DeWyze…and although I don’t think Lee’s voice is quite in the same league with the aforementioned “Idol” men, his singing style probably makes it very easy for people to imagine hearing him on the radio today. Overall, he was the evening’s most consistent performer, but mainly because he was the only one who didn’t blow Round 1. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” was initially something that I feared would sound too dated, but Lee’s interpretation came across as modern as any hit from 3 Doors Down. Even better was his take on Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”, although I don’t think it measured up to Jason Castro’s brilliant version from Season 7. That, coupled with the fact that Tim Urban sang it on the show only a few weeks ago, made me think that Simon was a way off-base in giving the song to Lee, and slightly delusional when he said that this was Mr. DeWyze’s “moment.” Still, Lee is clearly headed to the Nokia Theater next week and will probably be hard to beat.
Grade for the night: B
GOING HOME: If it’s not Casey James, it will be one of the most shocking things to happen on this show in a very, very long time.
Who do you think will exit tonight? And who is your favorite? (Vote in our poll on the right!) Regardless of who wins the title of “American Idol,” which of these three will sell the most records? Sound off below with a comment!