American Idol – Episode 9-42 Review

Who deserves to win: Lee DeWyze or Crystal Bowersox? Normally for the final competition, there’s electricity in the air. It’s a musical version of Christmas. We want to be wowed except for the painful moment when they have to sing the crappy ballad penned by Kara. But this season hasn’t been for wowing. Everything sounds like a crappy Kara tune. Is this going to just be a battle of Coffeeshop performers? Maybe I should order up some espresso?

The night opens with Lee and Crystal’s first interviews during the tryouts. Simon swears Lee is head and shoulders above everyone else. He’s not even above Taylor Hicks. Ryan does the big reveal from the Kodak Theatre. The place is packed. Will they really get rocked or is this another night when the applause signs work overtime? This isn’t the Apollo. These people would go nuts if a performer farts “Old MacDonald.” Simon Cowell looks extra relaxed for his final week on the show. He’s already admitted he was bored by the show. They have Lee and Crystal walk down the aisles and they look more confused than pumped up.

There are three rounds. First is them singing their favorite song of the season. Second is a song selected by Simon Fuller. Wonder if he secretly owns the songs he picked like Simon Cowell does? The last song will be the crappy new song. This will be the first single released by the winner. Is that really a prize? After the first one recorded by Kelly Clarkson, do you want to listen to any of the last seven? Crystal won a coin toss so she goes second.

Lee’s parents talk about how they thought he’d be a professional baseball player, but he really wanted to be a rock star. He goes back to Inspirational week’s “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel. How will anyone harmonize with his voice that just goes all over the place? He strangles the song. This is as bland as vanilla Jell-O. And it really doesn’t go anywhere. The crowd goes nuts. Why? Randy begs him to get some more energy going. Ellen swears he did better this time than the first time. Kara wants more, but likes how it tells Lee’s story. Did he beat up people at the paint store? Simon wants a kiss on the lips and Lee gave him a kiss on the cheek.

Crystal’s dad says she was born to do music. Her selection is from Billboard #1 week with “Me and Bobby McGee.” She’s got the acoustic guitar and her funky microphone stand. It’s a restrained version as she stands with feet firmly planted. It’s The song picks up in tempo halfway through, but it’s rather karaoke in the uninventive arrangement. Randy thinks it was dope. Ellen swears she’s so compelling on stage. Kara loved it tonight like the first time. Simon calls it a competition tonight. Is it because both Lee and Crystal played it extremely safe?

The Executive Producer choice for Lee is R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.” Snoooozeeeee me. Lee is with his acoustic guitar doing the deep vocal song with his mid-level chipmunk growl. They bring out a huge choir to bury his voice and pump him up like they did last week. The final notes come from the choir and not Lee. That’s a cheat. Randy mentions him being pitchy in the beginning. Ellen felt he went off of the notes and pulled back from the song. Kara claims Lee is emotionally accessible. Simon thinks it was a brilliant choice of song. What a suck up to his fellow Simon. Simon starts making up excuses for why Lee was pathetic on two straight songs. He expects a 10 out of 10 on the original tune.

Crystal gets stuck with Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet.” It’s another slow song. She doesn’t have the acoustic guitar. Instead she’s in a black velvet dress and heels. She walks like she’s afraid of stepping on baby chicks. Why do they insist on putting her in heels? They do bring up the song a notch. Musically it sounds like a crunching mess. She gets extra loud to sing over the mix. At least it has energy. Randy screams that Mamasox is in it to winner. Ellen calls it fantastic. Kara knows she wants it. Simon is allergic to the song since people murder it in auditions. He thinks Crystal nailed it.

Turns out they decided not to create a new song for the winner. Instead Lee DeWyze gets to give us his version of U2’s “Beautiful Day.” He walks into a bunch of violinists playing around him instead of a choir. He walks around the stage like he’s looking for a good angle at the monitor. It’s a rather passionless and low wattage version of Bono. He can’t move. He keeps his hand on the microphone as if someone will steal if from him. I’m distracted by how his pants look like they’re going to fall down. It’s such a bland and schmaltzy version. It’s like he’s the stand-in during the camera rehearsal. Randy thinks he got his groove back halfway through the song. Ellen confuses me with her talk. Kara recognizes that he got swallowed up in the song. She swears he has a commercial voice. Simon refuses to really give a judgement and harps on how he’s a guy who was working in a paint store. He tells the audience that he will be doing this for the rest of his life. Does that mean dreams of playing Teen Angel in a touring company of Grease?

You want to hear real singing and guitar playing – listen to Nick Drake on that AT&T ad. “From the Morning” is beyond what this show has given us this year. Odds that Simon Fuller or Simon Cowell could recognize the next Nick Drake is beneath zero.

Ryan brings us back for Crystal Bowersox’s version of “Up To The Mountain.” This is on the Susan Boyle record. Kelly Clarkson has also sung the Patty Griffin song. She is given back her acoustic guitar and stool so she’s in full coffeeshop mode. They have a chorus on the stage as she sings a song that uses lines from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” It does play on her gospel leanings when she sings. It’s better than Lee’s “Beautiful Day.” But that’s not much of a feat. Randy calls it one of her greatest performances on the show. Ellen can’t compare her to one contemporary artist. Kara feels she was emotionally invested in the song. Simon calls it the song of the night. He claims this will be his final critique, but he’ll be keeping up the smarm on X Factor next season.

Since this is a numbers game and somebody has to win, Crystal Bowersox get the advantage. Lee DeWyze didn’t even come close to winning a title.

They being out Pop Idol winner Will Young singing to a montage of this season. He’s been the voice of the loser montage this season. This guy is rather pathetic and pedestrian on stage. He’s got less moves than the corpse of Perry Como.

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