American Idol Episode 9-42 Recap

Last Wednesday, Casey James was predictably sent home, Perez Hilton unpredictably pushed something called Travis Garland, and perhaps predictably Hilton showed that while he’s really good at celebrity gossip he’s not that good at judging talent or Trump-style hyperbole. If you missed it, let’s just say that I very highly doubt that Garland is going to challenge Jason Derulo or Jay Sean (never mind JT) on the pop charts anytime soon.

Enough of last week. It’s time for the final two, and of course that meant that American Idol moved to the Nokia Theatre. Because of the way the final is structured, I like to use a 10-point system to score the singers. Three rounds, 30 points total. Let’s go.

Round 1 – Contestant’s Choice
Lee Dewyze, “The Boxer” (Simon and Garfunkel)
Crystal Bowersox, “Me and Bobby McGee” (Janis Joplin)

Lee was maybe too reserved here, whereas Crystal chose a more upbeat song which allowed her to get rid of the nerves and seemingly enjoy the song a bit more. I don’t really feel that either performer knocked it out of the park, but we’ll call this a 10-9 round for Crystal

Round 2 – Simon Fuller’s Pick
Lee Dewyze, “Everybody Hurts” (R.E.M.)
Crystal Bowersox, “Black Velvet” (Alannah Myles)

Lee made his song unmistakeably his – a good thing, because at this point you really didn’t want to be comparing songs to the original versions. And it was as good and different from the original as when The Corrs did a cover of the song.

Crystal’s song is actually one that probably didn’t need much tinkering with to showcase her strengths, so to that end I think she changed things up a bit too much. Not to say that she didn’t sing it well, but there was just that intangible something that made it seem off to me. I’ll give this round to Lee – barely – 10-9.5.

Round 3 – Hit Single
Lee Dewyze, “Beautiful Day” (U2)
Crystal Bowersox, “Up To the Mountain” (Patty Griffin)

I really thought that Lee could bring it with this song, but it only turned out to be “nice”, and really not what I would’ve expected. In fact, I think Kurt Nielsen sang this one much better way back on that World Idol special. Hate to say it, but Lee didn’t deliver on the night when he really needed to the most.

Crystal’s song, I’d lay odds that it will go the way of “Dream Big” (David Cook) and “Easy Easy” (J.D. Fortune) as “hit singles” that don’t become singles at all. But this was done really well, and while it didn’t have that “moment” that you’re looking for in a hit single, Crystal sang it well enough that I’d give her the round 10-9 and the win, 29.5-28.

Oh, and I loved the “future endeavours” comment.

Kevin’s Rankings:

Who Should Win:

Who Will Win:

Overall Thoughts
I tend to not look back at a season until it’s close to done, and in the case of a reality show like American Idol or The Amazing Race, you really have to look at the show both within the context of the season and of the show over it’s history.

For the former, it’s been pretty good, as the strongest performers went deep into the competition, with the major surprises being the early elimination of Lilly Scott and the near-elimination of Michael Lynche during Top 9 week. The finale was perhaps the most underwhelming since the Kat McPhee/Taylor Hicks finale, but unlike that season these two are probably better suited for performing on stage.

For the latter, the issue is that most of the contestants were PERFORMERS, as opposed to singers. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I agree with Joe that this season’s use of instruments was perhaps relied on a bit too much for a competition focused mainly on the singing. Conversely, the producers could also have chosen to EMBRACE the use of instuments a bit more as well. For instance, The Final Four all play guitar, so showcasing this would have been a bit different (if not original – they did this in the second season of Canadian Idol).

Overall, I don’t think it’s the worst season ever – I think season three for me is still the worst of the lot but it really didn’t resonate on the whole. I do think that whoever wins has a better chance to transcend “Idol winner” status than a Fantasia or a Kris Allen but really, that remains to be season.

And that’s it for me on Idol for the year. I’ll hopefully be back for Idol 2011 (assuming that the new baby in September cooperates) and, if I’ve got the strength, the debut of The X-Factor.

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