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American Idol: 3 Finalists Compete


American Idol

3 Finalists Compete

Season 9 , Episode 40

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 Ryan Seacrest must have been feeling magnanimous tonight because not only did he let the contestants introduce the show with him, he even was a part of a little height gag with Casey. Maybe like me he was happy that we finally arrived at contestants'/judges' choice night. I like when we reach this stage of the competition because we can really discern who has crappy taste and judgment.

There isn't anything wrong with Casey's taste per se but judgment is another question. He took on "OK, It's Alright with Me" by Eric Hutchinson. Like most people, apparently, I'd never heard of the song but Casey promised that it would sound like something he'd write himself.  It was a pleasant, upbeat song that mixed blues and bop but nothing about the choice or the performance screamed "winner."  The judges all agreed with me, that it was merely okay and all right.  Ellen was trying so hard to say something nice that she just babbled words there for a little bit and wasted time.

Crystal had a much better idea when she chose Melissa Etheridge's "Come to My Window" as her song. I actually got pre-emptive goosebumps when she started singing but I felt like the song never really came together for her the way I wanted it to.  She sang fine but I was expecting something really great. Also, I didn't think the harmonica added anything to the performance (maybe it was the piece of jewelry digging into her neck that was the problem). The judges actually agreed, saying that maybe something in the arrangement didn't work for her.  They still liked the choice though and Simon said it was an honest performance. Ellen informed Crystal that Melissa would be proud of her. I wonder if Melissa's sitting at home stewing "Someone needs to tell that bitch she doesn't speak for all the lesbians!"

Lee's personal song pick was "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynrd.  Just personally speaking I thought he sang well but Lee's style is by and large a drag for me.  He did his emotive growling thing and I got what he was trying to do with the song but I felt like, big deal, we've been through that already with Chris Daughtry and David Cook.  The judges all adored it though, Ellen even saying "Oh god, that was...yeah, yeah." Beforehand she compared Lee to I'd say three to four different animals and Simon looked tired. 

Home in Texas, Casey learned that Kara and Randy chose the John Mayer tune "Daughters" for him which I think kind of screwed him over. Like most John Mayer tunes it was quiet and mellow and understated and, well, you could potentially say boring. Again I can't argue with Casey's singing or guitar playing but neither of his performances is going to make anyone jump off the couch and pick up the phone for him, despite Kara's threat that he "give it to them," "them" being the women of America. The judges all liked the performance better than the first, for obvious reasons, but Simon questioned the song choice since it lacked any particular "climax," which made Kara mad but I thought he had a point.

I think Paul McCartney has written many shitty songs in his solo career but in my humble opinion, "Maybe I'm Amazed" makes up for (almost) all of them. Some songs are so good that, Idol-wise anyway, you'd have to work hard to really screw them up ("Falling Slowly" being another example). Crystal sang without the guitar and she belted the shit out of that song. I realized that the tune is a little less-than without the guitar solo but still, she sounded great, kicking all around her range, unlike Casey. I also really liked that she didn't change the gender in the song's lyrics.  She owes Ellen a big box of vegan chocolates for that choice.  The judges loved it and both Randy and Simon predicted that she'd be in the finale because of it.

While Crystal has been my overall favorite all season and I'm still sticking with her, I have to give it up to both Lee and Simon for creating a great last performance of the show. Simon picked "Hallelujah" (crediting it to Leonard Cohen this time) which is a song we've heard on this show so many times that I didn't have super high expectations but it all really came together for old Lee.  Except for one little moment where he seemed to lose it a bit on a high note his voice sounded perhaps the best it's been all season and the arrangement was great too. Even though it was a tiny bit too loud I loved the horn and the backup singers sounded (and looked) great.  It was the proverbial moment, no getting around it. Simon had a classic "I told you so" face at the end of the performance and the judges loved it the most and I can't blame them.

If there is any justice in the world Lee and Crystal will make up the top two. I have a feeling Lee may pull away after tonight but I feel like we've had a handful of winners who resemble Lee in style and voice whereas the only winner we've had so far who resembles Crystal in any way came around 9 seasons ago.  Whatever happens, tomorrow night Leonard will lead you through it--I told him I have a prior obligation but really I just want to read Leonard Pierce's thoughts on Justin Bieber.

--Here's one thing I feel like I know about the finale: whoever wins is going to look more embarrassed than elated.