PEOPLE Critic: Why Lee DeWyze Will Win Idol
05/25/2010 AT 12:00 AM EDT
I doubt this is a controversial opinion.
If Ellen DeGeneres had asked Crystal Bowersox to sing Lady Gaga’s "Alejandro" instead of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” the competition might have moved into uncertain and even scary terrain. But that didn't happen.
What we have heading into the finale are two good singers who had less distance to climb than any of their competitors, and now occupy almost the same plateau: Both of them have performed at a consistent artistic level that’s admirably easy on the ear while also being ... ever so slightly tedious. Their Equalizer settings have scarcely budged from week to week. And their performance styles overlap, too. There’s a fair amount of blues-rock in both, although Crystal is planted more firmly in the folk category, while Lee has more grit, more soul -- he’s like a Taylor Hicks who deserves to be reckoned with.
I’d say Lee and Crystal are equally matched in their fundamental integrity: On neither of them can you detect a sparkle of glitz or pizazz. I think they’d rather throw up.
So, this is not an exciting contest of contrasts, an Adam Lambert versus a Kris Allen. It’s more of a heartfelt standoff. Perhaps Idol’s millions of weekly voters, sensing that the current national mood is best served by seriousness, have unconsciously piloted the finale to these earnest, sober talents.
Although that doesn’t explain the Glee phenomenon, does it?
Lee will be the one to prevail, though, for two reasons.
1. He has progressed further as a performer, even if only incrementally. I’ve yet to see the lust and joy for performance that have had Kara DioGuardi so stoked in recent weeks. But during Sinatra Week, singing “That’s Life,” Lee showed just the right theatrical and vocal swagger without ever suggesting that this was an ironically fashionable pose. Otherwise he would have worn one of those Justin Timberlake “Rat Pack” golf fedoras. He was a performer that night, not just a singer.
2. To the extent that either of them displays anything as vulgar as a lust for show-biz success -- something Simon and the judges have repeatedly stressed merits reward -- Lee at least will nod eagerly and raise his eyebrows and answer, “Yes,” when asked about his drive to win. Crystal is stuck with the horrible salt-of-the-earth nickname “Mama Sox,” as if she should be standing in a field of wheat or headlining a very small rock festival, and she talks about being in the running so that she can provide for her family.
I guess this means she’s not daydreaming about filling in on Broadway in Wicked. But isn’t that the kind of fantasy that clinches the title? --Tom Gliatto
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Tell us: Who do you think will win American Idol? And who deserves to win?Michael Becker/FOX/PictureGroup; Ray Mickshaw/FOX