Idol's Top 3 Shine with Songs Picked By Judges
Round One:Casey James decided to sing Eric Hutchinson’s “OK, It’s Alright With Me” -- well, you wouldn’t expect Casey to sing, “Everything’s Too Complicated, and Now I’m Disturbed.” It was a lowkey, okey-dokey performance that left the judges unimpressed. He was falling back on his country charm, and that wasn’t going to propel him forward. “It’s just all right with me, too,” said a ho-hummified Randy. Simon suggested it was, at best, a salad course that better lead up to dazzling main course.
Crystal Bowersox chose Melissa Etheridge’s “Come to My Window.” I thought she didn’t seem to really have her vocals under control -- she just wasn’t not rollicking or gritty enough. Randy faulted the arrangement, but he and Ellen agreed it was the right song for her -- in her “comfort zone,” said Ellen. But it failed to deliver “the moment,” said Kara.
Simon praised Crystal, at any rate, for never compromising herself as a performer. But neither do Casey or Lee: These finalists aren’t thrilling, but they all know themselves.
The difference is that Lee DeWyze is becoming himself more and more. On Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” he sounded like David Cook without the rock-troubador pretension: Confident, grounded, with a low growl. “You took this thing seriously,” said Ellen. “You were like a little baby lamb ... now you’re like a gazelle or an impala.” “Round One,” said Kara, “goes to Lee.” Simon agreed: “I think you just crushed the other two.”
Round Two:Randy and Kara picked John Mayers’s “Daughters” for Casey. “Your audience is women and girls,” Kara noted, so she advised him to start targeting them with his voice (and not, presumably, just his hair). It wasn’t bad, if you wanted Jackson Browne, but the judges liked his vulnerability. “This fits you like a glove,” said Randy. Ellen agreed: “There’s going to be a lot of daughters AND mothers and, who knows, SONS who are going to be voting for you.”
Ellen picked Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” for Crystal, and encouraged her to show some range. Crystal obviously understood this called for a big, do-or-die performance, and she delivered it -- she even threw in a few high notes that made dear, departed Siobhan Magnus sound like a warbler. “I couldn’t have asked for more,” said Ellen. Simon told her that for the first time she’d shown the audience that “you’ve got soul ... You may be thanking Ellen next week for putting you in the final.”
Simon commanded Lee to do Leonard Cohen’s great but much, much too-covered “Hallelujah.” Frankly, I loathed his version, with its sappy backup chorus and expansive, cushy arrangement. The song is so haunting, and his version was so up. However, there has been no suggestion that I replace Simon or any of the judges, and THEY loved it. Randy thought Lee had now had experienced that magical “moment.” Ellen described it as “stunning.” Kara used words like “incredible” and “epic.”
Simon said the performance proved he was not only a “fantastic singer” but a “great person.”
Winner, both rounds: Lee. Runnerup, both rounds: Crystal. Nuh-uh, both rounds: Casey. --Tom Gliatto
Tell us: Which performance was your favorite? Who will go home on Wednesday's show? Who will win the competition?Michael Becker/FOX