Well we’re down to two. After a relatively subpar (almost cliché to say that at this point) season, Crystal and Lee took the stage to perform for the title. I am not convinced it matters so much at this point who wins this thing. Just making the top two is a nice entrance into the world of pop music and we have to go back to Blake Lewis to find a finalist who hasn’t had at least a little industry staying power.
Crystal and Lee were most deserving of making it to the finals with Lee coming on particularly strong over the last month or so. He’s been doing so well that last week was the first time I could picture a winner other than Crystal. I still think she should win, but Lee has at least made it a debate.
The contestants were able to choose a song of their own, assigned a song from Simon Fuller and given a new song to sing that would be their first single. Not going to give scores this week. Just will comment on each performance and give my thoughts at the end on who should/will win.
The Boxer – This was one of my favorite Lee performances of the year besides “Hallelujah”(which was too soon to replay) and thought a perfect way to start off the night. I love Paul Simon music, but actually think Lee’s rendition could hit the airwaves as a hit song. That is an insane compliment. You’re welcome Lee. The judges thought it lacked passion, but Lee never really had too much passion to begin with.
Everybody Hurts- Interesting REM choice here. I need to say first that REM was a great pick for Lee. I never thought about them when considering the ex-paint salesman, but they have similar sounds. If I was told to pick a Stipe-led song for Lee, I don’t know if this would have been my first choice (Losing My Religion, What’s the Frequency). But that’s why I’m not a record producer. Lee got a crazy assist from the choir in the background and did a great job. I thought it would be a little too slow (and it was at points), but Lee took a great song and did it justice. I just don’t know if it really wowed anyone.
Beautiful Day - So I guess this year the contestants will release a cover song as their first song, and Lee’s would be a little U2 diddy. I don’t know about this choice from Idol’s perspective because A: how could Lee outdo Bono on this track? And B: isn’t it a little too soon? I thought Lee did a nice job making the song just different enough from the original (really well actually). I just am a little confused by the selection and that might have overshadowed my review of the performance. Still, the choice to use a cover is exponentially better than some Kara-written disaster that no one’s ever heard.
Me and Bobby Magee - I honestly never thought we’d see someone like Crystal make it this far in a competition like Idol but when she performs these Joplin songs, it’s clear to why she’s made it so far. She can take folky songs and translate them to something a younger generation wants to hear. She is a fantastic talent.
Black Velvet - This is the kind of upbeat song I thought Lee needed to do after his performance and Crystal, while not perfect vocally, at least kept the energy level way, way, way up. What’s interesting here is that I don’t think this was Crystal’s best performance (not close), but it was so much more memorable than anything Lee had done to that point. For that reason alone, this tune gave Crystal an insane advantage.
Up to the Mountain - This Patty Griffin song’s been covered by a couple of different people already (Kelly Clarkson for one), but it was absolutely perfect for Crystal. This is the kind of music she will make on a record. And people will buy that record.
After a long season, the clear favorite from the beginning remains the clear favorite after tonight. It would be a moderate shame if Crystal wasn’t to win. Crystal’s performances tonight were just that one step above what Lee brought. And unlike last year, where I thought Lambert was better, but Allen would win, I don’t see that this year. Crystal deserves it, and she will win American Idol tomorrow night.
Other thoughts from the finals
- I know Simon is leaving, and that is a huge blow to Idol even if he’s looked a little bored this season. With Simon exiting, it might be a nice time to just blow up the whole thing because Randy needs to hit the road as well. Randy has contributed absolutely nothing this season, and probably even detracted from the whole judge’s panel. I can’t believe I am about to say this, but I think I like him less than Kara. He kept saying, “Duel to the finish.” What the hell does that mean? Or more importantly, why does it need saying?
- Thankfully Idol did not feel the need to stretch this final performance night over anything more than an hour. They’re saving that for tomorrow.