'Idol' final three battle for spot in finale
Note: Lisa de Moraes is in New York covering the broadcast network upfronts, and will return next week. In the meantime, WaPo Team TV's Emily Yahr recaps the Top 3 Performance Night.
"This is the fight for the finale," Ryan Seacrest intones dramatically at the top of the show. "And THIS is 'American Idol,' " the final three contestants have all been told to say at the same time. Except they appear to have all started talking at different times. Excellent start!
The good news is that this is one of the last times we'll ever have to hear Randy Jackson yell "Boo! Boooo!" while Simon Cowell is introduced, given Simon's impending departure next week. The bad news is that Tuesday night is multiple song night, in which the contestants choose one tune, followed by one chosen for them by the judges. This can go either way, depending on how much the judges like the contestants.
Casey James, decked out in a flower print shirt and gray suit jacket, his spectacular golden mane tousled ever so casually, chooses Eric Hutchinson's "OK, It's Alright With Me." He does way less of the bleating-goat voice he's favored over the last few weeks.
Randy Jackson gives an evil chuckle before remarking "Simon Cowell is a funny guy," leaving the rest of us wondering what insulting inside joke they've shared while a sweet kid from Texas is singing for his life. Randy tells Casey the song was just... wait for it... "alright with me." Ellen babbles for a minute before saying he needed to blow the judges away, but didn't. Kara DioGuardi gently notes that because it's a relatively obscure song that most viewers were hearing for the first time, Casey couldn't make it his own. Simon helpfully reminds Casey that, "It's arguably the most important night of your life," and goes on to a long-winded metaphor that compares Casey to a salad. Ryan pipes up to remind everyone that the show a two-course meal, and we hope Metaphor Time is coming to an end.
The judge's favorite (until a few weeks ago when they started loving Lee DeWyze) Crystal Bowersox decides on "Come to My Window" by Melissa Etheridge, and is armed with a harmonica.
Randy hates the arrangement of what he calls an "amazing song," but likes the vocal. Ellen thinks Melissa would be quite proud of Crystal, and Kara agrees that she got lost in the arrangement. Simon feels it wasn't the most "stunning" version of the song, but grudgingly admits she's stayed true to herself as an artist since day one. Crystal, who's had some issues during Judges Feedback lately (read: she won't shut up), wisely stays quiet.
A promo of the upcoming episode of "Glee" with Neil Patrick Harris makes us remember fondly the auditions when NPH was the Best. Judge. Ever. We would take him back in an instant, and he can even bring the mullet he's apparently sporting on "Glee."
Ryan sits down Lee DeWyze for a heart-to-heart about his recent visit home to Chicago, and how Lee is a changed man after coming back to "Idol" after the trip. Lee goes on about how he now has all kinds of energy, but some squealing girls cut him off, and he sings Lynyrd Synyrd's "Simple Man."
Whatever Lee did in Chicago, it worked. Randy freaks out and starts yelling about how Lee is amazing, and Ellen compares him to a former little baby lamb who's now a gazelle or impala. Kara's thrilled that he picked a song that obviously had meaning, and Lee manages to take a jab at Simon by saying that although it wasn't a "current" song, he felt connected to it. Simon either ignores the comment or is programmed to tune out anyone but himself talking, and gushes that Lee's song was "absolutely on the money," and that he "crushed" the competition in round one.
In round two, the contestants are shown briefly at their hometown visits, and Casey is in his hometown of Cool, Tex., and swarmed by women of all ages. He's informed via text (at his local AT&T store!) that he will be singing "Daughters" by John Mayer on Tuesday's show, chosen by Kara and Randy. Back at the show, Kara tells Casey that she thinks the song is perfect because it appeals to his female fan base -- and let's face it, that's the only reason he's still in the competition.
Casey seems to sleepwalk his way through the tune, but naturally, Randy is pleased with the performance and song choice. Ellen likes it, and Kara basks in her own idea and thinks the song was the right choice. Simon, however, slams his fellow judges for not allowing Casey to have a moment, because the song didn't have a climax. Kara jumps in to argue about the song's climax but Ryan breaks it up before the argument goes to a bad place.
During her trip home to Elliston, Ohio, Crystal learns that Ellen has chosen Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed," and Crystal even ditches her guitar and adds some thigh-high black boots to the performance. Randy, Ellen and Kara think she did a great job and took a risk that paid off. Simon declares it "terrific," and Crystal proved she's got soul.
Lee is next to receive his text message with his Judge's Choice song, courtesy of Simon, and we get a glimpse of the actual message, which hilariously reads, "Hi Lee, it's Simon!" like a giddy tween, before informing him he'll be singing "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen/Jeff Buckley. Lee manages to do a much better job than He of the Pettable Hair (Tim Urban, of course) did earlier in the season.
With the odd camera angles, smoke, and back-up singers dressed in black mysteriously appearing out of nowhere, the whole performance resembles the beginning of a sci-fi movie, but the judges absolutely love it. Randy declares it Lee's "biggest moment on the show," Ellen calls it "stunning," Kara exclaims that, "you are the heart of the show this season, and you just owned this entire night," while Simon calls him a "fantastic singer," and reminds the audience for the thousandth time that before this show, Lee was working in a store, looking for a break.
With that, Ryan has a few seconds to kill before the start of "Glee," so he tells all three contestants that they are all winners -- but more importantly, Justin Bieber will appear tomorrow on results night.
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Lisa de Moraes
May 19, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: "American Idol"
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