Tuesday, May 25, 2010

AI9 Final: Taking it to the Nokia

Originally written for Rickey.Org.

Crystal Bowersox versus Lee DeWyze, the night has arrived, and not without the accordant fanfare. Fox has been putting the Idols to work, including singing 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' to be used on their broadcast. They did all this, as well as rehearse three songs, a contestant favorite from the season, producer Simon Fuller's choice, and a 'magic rainbow' single to be used as a coronation song, although the one last year written by Kara was dropped so fast you'd think it was on fire, not even being performed for the duration of the tour.

While Simon was making the rounds, he let everyone know he thought Lee was going to win, although Simon's track record has not been without missteps - picking David Archuleta and Adam Lambert in the last two years, not to mention his obvious disdain for Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks. With three out of the last four predictions being incorrect, one could easily discount him, or think he was due for a correct answer.

The show starts off with a series of mug shots of Idol hopefuls, coming to rest on those of Lee and Crystal. We cut to the judges reactions to their performances, and then to Crusty on a dark stage, before the lights come up to reveal the Nokia audience, with 7,000 people in the audience cheering away. He points out they are both 24 years of age, both auditioned in Chicago, and both want to win.

When introducing the judges, Crusty also points out it is Simon's last week on the show, which brings out strong support and a sly smile from Simon. He then introduces Lee and Crystal, who enter from the back of the audience, touching hands as they go. Crystal, who looks fantastic, is carrying a microphone, which is knocked out of her hand along the way. Lee doesn't seem to have one, unless he wisely tucked it in a pocket. They make it to the stage, and Crusty asks their thoughts, and both notice the large crowd. A coin was tossed following the last results show to determine the order of singing.

We then find out Lee is singing first. He returned to the week of Idol Gives Back for his inspirational song, Simon & Garfunkel's The Boxer. His performances is similar to the first, although the mix seemed a bit off, and he was being overpowered by the orchestra. Randy thought it lacked energy and life, while Ellen thought it was better than the first time. Simon points out it lacked passion,

Crystal returned to the Top 11, and Billboard Number 1's to sing Me and Bobby McGee, the Janis Joplin favorite. She is killing it, again. In great voice, and in top form. The judges are loving it, all clearly loving her performance.

Yay, a commercial for the GaGa episode of GLEE!

Simon Fuller picked Everybody Hurts, the anthemic song written and performed by R.E.M. Originally released in 1993, Michael Stipe's aching delivery is still etched in the minds of many. This one just barely makes it in the the twenty year window. Once again, it is Lee and his guitar center stage, with the orchestra in the shadows. The choir joins him at the end, and we see it is a beautiful song. Randy mentions some pitchy moments, and Randy points out it was too bad he pulls back rather than deliver the emotion, while Kara thinks he is so emotionally available. Simon thinks it all nerves, and wants a big performance for the final song.

Fuller decided Crystal should sing Black Velvet, sung most famously by Canadian Alannah Myles in 1989. Really, Mr. Fuller, couldn't pick a song from the last twenty years? Crystal starts at the top of the staircase and just nails the song, and looks gorgeous doing it. The judges love it, and Simon is very impressed. Crystal is clearly in the zone tonight, and is taking no prisoners.

Lee's original single is Beautiful Day, the U2 song. For the most part, he was being swallowed alive by the song. Randy struggles to come up with the positive, and mentions the big notes in the chorus. Ellen talks about him taking in the energy of the crowd. Kara points out he was drowning in the song, but he has grown so much. And he has the most commercial voice. Simon says some nice things about him personally, but ignores the performance. That says a lot.

Crystal's original single is Up to the Mountain, a song by Patty Griffin. Crystal is on a stool center stage, just a girl with a guitar, and starts the song alone. After a bit, the choir sneaks out, backing her nicely. She is working the heck out of the song, pouring it with rich emotion. That was exquisite. Randy thought it was incredible. Ellen thinks she is so, so good. Kara thought she blossomed, and was amazing. Crystal interrupts and to offer Simon her thoughts and wish him her best, and he answered with it being the performance of the night, and it was outstanding.
Crusty introduces the recap, and then brings out Will Young, singing Leave Right Now, live on the stage. He sings it beautifully.

Well, I thought Crystal won this night going away. Lee seemed to have suffered with his nerves, and swallowed his performance, while Crystal let it go and gave it to the audience. She pretty much mopped the floor with him. However, did Crystal win the season? I guess that is up to the voters!

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