May 26

American Idol Season 9: Final Two Perform

Ok folks, it all comes down to this.

Casey James is gone and we are choosing between Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze to be the Season 9 winner of American Idol.

Last week was the first show that seemed like it was actually, finally, a competition. It has been a season of a lot of m’eh. There have been very few “moments” of brilliance this season. The competition has been pretty much Crystal and therestofthem. I’m hoping that this does not bite her in the ass with a come from behind victory from Lee. But it all depends on how things go tonight.

They have three songs to perform tonight: their favorite from the season, one chosen by the executive producers, and finally, the song that they will release as a single if they win.

Lee DeWyze is up first. His favorite pick is “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel from “Inspirational Week.” Yeah, I hated it the first time as I recall. Randy didn’t think it was energetic enough. Ellen thought he performed it better than the first time. Kara agreed with Randy that he needed to bring more to it. Simon expected more passion.

Crystal Bowersox chose “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin from “Billboard Week.” She definitely brought the energy tonight. She also looks fantastic. This was every bit as good or better than the first time. Randy thought it started it slow but by the end it was “dope.” Ellen thinks she can fill the room with just a guitar. Kara loved it again tonight. Simon said she is back on her best and there’s a real competition tonight.

Lee’s second song tonight is “Everybody Hurts” by REM. He hasn’t really done anything to make this song different. The only change to the arrangement was the addition of the choir. I’m really not feeling it. Randy thought it was pitchy at the start, but improved. Ellen wants to see him get more involved with the song. Kara thought he told a great story. Simon thought it was a brilliant song choice but his nerves were getting the best of him.

Crystal’s next song is “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles. The intro arrangement was pretty cool. Actually, the entire arrangement was pretty cool. Crystal knocked this one out of the fucking park. Randy thinks she’s in it to win it. Ellen called it “Fantastic.” Kara blabbed something ridiculous. Simon is “almost allergic” to that song… but he said she took that song and absolutely nailed it.

Lee’s final song, the song that he will release as a single if he wins is “Beautiful Day” by U2. Since when do they release a cover as the single? What happened to the original?! Do.Not.Like. Lee is no Bono. Lee may be Adam Duritz from Counting Crows, but he is most definitely not Bono. This arrangement is pretty bad… Yeah. Not a fan. Please get off the stage. Randy thought he got his groove in the middle of the song. Ellen thought he was taking all the energy of the room in. Kara thought he got swallowed a bit by the song. Simon thinks Lee exemplifies the purpose of this show, a performer who needs a break.

Crystal’s final song is “Up to the Mountain.” I don’t know this song, but it’s a pretty acoustic jam with a gospel choir. She wins. This was her “moment.” It took a long time to get here, but that was it. The shining moment. Absolutely stunning. Randy called it one of the greatest performances ever on the show and at the perfect time. Ellen can’t compare her to any other contemporary artist. Kara thought she was completely emotionally invested in the song and she has “blossomed.” Simon, in his very last judgement on the show, called it the song of the night and called it “outstanding.”

I don’t think there is much competition. I called it WAAAAAAYYY back at the beginning of the season: Crystal Bowersox is the next American Idol.

The finale is tomorrow night. It’s generally a great show.

Do you think there’s any possibility that Lee will actually win?

May 20

Another Conversation with God

I’m not here today… I’m over at OurBigGayborhood where I’ve posted my latest conversation with God.

You should totally check it out.

May 19

American Idol Season 9: Semi-Finals

Michael Lynche was sent scuttling back to the gym last week, leaving us with the top 3. Lee Dewyze, Casey James, and Crystal Bowersox.

It’s pretty much the top three I’ve expected, with my personal hope of Siobhan making it this far being a pipe dream.

Just based on everything I’ve seen so far, I think it’s going to come down to Lee and Crystal in the top two. Crystal will win.

This week the contestants got to visit home. I’m gonna pretty much skim over the usual “key to the city, cry on stage, look really tired” video montage if they play them tonight and just get to the singing. I’m sure you can understand, right?

This is the week that the judges pick songs for the contestants and they pick one themselves.

Casey James is up first with “Ok, It’s All Right With Me” by Eric Hutchinson. I like the song… but this is one of those strange picks where if Casey had written it, I would love it… but as a cover, it’s not special. Randy thought the song was “just all right with me.” Ellen doesn’t think he brought enough for this stage of the contest. Kara thought the song choice was bad. Simon compared the performance to the salad course of a meal.

Crystal Bowersox picked a great Melissa Etheridge song, “Come to My Window.” I’m not sure it was her best vocal ever, but it was definitely Crystal doing what she does best. Randy didn’t like the arrangement, but loved her vocal. Ellen thought it was a great song choice (of course) and said that Melissa would be proud of her. Kara missed the moment, but thought it was good. Simon didn’t think it was stunning, but loves that she has not compromised as an artist this season.

Lee Dewyze chose “Simple Man” by Lynrd Skynrd. It was ok… one of the best performances I’ve seen from him. I still find myself wishing I was listening to Adam Duritz from Counting Crows instead. Randy thought it was a brilliant song choice. Ellen rambled about gazelles or something. Kara thought he showed everything he has. Simon called his song choice “on the money.” He said Lee crushed the other two in round one.

Randy and Kara have picked “Daughters” by John Mayer for Casey James to perform. I’m generally a fan of John Mayer but I hate this fucking song. It’s just so boring and sing-songy. Casey has perfectly picked up on the Mayer Mumble. I can’t understand a word. Randy thought the song fit him like a glove. Ellen thought it was beautiful. Kara thought it showed the more sensitive artistic side of Casey. Simon thought it was a good song choice, but thought the arrangement was kinda lazy and sleepy.

Ellen has picked a song for Crystal Bowersox — “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney. This is an awesome choice. It’s almost as if Janis Joplin was resurrected to sing this tonight. Fantastic. Randy thought it was a great song with great vocals. Ellen couldn’t have asked for more. Kara thought we heard parts of her voice we haven’t heard before and commended the risk of not playing an instrument. Simon says she proved she has got soul and she should thank Ellen for putting her in the final.

Simon got to choose the final song of the night for Lee Dewyze — “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. I think it is kind of unfair that they brought out a full choir to sing behind Lee. How do you not vote for someone who had a full choir backing them? Of course, being that it was the best performance Lee has ever given, I’d find it pretty hard to not vote for him, too. Shocking, I know. Randy called it his biggest moment at the best possible time. Ellen called it “stunning.” Kara called it an incredible epic moment. Simon said he proved that he is a fantastic singer and a great person.

Here’s my unexpected ranking of the night:

  1. Lee Dewyze
  2. Crystal Bowersox
  3. Casey James

Lee had a really great night. I can’t deny it. Casey will go home. Lee’s performances tonight actually make him seem like he could sneak up from behind and win. The final competition might actually be fierce for the first time all season. It’s taken far to long to get here! So what do you all think? What is your prediction for the finale?

May 12

American Idol Season Nine: Top Four Perform Songs from the Movies

Bye Bye TwinklyBits! You had a better run than expected. Now you’ll put out a middle of the road-nothing special country/pop album that sells just enough copies to warrant a second album before you hit puberty and disappear into obscurity. That’s just the way it is.

The top four are performing tonight. We are just two weeks away from the end of what has been one of the hardest to watch seasons I can remember. The chasm between the talented and the crap has never been this large.

They have to perform songs individually, and paired up into “very special duets.” The theme is “The Movies.” Tonight’s mentor is Jamie Foxx. I remember thinking it was a ridiculous choice last year and I’ve not seen anything to change my mind since then.

Lee DeWyze chose “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal from one of the Batman movies… Returns, maybe? I didn’t understand a single word of at least the first verse. Hey Lee – take the gravel out of your mouth wouldja? He’s not done a single thing to make this song his own. It’s rushed and never found a groove at all. Honestly if you’re going to take a song like this that has a very stylized sort of madrigal sound, you could do almost ANYTHING to the arrangement to make it your own. He did nothing. Plus, he was flat a lot. Randy didn’t think he did anything with the song and it was pitchy. Ellen thought there could be more done with the song. Kara thought he was out of tune and got lost in the arrangement. Simon thought he picked the wrong song and did nothing to make it his own. He compared it to karaoke.

Michael Lynche picked “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson from the “Free Willy” soundtrack. The song started too low for him for sure. Again, he’s done absolutely nothing to make this song his own. Michael performed this song with a lot of gospel feel and Michael kept it exactly the same. If not for the live choir on stage, I’d think he was singing along to one of those 1990’s karaoke tapes. Randy didn’t love it as it was just “alright.” Ellen thinks he is consistently good, but this was a predictable performance. Kara missed the “goosebumps” and he played it safe. Simon thinks he chose the wrong song, but he did at least feel like he meant it.

The first duet of the evening is next. Lee and Crystal are performing “Falling Slowly” from the film “Once.” A beautiful song that Kris Allen made popular last year. The original gives me chills. I didn’t really love the arrangement, it was too rock-driven and less intense than the lyrics call for. That being said, they sounded good together. Randy thought it was amazing. Ellen called them the “New Captain and Tenille.” Kara called it one of her favorite moments of the entire season. Simon called it “a fantastic song.”

Casey James decided to sing “Mrs. Robinson” by Simon and Garfunkel from “The Graduate.” He’s broken out a mandolin and the arrangement is pretty sparse, almost bluegrass which is actually pretty cool. Though I will say it does feel a little bit like a campfire sing-a-long rather than a multi-million viewer performance. He sang it well, but didn’t do much with the interpretation or melody. Randy thought he sounded “cool” and laidback. Ellen liked the changes but wished he had gone a bit further. Kara thought it was a good choice and liked that he showed some vulnerability. Simon didn’t think the song had enough substance or importance.

Crystal Bowersox is performing “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins from “Caddyshack.” So Crystal is back to being that fun bluesy rocker chick that we all know and love. This performance was so far and away better than anything the other contestants have done. It was very cool, the arrangement was changed drastically and made modern. The reggae-ish breakdown was a great choice. I would totally listen to this version over and again. I’ve already forgotten what everyone else sang. Randy didn’t think it was his favorite performance but liked her changes to the song. Ellen thought she made the song better. Kara agreed with Ellen, she made the song better. Simon said she is “back in the game.” Wait, she was out of the game??

Jamie Foxx has NO other trick up his sleeve other than getting in the singer’s face and telling them to seduce him. Seriously?

Michael Lynche and Casey James are on deck to perform their duet “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman” by Bryan Adams from “Don Juan de Marco.” I hate this song. This performance does nothing to change that. I can’t really even comment on the shitacular-ness that this was. The only thing nice was Casey’s guitar. Randy called it a “nice one.” Ellen admitted to having “loved a woman.” Kara called the duets “incredible.” Simon thought the duets were a million times better than the solo performances.

Tonight’s rankings:

  1. Crystal Bowersox
  2. Casey James
  3. Lee DeWyze
  4. Michael Lynche

So who do you think is going home? At this point I don’t think one crappy performance is enough to send someone home. I think it’s a collective process at this point — who has generated the biggest most fevered fan base? I think the time has run out for Michael.

May 05

American Idol Season 9: Top Five Sing Songs of Sinatra

We’re down to the top five.

Last week Siobhan was sent home. I’m very sad that this happened. I really wanted her in the top 3 with Crystal and Casey. Now it looks like either Lee or Twinklybits will be taking her spot.

This means there’s just one girl left.

The dreamy Harry Connick Jr is the mentor tonight and the Idols are singing the Sinatra songbook. I’m excited to hear that Harry is actually writing the arrangements for the contestants. That’s pretty damn cool.

Aaron “TwinklyBits” Kelly is opening the show with “Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words).” I’m sensing a bit of nervousness tonight. His voice is a bit quivery in places, but all-in-all he did not-so-bad. Sort of so what? The arrangement was very cool. Randy thought he did a really good job. Ellen said the piano was pitchy, but thought it was a beautiful vocal. Kara didn’t think it was as strong as last week and he needs to be a bit “bigger” on stage. Simon didn’t think it had enough conviction and the performance was a bit corny at the end.

Casey James is next and he’s picked “Blue Skies.” He’s not playing the guitar tonight which makes him look a bit uncomfortable. I gotta say, this was pretty fucking terrible. To properly sing these kinds of songs you have to have a really clear voice that rings like a bell. Think Nat King Cole or Rosemary Clooney… they would hit notes without a hint of quiver or vibrato and it’s smooth as glass. Casey just doesn’t have that voice. He’s great with the bluesy jams, but this is totally outside of his abilities. Randy called it his worst performance that was pitchy all over the place. Ellen thought it was very stiff and uncool. Kara compared his vibrato to a lamb. Simon thought he seemed a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable.

Crystal Bowersox is singing “That Summer Wind.” She looks amazing tonight in a full length black gown and the dreads are neatly tucked back on her head. She really can sing anything. This was a great song for her. She definitely put a bit of her own spin on the arrangement, and it fell in a beautiful part of her voice. She’s proving herself to be much much more than the rocker/folker chick that she started out as. Randy called it a bit “sleepy.” Ellen wanted her to loosen up a bit more and she commented on her many sides. Kara liked her phrasing and thought it was good departure from her norm. Simon doesn’t know if it was the right song for her and wants her to really step up her game.

Michael Lynche takes the stage now and he’s picked “The Way You Look Tonight.” I think Michael is probably the most comfortable with this genre tonight. His voice is clear and suited for this style for sure. He’s done a pretty good job with his interpretation, with the exception of it being somewhat over-dramatic. The hand gestures, the over enunciation, the self-indulgent super slow intro… it’s all a bit campy for me. But I do have to say his vocal is probably the best tonight. Did I just say that? Randy called it an unbelievable vocal. Ellen thought he had the most comfort on stage tonight and thought it charismatic and smooth. Kara thought he interpreted the song perfect, liked the drama, and put his own flavor on it. Simon thought it was the best of the night.

Lee Dewyze is closing the show tonight with “That’s Life.” I actually like this. For the first time this season, Lee has impressed me. There were no stupid monotonous belted notes. He stuck to the melody and his attitude was absolutely spot on. He was very comfortable on stage and had the exact “swagger” that the judges have been looking for all night. It was a great arrangement and he sang it quite well. It was the perfect song choice for him. I’m still a bit stunned. Leave it to the “standards” week to turn everything on its ear. Randy loved it. Ellen thinks if this were the last night of performances Lee would win the whole thing. Kara said, “You can win this thing.” Simon thought Harry brought out Lee’s personality and confidence and thought it was by far the best performance of the night.

Here’s my ranking for the night:

  1. Lee Dewyze
  2. Michael Lynche
  3. Crystal Bowersox
  4. Aaron Kelly
  5. Casey James

I’m not sure Casey will get voted off though… it’s hard to tell if the guitar/rocker guy vote will be split between Lee and Casey sending Casey home, or if there are enough tween girls voting for the sexy Casey knocking TwinklyBits out of the competition. It’s too close to call at this point. What do you think?