So, I feel that we’ve truly bonded over these long weeks. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried…okay, well I’ve laughed and I’ve cried…and we’ve overcome a lot of obstacles this season. It’s because of this, that I feel I can confess something: this particular episode in any given season is my favorite. Is it because we find out who’s in the finale? Nope. Is it because I feel sorry for the contestants who have put their lives on hold for this opportunity? Heck no!
It’s because it’s the most heartwarming episode of all of them…the hometown visit! Now, I was a little concerned last week when Ryan pimped out the “AT&T” store visit like it was the promotional opportunity of a lifetime. But when it came right down to it, the hometown visit video recaps delivered, just as they do every season. Why? Because seeing how a show like American Idol has changed your life doesn’t hit you until you go back to your old life and find that it’s drastically changed. And that, of course, brings up true emotions that can’t be coached (even though I know the producers are probably itching to try it) and a sincerity that can’t be manufactured.
(Can you totally hear soft violin music playing the background? Gosh, I’ve headed down the path of sentimental fluff haven’t I? Pull me back, guys. Pull me back.)
But as with every granual of authenticity that the American Idol allows us, they are compelled to cover the things they CAN control with a healthy dollop of chees-i-fied cheesy-ness.
Therefore, after Ryan introduces the top 3 to the stage he flips his “The Doctor Is IN” sign and settles down on the end of the couch with his best “I’m listening to you and what you say is the most important thing in the world” expression. Casey, Crystal and Lee all take the time to say that there lives have been so crammed full of American Idol-related events, preparations, etc. that they couldn’t possibly have time for anything else. And you know what? I think they’re probably right. Still, this section felt more than a little contrived and I got the impression that Ry-Ry was attempting to stretch the show’s content so that it feel in the hour time slot instead of a much more appropriate half hour time slot.
During this camp counseling section (Tyra would have been proud) we heard the contestants talk:
– Crystal’s only doing this for her son. While I think I’ve made my position on this statement clear in posts past, I highly doubt that the ONLY reason that Crystal is on the show is for her son. She was loving and playing music long before he was born and I have a hunch that it’s been her dream to be a professional musician for a long time. Homemade mic stands don’t lie.
– Our sweet, bumbling Lee became very chatty, but instead of the inane rambling that we’re used to, his comments actually contributed a lot to the discussion. Another step in the direction of next week’s crown? You betcha. He wisely stated that staying true to who you are and balancing that with what the show calls for each week is a tough business. Uh-oh, Aaron Kelly! Watch out, your “Yoda” nickname might be finding a new home soon…
– And dear Casey basically confirmed what I’ve thought for a while…he didn’t expect to make it far and was just basically riding the tide to see how far American Idol would take him. He looked comfortable, relaxed and secure…I dare say that he knew he was going home, just as we did. The best part of this whole segment is when Lee and Crystal were giving the judges heartfelt thanks for all their comments and how each of their comments have helped and guided them…and then with a little prompting, Casey smiled and brought his fellow contestant’s feet back to solid ground by saying: “Not all of the comments have been usable…” He cracks me up. You go, Casey!
Casey’s Hometown Visit
And I Quote: “When my Mom cries, I cry.” – Casey James
Okay, I take it back. This was not a lame hometown visit! Casey looked stoked to be in Texas. And Texas looked stoked to have their new-found heart throb on the scene! Not only did he admit he didn’t have a girlfriend, but he also played to a packed stadium at his high school and visited the hospital staff that saved his life.
I admit it. I teared up. But that’s not really surprising to any of you, is it?
Travis Garland performs “Believe”
Ryan visited Perez Hilton in the audience and revealed that Perez discovered Travis online and thought he was better than Justin Timberlake. Okay. My question is, how is Perez Hilton worming his way into every reality show? He showed up on last season of ANTM and this is the next stop?
I do not understand why young Travis thought it would serve him well to perform in split screen. Mostly, it reminded me of The Brady Bunch and I don’t really think that’s what he was going for. I mean, Alice wouldn’t have approved of the shenanigans on stage and I don’t think Mike or Carol would, either.
I thought he did an impressive job of singing and dancing at the level he did without losing his pitch too much. I myself carried umpteen boxes up my stairs last night to move them into my new abode and I couldn’t have sung the alphabet without collapsing. So, good job, Travis.
What’s with the guest performance mixes? You can never hear the vocal over the other mayhem on stage! However, the percussion was awesome. Awe. Some.
Crystal’s Hometown Visit
And I Quote: “I’m speechless…that’s all I got.” – Crystal Bowersox
Surprisingly, Crystal’s visit home was the least emotional of them all for me. I did love that she got to go back home, see her family, perform to a huge audience, and headline “Bowerstock”.
She sure did get a kick out of a human “jack-in-the-box” through that limo window. And it also appeared that her digital camera was an appendage throughout her hometown stay.
While the video didn’t pull many of my heartstrings, seeing Crystal cry at the end after watching the trip back with Ryan was super moving. Alright, Crystal…you got me.
Lee’s Hometown Visit
And I Quote: “I’m gonna try and win this thing, a’ight?” – Lee DeWyse (said out the window to a fan)
I just want to say at the onset that I started out strong, folks.
Lee went home and threw the first pitch at a Cubs game. Okay, I hate baseball so I’m golden.
Lee visited his elementary school where it seemed like a million schoolgirls had a crush on him that manifested in screaming…a little boy in the crowd thought so, too, as he plugged his ears to guard from permanent hearing loss. I might have lost it there if the little boy hadn’t provided some comic relief–when he noticed that the camera was on him, he changed from plugging his ears against the noise to raising both fists in the air in excitement. Phew, that was a close call.
Lee visited the paint store that we’ve heard so much about–the home of his job before his current American Idol gig. This is where he lost it, but I was keeping it together.
Lee performed for the masses of fans that turned up for his concert and with Dad singing along, Lee got choked up during his performance. That’s when I pretty much lost it. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that there was some ugly crying going on. I can’t help it!
Justin Bieber performs “U Smile” and “Baby”
I didn’t know much about Justin before this performance. I’ve been hearing rumblings and the fact that every girl in the audience knew all the words to his songs was a tip off that this guy is generating a pretty big fan base. The only thoughts running through my head were:
- Are kids getting younger?? How old IS this kid? He seriously looks like he’s 12 years old. (Answer via Google: he’s 16.)
- He looks as wholesome as apple pie.
- He pulled out a pretty great vocal performance. So, I guess he’s legit.
- I was surprised that he took over for his drummer at the end and was pretty awesome on the skins.
I guess Justin Bieber is this generation’s musical Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I suppose I can understand that!
Okay, the first person in the finale is…….LEE!!! YAY!!!!
Second person in the finale is………Crystal!!
Predictable but awesome results as everything landed where it should have. What I wish we would have averted our eyes for is the awkward celebratory hug that Crystal gave Lee. Am I right?
Casey, to his credit, took his eviction from the stage like a man and obliged a fan in the pit with a hug while singing his swan song (the fan held a sign saying “I Love Casey James”.) All the while singing his song, Casey meandered over to his family, gave a round of hugs and then scooped up an adorable little girl and finished singing his song. I’m not sure who the girl was (maybe his niece?) but I thought it was sweet.
And can I just point out that Crystal’s boyfriend might need to propose soon? Last week Crystal admitted that Lee is her musical crush and this week she revealed that she has a crush on Casey. Step up, boyfriend!
Lee and Crystal in the finale…if you would have asked me at the beginning of this crazy show who of those two would win, I think I would have said Crystal. But now, while I think that either would be deserving, I solidly believe that Lee will pull out a victory next week. Disagree? That’s okay. We can still be friends. 🙂