The Final Stretch

Congratulations, folks! We’ve made it to finale eve with our ears intact and our spirits only slightly bruised throughout this five month process of chosing the The!Next!American!Idol! For most of this season I’ve been harboring a traitorous thought…why not just let Kris Allen reign as the American Idol? Do we really need a new one? But, of course, thoughts in the back of my head do not public opinion make. I think you should probably all be grateful for that or you might be living without country music and with a law that requires drivers to use a blinker when turning or face torture of some kind.

The AI trailer people put together a lottery-style promo video that I personally think was their best work to date. Give these people some sort of an award that includes a plaque, a statuesque bobble or at the very least a certificate! It was pretty clever and took us back to the try-outs that seem like a gazillion trillion million years ago. A little mind-blowing to think that out of the thousands and thousands of people who went through the “audition process”, Lee and Crystal are the ones left standing, huh? That’s gotta be a boost to an ego! I was a little freaked out that they showed a close up of the eyes of each contestant, but I noticed that they showed a close-up of Lee’s mouth but not Crystal’s? Maybe that’s cause they thought her mouth might lose her some points. Let’s just remember, folks, that her teeth are a lot whiter than they used to be. Even American Idol’s got standards.

Ry-Ry used his pull with the lighting peeps to darken the lights so that we couldn’t 7,000 people in the Nokia theater and then they “turned the lights” on in a pretty dramatic reveal. Well done, Ryan. Well done.

Ryan starts the show and mentions that both Crystal and Lee are both 24 years old. I don’t know why but Crystal seems so much older than Lee. Hmm.

What follows is probably the funniest thing I’ve seen all season long. I know it’s the funniest thing I’ve seen all week…American Idol (bless their heart) tries an unfortunate merging of the worlds of a singing reality TV show with sports. And may I just say, I hope they’ve learned their lesson?

The American Idol “pep-rally” music begins and we see Crystal at the end of an aisle with people reaching out their hands to slap her hands as she passes. She begins the walk (almost like a hesitant bridesmaid with the wedding coordinator screaming in her ear) smacks a few hands and promptly fumbles the microphone. Cut to Lee, walking jovially down the aisle with both hands out and the microphone firmly in his pocket. He looked like he was just happy-go-lucky and glad to be there and “gosh, are all these people standing for little ‘ole me”? Cut back to Crystal who’s finally gotten the microphone and is moving a little more swiftly toward the stage until she looks back as if someone has said her name or made a comment. Back to Lee who’s pretty much doing the same thing as he was before but with a bigger grin. Back to Crystal who we now realize has been summoned to her mark by a large-and-in-charge bodyguard type. I must have watched that exchange about 10 times and it got funnier each time I watched it. Forget American Idol! That was America’s Funniest Home Videos! How ’bout THAT Bob Sagot?

To be fair, though, have neither of these contestants ever seen a sporting event? You’re supposed to run down and slap everyone’s hands and then go through the hoop, breaking through the paper. Catch up, guys. Watch some football for Pete’s sake!! (See, this is the problem with baseball. It doesn’t prepare you for the real world.)

They finally reach the stage, each holding on to their own microphones and Crystal quickly takes charge as if she were playing a gig in a bar back home (“How’s everyone doing tonight?”) and they both head backstage to get ready for the show.

Two quick thoughts about this part of the show before we move on:

  • Crystal looked like Allison Iraheta on that coin!
  • Boy, the American Idol stage is super scratched up…
  • Crystal’s outfit rocked my face off.

Round 1 – Repeat Performances of the Contestant’s Choice

Lee performs “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel

And I Quote: “I couldn’t be prouder if I birthed you myself.” – Ellen DeGeneres

There’s an intro video, but nothing much new here…his parents never in a million years thought he’d be a rock star, but they had high hopes for his professional baseball career. (Like that’s not just as much of a long shot?) I know less than nothing about baseball (and I’m not lookin’ for an education) but I think the short stop is probably the star. I’m short. And I’m AWESOME.

I thought Lee performed this better than his first go-round, but I’m sad to say that it wasn’t the “finale” moment that he really needed under his belt. Also, as the camera swung around and faced the audience, I noticed a TELEPROMPTER with the lyrics to the song on them. Now, that’s just cheating.

Last few thoughts:

  • Whenever I sing a solo, my mouth gets dry. Lee’s….does not. Ew.
  • One of the best things about Lee is the hopeful sheen in his eyes at the end of ever performance and the intermittent bashful smiles that he beams out to his fans in the audience.

Crystal performs “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin

Crystal’s intro video is equally informative…Crystal was born to play music ever since she picked up her first guitar, blah, blah, blah. But seriously? Crystal had some awkward phases growing up. I mean, so did I but at least mine weren’t on national television, right? Maybe I can keep the pictures of me sporting a culotte outfit and big poofy hair can under wraps for. ev. er…

Round 1 Observations:

– Both contestants chose songs that had nonsensical lyrics.

Lee: li li li, li li li li li li li. li li li, (I think you get the picture)

Crystal: Da da da, dadan, da da…

Though I liked Lee’s song and emotional connection to it better than Crystal’s I think I have to concede that Round 1 goes to Crystal.

P.S. I WANT RANDY’S WHITE WATCH BUT I COULD PROBABLY NEVER AFFORD IT. Just had to get that off my chest. Moving right along…

Round 2 – Simon Fuller guides the contestants from a distance

Lee performs “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M.

I thought this was a solid performance and had it not been on finale eve, I think the judges would have raved a bit more than they did.

Things in Lee’s favor:

  • He held a note for longer than a “one-mississippi”
  • He had a “magical” choir on his side (I’m fairly certain that the producers had a meeting and said “Hey! This choir thing really works and it totally created a ‘moment’ for Lee last week. Let’s do it again and again and again and milk it for all it’s worth. If we don’t put the camera on them a lot, the audience at home might not even notice that we’re doing it!)
  • Channeling the reigning American Idol and singing out of the side of his mouth.

Things NOT in Lee’s favor:

  • His stage presence regression. Gone are the Harry Connick Jr. days of ease on stage. I felt that I could hear his thoughts as the cameraman passed in front of him “Okay, they said to look at the camera. Now!”
  • His few pitch issues. Very few, though.

Simon put his finger on the problem, aaaaand then proceeded to make it worse.

Simon: “I think what I’m feeling from you tonight, Lee, is that and I understand this, you’re nervous. And you’ve got another song to come and I think you’ve got to really understand the importance of what this night can do in terms of changing your life and when you come out for your last performance I want a 10 out of 10 because you’re capable of it.”

Thanks, Simon. No additional pressure there!

Crystal  performs “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles

And I Quote: “With the wardrobe changes, it’s like a Cher concert in here!” – Ellen DeGeneres

Oh, boy. This was definitely a brilliant song choice for her. However, I felt that the beginning was really rough. I mean, holy high heels, Batman! You could tell that Crystal’s primary thoughts were on making it down the slippery staircase of super stardom without being maimed or catapulted to a certain death. I also noticed that she doesn’t own the stage as completely when she’s not behind her guitar.

That said, when she got to the mid-way point of the song, she really hit her stride. That key change was awesome. But then she kinda screamed a lot of the song. I actually felt the urge to get her some soothing Ricola drops. All-in-all, though? It probably trumped Lee’s performance (do you hear that cracking sound? It’s my heart breaking a little bit more).

With so many comments that COULD have been made, Kara came up with this gem: “You want it, you can tell, and that’s what tonight is about.” No, Kara. Tonight is about performing and singing songs for the win. Sheesh.

Something must have been in the Vitamin water tonight, because then Ryan chipped in with an inane question.

Ryan: “Do you see the finish line?”

Crystal: “Yeah, it’s up in the back (insert awkward arm raise here).”

Amy: *Covering her face with her hands.

Crystal is kind of awkward.

Round 3

Lee performs “Beautiful Day” by U2 Lee DeWyse

Wait a second! I’ve heard this song before!

It kind of blew me away that there’s no original song this year! I mean, I know last year Kara Dioguardi’s musical concoction totally blew up in their faces, but it’s tradition!! Has there ever not been an original song to release as the single? I wonder how they chose these songs?

I thought Lee rocked it! And, he held “Daaaay” for 8 counts (TWICE!) I really believe the he put everything into that performance. After all, his face was starting to turn red with the effort of singing above the cacophony (turn up the guy’s microphone, sound people!!)

And Lee spoke and I didn’t want to jab myself in the eyes! He was much more succinct. But I bet he’s getting tired of the “How do you feel?” question.

I know it’s not how she meant it, but whenever Kara says that a contestant sounds “commercial” it always sounds like an insult. Am I right? 

In another bumbling move, Lee went to shake Ryan’s hand and instead ended up practically holding hands! C’mon, Lee! Get your head in the game!

Crystal Bowersox performs “Up to the Mountain” by Patty Griffin Crystal Bowersox

It drives me nuts when Crystal wears her hippie jewelry along with real/fake costume jewelry. I get that you march to the beat of your own drum or guitar or whatever but there’s gotta be a line! Crystal had a few little pitch problems, nothing huge…and she pulled out a super emotional ending that we’ve only seen one other time from her this season. Well played, MamaSox.

When she wished Simon well before he had a chance to judge her performance, I forgave her for talking during the critique. It’s not many people who can cause Simon to be off-balance and he seemed genuinely touched by her comments…so more power to her. When Simon said that it was the last critique he was going to give on the show, that made me tear up. Makes me wonder if I’ll last through the finale without some waterworks. Do you think I have it in me?

If only she hadn’t tried to make a joke that fell flatter than a belly flop into a pool on a hot summer’s day. But, Crystal wouldn’t be Crystal without these little clumsy comments. (“I’m beside myself. Well, actually, I’m beside Ryan Seacrest…”)

In a surprising move, The winner of Pop Idol UK , Will Young, performed “Leave Right Now”. I would like to present him with the “least dynamic stage presence” award and also note that his feet were in ballet first position…and he seemed a little creepy.

I know most people would give Round 3 to Crystal. And to be fair, I probably should. She had a phenomenal performance and ended strong. But I’m going to call this round a tie. If you hate me, fine. But I think you should probably have a better reason to hate someone than an opinion on a blog. 🙂

I’ll close with this and wait along with you all to see who will get the confetti shower tomorrow. I think you all know who I’m rooting for!

Signs that point to a Lee win:

  • More personable and vulnerable as a person and artist (super thankful and humble person)
  • Super cute (this shouldn’t really be a reason, but I think it will play a part. Tweens/Teens are texting fools!)
  • Slow but steady growth musically this season…a Cinderella/Underdog type
  • More mainstream musical style

Signs that point to a Crystal win:

  • Solid performances at the finale – showed a lot of emotion on her last performance
  • consistent performer throughout the season –true to who she was instead of figuring it out as she went
  • More of a polished musician/artist
  • All the ticked off people who supported Adam last season may come out in stronger force this season and vote for Crystal who is in much the same situation…

Haddock out!

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One thought on “The Final Stretch

  1. Brandi says:

    I was beginning to think that Will Young was a statue because he seriously did not move! LOL! And I thought the beginning when Crystal dropped her mic and then turned around and went back, etc was too funny! LOL!

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