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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 9

'American Idol's Top 3 ninth-season finalists take the stage and sing


By Christopher Rocchio, 05/19/2010 

Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze appear to have established themselves as the favorites to reach American Idol's ninth-season finale.

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Bowersox, Dewyze and fellow Top 3 finalist
Casey James took to the stage during last night's live penultimate American Idol ninth-season performance show on Fox and performed two songs -- a "contestant's choice" and a "judges' choice."

The following is Reality TV World's recap of the performance broadcast in the order which the Top 3 finalists sang.  Also included are comments from each of the four judges --
Randy Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell -- as well as any noteworthy additional information about each finalist's performance or comments to Idol host Ryan Seacrest.

On Wednesday night, one finalist will be eliminated based on home viewer votes cast immediately following last night's broadcast, resulting in the season's Top 2 finalists being revealed.

Casey James, a 27-year-old from Fort Worth, TX

Song: "OK, It's Alright with Me" by Eric Hutchinson (Contestant's Choice)

Randy said: "The funny thing about that lyric is that song was kind of just alright with me too. I wanted to hear more from you, something that was different, unique, interesting -- this is down to the wire. You can't do a safe, easy kind of song like that right now. It just didn't quite work for me man."

Ellen said: "Like Randy said, this is the moment. It's like live or die, do or die, or live or die, sink or swim... I felt the same way. I wish you would have brought it because this is really the night you need to bring something much, much bigger than that. It was alright. You have a great voice. But it needed to really blow us away."

Kara said: "Casey, it's hard to pick a song not everybody knows -- especially tonight, because you have to really be fighting for this competition. When you pick something that is a first-listen for a lot of people, you can't take it to the next level and make it your own because you're just establishing it. I think that didn't work in your favor."

Simon said: "Well this isn't going great, is it Casey? The problem is it is arguably the most important night of your life. You're lucky you've got two song choices because I would compare that first song to if you were having dinner, that's the salad. In other words, there's hopefully something more substantial to come. That song will leave no lasting effect on the audience whatsoever. It kind of sounded like you were sort of busking for a couple of dollars rather than competing on the most important night of your life. So I think that was a dud song choice. But you sounded good."

Additional Notes: Casey said he chose the song because he "loves" it and thinks it's a "good representation" of him as an artist.


Crystal Bowersox, a 24-year-old from Elliston, OH who currently resides in Toledo, OH

Song: "Come to My Window" by Melissa Etheridge (Contestant's Choice)

Randy said: "It's that time in the competition, looking for a winner, looking for who's going to blow it out of the box. I did not love the arrangement, me personally. It's an amazing song. But what I did like though is I loved your vocal on it. The arrangement was fighting you a little bit for me, but you rose above it with you vocal. So I'll tell you what, it all worked in the end. It's an amazing song and it's a good song choice."

Ellen said: "I agree. I think it was a good song choice. It's the exact kind of song that you want to sing as the artist you want to be, so that's your comfort zone. I thought Melissa would be very proud of you."

Kara said: "I agree with the guys. I do think you did get a little lost in the arrangement. You were fighting -- your tone doesn't have the rasp and the edge that Melissa has -- so I think acoustically it would have been a little bit stronger. But it's still a good vocal. It was still a good vocal. I just think you're capable of a moment and I hope you have a moment tonight."

Simon said: "I agree with what the other three said. I don't that's the most stunning version of the song we're ever going to hear. Having said that, what I like about you and what you did tonight is from the very first day we met you  to now on the semifinal, you haven't compromised yourself as an artist. Which is true. I have a lot of respect for you for that. You came out here and you just decided to do what is you. It's a very honest performance. I think you probably made the right choice. Congratulations."

Additional Notes: Crystal said the song has always been one of her "favorites" and added it's a "song about passion, love and things like that."


Lee Dewyze, a 23-year-old from Mount Prospect, IL


Song: "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd (Contestant's Choice)

Randy said: "Great, great song choice. I can see you making a record like this. I think it was a brilliant song choice, I can see you doing this. You know what I love mostly about that? You sounded amazing, but even more than that, somebody here's feeling like they can win this! Lee! I love that! He's in the red zone. He's ready."

Ellen said: "That's what we're talking about. That showed us that you took this thing seriously. I'm so proud of you because when we met you, you were like a little baby lamb. Like a little, shy, gentle, quiet... Now you're like a gazelle or an impala or some type of a springy carefree..."

Kara said: "What you did tonight is what every contestant needs to do. You showed us everything you got -- from your dynamics to picking a song that has meaning for you, which is so important. In my opinion, Round 1 goes to Lee."

Simon said: "Why did you choose that song? ['When I play it, I'm really happy to be playing it,' responded Lee. 'When I have a song I can get into like that, it's totally different. I thought about picking a more current song, something people might know, but I wouldn't have connected to it like I did with that one.'] If I'm being honest with you Lee, I think the contestant's song choices so far have been okay. That song however was absolutely on the money. Picking up on Kara's point, I don't think you won Round 1, I think you just crushed the other two."

Additional Notes: Lee said it was good to go home last week and see all of his supporters and his family. "I kind of wanted to bring that energy back with me," he said. Lee added the song is one he's "always loved" and the lyrics "speak true" to him.


Casey James


Song: "Daughters" by John Mayer (Judges' Choice)

Randy said: "The first song you did tonight -- the one that you chose -- I wasn't so much in favor of that. But this fits you like a glove. I hope that you continue in this direction dude. Nice one."

Ellen said: "I agree. I liked that. I thought that was beautiful for you. There's going to be a lot of daughters and mothers and -- who knows -- sons voting for you. There's a lot of people that will be voting for you. That was really good. I liked that a lot."

Kara said: "Casey, this showed the more artistic side of you. You've struggled with showing that side -- where you're sensitive and you're vulnerable. That's really where you shine. So I think this was the choice we should have made for you. You did a good job. You changed it up where it needed to be, but you didn't stray too far away from the original. Good job."

Simon said: "I think it was a much, much better song choice than the first one. The only issue I have is that, Randy talking about arrangements earlier on, it was a lazy arrangement because they've chosen a song where the climax is a quite limp guitar solo. I hold these two slightly responsible for not working with you harder to give you a much bigger vocal moment. ['That song is not made for a climax like that,' responded Kara. 'It's about the emotion and making it feel believable for him. If you look at the notes, it's all in the same range.'] To be fair, you sounded very, very good on it. I think you sounded good the whole night. It's just that song didn't have that wow factor ['Because that's the way it's written,' said Kara.]."

Additional Notes: Casey's song was chosen by Kara and Randy. "We think that John Mayer and this whole idea of the song is a great direction for him in his career as he leaves the show," explained Randy. "Plus he's got a very kind of commercial singer/songwriter kind of thing. We thought it was perfect." Kara added, "He's got to show that vulnerable side. I think this is a very viable song for him because every artist needs to know their audience. Your audience is women and girls and that's what this song is talking to."


Crystal Bowersox


Song: "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney (Judges' Choice)

Randy said: "Great song, great vocals, and America, we've got somebody else in it to win it right there!"

Ellen said: "I couldn't have asked for more. That's what I was hoping you'd do and you did it. You did it."

Kara said: "Crystal, you didn't change it up that much. But what you did with it is you really showed parts of your voice I don't think we've heard until tonight. ['Me neither,' said Crystal.]  You really pushed and no instrument -- huge risk for you. So you did a lot of risky things tonight and I think it paid off."

Simon said: "I must admit, when I heard the song choice I was kind of surprised. But now I get it. What you just proved after that performance is that you've got soul. You worked outside of your comfort zone. I think after that, you may be thanking Ellen next week for putting you in the finals. That was terrific."

Additional Notes: Crystal's song was chosen by Ellen. "I love the song. I think the song is amazing. I think she's amazing," explained Ellen. "I just want her to surprise people. Everybody knows what she does, and I thought let's show some range and tear this thing apart. I think she will." After the performance, Crystal said the song wasn't out of her comfort zone.


Lee Dewyze


Song: "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen (Judges' Choice)

Randy said: "I've been waiting all season to see who's going to throw down a real gauntlet to try and win the whole thing! I've got to give it up to [Simon] because he set you up. This was I think you're biggest moment at the biggest time in your career on this show. That was unbelievable."

Ellen said: "I'm sure glad you listen to [Simon]. If you had any doubts about it, that you trusted he chose the right song for you. There's really nothing more to be said. That was stunning. It was just stunning."

Kara said: "Lee, you are what this show is all about -- somebody who starts in one place and ends up here tonight in an incredible, epic moment. You are the heart of the show this season and you just owned the entire night."

Simon said: "I am very, very, very proud of you because when we sat down last week, I kind of put myself where you were. Before this show you were working at a store, you were looking for a break. This show has given you a break. Most importantly, tonight with that performance, you proved that you are a fantastic singer, a great person, and I really hope for you that you make it their next week."

Additional Notes: Lee's song was chosen by Simon. "We've heard this song before, but I don't think we're ever going to hear it like Lee's going to do," explained Simon. "I like him as a person. We always talk about a moment. This is his night -- a big, big night for him. I wanted him to do something which shows he's got potential to be a great artist." Lee thanked Simon for his song selection after Randy's comments.

(Photo credit Fox)


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