We’re about 12 hours away from knowing which of the three remaining American Idol contestants will be standing on the stage during next week’s finale. And judging by last night’s episode—where one hopeful completely wowed, one was ho-hum and one stood out like a sore thumb—we have a pretty good idea who those two will be. Lee, Crystal and Casey each performed a song of their choice, and then one the judges chose for them. How did they do? Assess after the jump.
This week showed each of the Top 3 returning to their hometowns, where they were sent a text revealing the judges’ song picks for them. And here’s what went down:
Casey’s choice: “OK, It’s Alright With Me” by Eric Hutchinson
Randy and Kara’s choice: “Daughters” by John Mayer
Casey’s pick of a song by 29-year-old singer-songwriter Eric Hutchinson is a pretty ballsy move on a night where it’s do-or-die before the finale. That said, Casey’s limp performance ends up getting slammed all the way around from the panel of judges. Kara makes the (surprisingly) good point that the audience has no reference point for the largely unknown “OK, It’s Alright With Me” to know whether or not Casey is really adding anything to it. At least things look up a bit when the blond heartthrob takes the stage once more to warble through John Mayer’s “Daughters.” But don’t get us wrong—this guy is going home after tonight if we have to break into the Nokia Theatre and chase him off with torches.
Crystal’s choice: “Come To My Window” by Melissa Etheridge
Ellen’s choice: “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney
“Come To My Window”? Oh, Crystal—why so obvious? We have much love for Melissa Etheridge’s ’90s classic, but it’s just too safe. Also, you’d think MamaSox would know this song by heart enough to knock it out of the park. Alas, her arrangement is kind of all over the place. Did the producers forget to inform the contestants that THEY NEED TO BRING IT TONIGHT? Hmmm. Like Casey, Crystal does much better with the song choice from the judges—this time it’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” (and she keeps things interesting by not lyrically switching the genders in the love song). Kara notes that the singer “showed parts of [her] voice I don’t think we’ve heard until tonight.” And that’s pretty much the sound of one-half of next week’s final two contestants being solidified.
Lee’s choice: “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Simon’s choice: “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
Shy guy Lee manages to shed all his inhibitions tonight and step up to the plate as the contestant who simply wants it the most and, as Randy says, feels like they can win this. It doesn’t hurt that he’s returned from his hometown a little more humble after visiting with his family. Awww—everyone loves voting for a guy who loves his mama, right? Lee gives a touching performance of “Simple Man,” but it’s Simon’s song choice, “Hallelujah,” that lets him soar—and earns him a standing ovation from the audience. Randy says it was “unbelievable” while Kara tells the constant that he “just owned the entire night.” And Simon, who saw X Factor winner Alexandra Burke have a #1 UK hit with “Hallelujah” two years ago, tells Lee, “I’m very very proud of you. You proved you are a fantastic a singer a great person.”
Best Of The Night: Lee. While at first we didn’t think another guitar-strumming dude could possibly win American Idol for a third year in a row, we’ve finally given in to the possibility.
Worst Of The Night: Casey. He really should have gone home last week.
Final Thought: We’ll be hugely surprised if it’s not a Crystal-Lee finale next week. That said, if anything, Season 9 has certainly proven to be unpredictable.
Tomorrow: What’s that noise, you ask? Just the sound of the Justin Bieber train rolling into town. And look out, Kara—cougars are his specialty.