‘American Idol’: Simon Cowell Ends His Stint As Judge On A Positive Note

Robbie Daw | May 26, 2010 7:00 am

When Will Young, the winner of the very first Pop Idol, sang “Leave Right Now” live at the end of last night’s episode of American Idol, he might as well have been crooning directly to Simon Cowell rather than showcasing to the public the ballad that ushered the contestants out the door each week this year. Yes, in addition to being a celebration of the journey Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze have made over the course of Season 9, Tuesday night was also a reminder that the man we came to know as Mr. Nasty eight years ago will no longer utter the words “dire,” “abysmal” and “horrific” on the AI stage. Sigh. Read on below.

Crystal and Lee were each given three slots to sing in. The first allowed them to choose their favorite song from the season.The second time the final two contestants stepped on stage was to belt out a number that executive producer Simon Fuller picked, and the third was an opportunity for each to give an early take on the single the winner will release. This time around, however, it will be a cover rather than an original composition. (Sorry, Kara DioGuardi fans—looks like she put the final nail in the coffin for original compositions with “No Boundaries.”)

Here’s what each performed:

LEE DEWYZE His Pick: “The Boxer” by Simon And Garfunkel Simon Fuller’s Pick: “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. Potential Single: “Beautiful Day” by U2

CRYSTAL BOWERSOX Her Pick: “Me And Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin Simon Fuller’s Pick: “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles Potential Single: “Up To The Mountain” by Patty Griffin

Each contestant was as they always are, if not a little (read: quite) nervous. Lee did his own quiet, broody rocker thing, though when he took on “Beautiful Day” (which, let’s be blunt, was pretty bad), he meandered around on stage without his trusty guitar slung over his shoulder to keep his hands occupied. Plain and simple, DeWyze just doesn’t have Bono’s tenor range—something that should have been plain as day at this point—and if we were conspiracy theorists, we’d be wondering if he wasn’t somehow being set up. “I think you got swallowed up in that song,” Kara said. “You had some good moments and some not so good moments.”

Rocker mom Crystal’s raspy vocals and coffee-house-singer-gone-bigtime demeanor were shining on full display as she sailed through her songs and garnered repeated praise from the judges. After her moving rendition of “Up To The Mountain,” Simon noted that it was “by far, the best performance” of the night. He added, “Since that this is the final critique I’m ever going to give, I would just like to say that was outstanding.”

And that’s how things played out, leaving us with tonight’s finale, where Ryan promised there will be plenty of “surprises” in store for the departing Cowell.

Will Young closed the evening with this live performance of “Leave Right Now,” which served as a tribute to the entire season: