The season nine finale dispensed with the fluff. With only six songs to fit in one hour, the producers let the final two sing longer versions, and the judges didn’t talk as long. A recap video with Will Young singing filled the final couple of minutes.
More notably, this was the final night for Simon Cowell to critique anything.
Crystal Bowersox forced Simon to end the night saying something nice after her powerful “Up To the Mountain.” While the momentum was shifting to Lee DeWyze as the finale neared, Crystal put up a strong fight. She even thanked Simon before his last critique, which may have been calculated for votes but probably heartfelt.
I am rooting for Crystal, who I have always liked more from the start. However, Dial Idol, currently, has Lee far far ahead of Crystal and since that is only based on calls, I doubt she’ll be able to close the gap with texts.
Bottom line: Like Kris Allen last year, Lee is more mainstream, more broadly appealing. Expect him to take home the crown tomorrow night.
My rankings of the songs, though I don’t think anybody did a cruddy job. 1. Crystal’s “Up To the Mountain” 2. Crystal’s “Me and Bobby McGhee” 3. Lee’s “The Boxer” 4. Crystal’s “Black Velvet” 5. Lee’s “Beautiful Day” 6. Lee’s “Everybody Hurts”
“I’m beside myself,” Crystal said. “I’m entirely grateful for my family and my life and my son. I’m ready for anything.”
“I will be doing this for the rest of my life,” Lee said, regardless of what happens from here on in.
Favorite song they’ve sung before
First up: Lee (”The Boxer” Simon & Garfunkel) – He does a very pretty version of this song but it doesn’t have any real peak emotional points.
Randy: “Pick it up. Get more energy going.”
Ellen: “I couldn’t be prouder if I birthed you myself. I think you did it better than the first time.
Kara: “You got to punch harder. A meaningful song. I’m glad you were connected to it.”
Simon: “I would expect a lot more passion, excitement. That was a kiss on the cheek when I want a kiss on the lips.”
Second up: Crystal (”Me and Bobby McGee” Janis Joplin) – The whole Janis Joplin comparison doesn’t necessarily mean she has to sing this song again. But here she is. It’s a solid cover version, with a strong ending, but I can’t say she transcends the original.
Randy: “It started a little slow but you picked it up. At the end, it’s the Crystal we’ve grown to know and love.”
Ellen: “You just are so compelling on stage. You and that guitar filling up the entire room. Stunning.”
Kara: “You have fire in your belly tonight.”
Simon: “This brought us back to the time when we absolutely fell in love with you. The past three or four weeks have not been great. We have a competition tonight. That was terrific.”
Round 1: Crystal
Simon Fuller’s pick
Third up: Lee (”Everybody Hurts” R.E.M.) – It worked at moments but I’m not sure he connected all the time with the crowd. And he definitely through a few wonky notes in there.
Randy: “It was a lot better”
Ellen: “I felt you went off a couple of times but I didn’t care. A couple of times you really got into it. then you pulled back again.”
Kara: “You’re emotionally accessible.”
Simon: “Brilliant choice of song for you. I think what I”m feeling tonight is you’re nervous. You have another song to come. You have to really understand what this night can do to change your life.”
Fourth up: Crystal (”Black Velvet” Alannah Myles) – I preferred the original. She sings it with an odd buoyancy and her final “big” note is a bit rough.
Randy: Mama Sox is in it to win it. That was hot!
Ellen: Wardrobes are like Cher changes. That was fantastic.
Kara: Tonight is the night to give it your all. That’s what you were doing.
Simon: I’m almost allergic to that song I’ve heard it so many times in auditions where they’ve murdered it. You took that song and you absolutely nailed it.
Round #2: a draw
Song they sing if they win
Fifth up: Lee (”Beautiful Day” U2) – He doesn’t try to over sing it to match Bono’s powerful pipes during the chorus. Smart move. But he lacks the capability to bring the majesty of Bono’s performance. It’s merely good. I still wish he would show a bit more life on stage. But at least he is trying to hold a note or two.
Randy: When you hit the high notes, you started getting the groove.
Ellen: I was watching your eyes and you were fully present in the song, taking in these people’s energy.
Kara: You got swallowed up in that song. You had good moments and not so good moments. You’ve grown the most.
Simon: You made the most of it. This is the final time I’m going to judge this show. This is what the show is designed for. Someone who needs a break… you’ve worked hard, you’ve remained a really really nice person throughout and I genuinely wish the best for you.
Pimp spot: Crystal (”Up to the Mountain” Patti Griffin) – She starts on a stool and sounds amazing. She brings her entire soul into the song and pulls it off. Is it commercial? No way we’d here that with Ke$ha. But that’s just fine.
Randy: An amazing song by an amazing singer. I’m so proud of you. One of your best moments at the perfect time.
Ellen: You’re always looking for someone unique. I can’t compare you to any current artists. You’re in a league on your own.
Kara: This was a very important song for you. If I have one criticism, I haven’t seen what’s going on inside of you. All I can see is you. You really blossomed just with that song.
Simon (his final critique ever!) – Crystal thanks him. Very classy! I thought that was by far the best performance and song of the night. This will be the final critique I’m ever going to give. That was outstanding.