(CASEY AND THE SUNSHINE BLAND. The season's resident hunk with a sunny disposition, Casey had his good performance days and his bad performance days, but mostly he sang very pleasant songs that weren't very inspiring. He had a polite smile and impressive guitar skills. He never really thought he'd make it all the way to the end, and it turns out he was right.)
In continued observance of how I breeze through Am.Idol by fast-forwarding on my DVR, here are my brief comments on Tuesday's Top 3 performances, followed by the even more brief Wednesday Results Show. This week, there's A LOT of hometown footage, which always looks the same to me and always doesn't get much of my attention, regardless of how heartwarming it is. We've got "contestant's choice and judge's choice" this week. Apparently we don't have time for a third song like we usually do - the dreaded producer's choice. So, six songs in one hour. Seacrest should be able to bring this baby in on time for once, right? Let's see what happened, shall we?
Ryan walks down The Stairs past the remaining three Idols, rattling off their hometowns along the way. It's the fight for the finale! Ryan says "THIS..." and then the three of them can't quite say "... is American Idol!" in unison. Jeez, how long do they work on these intros? They have no timing! There is talking. There are judges. There are two songs a piece. But no time to waste! Contestants' picks first.
Casey - He's singing "Okay It's Alright With Me" a song you probably haven't heard before. It's totally middle of the road Casey, meaning it's pleasant enough but leaves no impression. There's nothing really in the song that would jump out at you. The judges all think it's either blaaaah or zzzz.... Simon thinks it's like salad.
Crystal - Bowersox is singing "Come to My Window" by Melissa Etheridge with the harmonica contraption on her head. It's a solid performance. a good choice for her, she's rocking her personal mic stand, but it's a little.... It never quite transcends. The judges can't really knock it or embrace it. I think it's because Crystal is the same kind of awesome she was when she first walked out on the stage that they don't know what to say. They can't look at her and see "GROWTH!" like they can with Lee. But it's still good.
Lee - singing Simple Man by Lynrd Skynyrd. Lee has a new attitude after his hometown visit, but the girls in the audience aren't interested in hearing about it and just start SHRIEKING! It should be noted that Lee looks noticeably more relaxed than any other previous performance on stage. The vocal is strong too. These songs feel SO short tonight! The judges love it and they can see "GROWTH!" and he's in it to win it. It's true.
Casey - clips of home. zip zap zop. For Judge's Choice the tag team of Randy and Kara make Casey sing "Daughters" by John Mayer. They know it will force him into the sensitive rocker vibe they like for him. The song is a little too mellow to really inspire. He sounds good and the guitar work is great, but this is not what he needs to do to make enough impact. The judges are responsive, but pretty much know this will lead to his 3rd place finish.
Crystal - Ellen chose "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney, which I think is the weirdest song choice ever. It starts off a little weird, and I begin to think that maybe Bowersox is not in the healthiest voice tonight. She sings like crazy on the... chorus? The structure of this song is both unconventional and repetitive in an odd way. She unleashes some powerful notes on it though. I really liked. The judges offer reserved praise. What are you playing at, Judges?
Lee - Simon chose "Hallelujah" and it's clear from the beginning they are gonna try to force an Idol "MOMENT" on us, but you can't force a Moment, bitches. It has to happen on its own. This season has been pretty devoid of Moments, so I see why they are getting antsy about it. I mean, he starts singing (biffs the lyric just a smidge) and then they bring out a gospel chorus of background singers and have this bombastic arrangement supporting him, and he kinda wails away on the top notes, and he hits them, but in my opinion it's not really the right sentiment for this song. I actually liked Tim Urban's arrangement of this song from earlier this season better. But of course everyone loses their minds for this and then they cancel the rest of the season and declare Lee the winner on the spot. Then the execs at Fox tell them they have another 5 hours of programming to fill in the next week, so everybody pretend like they don't know Lee won and keep going through the paces until next Wednesday. Everyone agrees. Casey starts packing his bags because he knows tomorrow night is the end of his Idol Journey.
Results Show! Spectre-vision intro, this time with messages in imperial looking gold font! Seacrest comes out. There are judges! There are contestants! Seacrest talks to Finalists Lee and Crystal and Casey is also sitting there too. They talk about how Idol is hard. Simon is bored. Lee and Crystal fall all over themselves to show appreciation to everyone under the sun, but Casey knows he doesn't have to curry favor for next week, so he just laughs and says not everything the judges said to them was actually helpful. Heeheehee. Sweet freedom!
It's time for footage of Casey's trip home. There are lots of screaming people and a performance or two and the standard Idol motorcade down Main Street. USA. He also visits the hospital that saved his life when he was younger and that's very emotional. We're back in the Idoldome and the hospital footage is STILL emotional. Casey puts the biggest defense mechanism smile in the world on as he tries to get through the interview. He seems like such a sweet guy in moments like these. Time for commercials!
Ryan is back now talking to Perez Hilton. Apparently Perez "discovered" Travis Garland who Perez thinks is better than Justin Timberlake. The Idoldome audience bristles. Travis sounds okay, but they do this bizarre 24-style still split screen of his performance. Why? Have they ever done this before, and I just never noticed? The performance is totally straight out of a high school show choir and not in a lovely Glee sort of way. zip zap zop.
Crystal takes her trip home. It looks a lot like when Casey went home. Added bonuses: there is time with her son and she throws out a pitch at a baseball stadium and she gets it over the plate. Back in the Idoldome she doesn't have the strength of Casey's Defense Smile and she cries.
Lee heads back home. It looks a lot like when Casey went home and even more like when Crystal went home. There is a trip to the paint store and lots of grateful tears as girls just scream and scream at him. His crowd is the biggest while he performs. In the Idoldome, he too is teary-eyed but seems to possess an inner steel now. He is resolved to try and win the whole thing.
Before Casey gets eliminated, we are treated to a performance by High School Student Justin Bieber. Note: We found out at work yesterday that Bieber got a tattoo of a bird on his lower torso but it doesn't actually look like a bird. It looks like a squiggle. For the record, Suki does not approve of underage tattooing. I do not approve of tattooing that doesn't actually look like anything when it's done.
So it's time for the final cut. Lee is the first contestant moving on, followed by Bowersox who isn't really sure what Seacrest said because he doesn't say the key word "safe" which is all that her brain was hoping to hear at that moment, so nothing else coming out of his mouth registered as actual words. She hugs Casey politely and then runs over to Lee and they joyously attack each other. Casey has a nice sing out of "Daughters" with a little girl who looks sad because she knows Casey is going home, but she's otherwise the sweetest little thing on the planet and is focused on him throughout the song. It was actually a very sweet sweet send off. The montage reminds us that although he had some bummer weeks, Casey also had some really solid outings too. Good luck, sir!
And now next week we move on to the Bowersox-Dewyze finale, and Simon's final appearance on Idol. I'm curious to see how it all shakes out. Lee has all the Show-mentum at this point, and it seems inevitable to me that he will come out the victor, but sometimes when the show pushes for one person hard, the voters rebel and pick the underdog. Hopefully, Bowersox will throw the kitchen sink at Lee next Tuesday and edge him out for the title in the process. I've grown to appreciate Lee, but I'll always be in the Mamasox corner. Looking forward to it!