Final 3 Performance Night

I am just about to watch the show. Rhonda Lobe called me a few minutes ago to assure me that Lee blew the doors off tonight and that he is now her pick to win it all. Each singer will sing two songs, one of which was their own choice. The other three songs were selected by the judges. I know that Ellen chose “Maybe I’m Amazed” for Crystal and that Lee was given “Hallelujah” by one of the judges, Simon I think. Kara and Randy chose “Daughters”, by John Mayer, for Casey.

The singers, the songs-

I am going to review the show by the two rounds of songs tonight. There is no real point in individual critiques, there really hasn’t been for a couple of weeks. Either you watch the show and you know these cats, or you don’t care. There isn’t much more to say about how they sing, is there? To recap:

– Casey has a sort of bleating yet warm tone to his voice, and he is really good looking. He plays guitar (all of the three remaining play guitar) and mandolyn and sings harmony. He can play lead somewhat better than your typical bar band picker, but he ain’t Jimmy Hendrix. His style is a sort of a Texas blues/southern rock mix. He is from a small town in Texas, and he has a good dose of Texas charm and southern sensibilities. He is cool and uncomplicated. He doesn’t give speeches. He gets to the point.

-Crystal is a folksy, sweeter voiced doppelganger twin of Janis Joplin, who kind of looks like Janis as well. She plays some piano and harmonica to compliment her campfire styled guitar strumming. She is a consummate professional, and one of the better harmony singers that I’ve heard on the show. She is still green as a lead singer, and her only vocal weakness is that she occasionally gets sloppy with her rhythm and phrasing. Her personality is that of a somewhat shy and stoic earth mother. She probably has a dream catcher in every room of her house, and I would be shocked if she owns any pastel colored clothes.

– Lee has the most contemporary voice left in the competition. He scratches, he growls, and he has good range. He is the greenest singer of the trio, but he has the most power in his voice. His main weakness is his intonation (inexperience….), and it will probably be gone by the end of the Idol Tour. Lee’s personality is that of a laid back kid who probably has more friends than he can count. I wonder sometimes if he holds back on stage because his basic sense of humor is too sick for network TV, even Fox. He seems like THAT guy, yaknow? While Big Mike got all the attention for being the glue of the show this season, Lee seems to be the one who everyone wanted to be best friends with.

Round One-

Casey went first, singing “Ok it’s Alright with me” by Eric Hutchinson. I liked the song, and I liked how he sang it. The judges hammered him for singing it “easy” and hated the song choice. Yeah, right.

Crystal went next, singing “Come to my Window” by Melissa Etheridge. It was a mediocre effort. I hated the arrangement, and Crystal’s vocal was inconsistent and she seemed out of whack the entire time that she was singing. Her rhythm wasn’t the best, and she was maybe trying too hard to milk something out of a song that didn’t have much to offer. The one thing that she could have done was to pull a Siobhan and take it up to the rafters. She made a couple of weak attempts at that, and then folded it up and mailed it in. The judges weren’t crazy positive, but they called it a good song choice. Yeah, right.

Lee sang “Simple Man”, by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Shinedown covered this song recently, very well actually, but for some reason nobody anywhere near the Idol family knew about it. Lee’s version was kind of in the middle of the two. He was a little bit bolder than Skynyrd’s original, but well short of the boldness of the cover. My own take was that it was a nice, pleasing karaoke performance of a very familiar song. The judges all wet their pants at how great it was. Yeah, right.

Frankly, the judges were miles off on every single critique. They seem to be making sure that Lee makes the finale – and that Casey doesn’t. Everything that they said about Crystal’s performance would have been the right thing to say about Casey. They laudedCrystal for “staying true to herself” while hammering Casey for “staying true to himself”. They gave Crystal a pass for her fairly crappy performance.

Simon was the only judge who even mentioned how Casey sang. He blurted out right at the end, drowned out in the crowd noise; “you sang it well though”. This was after all four judges practically accused Casey of not caring. Practically is weak. They flat accused him of not caring, because he sang a song that would fit on one of his albums instead of singing some Whitney Houston or something. Very hypocritical, I think.

Lee, man….. He was good, I liked it, but it wasn’t amazing. Hell, it was fairly pedestrian by the standards of that song. Why didn’t they hammer him for not being as good as Shinedown? Hell, why didn’t they even mention Shinedown? Doesn’t anyone on Idol know who Shinedown is?

They hammered so many singers this season for lesser crimes (Siobhan, Didi, etc.) against previous versions of the songs. If anyone was mailing it in for this first round of performances, it was the judges.

Round Two-

I reverted back to my old format for the second round. Sue me.

Casey sang “Daughters”, by John Mayer. His vocal wasn’t perfect, but his voice sounded right and I would like to hear the studio version. The judges congratulated themselves for the song choice, but Simon called them on it. Simon was much kinder to Casey than the other judges, who seemed to have been paid to make sure that he is voted off tomorrow night.

Crystal was next with “Maybe I’m Amazed”, by Paul McCartney. Weirdly she left the words unchanged, calling herself a man and saying “maybe you’re the only woman”. The breaks in the song were a little bit weird, but who cares? Crystal destroyed the song, and those missing notes from her first performance were all there. Crystal doesn’t move comfortably without her guitar, but she did ok. She actually moved out behind the judges and blew out a couple of last glory notes from the front and center stage. The studio version of this song should be, well, amazing. The judges all gushed, and this time I agree. Not a “moment” necessarily, but a masterful exhibition of her range. She even growled some, which was new for her.

Lee closed the show with “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. Is it just me, or does Lee have some Neil Diamond in his lower range? This song has been a staple on Idol, but Lee put his own stamp on it with that forceful lower range phrasing and power all the way up to some ballsy, growling glory runs. There were a couple of imperfections, probably too many to call this a “moment”, but overall this was one of Lee’s best performances of the season.

The fix is definitely in. Randy did everything but a rain dance to make sure that next week is a genuine competition. Kara and Ellen followed suit, reminding me of last season when they overdid it and accidentally swung the tide towards Kris Allen over the obvious choice of Adam. Simon wasn’t much different, calling Lee a great person among other things.

Ummm…. Nothing against Lee, but isn’t this kind of a back-handed slam at Casey? I understand that they really want a Lee/Crystal showdown, but did they forget last week? I like Lee a lot, and I would agree that Lee/Crystal is the just choice for the finale. I don’t see any reason to slander Casey like they did tonight to accomplish it, though. Casey was terrific tonight. Is it so important to manipulate the voters? They will get it right, without needing the panel to beat Casey to a pulp in the process.

Safe to in danger-

It would be an epic shocker if Crystal isn’t safe, and Lee as well. Casey probably should have gone home a couple of weeks ago, and this is almost certainly his time to go. He was terrific tonight. Let’s all remember that, and forget the manipulation from the judges.

Grades-

Casey A- and A-

Crystal B- and A

Lee B+ and A-