No, Scott McIntyre did not return to the Idol stage last night. But for a final three performance night, the whole thing was rather stumbling and bumbling at times, no? The Idols were let down by their arrangements, the judges, and even themselves as they limped towards the Nokia. Well, okay, two of the Idols are limping (although one is gaining a second wind there in the final stretch) and one Idol pulled away from the pack in a pretty definitive fashion last night, and even though it wasn't MY Idol that was doing the pulling away, it was still pretty spectacular to witness.
The truth of the matter is that Lee Dewyze transformed last night from a shy paint salesman to a bona fide star. Now, granted, his stardom may be fleeting, but there's no denying that kid knocked it out of the ball park last night. His performance of "Hallelujah" was powerful, moving, and ultimately just might be the ticket to his confetti shower next week. But more on that later.
Outside of Simon's gutsy choice to have Lee perform "Hallelujah" (particularly considering the song had previously been Tim Urban's ticket into the top 12 earlier this season), the songs chosen by the judges were rather lackluster. Randy and Kara saddled poor Casey with John Mayer's "Daughter" -- a pretty flaccid tune (and I say this as a John Mayer fan) that didn't give Casey much to work with. Of course, I'm not sure Casey would know what to do with a powerhouse song if he got one. Poor Casey so desperately wants to be Bo Bice, but he just doesn't have the charisma or talent that Bo had.
Meanwhile, Ellen assigned Crystal "Maybe I'm Amazed." Now, this is a song I really love, and I do think Crystal did a great job with the song. Crystal tried to inject as much power into it as she could, although I thought she seemed a bit shouty at times. I also thought it was kind of awkward that she kept singing "Maybe I'm a man" and that no attempts were made to change the lyrics to reflect the fact that a woman was singing the song. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for Crystal last night was having to perform before Lee. It really became a night of "Anything you can do, I can do better" as Crystal came out and gave solid to spectacular performances and Lee topped her both times.
So, yes, to the rankings....
1. Lee Dewyze ("Simple Man", "Hallelujah") Okay, there probably aren't many people out there who thought that Lee wasn't going to make the finals, particularly after the performances he's had the past couple weeks. Last night, though, was Lee's opportunity to prove to himself that he's the real deal. He brought passion, power, and heart to the stage in a way that he's never done before. You could almost feel America gathering the kid in its collective arms. It was moving to watch. As much as I love Crystal (and I still do), there's no denying that this kid winning could make for a great story and that he could potentially make the powers that be behind this show a lot of money. I'm still rooting for Crystal, but I won't fling my remote control across the room in rage should Lee be the one singing "I Believe This is My Now, The Time of My Life, for A Moment Like This With No Boundaries Has Me Flying Without Wings Inside Your Heaven, So Do I Make You Proud?" next week.
2. Crystal Bowersox ("Come to My Window", "Maybe I'm Amazed") Again, it's not that Crystal did a particularly lousy job last night. She was just second best. "Come to My Window" was not a particularly shocking choice and was probably a really good choice for her, but I would have to agree with the judges that the arrangement of the song really let her down. I don't know how much control Crystal had over how the song was cut, but it did her no favors at all. It cut out most of the first verse, giving her no room to build the emotion and intensity of the song. And to be honest, the harmonica was a little cheesy. I'm really surprised Simon didn't accuse her of being a subway busker with that set up. Crystal bounced back from the disappointment of "Come to My Window" with a really powerful, soulful version of "Maybe I'm Amazed" that's only real crime is coming before "Hallelujah." It would be a tremendous shock if Crystal was not standing beside Lee next week for she definitely made a strong case for herself -- and I have to admit I kind of want to see what she does with the treacle the finalists are forced to sing.
3. Casey James ("Ok, It's All Right With Me", "Daughters") You know, I think Casey's a cool guy. I love the way he plays guitar. I would happily buy a Casey James CD (Do they still sell those if the Glee kids aren't involved?). Casey, though, was just, pure and simple, outclassed last night. The fact that he's in the top three is a tremendous accomplishment and probably has more to do with his handsome good looks than his actual singing talent. There were singers much more talented than Casey who went home much, much sooner. His victory is getting a homecoming trip. The time has come, though, for Idol to cling to whatever legitimacy it has left and let the two best singers take the stage at the Nokia and send Casey back to Cool, Texas.