'American Idol' Top 3: The Judges' Choice (and We're Not Just Talking About Crystal and Lee)
'American Idol' Top 3: The Judges' Choice (and We're Not Just Talking About Crystal and Lee)
Abbey Simmons
Abbey Simmons
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Now that the contestants have picked their songs, it's time for the judges' choice.

Casey James - "Daughters" by John Mayer

Randy and Kara chose "Daughters" because they think it's the direction that Casey should go forward with as an artist when he's done with Idol, i.e. tomorrow. (I completely disagree; Idol may want Casey to be John Mayer, but Casey wants to be John Lee Hooker.)  Kara says this song is for Casey's fans, "women and girls." Thanks for the backhanded compliment, Kara.

Anyway, Casey's "Daughters" is beautiful and it shows the same kind of emotional accessibility and intensity of "Jealous Guy." That being said, it is not a song that's EVER going to provide a "wow moment" for anyone. Not for John Mayer, and definitely not for Casey James tonight. But it's not all bad news, Casey delivered some of his best vocals of the season. Unfortunately, even that won't get him to the Idol finale. Tonight it was all sleepy and forgettable for Mr. James and he needed to take a page from Jimi and set the stage on fire. (Figuratively and/or literally.)

Simon Says: "It was a bit of a lazy arrangement. I hold these two slightly responsible for not giving you a much bigger vocal moment. To be fair, you sounded very very good on it. I think you sounded very good the whole night, that song didn't have the 'wow' factor."

Safe, Shaky, or Should be Packing: should still be packing (if not already packed)

Sadly, even if Crystal and Lee sat out their next two performances, they'd still make it to the finale. But just to be sure, both Crystal and Lee will be singing songs which pack more emotional wallop and wow moment potential in a single note than both of Casey's songs combined. Up first is Crystal Bowersox:

Crystal Bowersox: "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney

Ellen chose "Maybe I'm Amazed" for Crystal because she thinks it could help Crystal surprise people with her range.

For "Maybe I'm Amazed" Crystal has left the guitar and harmonica off stage and is just straight-up singing. I have goosebumps from the piano intro alone, so score one for Crystal. Screw score one, score a hundred for Crystal, because holy hell ... she didn't need any help at all with the goosebumps.

Bowersox straight up belts "Maybe I'm Amazed," in the same way that Janis Joplin would have done it if given the chance, and in my book, that's a very good thing. Crystal is clearly pushing her voice to the limits and some of her biggest notes verge on screaming, but that does nothing to lessen the massive case of the shivers she's given me. That there is the elusive Idol moment we've all been waiting for.

Simon Says: "What you just proved with that performance is you've got soul." He also says Crystal should thank Ellen because she probably just put her through to the finale ... and I call hogwash, because of anyone on that stage, it is Crystal herself who will have gotten into the finale on her own.

Safe, Shaky, or Should be Packing: Safe

Lastly in the pimp spot, with the pimp song is Lee Dewyze.

Lee Dewyze: "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen

Simon acknowledges that we've heard the song already, but he doesn't think we've heard it the way Lee will do it. He thinks this is the song made for Lee's moment.

Again, just like for Crystal, I have shivers within moments ... it's a Pavlovian reflex to "Hallelujah's" lyrics ... but will Lee himself add to those shivers?


Sure, with the choir and the horns and THE song it was a bit of a manufactured moment ... you can't hear "Hallelujah" and not feel something, but Lee did an incredible job with it. His vocals were not only on in terms of pitch, but they conveyed the emotion and meaning behind the song with skill and earnestness. Technical perfection doesn't matter when what you're doing makes people feel something, and with that performance, Lee made me feel something. Something like a premonition he's winning the whole darn thing next week. Based on the minute long standing ovation, it would seem the studio audience agrees with me.

Simon Says: "I am very very proud of you. Tonight with that performance, you proved that you are a fantastic singer, a great person and I really hope for you that you make it to next week."

Safe, Shaky, or Should be Packing:  Still the safest of them all

Discuss: Was Lee's Idol moment manufactured or real?

Well, if a Crystal vs. Lee finale wasn't all but certain before tonight's performances, it most certainly is now. Tonight was like watching two headliners and a decent opening band who was paid to keep the crowd in their seats between the main acts. No one was going to storm out during Casey's performances over awfulness, but there was no chance of him over-shadowing or out-shining the real stars, the chosen ones: Crystal and Lee.

Tonight, Crystal, but most especially Lee, showed why they are the chosen ones and why it will be them facing off in the finale. And Bowersox better watch her back, because if Idol was decided tonight, it would be Lee Dewyze (with a healthy shove from "Hallelujah") who would win.

And don't forget to make your picks (see: chose Casey James) for Fantasy TV.  
(Image courtesy of FOX)