We’re down to our final three on American Idol, and in just over a week, we’ll have a new recording superstar. And by that, I mean the next featured artist at Starbucks. Casey, Crystal, and Lee are all very talented musicians, and they certainly do love strumming their geee-tars, but man oh man do they lack charisma. It’s just hard to get excited about them. This wasn’t the case a year ago when we had the polarizing Adam Lambert, the affable Kris Allen, and the detestable Danny Gokey. Our final three now are all good, but eh. I don’t see anyone getting impassioned about who’s going home tonight. Sort of sad that this is the way Simon’s final season has to play out, but then again, it’s kind of his fault. After all, maybe if he and the other judges had ushered in something beyond a bunch of singer-songwriters, we would actually have a season to crow about. Oh well.Overall, the night certainly belonged to Lee. His first song, “Simple Man,” was definitely the strongest of the opening round. It didn’t blow me away, but compared to what the other two had offered, it was the best we could do. Again, charisma is a major issue for Lee. His voice can certainly soar, but often times, he doesn’t seem like much more than a glorified band leader playing at a fraternity.
Lee’s second song, chosen by Simon, was “Hallelujah,” by Leonard Cohen. It’s a beautiful song, and one that’s led to some serious Idol “moments” in the past, but honestly, it’s teetering on the edge of being overused. Heck, even Tim Urban sang it earlier this season. Couldn’t Simon have offered something a touch more original? The only way I could condone this song choice would be if Lee did something different than anyone else (ie. no solitary, mournful voice). Luckily for Lee, he did change it up. He provided a rousing, gospel-infused, fully orchestral rendition that was actually pretty amazing. It was the “moment” he was looking for, and one of only a very few this entire season. Clearly this was the effect Lee was going for earlier this year with his ill-advised bagpiper accompaniment.
The judges certainly gave Lee plenty of praise, essentially saying he was guaranteed a spot in the finals. It’s hard to say though. His charisma is truly lacking. And one can never underestimate the “dreaminess” factor of Casey James. Poor Casey again fumbled with his first song, “Ok, It’s Alright By Me,” which proved too obscure to really forge a connection with the audience. The judges were right in that he sounded good, but they were also right in noting that this wasn’t the night to be introducing a new song to most of America.
Casey did better with his second song, which was chosen by Randy and Kara. Singing “Daughters” by John Mayer, Casey showed vulnerability and artistry, but alas, it was too low-key to be the show-stopper it needed to be. He would have been better off starting the night with the song and ending with a real crowd-pleaser. However, that wasn’t a possibility; so it looks like he may be on this ice tonight.
Lastly, we have Crystal, who arguably has the most talent and stage presence of all of them. Too bad she kicked off the night by singing “Come To My Window” by Melissa Etheridge. Clearly the outspoken singer has many fans, but I think it’s safe to say that most of her music is bland and generic. “Come To My Window” is no exception. Crystal certainly sang the hell out of it, but she was undermined with weak source material and a strange arrangement. Still, it was a solid performance.
Much better was Crystal’s second song, “Maybe I’m Amazed,” chosen by Ellen. Crystal left nothing on the stage as she bellowed the Paul McCartney tune. It was pretty great. However, it was oddly forgettable too, but that may just be a function of this underwhelming cast. Based on performances alone, it would seem as though we’re destined for a Crystal and Lee showdown, but strange things do happen at this stage of the game; so who knows. The only thing that is certain is that there’ll be a whole lot of guitar strumming and tepid enthusiasm.
What did you think of the final three?