Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Last Hurrah

I entered this night with high expectations, and a healthy dose of realism. It's long been my assertion that eventually fans of American Idol stop caring about who performs better and vote for who they like the best. So even deciding who was best tonight does very little to help us decide who will win. It's still fun to review it and debate it, though, isn't it?

First, a couple of general observations. Simon Fuller and whoever picked the winners' songs did Lee no favors tonight. First of all, Lee was given the much more mellow "Everyody Hurts" to Crystal's overdone, but more overtly exciting "Black Velvet." Then he was given the unenviable task of trying to improve on what is one of U2's better songs, while Crystal gets the benefit of a song that is so naturally suited to her soulful voice and great guitar skills.

I was happy to see that American Idol has done what many of us thought they should have done a long time ago: get rid of the cheesy, formulaic, mock inspirational winners' songs in favor of more relevant, established songs. Kara seemed a bit bitter about not getting a chance to create more cheddar for the winners, though. I would advise Kara to go back and look at the final performances of such contestants as Bo Bice, Blake Lewis, and David Cook as they tried to put their spins on the winners' songs. It wasn't pretty. There is some music that was just meant to be sung by the David Archuletas of the world.

I also enjoyed hearing Will Young sing tonight. What a tribute to the Idol process to see the original Pop Idol having such a successful career. He's got a really good voice.

OK, now my contestant-specific reviews . . .

Lee DeWyze: I completely disagree that Lee seemed nervous. He may have been a little awestruck and humbled by the whole setting, but he seemed very comfortable on stage all night. "The Boxer" was a great choice, especially since I get a little tired of the over-the-top arrangements that always surface during the finale. I prefer an emotional performance of a great song to a forced cliche of a presentation. Lee's voice is perfectly suited to sing R.E.M., so his second song was great in my opinion, even if the judges seemed underwhelmed. "Beautiful Day" is a great song, but there is no way to really compare to Bono on this one. I do disagree with Kara, though--he was not "swallowed up" by the song. All in all I thought it was a very solid set of performances.

Crystal Bowersox: Crystal got off to a rough start with dropping her microphone in the aisle in the opening, and it seemed like no one knew where she was supposed to be. The biggest challenge for her tonight seemed to be getting to the stage because once she got there she was just fine. All of her songs were great selections, and she had probably her best night of the season. She seemed herself, complete with attention-seeking ingratiation (is that even a word?). I can't take anything away from her performances tonight, though, because she was in the zone. I think she probably had a better night than Lee, and it pains me to say it since I'm a Lee fan.

With that said, I still think Lee is the next American Idol. He just seems to be a fit for the typical voters, or at least the ones that will vote for the entire four hours, risking the development of severe arthritis as adults.


Boquinha said...

Holy we both used the word "ingratiating." Or a form thereof anyway.

I love your kisses best. :) Always have. Always will.

Jimmy said...

Honest, I didn't use the exact same words as Kara, but during Lee's second performance I told Joy that I felt that Lee was being overpowered by the music. It actually kind of made me mad at the musicians.

Chelle said...

Love this assessment, Mark. I had a hard time admitting how well Crystal did last night, too because Lee is my guy. Lee was solid, but Crystal was spot on (once she figured out how to get on stage...ha ha!).