I’ve heard and read a lot of grumbling about how boring this season of American Idol has been, and while it’s true that the two front-runners have been clearly the best of the bunch and there’s been little doubt that both of them would make it to the top three, I’m not sure what people are complaining about. Last night’s performances by Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox were magnificent. The duet they sang together last week was fabulous. Week in and week out, the two of them have delivered some of the best musical performances in all of my experience with the show. While I’ll admit that many of the other performers weren’t that great (How Tim Urban made the top 12 even is astonishing), these two singers alone have been worth hearing week in and week out.
Last night, Bowersox’s performance of the Paul McCartney song “Maybe I’m Amazed” was nothing short of spectacular, and to me, it was the best performance of the night. I didn’t care so much for her rendition of “Come to My Window” by Melissa Etheridge, but it was strong enough not to undermine the brilliance of the second song. In terms of range, tone, power, and soul, she is the best singer I’ve heard in quite some time. I hope she gets to make the kind of music she wants to make and the industry doesn’t screw up her career and it so often does with gifted artists.
Lee Dewyze, who I really admire and respect, was solid, but I wasn’t overjoyed by the performance of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen. First, he shouldn’t have had a backup choir because it wasn’t a level playing field for the other two and also because it took away from his voice. He sang the song well; there was nothing wrong with his vocals, per se. But I will always measure every version of that song to Jeff Buckley’s, which is painfully transcendentally beautiful, and his rendition came up a little short for me. Also, I didn’t care for the song choice of “Simple Man.” I loved the choice of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but I would have preferred something else from them, maybe “The Ballad of Curtis Lowe” or “All I Can Do Is Write About It,” but again, he sang the song well.
I really hope these two make the finals. Casey James, as I’ve said before, is a one-trick show pony. He’s not in the same league talent-wise with either Mommasox or Dewyze. They are both serious artists who hopefully with have tremendous careers making music that has substance and soul. They both have the potential.