American Idol Season 9 is down to the Top 3 finalists — Casey James, Lee Dewyze, and Crystal Bowersox. After spending some time in their home towns with the American Idol film crews, the Top 3 will hit the stage in Hollywood Tuesday evening to perform two songs each — one a judge’s choice and one of their own choosing. After the two hours of voting once the show ends, there will then be only two contestants remaining. Of course, American Idol viewers and voters won’t know who those two are until the Wednesday evening results show, but the two will have been chosen just the same. The popularity contest portion of the show aside, those song choices just might be very important to voters who are trying to decide who they want to be in the the Season 9 finale.
Song choice, song choice, song choice… It is the mantra we have been hearing since the show began and emphasized heavily throughout this season. The problem seems to be that, other than Crystal Bowersox, not many have been choosing songs suited to propelling them forward in the competition. So, with that being stated…
According to various sources, including “PopWatch” at Entertainment Weekly, the judge’s choice for Lee Dewyze is slated to be Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Judge Simon Cowell reportedly chose Lee Dewyze’s song. And since Simon Cowell is one of those who is most adamant about song choice, one has to ask why? Why choose a song that has been sung to death on American Idol and elsewhere in the last decade? Jason Castro had his crowning moment with “Hallelujah” in Season 7. As a matter of fact, so did Tim Urban in Season 9, just a few weeks ago. And how many times have we heard the phrase from Simon, “Of all the millions of songs you could have chosen…” Lee Dewyze shouldn’t have much trouble with the song — as long as he chooses a version like Bruce Springsteen’s.
Ellen DeGeneres reportedly chose Crystal Bowersox’ tune. She chose Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Again, why? This song choice is almost as difficult to understand as the Simon Cowell’s choice for Lee. What’s the point of choosing a song that doesn’t play to Crystal Bowersox’ soulsy, bluesy voice? This isn’t even a particular uptempo song, nor does it seem to build. It is a slow song that goes nowhere and, unless Crystal Bowersox completely rearranges the arrangement and makes the song nearly unrecognizable (something the judges seem to call for but have attacked when a contestant has actually achieved it in earlier shows), it will fall flat. Crystal Bowersox has been the frontrunner throughout Season 9, but a poor showing on this song — and whatever personal choice she makes — could hurt her.
Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson melded minds and came up with John Mayer’s Grammy-winning “Daughters” for Casey James. Of the three judges choices, James seems to have won out. And it just might turn out to be a good choice. Casey James does sound a little like John Mayer. And it will give the Texas bluesman a chance to use his guitar as a prop. Of course, if they were going to go with a John Mayer song for Casey James, the two could have chosen “Waiting For The World To Change,” which James could have given more of a bluesy twist.
As for the personal song choices for the night, it is anyone’s guess. Still, a poor song choice can sink a contestant. It is difficult to gauge exactly where any of the final three stand in the competition, especially with the youngster, Aaron Kelly, gone, as well as MIchael Lynche, both of whom certainly had fans that are now voting for others. And since the American Idol producers never disclose exactly how many votes are cast for each contestant during any given week, it is unknown how closely matched the three contestants are — or if any of them are even closely matched in the voting at all.
So what should the others sing for their personal choices? What songs would help them get into the finale? Lee Dewyze should certainly sing something alternative. He’s got a killer voice, well suited to the grunge and post-grunge sound. Perhaps something from Live or Fuel or perhaps even a Daughtry tune.
Crystal Bowersox should definitely do something retro. She’s at her best when she’s interpreting a classic. Although it seems cliche to even suggest it, perhaps a Janis Joplin tune would fill the bill. If not, she could nail down something a little more contemporary, like a Joss Stone tune. No matter what, it will undoubtedly be better than the judge’s choice.
For Casey James, he will either have to go country — something like another Keith Urban tune — or something blues oriented. Blues is his forte, plus he can show off his guitar skills with a well-chosen blues tune. Jonny Lang’s “Lie To Me” would be a great tune to not only belt out some blues licks but also highlight his vocals. But if he wanted to kill two birds with one stone, he could do a country-blues tune like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” or Marshall Tucker Band’s “Can’t You See.”
Regardless, whatever they choose, the American Idol Top 3 performances should be interesting.
Especially those judges song choices…