Crystal Bowersox was the first American Idol singer onstage last night. And the Ottawa County resident used the leadoff position to set the bar high.
Bowersox performed "Saved" for Elvis Presley theme night. And at the urging of the show's mentor this week, last season's American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert, Bowersox plugged in an electric guitar for a rocked-out blues-gospel version of the song and won unanimous praise. "You've got this whole blues-cool vibe going on," said Randy Jackson.
"I thought I was listening to somebody's record. It could have been like the second coming of, like, Bonnie Raitt. I loved it."
Simon Cowell, perhaps Bowersox's biggest fan among the four judges, praised her for not selecting "an obvious song" by Presley.
"You chose something that suited you, you put your own slant on it, and most importantly, you didn't fall into the karaoke trap," he said. "For that reason - original, it sounded great - congratulations again. Terrific."
The strong performance should help the 24-year-old win over viewers, but Bowersox is by no means guaranteed safe from elimination. Last week's results show offered a stunning surprise, with one of the judges' favorites, Michael "Big Mike" Lynche, receiving the fewest viewer votes.
Lynche would have been eliminated if the judges hadn't voted unanimously to use their only save of the season to keep the singer from going home.
Tune in at 9 p.m. tonight to WUPW-TV, Channel 36, for the hourlong results show. And check out Kirk Baird's blog about Bowersox's performance last night at toledoblade.com.