Rarely has such a simple comedy's theme song carried such an important message to the masses.
Then again, how many times has "I'm Alright (Theme From 'Caddyshack')" been performed live on a national stage like American Idol? And when has there been so much riding on that song -- as in an opportunity for Crystal Bowersox to regain some lost momentum on the show and prove to Idol voters she hasn't checked out of the competition, as some had feared?
Crystal's performance of a rocked-out, playful version of the Kenny Loggins tune Tuesday night had a loud and clear message to any of her doubters:
"I'm alright/Nobody worry 'bout me
Why you got to gimme a fight?/Can't you just let it be?"
You don't need to be an English major to interpret that one.
With her dreads done up in a ball, and wearing a knee-high black dress and matching black boots, Crystal was more casual and more comfortable onstage than she'd been in weeks. It showed. Her vocals reached new heights, particularly at the end of her performance as she screamed "Can't you just let me be!" for all she was worth.
After a night when the other performers faltered in their solo performances, the judges were clearly happy to have the old Crystal back.
Randy: “I've been saying this since day one, you are definitely an artist. It wasn't my favorite performance, but at least you tried to switch it up and make it somewhat kind of interesting and fit you. So nice job.”
Ellen: “That performance I would say just got ‘Crystallized.' I would say you took that song and made it better.”
Kara: “I completely agree with Ellen, you took the song and made it better. And I agree with Randy. [Points to Bowersox] Artist. Artist. Artist.”
Simon: “I would say after that performance that you, Crystal, are back in the game.”
And that wasn't even her best performance of the night.
As part of Idol's “Songs From Cinema” theme night, the four finalists were paired up for duets. Crystal and Lee DeWyze, her biggest competition on the show so far, joined forces for a performance.
Was that their choice? Maybe. Some, though, would say the show's producers paired them together because they know Crystal and Lee are the front-runners this season.
However the contestants came together, it worked brilliantly. The pair nailed their cover of the Oscar-winning “Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova from the film “Once.”
Crystal and Lee stood only a couple of feet apart, as they played acoustic guitar, looking and singing to each through their entire duet as if the lyrics were meant for them only. Their dramatic delivery worked, as the song began as a tender ballad before it exploded into an emotional rocker; their performance was riveting and their song radio ready.
The two found such a perfect, natural harmony together it made you think they'd been singing together for years and not just some recent rehearsals.
There's a reason why these are the two favorites to win it all this season.
The judges ate up their duet, especially after the lackluster solo performances by Lee and Michael "Big Mike" Lynche that came before it.
Randy: “What a difference a couple of moments made; a great song by two great singers. Unbelievable. Dude, that could be a hit right now. I love it. It was amazing. Amazing. Amazing. That's what I'm talking about.”
Ellen: “You're like the new Captain & Tennille. God that was great. That was great.”
Kara: “One of my favorite moments of the entire season. You both felt like artists. I loved the way you interacted, the chemistry, the support you had for each other. You just looked at yourselves and you brought out the best in both of you. And that's what duets are about. Congratulations.”
Simon: “I don't know if I would call that a good song. I would call it a fantastic song.”
Meanwhile, Mike and Casey James also enjoyed praise for their duet of “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” by Bryan Adams from the film Don Juan DeMarco.
“The duets tonight were incredible,” said DioGuardi. “They were better than all the solo performances.”
Personally, I thought Casey's singing was weak during his duet; the performance was saved only by his guitar work and Mike's vocals. But really, their duet proved what most everyone has been saying this season, that Crystal and Lee are in another class than their competition.
Meanwhile, Crystal showed in her solo turn that she's taking this contest seriously and wants to win. So Crystal fans, quit fretting about her moving forward on the show, and listen to what she's telling you: "I'm alright/Nobody worry 'bout me."
After Tuesday's performance, can there be any doubt?
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