Lee also did well with his choice of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man." Again, he can't hit the big notes, but that song doesn't need it. Was I blown away with Lee's performance, as the judges were? No. I thought "Hallelujah" was his standout moment of Tuesday night and of the season. But, when you package the performances, you have to give the night to Lee and the entirely overrated momentum cliche heading into next week's Idol finale.
I thought Crystal was good with the Melissa Etheridge hit "Come to My Window" and spectacular on Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed." It was her best vocal delivery on the Idol stage yet, though it wasn't her best performance. She seemed a bit uncomfortable onstage during the song, without her guitar as she strolled causally around the stage to sing directly to the audience. She was even less herself during "Come to My Window." Nerves? Exhaustion? Both?
I wondered how Crystal would hold up after her exhausting northwest Ohio homecoming Friday. I think Tuesday night she was still recovering from the trip. She seemed tentative as well, especially as she opened "Come to My Window," her first performance of the night.
Still, she did just what she needed to do to get into the Top 2: be really good.
The judges agreed.
For her performance of “Come to My Window” they liked it but weren't blown away by it:
Randy: "It's that time in the competition, looking for a winner, looking to see who's going to blow it out the box. I did not love the arrangement me personally. It's an amazing song. But what I did like, though, is I loved your vocal on it. The arrangement was fighting you a little bit for me, but you raised above it with your vocal. It all worked in the end. It's an amazing song and a good song choice for you.”
Ellen: “I agree. It's a good song choice. It's the exact kind of song you want to sing, the artist that you want to be. So that's your comfort zone and I thought Melissa would be very proud of you. It was great.”
Kara: “I agree with the guys. And I do think that you did get a little lost in the arrangement. You were fighting; your tone doesn't have the rasp and the edge that Melissa Etheridge has, so I think acoustically it would have been a little bit stronger. But it's still a good vocal. I just think you're capable of a moment and I hope you have a moment tonight.”
Simon: “I agree with the other three said. I don't think this is the most stunning version of the song that we're ever going to hear. Having said that, what I like about you and what you did tonight is that from the very first day we met you to the semi-final you haven't compromised yourself as an artist. I have a lot of respect for you for that. You came out here and you just decided to do what is you. It's a very honest performance and I think you made the right choice. Congratulations.”
For her performance of “Maybe I'm Amazed," the judges were thrilled by Crystal taking chances onstage with her performance while staying true to herself as an artist:
Randy: “Great song, great vocals. And America, we've got somebody else in it to win it.”
Ellen: “I couldn't have asked for more. That's what I was hoping you'd do and you did it. You did it.”
Kara: “Crystal, you didn't change it up that much, but what you did with it, you showed parts of your voice I don't think we've heard until tonight.”
Crystal: “Me neither.”
Kara: “You really pushed. And no instrument, a huge risk for you. You did a lot of risky things tonight and I think it paid off.”
Simon: “I must admit, when I heard the song choice I was kind of surprised, but now I get it. What you just proved after that performance is that you've got soul. You worked outside of your comfort zone. And I think after that you may be thanking Ellen next week for putting you into the final. That was terrific.”
I think Lee and Crystal are moving on, which means Casey is gone. I don't care if he gets the female vote, he's nearly been eliminated before, and this night his two performances -- “OK, It's Alright with Me,” by Eric Hutchinson, and “Daughter,” by John Mayer -- were the weak ones in the bunch.
As Ellen told him after he opened the show with “OK, It's Alright with Me":
“I wish you would've brought it, because this is really the night you need to bring something much, much bigger than that. It was all right, but it really needed to blow us away.”
My wife did bring up a good point after the show. Crystal was at a disadvantage because she had the only non-music-minded judge, Ellen, selecting her song. It turned out to be a good choice for her, but after watching Lee's "Hallelujah," I think Crystal would have performed as well if not better. She has more dynamics in her vocal range, and really could have dug in to the song's finale. I wonder if Simon would have picked that song for Crystal to sing as well. To me, it was just as suited for her as for Lee.
Anyway, it doesn't matter now. Crystal and Lee will move on. And I'll be in L.A. to cover it all. I'll be back with details later. Also, in a bit of even more self-promotion, I'll be on WTOL-TV, Channel 11, twice Wednesday. I'll be on "Your Show" at around 9:40 a.m. And it looks like I'll be on the station again for the 11 p.m. newscast. I'll be talking Crystal in both live segments.
And if you haven't gotten enough of me on TV, then go back and watch Crystal's appearance at the AT&T store in West Toledo. If you look carefully, during a couple shots of Crystal with her back to the AT&T building, you can see yours truly tweeting the song announcement. And thus, I enjoyed my .9 seconds of national TV fame.