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Wednesday May 19, 2010 3:12 am

American Idol 9: Top 3 Perform

began Top 3 week by announcing the home town of each of the remaining Idols. The three finishers have the honor of singing it out to make it to the show’s prestigious Top 2, a season finale extravaganza which will culminate in the crowning of another American Idol.

The Top 3 won the chance to go home at the end of last week’s results night, where Michael Lynche was in fourth place. There was no mentor for the week and not much of a theme, either. The contestants and the judges selected tunes from a large Idol grab-bag of former hits.

Casey James kicked off the night, quickly launching into “OK, It’s Alright With Me.” “I figured it was a good representation of…me as an artist,” he explained to Ryan Seacrest. James wore a suit and strummed a guitar while standing in the big spotlight. The song is definitely in his wheelhouse, with just enough old school rock edge to highlight his vocal strengths. Good choice.

“That songs was just kind of alright with me, too,” Randy Jackson reported, saying it “didn’t quite work” for him. “It was all right, and you have a great voice, but it needed to really blow us away,” Ellen DeGeneres explained. Kara DioGuardi found the song wasn’t popular enough, and said it “didn’t work” in Casey’s favor. “Well this isn’t going great,” Simon Cowell observed. “I would compare that first song to, if you were having dinner, that’s the salad,” he remarked. Cowell’s final prediction? “That song will leave no lasting effect on the audience.”

Crystal Bowersox joined Ryan Seacrest for a quick sit-down before her first performance of the night. She predictably picked a Melissa Ethridge tune, “Come to My Window.” Bor-ing. She played harmonica and strummed guitar before launching into the soulful tune, which Crystal performed more than ably. There was no question Bowersox would perform the tune well, which is exactly why it was a boring choice of song.

“loved” Crystal’s vocals and found “it all worked in the end.” “I thought Melissa would be very proud of you,” Ellen DeGeneres offered. Kara DioGuardi didn’t enjoy the arrangement of the song, and rambled for a while before turning it over to Simon Cowell. “I don’t think this is the most stunning version of the song we’re ever going to hear,” he dryly remarked. Cowell then lavished praise upon Crystal Bowersox for simply being herself.

Lee DeWyze was still reeling from his trip home, which had a large effect on him, when he talked to Idol‘s host. He chose “Simple Man” for his all-important Top 3 night gig. As usual, as Lee spoke, a gaggle of girls cried out “We love you, Lee!” to interrupt his comments. DeWyze turned his powerful vocals on immediately for his stage show, laying into the song with gusto. His performance was immediately the best of the night, even well before he hit the chorus.

Randy Jackson found the tune to be a “brilliant song choice,” and praised Lee’s confidence. Hard to pull off contemporary coolness while wearing a cardigan Cosby sweater, don’t you think, Randy? Ellen DeGeneres couldn’t even find words with which to praise Lee, fumbling through an uncomfortable description of animals. To sum up, she liked the performance. declared “Round 1 goes to Lee!” Simon Cowell asked about the song choice, then praised Lee’s performance as “absolutely on the money.” “I don’t think you won Round 1, I think you just crushed the other two,” he smiled. I concur.

Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson worked together to choose a song for Casey James. As you may know from our , James discovered he would have to croon “Daughters” while visiting his hometown of Cool, Texas. James again stood on stage with his guitar to deliver the tune, starting out softly to woo the ladies in the audience. Sappy song, delivered in a slow, steady pace. I don’t think the tune really did Casey any favors.

As always, the judges extolled their own song choices. Randy Jackson and Ellen DeGeneres were both full of applause for the performance. Kara DioGuardi commended the “vulnerable” side of Casey James. Simon Cowell barely attempted to hide his grin as he listened to the litany of praise. “The only issue I have…it was a bit of a lazy arrangement,” Simon Cowell found. “I hold these two slightly responsible for not working much harder to give you a bigger vocal moment,” he remarked. Kara DioGuardi quickly jumped to the defense of her song. “To be fair, you sounded very, very good on it…It’s just, that song didn’t have that ‘wow’ factor,” Simon explained. Don’t worry too much about Casey James. He may not have the support of the judges - not really - but he’s got a lot of lady love, and the backing of anti-Idol site Vote For the Worst. It’s Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox who have to work twice as hard to win this thing.

Crystal Bowersox visited the Midwest on her journey home. She’s formerly a resident of Elliston, Ohio. While visiting home, Bowersox was told to sing “Maybe I’m Amazed,” a pick from . “I thought, let’s show some range and let her just tear this ting apart,” Ellen explained her choice. Crystal put down the guitar to deliver the vocally strong number, her voice soaring above the stage. Crystal’s vocal capabilities were beautifully on display, and for the first time all season she used the entire stage to deliver her performance. It was easily one of her best - but in the near future, everything she did on that stage would soon be completely overshadowed.

“Great song, great vocals, and America, we got somebody else in it to win it!” Randy Jackson cried. “I couldn’t have asked for more,” Ellen DeGeneres was all smiles for Crystal Bowersox. Kara DioGuardi praised Crystal’s vocal effort and the risks she took. “Now I get it,” Simon Cowell said. “You worked outside of your comfort zone…and I think, after that, you may be thanking Ellen next week for putting you in the final.”

Lee DeWyze received a text message from Simon Cowell, instructing him to perform “Hallelujah” on the Idol stage. “I love this song,” Cowell told Ryan Seacrest of his choice. Lee performed it while softly playing guitar, backlit with bright white light. Lee’s vocals were so beautiful and his performance so good, his is destined to become the definitive Idol version of the oft-performed tune. DeWyze utterly blew everyone away on the Idol stage during performance round, making mincemeat out of the competition.

“I’ve been waiting all season…to see who’s going to throw down the real gauntlet,” Randy Jackson declared. He called the performance Lee’s “biggest moment” on the show. Lee took a moment to thank for the song at that point, though he admitted he feared the tune at first. “That was stunning,” Ellen DeGeneres praised. “You are what this show is all about,” Kara DioGuardi told him, calling his “an incredible, epic moment.” “You just owned the entire night,” she found. “I’m very, very, very proud of you,” Simon Cowell told him. “Tonight, with that performance, you proved that you are a fantastic performer,” Cowell summed it up. Lee was visibly shaken after receiving the heaps of praise.

But what will the votes reflect? Phone lines are now closed, and the die is cast. Two of them will compete in the exciting season finale, filled with guest spots and group numbers. One of them will go home on Wednesday’s results show. Get the recaps, elimination interviews and behind-the-scenes gossip right here - check out all our posts.



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