Somewhere, Kara DioGuardi is crying. Last night we bid adieu to country crooner Casey James as Lee and Crystal advanced to next week’s finale. Has it really been 5 months? It seems like just yesterday that we found Casey James auditioning in Dallas. Since then, “Pants on the Ground“ went viral, Ryan went crazy, and the show rating’s have gone away. So, before we begin discussing next week’s finale, let’s say goodbye to Casey. While it’s unclear how his post-Idol career will play out, we’ll probably remember him for now for his rendition of “Mrs. Robinson” and the dizzying effect he had over Kara. While making it to the finale might have been preferable, Casey can take some comfort in knowing third isn’t bad (if you don’t believe me, ask Season five third place-finalist Elliot Yamin).
So with that, let’s see where the finale lies with our final two…
1. Lee Dewyze – Although Crystal had all the early heat in this season’s competition, she has cooled as Lee has gone on a hot streak. Last night he gave two of the strongest performances of the season and proved that he’s in this contest to win it. Another thing Lee has going for him is his “transformation” storyline. If there’s one thing American Idol loves, it’s a strong narrative for its winner. Carrie Underwood went from country bumpkin to world-class pop star. Same with Kelly Clarkson. Lee has a similar narrative – evolving from the shy underdog to the confident Idol-heir apparent. With that said, the title relies on next week’s show. Will he once again blow us away to claim his crown? The momentum certainly seems to be on his side… (same as last week)
2. Crystal Bowersox – It’s hard to knock Crystal for anything terrible. If she could be summed up in one word this season, it would be “consistent.” I can’t remember a single week that she delivered a performance well below the audience’s expectations. Sure, some weren’t as great as others, but overall, she brought her best each week and competed like a star. However, the downside to consistency is that it isn’t exactly exciting. As much as they may claim to hate change or unpredictability, Americans love surprises. Crystal didn’t give us many – good or bad. And with Lee delivering his performance all season last week, it may be impossible for Crystal to reclaim any of the early buzz she had this season. (same as last week)
Sure, everything may change next week. That’s the beauty of Idol. But, if you’ve followed this season weekly like we have, you’ll know that you have two contestants in the finale with two very reliable track records. Will Crystal’s steady-and-safe approach win the race? Or will it be Lee’s dark horse-to-frontrunner momentum that puts him over the top? With two finalists who have never been in the bottom 3, it’s sure to be a nail biter either way.
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