American Idol 9 Top Three First Impressions.

Yay, we’ve finally reached top three! Soon this dreadfully meh season will be over. Thankfully, two of my faves are still around and will (probably) make top two so it ain’t that bad.

Why are they only singing two songs each? I remember the days when they used to do three songs by this stage (and that’s on top of doing live medleys, instead of lip-synched single song performances during results shows). The kids nowadays have it easier, man.

Anyway, this week: judges’ choice + contestants’ choice. How did they do?

Round 1

Casey JamesOK, It’s Alright with Me – I think this song is just “OK”, to be lazy borrow an expression. It’s a pretty decent listen and would make a nice Gavin DeGraw, Jack Johnson type of easy-listening single but I don’t think it’s particular right for this show, especially not at this stage. It’s not as snoozy or boring country-rock that he has been doing the past few weeks but definitely not memorable. Plus, he started it off a tad wonky too. B-

Crystal BowersoxCome to my Window – Finally, one that I recognise (which, hopefully, would make it less boring and similar to the ones she’s been doing). I have to say that the intro raised my expectations pretty high and the rest of the performance, with the pop-ish, slightly cheesy arrangement didn’t live up to it. Still, it was fun and her voice sounded great (although she did falter slightly at one part). I think she totally Casey-fied the performance, though. Good but boring. B

Lee DeWyzeSimple Man – I thought this was a perfect song choice. Now, while I’m a huge Lee fan, I have to admit that sometimes his live performances are slightly overrated and not as great as the judges made it out to be (and that his specialty, for me, is in his studio recordings where he doesn’t need to shout all the time and can emote properly instead) but this one was really good. It was dramatic, it was heartfelt and his vocals were not only pitch-problem-free, but also surprisingly solid. Round 1 definitely went to DeWyze. A

Round 2

CaseyDaughters – This was an improvement over the previous song but not by that much. It was more earnest and had more soul but I think the arrangement (just like Simon said) was just dulls-ville and kinda killed him. While on paper it should have been another ‘Jealous Guy’ moment, the pacing of the song was just too plodding and was devoid of a good climatic moment (and Kara, if that’s the way it was written, then don’t choose it for this stage). It was well-sung and gentle but still not a winning performance. B

CrystalMaybe I’m Amazed – Surprise! The new judge gets to choose a song herself while the two older ones have to share a choice. Ellen chose a perfect choice for Crystal. This is different from her usual style, stripped her of any form of instrumentation and just let her vocals soar. While she did start off a tad shakily, she really brought it in the later parts. She showcased her surprising range and her effortless singing and it was gritty and emotional as well. Way better than the first one. A-

Lee Hallelujah – Ok, this is one of my favourite songs ever and I was really excited to see what Lee, my favourite contestant this season, would do with it, whether he would put his own spin on it like he’s done so far. I was actually a tad disappointed in it, but mostly with the odd arrangement. It kept feeling like it would swell to something big but never really quite hit it. It’s still not a bad performance though. He definitely sang it well (that growly shout he did was pretty cool), he put subtle nuances that changed it up and it was still one of the best of the night. I just think that, instead of the A- I’m giving it, it had the potential to be an A+ but was foiled by a lacklustre arrangement. A-

The first round of the night definitely went to Lee, no questions about it. The second one was a bit closer, with Crystal bringing out a great performance and Lee doing a pretty decent (if slightly overpraised, to me) one. I think Lee, after having a meh couple of weeks, came out at just the right time again while Crystal faltered a little this week. Whatever the case, Casey was totally the weakest of the night, although neither of his performances were trainwrecks so at least there’s that.

My top two would definitely be Crystal and Lee, with Casey going home tomorrow. That’s probably the way it’s going to go, too, barring any huge shocks.

Right now I’m still feeling like Crystal should win because she is the most effortless and complete performer left (or in the first place, actually) but my personal favourite is still Lee (who, it has to be said, is not as good a singer as David Cook but has a different sort of timbre and raw emotion to his voice that makes his studio recordings by far the best of the entire batch this season).

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