Kelly Clarkson -- Without You
Diana DeGarmo -- Don't Cry Out Loud
Bo Bice -- In a Dream (a capella)
Katharine McPhee -- Over the Rainbow
Kris Allen -- Heartless
Over the first eight seasons, the performances listed above were among the most memorable top 3 night performances. I listened to them all before I sat down to write this because I wanted to make sure what I was going to write was true.
The problem with this season for me isn't that the contestants can't sing (although some of them couldn't); or that they don't have personality (although some don't); or even that none of them have the "x" factor (although really none of them do). What's really wrong with this season is that none of them seem like they have any idea they are in a competition. They pick songs they love because they want to have fun. They use arrangements that might work really well in a bar or on a subway platform, but have no business on a stage in front of 30 million people (yes Crystal, that's 30 million, not 3 million). And, with a couple of exceptions, they all dress like they're on their way to class at the community college.
There. I'm glad I got that off my chest. Although I really didn't. There is way more where that came from. So let's get to it.
Casey James (OK, It's Alright With Me) -- I googled this song and listened to it because I'd never heard of it before. I knew right off the bat that Simon was going to rip this song choice as being too lightweight for this occasion. But even more than that (and Simon was absolutely right about that), there was nothing to this performance. The degree of difficulty on the vocals and the guitar playing were about a 2 on a scale of 10. I have been a loud and proud Casey James fan all season, but this one had me wanting to hide my head in shame. If this were top 12 week, I'd probably have given this a 7 to 7.5. But dammit Casey, this is not top 12 week. What the hell, dude? 5
I actually think the judges were not as tough on him as they could have been. Kara was particularly easy on him, blaming the fact that people didn't know the song for his failure. That was not the problem Kara. Simon threw him a bone by saying he sounded good, but really that was way more generous than he should have been.
Crystal Bowersox (Come to My Window) -- I'm not sure I love this song choice either. I like this song a lot, and I think that this is somewhat indicative of what she wants to be doing, but it still lacks that wow factor that is needed for a night like this. And I think the arrangement is too fast. But at least this isn't her second song. It's a fair start for her. 7
I do hate that Randy and I agree about the arrangement, but I'll stick to my guns anyway. Kara was pretty dead on by saying that it would have been better acoustically.
Lee DeWyze (Simple Man) -- This is the best song choice of the three of them. I also like the arrangement of this better than the first two. I do wish his vocals were cleaner. And that he dressed like a rock star. He could wear that outfit to work in the paint store. There was someone watching with us who hadn't seen him before and he said, "He has negative stage presence." To which three of us responded in unison, "This is charismatic for him." Lee wins round one. 7.75
He was the best of the three, but they are really overdoing it with the ass kissing. Kara called him dynamic. What? Are you crazy woman? And I wouldn't say he "crushed" Crystal (he did crush Casey but that wasn't hard).
Casey James (Daughters) -- It's like he came out here tonight trying to lose. And it's not like he really had to try hard to lose; he was going to anyway. But I guess he wanted to make sure. I don't like the John Mayer version of this song either, but he turned it into a dirge (which my Oxford dictionary defines as "a lament for the dead"). 6
I don't even know what the judges were listening to here to say this was good. Of course Randy and Kara had to like it since they chose it. Simon was sort of right in attacking them for picking a boring song, but he really shouldn't be throwing stones since he chose a song for Lee that has already been performed on the show this season. So his song choice was as lazy as Casey's performance of this song was.
Crystal Bowersox (Maybe I'm Amazed) -- I have to say, I initially thought this song choice was idiotic on Ellen's part. And then seeing Crystal not knowing what to do with her hand without the guitar, I got even more concerned. But, this was the best vocal of the night. I don't think this will end up in the pantheon of great top 3 performances, but it was as good as anything we've seen this season. And this was her best outfit of the season as well. 8.5
I loved when Kara said we heard parts of Crystal's voice we hadn't heard before and Crystal said, "me too".
Lee DeWyze (Hallelujah) -- So, I wasn't thrilled with this song choice for Lee, but not because I didn't think he would do a good job with it. I just think that I want to say to Simon what he always says to the contestants -- you had thousands of songs to choose from, couldn't you find one we hadn't already heard this year? Still, this might have been Lee's best vocal of the season. That said, I'm going to have to give round two to Crystal, by a sliver. 8.25
I think, again, they went a little overboard on the Lee love but I guess they want to make sure he's in the finale.
There's nothing to say here except goodbye Casey James.