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'Idol' Recap - Top Two - A 'Beautiful Day' for Lee? Or a trip to the 'Mountain'-top for Crystal?

Posted by Sarah Rodman  May 25, 2010 11:08 PM

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So who will it be, Crystal or Lee?

Judging by the actual performances on tonight's final competition show, it would seem Crystal has the edge.

Her performance of Patty Griffin's "Up to the Mountain (MLK Song)" was the night's only true highlight. A great song - right in her comfort zone- well sung. Her "Me and Bobby McGee" was slow to start and had a few rough notes but she was clearly feeling the moment so that carried her through. "Black Velvet" should simply be stricken from existence and was additionally marred by a too loud band that caused her to shout. (Plus was anyone else nervous as Crystal herself seemed nervous navigating that staircase?)

Lee's performances were okay but they were not shining triumphs by any means, and the judges way overpraised them. (Again it feels like they're almost defiantly showering him with compliments to reinforce their own judgments.) "The Boxer" was an improvement over his original take, more nuanced in some ways but why was he shouting the ends of the phrases? No amount of uplifting background vocals could obscure his pitch issues on "Everybody Hurts." And the only thing he brought to his slacker-esque version of U2's "Beautiful Day" was nerves and relief. He seems like a nice kid and he's certainly improved but if he wins it will likely owe more to young female voters who think he's dreamy than tonight's performances. 

I think it's going to be close. Crystal was certainly more consistent, but her final song was much less well-known. Lee was good enough and is probably going to get all the votes from the girls who were supporting Casey.

(For anyone who liked Crystal's song, which was also covered on Susan Boyle's album,  do yourself a favor and check out Patty Griffin. She's a wonderful singer-songwriter who happens to be playing the House of Blues on June 6.)

So what did you guys think? Who will win? Did you think Lee was as good as the judges thought he was? Did performing a less well known song hurt Crystal? Or was singing it well enough to combat the voting bloc of girls who are clearly on Lee's side? Are the producers essentially admitting that the "Idol" coronation songs are terrible by choosing to release cover songs as singles?  Which special guests would you like to see perform with the top 12? Will "American Idol" slump even further next season once Simon is gone?

And finally, a programming note. This week's "Idol" chat will take place Thursday at 10 a.m. instead of Wednesday so we can all rant and/or rave about the final outcome.

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