Thursday, May 27, 2010

Finale - Happy Trails

All right. After four months of slogging through these boring shows, we've finally reached the finale! It's also my final recap, as there's so litle demand for my efforts here. Enough about me, though. Will our next Idol be Crystal Bowersox or Lee DeWyze? DialIdol says Lee, but we'll see how accurate that is.

The Top 12 group number is "School's Out." They're all decked out in private school uniforms, and a zombie schoolkid choir joins them. This is...interesting, but just then, Alice Cooper himself joins them! Wow! Now that's the coolest musical guest this show's ever had! Way to go, Idol! Few can rock like the legendary Alice!

Kris Allen is back to perform his new single "The Truth." Unfortunately for us, the director forgot to switch off Seacrest's mic at the beginning. This isn't a bad song. I'm probably not going to run out and buy it, but maybe eventually I'll get around to purchasing his album. I don't believe I've purchased any music this year. Money and all that.

Since this is Simon's final show, we get a Simon tribute video full of fluffy comedy. Nothing to see here, folks.

Our first duet is Siobhan Magnus and Aaron Kelly on "How Deep is Your Love." Surprisingly, these two sound good together. Of course, who cares about Siobhan and Aaron when the two living Bee Gees are in the house to sing with them? Barry gets to direct his singing at Siobhan (since she's a girl and stuff) while Robin is stuck singing to the audience as Aaron has nothing to do but stand next to him moving awkwardly. Fun. This song truly is a pop masterpiece.

Michael Lynche gets the next duet: "Taking It to the Streets" with Michael McDonald. When Big Mike introduces Grey Mike, Grey Mike gives props right back to Big Mike. How classy. Let the young 'uns have their fleeting moments of fame. All I can think when I hear this is how much better Taylor Hicks can sing this song today than either of them.

Dane Cook performs a montage of Simon's best insults on guitar. Why is it Idol can only get non-funny "comedians" on their show? He's then joined by a bunch of the staged rejects like Ian Bernardo and the "We're Brothers Forever" guy. Boy, what a waste of time.

The girls all team up to sing Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" and "Fighter" before being joined by the real Christina. The Eagler (I'm assuming her surname translates into something like that) belts a little at the end of "Fighter" and then the lights go black for her to sing solo. I don't know this song, nor do I care to. Think you got enough melisma there, Christy?

Ricky Gervais shows up for a brief video in tribute to his friend Simon. Nothing worth writing home about. Just more famous-person filler.

The guys get their medley next. Which artist's music do they get to celebrate? Why, Hall & Oates, of course! They sing "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" and "Maneater" before, yep, the duo themselves is introduced to sing "You Make My Dreams." I like this one better than the girls' because the vocals aren't drowned out by loud music and, frankly, the songs are much better.

Janell Wheeler is Idol's correspondent for Crystal's hometown party in Toledo. Who's Janell Wheeler, you ask? She was a semifinalist who got eliminated the first week. Which season? This one, in fact! You don't remember her? Of course you don't!

Crystal gets her solo moment on Alanis Morissette's "Ironic", and of course, Alanis joins her for "You Oughta Know." Wow. I didn't realize Alanis Morissette was still around. Is it just me, or does Alanis look a little like Kara? Creepy!

Carrie Underwood is back for "Undo It," her "latest smash," according to Seacrest. It probably is, but since I no longer live with my CMT-loving mother, I wouldn't know. Catchy song. I kind of like it. After it's over we learn she co-wrote it with Kara. Suddenly I feel the need to take a shower. Of course, Kara's involvement probably explains why most of the lyrics in the hook are just a stuttered syllable.

Remember those custom car designs the Top 12 made for the Ford Fiesta? No, you probably blocked it out along with most of this season. Well, Kris Allen's back for a video segment in which he presents Lee and Crystal with a couple of Fiestas in the designs they made. Pretty cool. What a perfect segue into the final Ford video, with some song called "My Wish." Neatooooooooooo.

Casey James' gets his solo moment with "Every Rose Has Its Thorn." Whoa. Could this mean Poison is going to be here? We know Bret Michaels' health hasn't exactly been great lately. He even appeared on the Celebrity Apprentice finale against his doctors' wishes. Whaddayaknow! Bret's in the house! C.C., Bobby and Rikki aren't there with him though. This is almost as cool as Alice Cooper! You've really outdone yourself with this finale, Idol! Bret and Casey continue singing "Every Rose," and while Bret does a solid job, I keep wondering if he's going to collapse on stage or something. Fortunately for all humanity, he gets through it just fine. What a week it's been for Bret Michaels! First he wins Donald Trump's reality show, then he gets to perform on the season finale of American Idol. Gotta say, I'm happy for the guy. Too bad my local grocery store didn't have his custom-made "Trop-a-Rocka" Snapple flavor. I wanted to try it.

Lee gets his musical guest moment by doing a medley with Chicago. This brassy pop-rock doesn't fit Lee's style at all, but there's no denying how good these songs are. I know my mother certainly likes them. They do "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?", "If You Leave Me Now" and "25 or 6 to 4." Not very seemless, those transitions.

Matt Rogers is the correspondent for Lee's hometown. What? You mean to tell me the 11th Place finisher from Season 3 is only 45 minutes away from where I am right now? Dang it. Why didn't I attend?

More Simon stuff. This time the video is about his flirtiness and contains more staged comedy. It'd definitely funnier than the first video segment (or anything Dane Cook ever did). Simon waking up in bed with Randy was a nice touch.

General Larry Platt (AKA the "Pants on the Ground" guy) is back, as we all knew he'd be. This time he gets backup dancers and a backing track that consists of a techno loop. William Hung also joins him on stage for his 16th minute of fame. If General Larry's original appearance on the show hadn't obviously been orchestrated by Idol in the first place, I might find this a lot cooler.

Now it's time for one last Simon tribute video, and Paula Abdul comes out onstage after it's over. She seems more coherent and clever than ever, so she obviously has a script and rehearsed that sucker to death. In the biggest production of the night, seven of the eight winners (David Cook being the exception) come out to sing "Together We Are One." A bunch of past also-rans wearing white suits join them to sing backups. Simon then comes onstage to give a speech about how the last ten years were the best of his life and wishes the show good luck without him. At such a poignant moment, I'm almost optimistic about future seasons of Idol. Could a new judge in the "Simon" role possibly help revive the show? Could the producers actually figure out what the viewers want and make Season 10 one of the best ever? I'll probably wake up from this goodwill-induced delusion in a second, but I'll enjoy the feelings of niceness while they last.

Janet Jackson's here to perform some slow song I don't know. Grow your hair out, woman. You'd look better. Quickly we're transported back to the '80s (and Paula Abdul's choreographic history) when a horde of dancers joins her to perform "Nasty." Amazing how different in style these two songs are.

There's a brief recap of Lee and Crystal's beginnings at the Chicago auditions (hey, I was there!) before the Final 2 duet, which is Joe Cocker's version of "With a Little Help From My Friends." Of course, Joe Cocker himself then joins them, looking and sounding sort of how I'd imagine Popeye (the cartoon character, not the blog) in his old age. These aging music stars are nothing if not surprisingly human.

Now it's the big moment. Who's the winner? It's going to be Lee, of course, because DialIdol tells me so. Lee looks incredibly nervous, while Crystal looks happy about being in the moment. The winner is...Lee DeWyze! He gets extremely emotional, as you'd expect him to. He can't even talk to Ryan without choking back tears. Crystal, of course, is a great sport, and seems genuinely happy for him. You'll never get another female winner, Idol. Just give it up. Only tweens and cougars are left watching. There aren't enough of us nerdy guys to offset their impact.

Now for a reprise of the winner's cover single, "Beautiful Day." I feel sort of mixed about Lee right now. One the one hand, I can see how badly the guy wanted to win, and this might be the highest point of his life right now. On the other hand, I know his career probably won't go very far, and he may end up disappointed with the entire experience. He seems like a nice guy, and I wish him the best. I just can't shake the feeling that it's not going to end well for him. Still, congrats to him anyway. He's representing the Land of Lincoln!

And just like that, my recapping career has come to a close. It was fun for a while, but I've realized I have better things to do with my time than meticulously analyze this show and be enslaved to it two nights a week. I'm looking forward to being able to sit back and enjoy it next year without the knowledge that I have to produce an unfunny blog post lurking.

So what's going to become of this blog? Will I let it sink into the depths of cyberspace, existing merely as historical record for Seasons 7-9? Obviously, it probably will end up that way someday. For the near future, I do have something in store for it. It isn't Idol-related, however. You may have noticed a few weeks ago that I changed the layout of this blog as well as the text underneath the title. My idea was that if I ever have something to write about general entertainment, not just American Idol, I could put it here. Granted, I'm not the type of guy who feels inspired to write about pop culture that often, so perhaps after my next project this blog will become inactive.

So just what is this big project, you ask? Drumroll please...I intend to rank every episode of the recently-ended hit TV series LOST. I figured it'd be good to rewatch the entire series as part of this undertaking, though it'll obviously be kind of hard to do that before the Season 6 DVD is released on August 24. I still have Seasons 1-5 to watch until then, so if all goes well I might be able to have my completed project up by sometime in September. Hopefully enough nerds who appreciate that type of thing will stumble across my little corner of the internet and enjoy it.

Until we meet again, this is your humble former recapper Ian signing off.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Top 2 - Simon and I Approach the Sunset

So we're down to two. No, not contestants remaining, viewers who actually care about the outcome of this season. Seriously though, this finale doesn't feel like as big a deal as it did in past seasons. Crystal and Lee look ecstatic about the whole thing, but Ryan and the judges all seem to be going through the motions. I guess when the superstars this show bills itself as producing usually turn out not to be, they've come to realize how overrated this night truly is. Still, just to be nice, we'll let Crystal and Lee enjoy the dream while it lasts.

Our remaining suckers, er, contestants will each be doing three songs tonight: their favorite song from earlier in the season (or perhaps one they think makes the most strategic sense), Simon Fuller's choice (manipulation alert!), and the dreaded Winner's Single. Crystal won the coin toss and wisely opted to go second. It's not foolproof, but it probably helps her odds more than it hurts them.

Lee DeWyze's reprise performance is of "The Boxer." I thought that was one of his more overrated performances, but he had so many of those this season that they all start to blend together after a while. Lee sounds pretty good here, though. Maybe after performing it on his hometown trip he learned to connect with it better. Randy and Kara want more energy, and Simon says it was like a kiss on the cheek. I guess that puts me in agreement. It was merely good, not a moment to remember.

Crystal Bowersox decides to reprise "Me and Bobby McGee." I thought that was one of her best performances, but she had so many great ones this season that they all start to blend together after a while. Unlike Lee, Crystal brings the energy, gets the crowd into it and owns the stage. It may not have quite the same magic as the first time, but it rocks all the same. The judges all agree that Crystal delivered the goods. While I hate the boxing analogy they bring out every year, I think it's safe to say Crystal won "Round 1." Look on the bright side: at least they didn't dress the Final 2 up in boxing uniforms like they did in Season 7. Even Idol can dial back the cheese sometimes.

For the producer's choice Lee gets saddled with R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts." Well, so much for amping up the energy. This wouldn't be sabotage, would it? I really hope not, since I'd like to see the competition decided on the performers' own merits. Poor Lee, though. I mean...sheesh. What a whiny song. This performance gets the choir treatment again, which raises it to a level of near-absurdity. There's something corporately joyous about a choir, so adding a touch like that to this song makes it seem like a celebration of hurting. It comes across as incorrect. Lee gives it his best effort, but I'm just not feeling it. The judges think he held back a little bit, and Simon tries to deflect any charges of sabotage by praising the other Simon's song choice. Lord Cowell also says he wants a 10 out of 10 for the last performance, but considering his final performance is the winner's single...yeah, not seeing it in my crystal ball.

Speaking of crystal, Ms. Bowersox is back for her producer's choice, "Black Velvet." A song we've heard too many times? Yes. A good song choice for Crystal? Yes again. She changes it up into a bluesy rocker, and once again she totally nails it. The arrangement seems slightly overblown at times, but I feel like I'm seeing Crystal as an artist, so I can't complain too much. I just noticed something. If Amanda Overmyer had more vocal talent she'd probably sound something like Crystal does on these big notes. If only the "Chile" would've laid off the cigarettes. The judges give Crystal her due raves, including a standing ovation from Ellen and Simon repeating my line about "nailing it." Hey, I'll repeat a joke I made last week: I need a better job, Idol! Let's do lunch!

Next is Lee's winner's single, and we can only hope it isn't too crappy. It's some song called "Beautiful Day." Waaaaaaaaait a minute! This is by U2! That'll be his single if he wins? Why would you make your first single a freaking cover song? I mean, I guess it's better than some generic inspirational factory ballad (or worse, something written by Kara DioGuardi), but it just seems so devoid of artistry to make your first single a cover. For crying out loud, this song's been a hit within the last ten years. If he were reviving an older hit or bringing something obscure to the mainstream it might be a different story. This choice just screams "look at me, I'm a retread!" As for the performance, though, this is certainly Lee's best of the night. I guess having a good, upbeat song to work with really helped him. The judges are a bit mixed, and Simon ends with some generally positive comments, reminiscent of the "we're so happy to have you here" comments Kris Allen got in last year's finale. Since the one with less pimpage has won the last two finales, Lee should probably be feeling better about his chances right now.

So which song is Crystal covering for her first single? Why, it's "Up to the Mountain." Uh, is this a cover? I don't recognize the title. A quick Google search reveals that it's by Patty Griffin. This slow song could potentially be boring with just Crystal and her guitar, but the dreadlocked girl's soulful singing gives it the right dose of energy to make it engaging. Now that's a good song choice. As I said above, it's bringing something obscure to the mainstream, not blatantly recycling an iconic band's hit from just ten years ago. I think that was a nice way to end the season. Lee's pretty good (and from Illinois!), but I hope Crystal wins this thing. She's simply more interesting, more talented and more original. The judges love it, as they usually do with the Bowersoxer. Before Simon speaks, Crystal interrupts to thank him for his years of work as a judge. I don't know why, but it always amazes me how confident Crystal seems to be when speaking to the judges. I'd have been afraid to say anything in that situation. Simon thanks her and tells her it was the best performance of the night. Eh, not quite. Close enough, though.

My performance ranking:

Crystal - "Me and Bobby McGee" (8/10)
Crystal - "Up to the Mountain" (7.5/10)
Lee - "Beautiful Day" (7/10)
Crystal - "Black Velvet" (6.9/10)
Lee - "The Boxer" (6/10)
Lee - "Everybody Hurts" (4/10)


Winner: Crystal Bowersox

Crystal's talent is pretty much undeniable to most of the viewing public, and Lee, despite the praise he's gotten throughout the competition, hasn't always been as great as the judges have made him out to be. I predict Crystal wins this thing, as she doesn't polarize the viewership as much. Read What Not to Sing if you want to understand these concepts better. (For what it's worth, I realize DialIdol has Lee winning right now, but, well, I hold out hope that past seasons' trends will continue.)

See yas tomorras!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Top 3 Results - Our Trio's Down to Two

It's the annual Top 3 results show, when we get a brief glimpse at the hero's welcome each of our Top 3 received in their hometowns. But first, instead of throwing product placements at us or promoting some dumb artist who'll be forgotten next week, they start out the show by taking the time to sit down with the remaining three and discussing their Idol experiences. I rather like the idea here. I probably didn't gain any extra knowledge or connection with them from this little chat, but I'm glad they're keeping the focus on the contestants, as it should be.

The Ford video is set to "Wild One (Real Wild Child)" and has the Idols paint-stenciling images of themselves on a wall which suddenly come to life. That magic spray paint is going to sell big-time, I tell ya.

Apparently they're showing us the hometown videos in the same order as last night's performances. Casey James' return to Texas is first. The main focus of this video seems to be the screaming girls. All right, we get it, already! The ladies love him! Some of us care about the music. There's the obligatory tear-jerker moment when Casey visits the medical center where they saved his life, and his mother gets emotional. I have nothing to say about this.

Some guy named Travis Garland performs his new single next. Apparently he was discovered by Perez Hilton. Well, if that doesn't make me want to keep my video tape recording, I don't know what does! Pause! Hey, this song is crap, and the performance gets by more on stage theatrics than the talent of the singer! Good call, Ian!

Crystal Bowersox goes home to Ohio, where they call her mini-concert "Bowerstock." How creative. She also gets to visit her family and see her son again, which I guess is kind of sweet. When chatting about it afterwards Crystal can't hold back the tears.

Immediately Lee DeWyze's video follows. He becomes the first Idol to make the hometown trip to Chicago. I guess if it couldn't have been me Lee's a solid choice. The lucky dog gets to throw out the first pitch at a Cubs game. He wears jersey number nine, I presume because this is Idol's ninth season, not as a tribute to Randy Hundley, Scott Servais or Chad Tracy. He works at Mt. Prospect Paint, which is close to a road I've driven down several times according to Google Maps. He cries in the middle of "The Boxer" when performing his mini-concert. I'd probably do the same thing in his shoes.

All this show of emotion makes a perfect segue into Justin Bieber singing his songs "You Smile" and "Baby." This kid's got some talent. He has the moves, the image and the performance down. He's got the pyro and the backup dancers to make him seem larger than life. He even plays a drum solo at the end of it all. Why then, does he strike me as a little wind-up teen star? None of this looks natural. I won't begrudge him his fame though. He's already achieved more success in life than I probably ever will.

Results time! The first person in next week's finale is...Lee! Well, I think we all expected it after last night's ultra-pimpage. Before the drama even has time to build Seacrest informs us that Crystal's the one joining him. Casey's pretty much an afterthought in this moment, as Lee and Crystal's exuberant celebration gets the spotlight. Casey sings out with "Daughters" (why not his own choice?) and picks up a little girl from the audience to sit on stage with him. Does he know that girl? She doesn't seem to think it's weird getting to be up there. Whatever. See you in the reject section next week, Casey!

Well, they got the finale they wanted (and heck, I wanted). I guess my overthinking in the later stages of my predictions proved to be incorrect. No biggie. It was more for my own amusement than anything else. Crystal and Lee have been the two frontrunners in my mind since the beginning of the finals, so perhaps I ought to stick with my gut more.

Power rankings:

2. Lee DeWyze

1. Crystal Bowersox

I know Lee seems to have taken over as the favorite in most people's minds. However, the fine folks at What Not to Sing pointed out yesterday that Lee's performances have a much higher standard deviation than Crystal's. If you don't know what that means, it means that Lee's performances tend to be polarizing, while Crystal's are more generally agreed-upon. In the finale you can vote against the contestant you hate more by dialing the other one's number, so Crystal's likely to pick up some votes from people who don't like Lee. It should be enough to make her the first female winner since Jordin Sparks three years ago.

See you next week, when our final two perform and my Idol-recapping career comes to an end! Will I even care that much after having been blown away by the LOST series finale two days prior?

Top 3 - Just Don't Make Me Miss the Beginning of LOST, and We're Cool, Idol

Six songs crammed into one hour! Can we do this without going overtime and making us miss the beginning of LOST? I think it's possible! Wouldn't want to miss that second-to-last episode, would we?

Each contestant has two songs tonight: one personal selection and one judge selection. Who gets sabatooged tonight?

Casey James gets the death spot with his personal choice, "OK, It's Alright With Me" by Eric Hutchinson. I don't know this song, so I have no preconceived notion of what it should sound like. After hearing it a bit it sounds like an OK tune, but Casey, on the other hand...he exudes no soul, just a cheap facsimile. It doesn't feel like there's any connection between his vocals and the music. Though he may look comfortable singing it, it belies the poor job he's doing. The judges all agree it was nothing special and Simon says it was like the salad before a meal. I can hear the cougars making bad jokes already.

Crystal Bowersox chooses Melissa Etheridge's "Come to My Window." That seems like a suitable song for her. It's got passionate vocals with a female singer-songwriter vibe. She starts with the harmonica and launches into a fairly straightforward rendition. She changes the timing of her vocals in the chorus a little to help make it her own. The guitar seems to be a prop, because you can see her playing it but not hear it at times. Another solid performance from Crystal, though not one of my favorites. I know she's capable of better. The judges are OK with it, but agree it wasn't her greatest moment. They all seem to agree that the song choice was good.

Lee DeWyze is next with Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man." He tells us he picked it because he relates to it well. I agree, he does project a fairly uncomplicated persona. I can hear him succeeding with this. In fact, he does. His rocker rasp works well here, since this is a Skynyrd song that doesn't limit itself to a southern rock interpretation. The final note's a little off, but that's hardly serious enough to ruin the rest of the performance. Randy talks about Lee winning again, and Simon and Kara both tell him he won the first round. Ah s'pose Ah'd 'gree with that.

Judges' choice time! Kara and Randy have chosen John Mayer's "Daughters" for Casey. OK, I sort of like this song, even though I'm not really a big John Mayer fan. Casey sounds a lot better here than he did on the first song, and he plays the bluesy solo himself. This isn't the type of song that's going to wow anyone, so it requires a bit of coolness and feeling to pull off. I'd say Casey does a decent job here. The first three judges think it was good, but Simon thinks it was a bad song choice because it lacked a wow factor. Hey, just what I said! Idol, I'll cut to the chase here: I need a better job, you need a judge to replace Simon. Let's talk!

Crystal's song choice comes from Ellen: "Maybe I'm Amazed" by Paul McCartney (and Wings!). She decides to set aside her instruments and let her vocal cords do the talking for this one. Heh. The piano part during the verse between lines reminds me of the music at ComedySportz when they rotate during the game Four Corners. You know what I'm talking about? Forget it. Crystal talks about being a "lonely man" and a woman helping her. Geez, between the Melissa Etheridge song earlier and now she trying to tell us something? Should her boyfriend be expecting a big revelation soon? I kid, I kid. About the performance, great vocal power. Definitely more inspiring than her first performance. Randy gives Crystal some pimpage as being "in it to win it." Kara says we heard parts of her voice we hadn't heard before tonight. Really? Where? I didn't notice them. Simon says she proved she has soul and should probably make the finale tomorrow. Could it be any more obvious that they want a Lee-Crystal finale?

Finally, Simon's chosen Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" for Lee. I hereby nominate this as the most overrated song in the history of the world. I've never understood why so many people love this thing to death. I mean, it's OK, but I wouldn't call it some incredible masterpiece. As for the performance, Lee doesn't seem very connected here. He forces some upper register stuff in there to show us he can hit the big notes. Whoopee. The backup singers walk out behind him to simulate a choir and then the music picks up. I kind of like the upbeat part better, The whole thing seems a bit overblown with all the theatrics and Lee's apparent "emotion" when it ends. I'm sure the judges will lap it up though. Randy again talks about Lee winning, calls it his biggest moment, Ellen says it's stunning, etc. etc. I don't need to recap all their comments. It's almost as if they want Lee to win at this point. For crying out loud, guys, we already have David Cook among our winners! Crystal should be this year's winner to make it different!

Hey, what do you know! The show ended with plenty of time for LOST!

My performance ranking:

Lee - Simple Man (7.5/10)
Crystal - Maybe I'm Amazed (7/10)
Crystal - Come to My Window (6/10)
Casey - Daughters (5/10)
Lee - Hallelujah (4.5/10)
Casey - OK, It's Alright With Me (2.5/10)


Well, tonight was pretty much Lee's "King For a Day." If he's not in the finale I'll be shocked. Crystal definitely performed better than Casey, but I'm almost wondering if she'll be the one to suffer from the loyal southern voter bloc supporting Captain Cougar Bait. What the heck. I hope it doesn't happen, but since I've been bored with this season for a long time, the only possible joy I can get from these recaps is the possibility of seeing a bold prediction come true.

Going home: Crystal

Yes, it'll be a shocker that plunges this already-boring season into no man's land and relegates the finale to anticlimactic obligation!

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Top 4 Results - Let's Get This Over With

Blah blah blah, let's make this quick, shall we? These recaps are becoming a chore more than anything. I can't wait for next season, when I can sit back and just watch the show without having to analyze everything.

First is a performance from Fantasia. I don't care about her. It's not easy being my least favorite Idol winner, but she manages to go on anyway. I will say, this is much better than that mess of a performance she gave two years ago.

The Ford video is to some song called "Put the Message in the Box." I don't know where they find these songs I've never heard of.

Results. Casey James is safe! Wow! I thought for sure he was a goner. I never saw him as Top 3. Well, there's a good way to end the early drama.

Chris Daughtry and his band are here to bore us, and I'm here with the remote control to pause the tape.

More results. Lee DeWyze is safe! All right! Go Chicago area!

So that leaves us with Michael Lynche and Crystal Bowersox. Oh man. If Crystal ends up being a shocking elimination, this season will have officially gone down the tubes. I think Michael's been overdue to leave though, so they're probably just trying to make us sweat a bit.

Our third musical guest is Bon Jovi, and coincidentally, they're also the third musical guest to get the tape paused on them. I'm not regretting that decision once I hear how dull this song is and how off these harmonies are. Go back to the '80s, guys.

Finally it's time for our final member of the Top 3. And it is...Crystal! Sigh of relief. She's about the only legit competitor this season.

So we say goodbye to Big Mike. You may not have achieved your Top 3 goal, but you've been a class act throughout the whole process. Fare ye well.

Power Rankings:

3. Lee DeWyze - What??? The guy I've had in the Top 2 since pretty much the beginning of the Finals I now have going home in third? Yep. Crystal's from Ohio and Lee's from Illinois, both midwestern states which don't have a history of bringing their contestants far. Casey, on the other hand, is from Texas, a well-known supportive state. I see him using the regional vote to upset the more-talented Lee.

2. Casey James - See Lee DeWyze. If I'm right about this I'll look like a genius. If I'm wrong, well...who cares? Have I been right about any of my predictions this season?

1. Crystal Bowersox - The only truly distinctive and interesting contestant this year, she totally deserves it.

I guess Lee's going to be in my area for his homecoming trip. Should I go see him? Hmmmmmmmmm. Gotta say, not high on my priority list! See you next week!