“American Idol” on Wednesday, May 19, 2010, gave Casey James his walking papers and promoted the class of 2010: Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze. The strike-out took 47 million votes, a season record. Watching the strike-out from seats in the front row of the audience were the other contestants, including Andrew Garcia, Big Mike Lynche, Tim Urban and Katie Stevens.
Contestants, in pre-results interviews, pronounced the experience of visiting their hometowns “surreal,” Lee said the experience had “made me a better person.” Crystal (who was hospitalized once during the show’s run with problems from her diabetes) thanked the program for medical monitoring that had made her the healthiest she’s ever been. “Thank the Lord for this show. I would never have the kind of care that I have now,” without her participation on “American Idol.” Crystal also said, “It’s being pushed to work harder than you ever have in your life.” All three contestants bemoaned the loss of a private life in the non-stop madcap rush that is “American Idol.”
Crystal said, “I’m cool with whatever happens, but I would love to win.” Casey commented on the 150 text messages daily that he cannot respond to because of the busy schedule on “Idol.” Words like “awesome” and “helpful” were bandied about.
There was film from the visits to the contestants’ hometowns. Casey revisited Millsap High School in Cool, Texas and said, “It’s a dream come true for me. For my hometown, to be able to share it with me is unbelievable.” Casey also visited Texas Health Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, including Dr. Correye Culligan, the orthopedic surgeon who, he said, saved his life after he was in an accident. Richardson, Texas, with mother Debra James in tow was next.
Blogger celebrity wannabe Perez Hilton talked to Ryan Seacrest and introduced a performer named Travis Garland, someone he found on the Internet, who subsequently performed and was underwhelming.
Following Casey’s visit home, Crystal visited northwest Ohio, an area that has had unemployment as high as 19%. We didn’t get to see the new sign that her hometown of 80 has put up, which proclaims “Home of Crystal Bowersox,” but we saw her father, clad in a leather vest with multiple buttons. Crystal was shown driving down the highway to Toledo, where she performed.
Lee’s visit to Mt. Prospect, Illinois showed a doting middle-class Mom and Dad as he revisited the paint store where he used to work and teared up a lot. At one point, Lee said, “This is the best day of my life. This is the absolute best day of my life.” He also said, in an almost Rocky-esque tone of voice, “I’m gonna’ try to win this thing, all right.” He proclaimed the experience of going home, “It’s amazing. Insane. Crazy. Awesome.”
Justin Bieber, the YouTube-driven sensation from Canada, performed next (“You smile/I smile”) and took over the drums at one point. Bieber is not much of a drummer. His almost-feminine look (especially the hair) is probably no different than the androgynous days of the young (pre nose jobs) Michael Jackson and Leif Garrett. Young girls like singers who present no overt sexual threat. A young Elvis was sexy. A young Justin Bieber is not. He is just “cute” and non-threatening and seems to have a very high opinion of himself, buoyed by adoring female fans. It will be interesting to see what happens when he outgrows the haircut.
Following the performance by new teen sensation Justin Bieber, the announcement was made that Lee was safe, and then that Crystal was safe, as well. (She kept asking Ryan Seacrest, “Am I safe?” to the point of reminding me of that old movie “Marathon Man.”) After the two best singers were promoted to the Finale we all hoped would emerge, Crystal jumped on Lee in happiness, while Casey reprised his performance of the John Mayer song with the refrain “Fathers be good to your daughters.” Film followed of Casey’s journey through “American Idol,” complete with his early removal of his shirt at Kara’s suggestion during try-outs, Simon’s calling him “Goldilocks” and the appellations “eye candy and ear candy” during judging.
America did the right thing on “American Idol” this year. The two best singers, Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox, compete for the “American Idol” crown next week. Momentum seems to be swinging Lee’s way, but Crystal (like Melinda Dolittle before her) has been reliable, dependable and downright outstanding every time she steps onstage, so stay tuned for further developments.