Tuesday night could not have gone worse for Lee DeWyze, and it could cost him the American Idol crown that he was undoubtedly already getting fitted for after slaughtering the competition last week.
As a result, Crystal Bowersox will be the next American Idol and DeWyze is at least a third to blame for that.
Each of the contestants performed three songs Tuesday night: one they chose from their past performances on the show, one “Idol” creator Simon Fuller picked for them, and the song that was “chosen” to be their single if they win.
But DeWyze started the show with a blunder that set an unfortunate tone for the rest of the evening, by choosing to perform “The Boxer” again.
Now let me make this clear, his version of the song was terrific and, probably, a little better than it was the first time he sang it. However, it was not the song he covered the best this season. And with two other slower-tempo songs still to play (more on that in a moment) he should have chosen either a faster song - like his version of “Hey Jude” that featured a bagpiper at the end - or gone completely towards the ballad angle - like the cover of “Hallelujah” he performed last week. Either would’ve brought the audience - and judges - to their knees.
Instead, the judges slammed him for not having enough energy and then asked him to bring more of it to the stage with his final two performances. An impossible task considering Fuller chose R.E.M.’s mind-numbingly dull “Everybody Hurts” for him and then he had to step out of his comfort zone by dropping his guitar and singing a very large cover of U2’s “Beautiful Day.”
Without question, DeWyze performed each of those songs to the best of his ability, minus a few pitch problems during “Beautiful Day.” But he had no chance to win with those song choices. And while I don’t agree with his choice of song, I think the other two song choices were his true downfall. “Everybody Hurts” is a soft, delicate song that Michael Stipe sang in a high tone that in no way translates well to DeWyze’s gritty style of vocals. So that was dumb choice number two.
Dumb decision number three occurred when someone had the brilliant ideal to take DeWyze out of his comfort zone during the most important performance of his life, by removing the guitar from his hands and making him sing “Beautiful Day,” a massive rock song sung by Bono, one of the most iconic rock stars in history. On what planet would someone who admittedly feels the most comfortable with a guitar in his hands decide on a debut single on which he doesn’t play the guitar. I don’t know who made that decision - but it was the death knell.
Because the next American Idol, on the other hand, performed two songs that were perfect for her: “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Up to the Mountain.” As I said in my blog last week, Bowersox had her best moment of the season with the Janis Joplin song and she had to get back to that style of music if she would have a chance of winning. Not only did she go back to that style, she chose the exact song.
“Up to the Mountain,” meanwhile, is a song that the American Idol folks know and love. The original Idol winner Kelly Clarkson performed the song with Jeff Beck during a 2006 “Idol Gives Back” event and Susan Boyle from the Simon Cowell-created “Britain’s Got Talent” covered the song on her 2009 debut album “I Dreamed a Dream.”
Though I did feel that Fuller picked a terrible song for her too with “Black Velvet.” She was clearly distracted throughout the performance and her vocals were incredibly shrieky at times during it. Yet the judges still praised her.
In fact, Bowersox’s vocals were hardly fantastic on any of the songs, but the singer-songwriter in her was more comfortable in that realm than she has been in recent weeks and the judges picked up on that. They lauded her performances, while being overly critical of DeWyze. And, unfortunately, the American Idol audience will vote in line with the judges’ lopsided reviews.
In the end, Bowersox played the game the best and is the most deserving to win - purely based on Tuesday night’s performances. But DeWyze was the best performer throughout the season and, I bet, he would have been more appreciative of the title.
How do I know?
Crystal claimed that she was destined to be there Tuesday night, while DeWyze simply thanked people for giving him the chance to be.
See, nice guys do finish last - or second, in this case.