Tuesday night's episode of American Idol was probably the most meaningless of the season. But it was in that episode we received two of the best performances of the season - by the same person.
Since the Top 24 first took the stage, Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox were the clear favorites - swapping the top spot some weeks, but always 1-2.
And for one of those two to not make the final, they would've had to show up on stage with a picture of Osama bin Laden on their T-shirt or to call out sick from the show, but even then I would think they could've generated more votes than Casey James.
James was the third best competitor of the season, but he too often lacked stage presence and made bad song choices. And, as I mentioned last week, he needed to have his two best performances of the season to have a chance of making the final. But unfortunately, both of the aforementioned problems sunk the blond-haired rocker again, making him my "lock" to go home this week.
Each of the contestants performed two songs Tuesday night - one they picked, another the judges picked.
James' decision to cover Eric Hutchinson's "OK, It's Alright With Me" was OK, but the performance was too stiff and forgettable. Simon even said he sounded good, but called his song choice overall "a dud." And even though he did have a very pretty rendition of Randy and Kara's choice for him - John Mayer's "Daughters" - it was a perfect example of too little, too late.
And the funny thing is, I think James would be more than happy to go home, because he never looked comfortable in the spotlight and he'll finally be able to get back to playing music for the love it, instead of having to worry about being critiqued by millions of people.
And while the judges praised Bowersox, for the most part. I felt that she struggled with both her choice - Melissa Etheridge's "Come to My Window" - and Ellen's choice for her - Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed." It just felt to me that she was out of tune at times and off-tempo at others. I also think she came across a bit corny during her performance of "Maybe I'm Amazed," by walking around the set as if she was in a play. I came expect that kind of thing from last week's castoff Michael Lynche, but not her - she's cooler than that.
But it was DeWyze who left the other competitors in the dust. His renditions of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" and Simon's choice for him - Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" - were both easily two of the best performances from any of the contestants this season. They were both raw, powerful, and memorable.
In fact, my six favorite solo performances as of this point of the season (not including Hollywood Week) are:
6. DeWyze's "The Boxer"
5. DeWyze's "Simple Man"
4. Andrew Garcia's "Forever"
3. DeWyze's "Hallelujah"
2. James' "Jealous Guy"
1. DeWyze's "Hey Jude"
As you can tell, DeWyze is on that list an awful lot and because of that - and the fact that I doubt he will have a let down next week - I think he has already locked up this season's American Idol title.