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AI9: Top 3 Discussion


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Elliston, Ohio. Mt. Prospect, Illinois. And Cool, Texas. Three towns that have seen their heroes return. But which will see their hero crowned? This is the Top Three. And this is American Idol!

Welcome, hello, hello. Thank you very much. Good to have you with us. It is a very exciting night as the top 3 contestants battle it out for the finale. Who is it going to be?

Give it up for the judges, Randy Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell.

So one week from tonight we will be in the Nokia theater, and two of these three will be there. We're talking about Casey James, Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze!

Tonight each contestant will sing 2 songs, one chosen by them and the other by the judges.

Casey leads off with OK, It's Alright With Me by Eric Hutchinson. Right off the top it seemed weird, kind of Reggae, kind of disjointed. The vocal was pretty good, but the performance was a little staid, safe. Randy said the funny thing about that lyric is that it was just all right with me too, I was hoping for something big from you but it was kind of safe and easy, didn't work for me. Ellen said this is the moment, you got to live or die, do or die, righty tighty lefty loosey; I wish you had brought it, you have a great voice but it was just OK. Kara said when you pick something that is a first listen to a lot of people, you can't take it to the next level or you lose people. Simon said if you compare that performance to a dinner, it was like a salad, leaving no memory, kind of like singing on the street for money, but he sounded good.

Next up is Crystal with Come To My Window by Melissa Etheridge. Strapped with her guitar and hands-free harmonica, she was back to her folksy roots with an passionate take on an upbeat song. I can't say I loved the vocal - it seemed a bit pitchy to me at times - but she performed with flair and gusto, although the closing harmonica was a little weak. Randy said he is looking to see who is going to blow it out of the box and while he didn't like the arrangement too much, he did like her vocal on it, she rose above the arrangement and it all worked out in the end, a good song choice. Ellen said this is the kind of song she wants to sing, the artist she wants to be. Kara said she did get a little lost in the arrangement, her tone doesn't have the rasp and edge for it, but it was still a good vocal but she are capable of a moment and she still hasn't had it yet. Simon said it was not the most stunning performance she has had but from day one she has never compromised herself, she just decided to do what is right for her, it was probably the right choice, congratulations.

Completing the top trio's personal picks is Lee DeWyze, singing Lynyrd Skynyrd's Simple Man. This was a terrific song choice as he starts out with a strong and clear vocal, full of energy and spirit and he carried that effort through the performance. He commanded the stage and the audience with a simple but solid arrangement and a thank you to Ricky Minor and the band at the end. Randy said great song choice, that is the kind of record he could make, what he loved most was not only sounded amazing but he looked like he felt he could win it, he's in the right zone, he's ready. Ellen said he looked like he was taking it seriously, he started out like a shy little lamb but now is more like an gazelle or an impala, something springy, yeah, yeah. Kara said what he did tonight is what every contestant needs to do, from a dynamic vocal to picking a song that has meaning for you, which is so important and in her opinion, round one goes to him. Simon said being honest with him, contestant song choice so far has been OK but that song, however, was absolutely on the money, it was brilliant, he didn't just win round one, he crushed the other two.

Tonight the contestants are taking on two songs each and now it is time for the judges' choices.

Casey returns to the stage with Daughters (John Mayer) selected by Randy Jackson & Kara DioGuardi. Starting off a little quiet and wispy, he still seems to be lacking the intensity he needs to show he wants to be there. The vocal wasn't that great, the performance was kind of soft and squishy. Given more time, he was able to sneak in a short guitar solo before closing out the song but it just felt like the air had been let out of his tires. Randy said his first song, not so much he in favor, but this fit him like a glove, nice one. Ellen said it was beautiful for him, a lot of mothers, daughters and who knows, sons, voting for him. Kara said this showed the more artistic, sensitive, vulnerable side of him, this was the right choice for him, he changed it up where it needed to be but didn't change it from the original too much. Simon said it was a much better song choice than the first one, but it was a bit of a lazy arrangement, the climax was a quite limp guitar solo instead of a much bigger vocal moment, it didn't have a wow factor.

Next up is Crystal with Maybe I'm Amazed (Paul McCartney) selected by Ellen DeGeneres. Sitting on the stage left steps, she started out simple but solid, walking down towards the audience adding passion and energy as she began singing from the heart, throwing her whole self into the feeling. It would have been a nice touch had she transposed the male and female references, and she did seem to overdo it a little with some of the power vocals. My biggest complaint is that the arrangement was just too abrupt, staccato. Randy said it was a great song, great vocals, someone else is in it to win it. Ellen said it was a great song, she couldn't have asked for more, congratulations. Kara said she didn't change it up that much but she did really show parts of her voice they hadn't heard before, no mistreatment, she did a lot of risky things tonight and it paid off. Simon said he was kind of surprised at the song choice but now he gets it, she has proven she has soul, she went outside of her comfort zone and may be thanking Ellen next week for putting her in the finals.

Closing out the show is Lee with Simon's pick of Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen). Bathed in white light, he starts out soft but confident, a quiet power behind his vocal, never getting above the song and blending well with the gospel background singers. A terrific solo trumpet provided an accent as he provided the WOW moment Simon was hoping to see. A masterful way to close out the night and assure himself of the top spot in the finale. Randy said dude, let me tell you something man, I have been waiting all season to see who was going to throw down a real gauntlet to win the whole thing, this was your biggest moment on the biggest night, that was unbelievable, dude, unbelievable. Ellen said there is really nothing more to be said, that was stunning, just stunning. Kara said he is what the show is all about, someone who starts in one place and ends up here tonight in an incredible epic moment, he just owned the entire night. Simon said he is very, very, very proud of him, before the show you were working in a store and looking for a break, this show has given you a break, and most importantly tonight, with that performance, you proved you are a fantastic singer and a great person and he really hopes he is in the finale next week.


Who thinks Lee won both rounds and the title should be his to lose if America votes him into the finale, and that Crystal should be standing by his side...

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Sometimes It's good to go home. Casey. Crystal. Lee. But not tonight. They all have something to fight for. But only two will make it to the finale. Who comes up just short? This is American Idol!

Good evening and welcome to American Idol!

Tonight we fight out who makes it into the finale. You ready? Plus Justin Bieber is here with us. And a new artist named Travis Garland performing live. Let me thank you for last night's support - over 47 million votes came in. Next week is the finale and who will be in it? We will find out soon. Of course, our judges are here tonight, Randy Jackson, Ellen DeGeneres, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell. Say hi to the three people who have made it this far, your idols. Bring 'em out, Casey, Crystal and Lee. One of them takes it all. Who is it going to be?

How as your perspective changed since auditions? Casey had no expectations of getting past the audition, so each level makes him want to go further. It really sunk in when he went home. Crystal said from the outside you don't see how much work goes into this, each week is so full of press and rehearsals. Lee said it is a lot of work, you don't get a week off until the next show, totally different from how I thought it would have been. It has made me realize a few things about myself I might not have learned had I not gone through it. Staying true to yourself, do what you want to do and doing the right thing for the show is hard to tackle. Crystal adds that working harder then you ever have before just wants to make you a better person.

Casey says he never pictured himself winning; he has gotten farther than he ever expected, but it can't be bad. Crystal has thought about it, hoped it would come but is cool with whatever happens. Lee says he wants to win, but winning seems so far as you are going through each step; I never wanted to win more than now, its so close. Crystal says anything is attainable at this stage. Lee says it is hard to maintain contact with friends and family but this has to be the main focus. Casey gets at least 150 text messages a day but can't reply to all of them. Crystal says you get tugged in a million different directions but my son gets every minute of my free time plus I have my diabetes to take care of, getting calls from doctors asking how I'm doing, there just is no free time. But she has never been healthier in her life and it is due to the care she has received through her experience on American Idol, its an amazing thing.

Randy says Lee was so shy at first and has blossomed beyond belief, found his center as an artist. The same thing has happened with Crystal and Casey growing from an indie artist and a guitarist. Crystal thanks the judges on behalf of all three of them for all their advice. Lee adds that both positive and negative advice has helped. Casey smiles and says not everything they have said helped.

Back with you live on American Idol, tonight we discover who has made it into the finale. But before that, here is a look at the Ford Music Video (commercial).

Last Friday our top 3 had the chance to go home and were treated like rock stars. During the season, their popularity has gained and gained. First up, Casey James.

Texas, Baby! Home sweet home! His limo is escorted by cars and police has stopped traffic for his motorcade. He stops at the Fox affiliate and reveals he has no girlfriend at the moment, giving hope to tweener girls everywhere. His home town high school stadium in Cool Texas is packed, a dream come true for him shared with his home town. He signs autographs, including one girl it appears above the breasts, another on a guitar, and last but not least, a silver dachshund. Casey is mobbed as he returns to the his limo. His next stop is to a hospital in Ft. Worth where his life was saved six years ago to say thank you. He greets the doctor and nurses who fixed his arm and leg, autographing an electric guitar and giving it to the hospital. He hits an outdoor concert hall to perform for his fans.

Casey says when he saw his doctor, it was intense, you don't get a chance to, if he had gone back any other time it wouldn't have meant, to have a chance to say thank you like that... When my mom cries, I cry.

Next, Travis Garland takes the stage with his new single.

Tonight we find out who will fight next week on the Idol finale stage. Your remaining top 10 are here. But right now we are going to bring out an artist discovered by Perez Hilton. He posted a cover of Justin Timberlake online and Hilton was impressed, he was better than Timberlake. With Believe, put your hands together for Travis Garland!

It was at this point that my DVR hiccuped and I was unable to watch the remainder of the show. So I missed Justin Bieber, I missed more Ryan banter, I missed the dragged out suspense and I missed Casey being sent home.

I am sorry to have messed it up for you this week. I know how you were all looking forward to Justin Bieber.


Who congratulates Crystal and Lee on making it to the big stage next week...

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