Why Crystal Bowersox Needs To Win “American Idol” Tonight

I watched “American Idol” last night and it was clear to me that I was watching a show that was spending an hour trying to sell me a box of month-old pizza crust. Are you people kidding me? Lee DeWyze? That was the second best you could do this year? Really? THAT guy? Did you limit the casting pool to the bus staff at a Red Lobster?

I heard DeWyze do a version of U2’s “Beautiful Day” last night that was, in every way, horrid. All it made me want to do was listen to the original song again to get the DeWyze butchering as far away from my brain as humanly possible. It encapsulated everything that “Idol” haters hate about the show. It was bad karaoke. There was nothing interesting about DeWyze’s voice. There was nothing interesting about what he did with the song. You can hear a similar (and brutal) rendition of the song at weddings and high school assemblies all around our fair nation any time you wish. It was abysmal.

But that wasn’t even the low point. What made the episode so frustrating is that, after DeWyze was through giving Bono a migraine, three of the four judges (including Simon!!!) went ahead and lavished DeWyze with praise for his rendition. Randy and Ellen spent a solid five minutes trying to convince us, the audience, that we heard something we didn’t hear. And Simon praised DeWyze for his ability to make it through the competition, but addressed nothing in DeWyze’s hack job of what was once a very nice song. It was sheer diplomacy, and anyone with a brain could have seen through it.

This is the problem with shows like “Idol.” They purport to be all mean and nasty in the early rounds. But when the show gets down to three or four contestants, the judges become shills for their own crummy choices. The judges are part of the reason you got DeWyze in your final two (not that there was much to choose from), instead of some of the other interesting singers who were weeded out during Hollywood week. That’s why you saw DeWyze get the velvet glove treatment last night (except from Kara, who said he was uneven but really should have bashed him to pieces). They can’t slag him because they’re in the final two now, and what does it say about the show if someone as boring and dull as DeWyze was able to make it to the very end?

That’s why Crystal Bowersox will and should win the competition tonight. She may be Jewel with worse hair, but at least she has a distinct voice and makes her own arrangements. At least there’s some measure of originality there. You could have plugged 400 other singers in for DeWyze last night and gotten the same result. And that’s not a good thing if you’re supposed looking for the country’s next great recording star.

Bowersox needs to win, Simon needs to move on, and “Idol” needs to find a way to get better, more original singers through to the end the show. Otherwise, it’ll quickly die the death so many have wished upon it.

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