Crystal vs. Lee: The Final Battle – AMERICAN IDOL Season 9

by Jason Matthews

America, as it often does, in its infinite wisdom, is about to make a mistake: They are going to name Lee DeWyze as the next American Idol.

Even more than last week, this week is hugely predictable. Even though Crystal outperformed, outcharmed and outclassed Lee, as she always does, Lee is going to win. Lee was a deer in a world full of headlights, while Crystal was the picture of calm (hippie) professionalism. Lee was uneven, pitchy and amateurish, while Crystal was invested, take-charge and spectacular (Simon was right, making “Black Velvet” interesting to listen to is as hard as fixing the economy). Lee biffed his final number, Crystal brought the house down. The judges seemed eager to tell Lee he was failing, and couldn’t jump high enough to stroke Crystal’s gross dreads. None of it matters. Crystal is about to join the exclusive club of Idol runner-ups who are better than their victors.

The producers started the mistake. Crystal was too far ahead from the beginning, a runaway winner. Worried the season would be boring, the judges started pushing other, lesser Idolists. Anyone remember the shortlived reign of Siobhan? Or the minute-long memory of a Tim Urban dark horse victory parade? But as the season wore on it became clear Lee was the patsy to beat. Suddenly he was pulling the anchor spot, getting a bagpipe backup and lauded with praise from the judges. And Crystal? She got her props, but it was always an afterthought, the presumed finalist. She couldn’t have been taken for granted more. Now look where we are.

In every way, Crystal Bowersox outshines Lee DeWyze. She is a better singer and musician. She is a better role model for aspiring Idolists. She opens far more interesting avenues for next season’s talent pool. She is unique, whip-smart and timeless. She is in the mold of the best and most successful former American Idols (Carrie and Kelly). Most importantly, she will sell more records. But don’t tell that to America, ’cause they want Lee.

Apparently, we haven’t gotten our fix of generic bland alt-rocker boys, ’cause we’re about to crown a third in a row (and our picks are getting more generic, more bland and less alt). And that’s just not OK. For this, and the above reasons, the departure of Simon, the misfire of Ellen DeGeneres, Randy’s continued uselessness, the diminishing of Ryan’s natural wonders owing to forced gusto over lacking Idolists, a scary decline in production quality, time management and contestant choice, for the fact that we’re batting .225 in winners picked (and that’s generous) and the fact the show is just too damn long, I suggest we call it a day on this once transcendent reality show.

Enjoy the finale for the spectacle and travesty that it is. Say your goodbyes to Simon. Gaze lovingly at Ryan Seacrest one more time. Visit Randy’s dog pound. Fake laugh at Ellen’s fake jokes. Be put off by Kara, again. Try to remember that day four hundred years ago when we were all in love with Didi Benami. Relive the mistake that was Andrew Garcia. Laugh at the rest of the talentless kids we put through this year. Marvel at the Idol Elders, all better in a blink than Lee is in a whole evening of effort. And then watch as he is crowned the next American Idol, while Crystal politely congratulates him, the judges force themselves to be happy for him, the Top 12 duly crowd around him, and he brutally murders U2’s “Beautiful Day.”

When that is all said and done, America, I suggest we follow the advice of our country’s greatest TV personality and call a “Seacrest OUT!” on this mistake of a season.

Thank you for sticking with me through the season, PCNers, I hope you enjoyed the reviews.

Jason OUT!

Photos: FOX



  • Reply
    May 26, 2010 at 10:26 am

    I don’t think it’s America necessarily who is about to make the big mistake of crowning Lee DeWyze the next American Idol, I think the problem lies with tween-age girls who think they Lee is dreamy on some level. As the camera sweeps through the audience, I see such a little girls with signs and homemade T-shirts attending these shows. Do they represent the American consumer? I don’t think so. And they are most of the people still watching this train wreck.

    But you are right about Crystal Bowersox. She has so obviously outclassed everyone else in this competition this season and has seemed to have done it effortlessly. There should have been a stronger cross section of talent this year.

    I think the general malaise everyone is feeling about season 9 of AI is that we know that it just doesn’t matter who wins. It is no longer an indicator of success and the network executives and producers of this once compelling juggernaut are all out of tricks.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Jason, it isn’t over until the fat lady…er, guy sings!

    And what are you basing your opinion on as far as who America will vote for?

    Seems a bit cynical, doesn’t it?

    Besides what is going on out there in the big bad world of crazy that constitutes life in America these days, I’d like to think it will work out.

    Then again, I’m not an illegal immigrant living in Arizona…

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    May 26, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I don’t think Lee will win; Crystal will. Last year, I insisted Kris would win even as everyone practically crowned Adam weeks before the finale. I think America might surprise you!

  • Reply
    Jason Matthews
    May 26, 2010 at 11:29 am

    EIREGO, look at the predictions, where he is ahead for tonight, and has won the week for the last month (the site’s numbers are accurate to 98%). Look at Lee advancing over Casey, Tim and Mike (when each were better in their own way). Look at the overwhelming majority of audience sign love during the telecasts.

    Look at history: Adam lost, Melinda lost, Blake lost. The more unique artist now consistently loses to the straight from the factory IdolBot.

    I don’t want to be right. I hope I’m not. I just don’t think I am.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    This post was excellent – tight, to the point, and funny.

    I had never watched AI before this season. I stopped watching about a month and a half ago for all the reasons you stated. I could tell about Lee way back. He sounded exactly like every other guy on the radio. Boring. Not that great. Not even really cute.

    Crystal, on the other hand, is brilliant. She can sing, stay on pitch, and look effortless doing it. I had her pegged from the beginning. She is versatile and interesting.

    America also likes Miley Cyrus and that blond country-singing tweenie bopper I can’t stand who sings about Romeo and Juliet in like every song I’ve ever heard her sing (or maybe that’s the same song). That’s why I don’t have faith in American viewers. When whatshername got up and sang with Stevie Nicks at the Grammies, I had heart palpitations.

    I don’t care who wins AI anymore because hell, Crystal knows she’s got the voice. She has that quiet confidence; she doesn’t need the title. I still listen to what I want to listen to, and that’s that.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Lee won the title but Crystal is the one who will be remembered. She has the real future in music. No more American Idol for me. It’s not worth turning the TV on for.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    My Idol days are over, I think! Crystal will be a star!

  • Reply
    May 26, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    I can’t believe Lee won. Watching Crystal and Lee perform with Joe Cocker it was painfully obvious to me Crystal was the talent worthy enough to stand next to that legend.

    I’m aghast. Last time I felt this blown away was…well, never.

    Geez, my apologies, Jason. You knew what you were talking about and I just felt you were way off track.

    No accounting for taste among the voters for this show.

  • Reply
    May 26, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    I did have one thing to say about your response to my comment, Jason.

    I don’t agree with what you had to say about history and Adam, Melinda and Blake being original artists who were overlooked in favor of, as you put it, “idolbots”.

    Not winning AI has nothing to do with success. Adam, Melinda and Blake were and remain one trick ponies. Adam would do great in any rock and roll musical, but he just doesn’t have the talent to sustain himself in the music world. Melinda? I barely remember her. Blake? If he could do anything beyond the beat box thing, he would have done it by now, don’t you think?

    Not winning AI hasn’t hurt Daughtry any. Nor has it hurt Jennifer Hudson. And the leg up it gave to Ruben, Fantasia and David Cook hasn’t exactly launched them into the stratosphere.

    Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, love them or hate them, had and still have what it takes to be successful. They aren’t relying on any gimmicks, just talent.

    That’s what makes Lee DeWyze’s win over Crystal Bowersox such a kick in the head. Lee would be great performing at fraternity venues, but Crystal is so obviously a star. For her not to win is just….lame.

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