American Idol Episodes

2002, TV Show

American Idol Episode: "2 Finalists Compete"

Season 9, Episode 42
Episode Synopsis: In Part 1 of the two-part finale, the remaining two contestants battle it out in song. Season 9's final performance showcase.
Original Air Date: May 25, 2010

American Idol Episode Recap: The Final Two Perform Season 9, Episode 42

After countless auditions, weeks of voting, some show-stopping performances and some pretty awful ones, Season 9 of American Idol culminates in the Nokia Theatre for the final showdown between hopefuls Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox. So who brought the best fight to the finale and more importantly, who is going to win this thing?

Tonight's episode completely encapsulated what this season has been to me. For every moment of brilliance on the stage tonight, there were plenty of moments of frustration. (And "frustration" isn't a word either of these contestants should want to mess with on finale night.) Even with the fancy stage and 7,000 fans in the Nokia, there was something lifeless and boring about most of the show. But at the end of it all, I think it's pretty clear who should win, even if it doesn't work out that way.

This year, the singers again each chose their favorite performance from the season and gave an encore. Then, Idol executive producer Simon Fuller chose a song for each of the contestants to sing. And in a somewhat shocking move, the show decided that each singer's would-be single will be a cover. (Hey, whatever keeps us from suffering the pain of last season's "No Boundaries" is fine by me.) So, let's break down the songs.

Lee DeWyze, "The Boxer"
After seeing Lee perform this song during his hometown visit, I thought he might do this one again for the finale. And while he sang it well (and better than the first time around), it's not a song that screams "Vote for me!" Even though it's clear Lee has an emotional connection to the song, his delivery didn't indicate that he was really into the performance, and the big stage kind of swallowed him up. I guess I was expecting something a little bigger for finale night.
Judging the Judges: B+ Randy said the performance needed more energy and Ellen ignored the song to tell Lee how proud she was. Kara liked Lee's connection, but wanted him to punch harder, while Simon compared the song to a kiss on the cheek rather than a full-on smooch.

Crystal Bowersox, "Me and Bobby McGee"
I thought Crystal sang this song better weeks ago. But unlike Lee, Crystal brought out the energy and the passion that I think she's been missing for several weeks. Crystal rarely sings a bad vocal, and tonight was no exception. Even so, the song didn't make me do cartwheels.
Judging the Judges: B Ellen said Crystal was compelling on stage and filled up the room. Kara said she could see the fire in Crystal's belly and Simon called it terrific, saying Crystal was back on her game.

Lee DeWyze, "Everybody Hurts"
I really liked this song choice for Lee, and I think it was his best performance of the three, even if much of it sounded slightly karaoke and it wasn't pitch-perfect. (Once he got going, I really dug it.) The performance didn't feel as lazy as the first, but I think Lee might end up suffering for playing so many sleepy ballads.
Judging the Judges: B Randy thought this song showed more of who Lee is as an artist, but Ellen was frustrated that Lee never fully let go. Kara called Lee emotionally accessible and Simon, remarking on Lee's nervousness, said Lee's final performance needed to be a 10.

Crystal Bowersox, "Black Velvet"
I wasn't crazy about the boisterous arrangement, but Crystal did show shades of her voice we haven't seen this season. It was an interesting choice for her, but it worked surprisingly well. It's always a little odd to not see Crystal with her guitar, but her soulful vocals were the star of this one, even if she sometimes strained more than necessary.
Judging the Judges: A Randy said Mamasox is in it to win it, Ellen gave Crystal a standing ovation, Kara said Crystal was killing herself to give her all, and Simon said she nailed it.

Lee DeWyze, "Beautiful Day"
Hoo-boy. For a good third of this song, Lee was absolutely lost. His vocals were beyond rough and he honestly looked like he didn't know what he was supposed to be doing on stage. When he got to the big chorus, he fell into place, but he looked relieved just to get through the song when it ended. Also: Who picked that to be Lee's debut single if he wins? It didn't make sense to me, and it was just a bad note on which to end the night.
Judging the Judges: F Only Kara was brave enough to criticize Lee's weak performance, saying the song swallowed him up. Ellen rambled about Lee's growth and even Simon just talked about how Idol was made for turning nice guys like Lee into stars. Translation: Enjoy runner-up status. Come on, Simon, it's your last week on the job. How about some of that trademark honesty?

Crystal Bowersox, "Up to the Mountain"
If Lee was "the boxer," then Crystal delivered her knockout punch with this one. Her voice was so pure, and she was so vulnerable, something we haven't seen much from her. Contrary to Lee, Crystal pulled out perhaps her best performance of the season when it really counted. Though the song has been around, I was worried because it's not a mega-hit like the U2 song. But I think that might work in Crystal's favor.
Judging the Judges: A Randy said it was incredible and Ellen said Crystal was in a league of her own. Kara was glad Crystal finally let her guard down, and Simon said it was outstanding.

Coming into tonight, I was certain that Lee had the edge thanks to his growing momentum over the past weeks. After tonight, I think it's again Crystal's competition to lose, though I wouldn't rule anything out. Bottom line: Either would make a fine winner for this season, as they were from very early on superior to most of their competitors.

So what did you think of the performances? And who do you think will get the confetti shower? Vote in our poll below. 

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After countless auditions, weeks of voting, some show-stopping performances and some pretty awful ones, Season 9 of American Idol culminates in the Nokia Theatre for the final showdown between hopefuls Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox. So who brought the best fight to the finale and more importantly, who is going to win this thing? read more

Who do you think should win American Idol?

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Premiered: June 11, 2002, on FOX
Rating: TV-PG
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Premise: The smash reality series showcases wannabe pop stars competing for a record deal by crooning for a panel of judges, including, most entertainingly, the acid-tongued Simon Cowell, who departed the show in 2010 after serving for nine seasons. The judges review a performer's talent (or lack thereof), and at-home viewers then vote for their favorite potential star. The show helped launch the careers of such artists as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert.

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