Now the competition is down to just the two of these Midwestern
natives -- and they have only one more shot to win the hearts (and text
messages) of America. On the performance finale,
each singer will have the chance to sing three songs: two tunes are up
to them -- either new ones or faves from any point in the season -- and
one brand-new single penned especially for the occasion.
Bowersox and DeWyze better make their choices good ones, because they
probably won't get a lot of help from the "Idol" original single, a
song that each year strives for an over-the-top inspirational theme and
almost always falls ear-gratingly shot. Remember 2007's "This Is My
Now"? Neither do we. Last year's Kara
DioGuardi-co-written tune, "No Boundaries," for instance, contained
lyrics hampered by mixed metaphor-itis (Mountains! Dreams! Bridges!
Hurricanes!) and built toward an unwieldy chorus that not even talents
like Kris Allen and Adam Lambert could pleasingly deliver.
So it's up to Bowersox and DeWyze to pick the right songs. Here's
what we'd like to hear them sing -- one recycled tune, one fresh one --
the songs that give them each the best chance to be crowned season-nine
"Idol" champ Wednesday night.
MamaSox could return to either "Me and Bobby McGee" or "Long As I Can See the Light" and blow viewers away, but here's why we favor the latter choice. The Creedence Clearwater Revival tune seems more calibrated for a "moment," and we know how obsessed the judges are when it comes to such things. Randy Jackson called Bowersox "the truth" after her performance of the song back in March. Her vocals were sultry and soulful, and the presence of the backup singers allowed her to riff freely in the second half. Plus, we love the song's message: "I won't be losing my way, long as I can see the light."
When it comes to selecting a new song, we'll return to our pick from last week, because the reasoning behind it is even more apt now. Bowersox needs to make clear that she can sing contemporary music. Her rendition last week of Melissa Etheridge's "Come to My Window" was predictable and borderline uninteresting (as lovely as it sounded). Crystal needs to go in an unexpected direction and rework a hit single in a way that works for her style. The perfect "Idol"-winning song? Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"! Seriously.
Last week's stellar double bill of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" made one thing clear: This is anyone's competition to win. And we'd urge DeWyze to bust out Skynyrd's tune again if he hadn't just done it. Instead, we suggest another go at "The Boxer." Never mind that it was featured so prominently during his hometown-visit video package. It was his second-best performance of the season, and he can knock it out of the Nokia Theatre.
For his other performance, we turn our attention back to Songs of the Cinema night earlier this month. In a surprising development, Prince's "Purple Rain" landed on the approved song list, and then, even more surprisingly, no one performed it. And man, would it be killer in DeWyze's hands! The 24-year-old has had his biggest successes with slow, expressive rock tunes. "Purple Rain" is just funky enough to mesh well with the DeWyze we've come to know while also showing us some welcome range. If the singer wants another "moment," Prince's hit is the way to go.