.

Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze Advance to 'American Idol' Finals

Justin Bieber and Travis Garland perform as Casey James exits Season Nine

May 20, 2010 8:45 AM ET

If the winner of American Idol is determined by how many tears were shed during the final singers' hometown visits, Lee DeWyze is a lock. The 24-year-old DeWyze returned to Chicago, where he wept upon returning to the paint store where he used to work and sniffled his way through an acoustic performance of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer." His tears accelerated when he reached the "I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains" refrain as his parents mouthed the words and his voice cracked on cue.

This is exactly how American Idol loves their hometown visits to go: they're designed to maximize an emotional response from the finalists, who as DeWyze, Crystal Bowersox and Casey James discussed with Ryan Seacrest during an poorly paced 10-minute interview segment at the top of last night's show, are mentally and physically drained from the very exhausting Idol experience. As the trio explained how the competition took over their lives, they inadvertently made it sound a bit like joining a cult with a fancy benefits package — you've got to relocate, give up everything else in your life, participate in the group's activities nearly 24 hours a day, perform on demand and let yourself become emotionally ragged to the point of breakdown.

The show likes it best when contestants give themselves wholly to the process, explaining how Idol helped them grow up and become better artists. That's likely why DeWyze got to run his hometown reel third, after James kept a stiff upper lip during a visit to the Texas hospital ward where doctors saved his life and arm following a motorcycle accident. Bowersox stayed strong during her trip back to Ohio, losing her composure only when the show surprised her live by soundtracking her visit with one of her original songs, "Holy Toledo." Clearly overcome by shock, pride and relief, she told Seacrest, "I've been fighting all season long for some originals … [it's] the anthem for my city, it's given the area so much hope and that's what this is all about, man," she added as she exclaimed, "That's my song!" one last time. Bravo, Idol.

Forty-seven million votes were cast after the last three standing performed personal picks and judges' selections Tuesday night, and as expected, Bowersox and DeWyze advanced to next week's finale, which will mark Simon Cowell's final two episodes of Idol ever. There's been no word of his replacement (producers have said the decision will not be announced until after Season Nine's completion), but one of the most vocal candidates lobbying for his job was in the house last night, trumpeting the arrival of his "discovery" Travis Garland. Perez Hilton told Seacrest he spotted Garland — a former boy bander from the group NLT (which also featured Glee castmember Kevin McHale) — online when Garland posted his own take on the Justin Timberlake and T.I. song "Dead and Gone." The 20-year-old singer performed his debut solo single "Believe" as the show struggled to shoot him from every possible angle but close-up. The camera swooped around the stage grabbing shots of random dancers, the screen split into three frames, and Garland ended the performance a microscopic spec at the top of the staircase.

The subsequent Justin Bieber performance of "You Smile" and "Baby" was all close-ups and shots of the 16-year-old Canadian superstar's winning grin. He wrapped his quickie set with a drum solo and the sounds of hysterical shrieks from the crowd — and he didn't even have to shed a tear.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com