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In the world's ultimate talent search - where the eyes of a nation are upon the best undiscovered singers in the country, where the audience has the power to make or break you, and where a million-dollar recording contract is on the line, there is only one rule: If you can sing it, bring it.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, Jason Block, Don Harpwood & Gordon Pepper, GSNN
 
Host Ryan Seacrest
Judges Simon Cowell
Ellen DeGeneres
Kara DioGuardi
Randy Jackson
Creator Simon Fuller (based upon "Pop Idol")
EP Ken Warwick
Cecile Frot-Coutaz
Simon Fuller
Packager 19 TV & FremantleMedia North America
Origins CBS Television City, Los Angeles
Web americanidol.com
Airs 8p Tues & 9p Wed, Fox
Available In High-Definition Where AvailableStreaming Online

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Round of 3: Judges' Choice
May 18

We have 2 performance shows left, it's time for the contestants to sing two songs in the Round of 3. The judges get to select which song the contestants croon, and if it's been anything like the last 12 weeks, I'll be bored. And I brought Jason Block and Chico Alexander to be bored with me.

And we start with Casey James and 'Ok, it's Alright With Me' (by Eric Hutchinson), a nice country song, which I think is needed by the country crooner. 
The Good - He's got the guitar. He's got the nice thread, and he's grooving a song in his wheelhouse. 
The Bad - And he's got a pitch flatter than his tire if it went over a bed of nails. And why are you selecting the sort of song that 1. is utterly safe with no vocal range and 2. which most of America hasn't heard of? 
The Jason - The judges were spot on here. Bad song choice, because it wasn't memorable and the performance was boring and vanilla. He HAS to bring it after song 2, or else he is gone.
The Chico - He sounded good... So what. You're not emoting. It's time for you to sell your spot in the final, and you're just standing there with a guitar. And he doesn't stand out as a standout performer. It's just so-so, and you don't want to half-ass a song that people haven't heard before.
The Verdict - It's really safe, which would be good 2 months ago, but not now when there's only 3 people left. 

That opens the door for a Lee/Crystal finale, if they can both provide us with the goods. Crystal Bowersox goes first, and she chooses Melissa Etheridge's 'Come To My Window.' 
The Good - Finally a good song choice and performance, complete with technically sound vocal and emotional delivery. About time. She put it all together... 
The Bad - Well sort of. The spacing going into the end chorus is all wrong, the harmonica seemed to be just thrown in for weird instrument effect, and for a dress style, it looks less like a professional performance and more like she's going to Melissa Etheredge's swimming pool party. 
The Jason - One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite artists. She did it justice. And Simon was right. While the arrangement wasn't the best, this song was an excellent definition of who and what she is. 
The Chico - Perfect song choice for Crystal. Perfectly sung. Perfect with the harmonica to start... She's playing to win for once. It's not as strong as Melissa's original, but it's a song in her wheelhouse, and that's going to gel with her base.
The Verdict - It's fine, but this is something that we'd be expecting in the round of 10 (or 9, or 8) and not now. That being said, based on what we have this season, it's acceptable. 

Lee DeWyze os up next, and he chooses 'Simple Man' by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It's a simple song, but can he execute it in a complex manner? 
The Good - Easily sang it with more emotion than Casey or Crystal. He emoted the notes, which is the first time I actually saw emotion that conveyed through the tv set from any of the contestants. He even nailed the high notes, which says a lot. 
The Bad - Like Casey, I wasn't a fan of his song selection. He could have rocked out on something more popular for the fan base. And the last note had his pitch fade out on him. Yuck. 
The Jason - This was another song that defined him as who he is, but the vocals here were awful. He was all over the place. The judges are all over him with love. I just don't see it.
The Chico - I've seen this covered by Shinedown with gusto and fervor. Lee could have poured a little more soul, a little more grit into this performance, but it's okay. It's a good song choice. Round 1 to Lee in a walk. And before we continue, can we put the "We Love You" girls on a muzzle? It's getting kind of old. 
The Verdict - From a performance standpoint, the best singer of the three for the first round. He put in a complete performance on that stage.

Round 2 time, and it's the judges call for the contestants. Keep in mind that they better not hear 'bad song selection', since the contestants have no choice. Of course, I'm guessing the judges wishes they had this much control much, much earlier in the competition. 

Once again, Casey James goes first. Randy and Kara select 'Daughters' by John Mayer. The judges want him to show his vulnerable side to women and girls, his voting base. I'm guessing that they don't want to know the rumor that he's gay, based on someone's Facebook picture of him in a compromising position with a guy, but I digress...
The Good - This is the second time that I've seen an emoter. He did a really nice job with the emotion and the pitch. 
The Bad - But not the tremolo, which made him sound like a goat prancing on a treadmill. 
The Jason - Sorry, he just sang himself out the finals. The song puts me to sleep, and his vocals did as well.
The Chico - I think he shows his vulnerable side, but not in a good way. He's all over the place with the pitch until the bridge. And it just comes off as John Mayer with long hair. Casey took a Grammy-award-winning song... and the only thing he did was add a guitar solo that John could've written. It sounded better than his first job, but is it a winner?
The Verdict - No. That being said, where the heck has this been for the past 4 months? This is far and away his best performance of the season. If he did this from Day #1, he would be a favorite instead of most likely to leave tonight. 

Ellen Degeneres gets to select the song for Crystal Bowersox. The song is 'Maybe I'm Amazed' by Paul McCartney. Can she put on an amazing performance? 
The Good - Hey, it's 3 emoters! It is a very good choice of song from Ellen. Crystal worked outside of her comfort zone and her range. Crystal owes Ellen a big Thank You. 
The Bad - The beginning was flat and shaky. It was almost like she knew what was coming up and had to start inflating the vocal esophagus before releasing the air. 
The Jason - One Ticket was punched right there. Great choice by Ellen and Crystal just killed it. 
The Chico - Ellen wanted to trip Crystal up. Does she? A little. She sounded a mite sharp to start. Other than that, Crystal is finally challenged to be great, and she meets the challenge.
The Verdict - Where the heck has this been for the past 4 months? This is far and away her best performance of the season. Maybe the judges need to select the songs for the contestants from day #1. 

Finally, we have Lee DeWyze, who gets Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujiah'. Now Tim Urban sang this before, but I'm guessing Lee will be doing a lot better than what Tim did. At least, that's what we hope. 
The Good - Make it 4 emoters. Out of 3 people. Once again, I ask, where in the world has this been the past 2 and a half months? This is the best I've ever heard Lee.
The Bad - Then again, if Tim had the background singers and arrangement that Lee had, then Tim would have a moment. instead, he's probably pissed off and is ready to throw a shoe at his TV set. 
The Jason - I hated the arrangement, I hated the vocals, I hate this song being overused here. That being said, this was this year's "Heartless" (remember Kris Allen). This wasn't a moment for me, but for the sheep who vote for him it was. 
The Chico - Simon thinks that this could be the moment... Houston, we have a moment.
The Verdict - Where the heck has this been for the past 4 months? This is far and away his best performance of the season. Maybe the judges do need to have song control. Oh yeah, we have that already, It's called The X-Factor. Hmmm...

Overall Verdict: Best show of the season. Of course, this was a little late, and because of that, I think someone also bloomed out a little too late. And I did predict from Day 1 that Lee DeWyze would be in the finals, which means that for him to be there, this guy can't be. 

OUT: CASEY JAMES

The Jason: Plain and Simple...Crystal and Lee are in.

OUT: Casey James 

The Chico: This was the show that should've happened 9 shows ago. The two final spots are Lee and Crystal's to lose. And apparently, this comes 9 shows too late for... 
OUT: Casey James 
Join us in 24 hours to see who will not be singing something schmaltzy in the finale.

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To see this episode in its entirety, go to www.americanidol.com.