Crystal Bowersox first impressed the American Idol judges in Chicago with Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” She went on to Hollywood Week and continued to impress. But although she made the Top 24, which placed her in a dead heat tie with 12 other female finalists, and she seemed to do nothing wrong Tuesday evening, the judges were less than impressed with her performance of Alanis Morissette’s “Hand In My Pocket.” Even with the American Idol crowd getting into the performance (something that had been lacking throughout the first 10 performers and would again be lacking in the 12th), the judges found her singing lacking.
In fact, American Idol judge — and soon not to be an American Idol judge — Simon Cowell used the “unique” critique the judges had been using all night on Crystal Bowersox, telling her that her performance was nothing better or different than a thousand other street singers. Kara DioGuardi agreed and said that Bowersox’ performance was “coffee shop.” Randy Jackson did tell her that he liked her honesty.
But in a batch of “boring,” Crystal Bowersox shined through. She took Alanis Morissette’s “Hand In My Pocket” and gave it a Bruce Springsteen edge with a little harmonica work. She got the crowd into the song and you could tell she was enjoying herself. And although it may have come off as street performance level to the judges, it sounded great in this writer’s living room.
As for “unique,” only a couple other performers could even be considered “unique.” Haeley Vaughn’s strangely jazzy but catchy (Corinne Bailey Rae-ish?) rendition of the Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and Katelyn Epperly’s “Oh, Darling” — also a Beatles tune — may have been the most uniquely arranged performances of the night, but the judges split on Haeley Vaughn’s performance, and Kara DioGuardi exhibited her Victoria Beckham influence by disapproving of Katelyn’s different look (to which she would later offer that Katelyn was more than likely silently calling her a “bitch”).
But what her performance lacked in originality, Crystal Bowersox more than made up for in energy and presence. Besides the final performance, by teen Katie Stevens (who was criticized more for her “old” song choice — Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good” — than for her singing), Bowersox’ acoustic was arguably the best of the night.
Sadly, the American Idol Season 9 Top 24 did not get off to a roaring start. It didn’t even get off to a good start. But despite the judges pronouncements, Crystal Bowersox got off to a better than average start. And that is what matters — being able to stay the course and go the distance. That method worked wonders for Kris Allen.
So… it is a safe bet Crystal Bowersox will not be sent home this week. In a season where both judges Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson have stated in interviews that it looks to be a “girls” year, Crystal Bowersox just might be the American Idol frontrunner.
“American Idol,” Fox Television