American Idol, Season 9: The Wrap-Up

Well, we made it to the end.

'Idol' host Ryan Seacrest brings the emotional victor Lee DeWyze to center stage to sing his first studio release, U2's "Beautiful Day." | Photo from Reuters.com

We started with over 100,000 people from all over the country.

The judges picked a handful to sing in Hollywood.

We got 24 from there.

And after Casey James’ expected elimination last week, America narrowed it down to Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox as the final two contestants of American Idol 2010.

Getting to Know Lee & Crystal

Lee was born in Mount Prospect, Illinois in 1986. Growing up, he always had a covert passion for music, but was never quite ready to make it happen.

Since age 15, DeWyze has worked on and off as a paint salesman, forming the inconspicuous “Lee DeWyze Band” along the way. DeWyze auditioned in Chicago for ‘Idol’, and was one of the only 13 people chosen to progress in the competition from that city.

Crystal’s story isn’t that different. 1985 Ohio-born Bowersox had an undying passion for music. She struggled working as a busker at many train stations, but still wasn’t quite able to make it for herself. When she auditioned in Chicago for ‘Idol’ on the same day as DeWyze, the judges were shocked by her astounding vocals.

Though they have similar histories and are both humble, down-to-earth people, when it comes to music, they couldn’t be more diverse.

From Chicago to Idol

DeWyze, with a pleasant rasp in his voice, tends to lean more on the alternative rock and acoustic side. On ‘Idol’, his song choices have ranged from Owl City’s ‘Fireflies’ to The Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ to Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer.”

Bowersox, with an empowering and clean-cut tone, typically chooses folksy, gospel-y, bluesy and acoustic songs. Having sung Gladys Knights’ ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’, Janis Joplin’s ‘Bobby McGee and Me’ and Alannah Myles’ ‘Black Velvet’ on ‘Idol’, she has certainly proved herself vocally capable.

Lee started off ‘Idol’ awkward and shy, tending to look away from the camera and with average vocals. But his early discomfort gave him time for success to follow. He had bought himself plenty of time to improve throughout the competition, going from a timid, almost scared version of Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’ to belting out Sinatra’s ‘That’s Life.” 

Crystal started off as the frontrunner of the season, and this proved to be her undoing. Though she sounded amazing at almost all times, she had virtually no room for improvement, and by the Top 6 week, the judges started to get continually unimpressed.

The Finale

After 43 episodes, the season finale aired on Fox on May 26, 2010.

The two-hour finale included performances from 70s and 80s music sensations, like Chicago, Hall & Oates and Michael McDonald, as well as more current performers, such as Christina Aguilera, Joe Cocker, the recovered Bret Michaels and Janet Jackson.

One of the memorable performances of the night featured all of the crowned Idols (except for David Cook, who was reportedly in Kansas City at a charity event and apologized via Twitter for his absence) congregating to sing judge, Simon Cowell, out for his final episode. Joining them were dozens of unforgettable contestants from previous seasons, like Season 5’s Ace Young, Season 6’s Melinda Doolittle and, of course, last season’s Allison Iraheta. They sang Delta Goodrem’s ‘Together We Are One’ — it was touching, and we finally got to see Cowell get emotional for the very first time.

Now, I definitely can’t say that was all that happened in the episode. Remember General Larry Platt from the auditions? No? Remember his self-written song “Pants on the Ground,” which discourages members of society to lower their pants more than necessary? Yeah? Well, he came back.It simply was the 63-year-old Platt singing his song, attempting (yet failing) to break-dance, several dancers prancing around with boxers and jeans repeatedly shimmying up from their hips down to their ankles, and, for some reason, William Hung.

Seriously. Go watch it for yourself.

I actually forgot that they had to crown a winner, because the night’s performances were really quite good. Then host Ryan Seacrest, Lee and Crystal joined each other on stage. Crystal was comforting Lee, who was so anxious he looked like he was going to faint and fall off the stage.

Finally, after quintessentially obnoxious Seacrest silence, Lee DeWyze was crowned the winner of American Idol 2010.

Staples Thoughts

The finale of ‘Idol’s season 9 was one of the most unpredictable finales yet. Many MamaSox fans hoped for her victory, but almost the same number of die-hard DeWyze fans, called BeLEEvers did as well.

“I was happy [Lee won] because I love [him]!” said Megan O’Shea ’13.

Caitlyn Rand ‘13 was glad DeWyze won as well. “I was actually a Tim Urban fan, but I’m glad Crystal didn’t win. In terms of their backgrounds, though, I think they equally deserved to win, but Lee was the better singer,” said Rand.

Interestingly enough, according to Fox News, “the finale…drew 24.2 million viewers. The viewership was down 16 percent from a year ago (28.9 million viewers) and was the second-lowest ever behind the debut season’s 22.8 million viewers [which actually aired during the summer of 2002].”

Simon Cowell’s Departure

One of the most memorable aspects of ‘Idol’ is the judges – i.e. Simon Cowell, the epitome of reality show judges.

Cowell, who has been on the show since it first aired in 2002, is notorious for his blatant – sometimes controversial – criticisms and insults about the contestants and their performances. But though he may be harsh, most of the time his criticism is always right.

This season, season nine, was his last on ‘Idol;’ he is leaving in order to bring England’s talent show “The X Factor” to America.

Now the search for a new judge starts – yet again (former judge, Paula Abdul, left at the end of season eight). Replacing Cowell will be crucial for the show’s future success. Speculation hasn’t begun in earnest yet, but one name being rumored is radio shock-jock Howard Stern.

Some suggestions from Staples students include actress Jane Lynch, photographer Nigel Barker and even the return of Paula Abdul.

Who do you think should replace him? Write your comments below!

‘American Idol’ returns on Fox in January 2011.