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'IDOL' WATCH: Down to 2

Tonight, after more than 47 million votes, we learned who will compete in the finals on season nine of "American Idol." At one point or another in the season, each of the contestants, Lee Dewyze, Crystal Bowersox, and Casey James, seemed as though they had what it takes to become an "American Idol." Each has shown flashes of brilliance throughout the season and they seem to be the show's three most marketable contestants. In coming down to it, only two could make it to the finals and one had to be eliminated on tonight's results show.

The episode featured clips of the contestants' return to their hometown, where they were shocked by the number of people who came out to see them. It's always great to see the contestants' reactions to their fans, as this is the first time they hold their own concert, without the other "Idols". My favorite part of the clips was Crystal's concert title: Bowerstock. DeWyze made a great choice to visit his old elementary school, where the kids went nuts for him. James went to a local hospital to thank the doctors who treated him after a severe accident when he was younger. Each of the three contestants made a great impact on their hometowns and was given their first real taste of their star power.

The first performer of the night was newcomer Travis Garland, singing his single Believe. Perez Hilton discovered the singer after hearing an online remix of the T.I./Justin Timberlake hit, Dead and Gone, claiming that "he was better than Justin!" and he's right; Garland is a great singer. His voice sounded authentic and seasoned, perhaps better than the contestants themselves. The performance, however, seemed under rehearsed. Too often Garland let the background vocals play while he danced around the stage. He is a young artist, so perhaps this will fix itself with more experience, but it was distracting and caused a very underwhelming response from the audience. Still, his voice was fantastic and the song itself was quite good, so keep an eye out for Garland in the future.

Pop star Justin Bieber was the second performer of the night, singing U Smile and Baby. As much flack as Bieber receives for being the current teen obsession, he is actually a pretty talented singer. His voice is controlled and he has talent beyond his years. I enjoyed the throwback feel of U Smile for not being a typical pop song. Baby is much more the type of song you would expect from Bieber, but it had a rock influence tonight, which I kind of liked. His performance was a bit bland (although I had no idea he was such a talented drummer), but he sounded good and I'm sure the teen girls went wild.

The contestant to receive the bad news and win third place this season was Casey James, as was expected. James never was able to learn to emote throughout every performance, but he will have a successful recording career, due to both his looks and his singing ability. His voice is very good and I could definitely see him doing a Daughtry type of thing, touring with a band as the front man.

"Idol" is down to Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox, as many have been predicting for weeks at this point. It will be an interesting battle, but I see DeWyze having wider audience appeal and pulling out the victory. It will be close, as Bowersox is distinct and likable and has a huge fan base herself. The final two will perform on Tuesday, May 15th and on May 26th we will learn who will be this season's "American Idol."

"American Idol" is a reality competition to find new solo musical talent, created by Simon Fuller. It debuted June 11, 2002 on the Fox network and has since become one of the most popular shows on American television. It is currently the #1 TV show in the Nielsen Ratings and is one of only three that have been #1 for five consecutive seasons. The cast of "Idol" includes judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and Ellen Degeneres, and host Ryan Seacrest.

The program aims to discover the best singer in the country through a series of nation-wide auditions, and subsequent viewer voting. Through telephone voting, America has chosen past winners Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, and Kris Allen.

Several "Idol" contestants have been seen on the Broadway stage, including Barrino (The Color Purple), Hicks (Grease), Clay Aiken (Spamalot), Diana DeGarmo (Hairspray, Hair), Josh Strickland (Tarzan), Tamyra Gray (Rent, Bombay Dreams), Constantine Maroulis (The Wedding Singer, Rock of Ages), and Ace Young (Hair).

"American Idol" airs on Tuesday and Wednesday nights on Fox at 8PM EST.


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From This Author Jeff Dennhardt

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