It's not wrong, what people say about how 95 percent of American Idol is just good karaoke. There have certainly been flashes of talent and inventiveness over the years, but yes, most of it is a high-end version of a college talent show, sometimes without the "high-end" part, or the "talent" part. Or the "college" part. Or the "show" part. Huh.
Anyway, last week's performance of "People Get Ready" by Crystal Bowersox was not karaoke. It was simultaneously one of the best performances the show has ever produced and one of the most troubling. Why? Because they are so hosed if she loses.
Now, Casey, Siobhan and Aaron are, in my opinion, not credible challengers. My guess is that Casey and Aaron are both in their final wobbles before collapse, and Siobhan has had too many issues and competes too much with Crystal for the same voters, who wouldn't ultimately choose her...
It seems more plausible, to me, that Lee or Michael would catch her.
The problem if Lee catches her is that it looks way too much like Kris Allen came back, gained a little weight, smoked a few cigars, and then won again. They're the same physical type, they're both likable, talented adherents to styles that are already in heavy commercial rotation, and Lee wants to stand out for doing unusual versions of songs, just like Kris tried to do...
It's true that Mike (like Lee) isn't as creative as Crystal, or as mature as a singer, or as confident. But the fact that Mike benefited from the judges' save would make his winning feel a little unearned. There's something brutal but (within the show's own twisted universe) fair about the winner being the person who survived all the weekly votes without being sent home, whatever the spurious and possibly demented reasoning used by the voters. But there's something a little less brutal and a little less fair about winning in part because you were the beneficiary of Kara DioGuardi's capricious largesse.
Crystal is just so ridiculously much better than anyone else competing that it's basically Crystal and the Crystaltones at this point. Crystal and the Pips. Crystal, Et Al., with Aaron, Mike, Lee, Siobhan and Casey playing "Al."