American Idol and Google Searches

One of the many interesting tools offered by the search giant is Google Trends. It allows one to compare the number of searches on various queries. I thought it might be a useful tool for predicting the winner of American Idol tonight. The theory is that web searches reflect interest, which should translate into votes.

Unfortunately, it only has data through May 24th (Monday) at this point, so it doesn’t tell us what the interest was last night, when voting was happening.

It does reveal an interesting trend, however:

Searches for [crystal bowersox] mostly outpaced searches for [lee dewyze] until last week’s performance show, where Lee jumped way ahead. This is even more clear on the data for the last thirty days:

Lee certainly has been coming on strong the last few weeks, and he was great last week. Crystal was much better than he was last night, however.

It should be interesting to look back once we’ve got the data and the results to see how they correlate.

American Idol Finals Performances

Last night was the finals of American Idol 9, with Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze each performing three songs. The first was the contestant’s choice of a song of theirs from earlier in the season. The second was chosen by American Idol producer Simon Fuller. The third was the song the winner would release.

As a welcome change, the song to be released was not some schmatzy crap written just for the show, as it has been in years past, but something actually chosen for the contestant.

After last week’s results show, they flipped a coin. Crystal won and decided to go second.

Lee DeWyze
The Boxer

Not the song I would have chosen, but he did much better than the first time he performed the song. The Wife thought he should have chosen “Hallalujah”.

It was good, but didn’t make a real impression.

Crystal Bowersox
Me and Bobby McGee

Great choice! This was one of her best. And last night was just as good as the first performance.

Round One to Crystal! “Easily,” said the Wife.

Lee DeWyze
Everybody Hurts

He’s got a perfect voice for this song, but another slow song makes me question the first even more. It was good, but not something that blew you away.

Crystal Bowersox
Black Velvet

I thought this song would fit her better than it did. It was a solid performance, but didn’t quite work for me.

“I hate the song,” said the Wife. “But I liked Crystal’s performance better than I thought I would.”

Round Two to Crystal as well, but this was quite a bit closer.

Lee DeWyze
Beautiful Day

Much better song than he would have been stuck with in years past, and the performance was the best of the night for Lee.

“Not as good as the original,” said the Wife.

But is that fair, I replied. We’re talking about U2.

“But they’re planning to release it as a single. Comparisons to U2 are inevitable.”

Fair enough.

Crystal Bowersox
Up to the Mountain

I’m not sure I know the song, but I liked it.

“She’s kicking his ass!” said the Wife. “I got chills listening to that.”

And Crystal closes out the competition with one of her best performances of the season.

Ok, so who is going to win?

Crystal has been more consistent all season long, but it’s about who generates the votes, not who is the best performer. Remember last season? Adam Lambert was clearly the better performer.

My only real knock on Crystal is that she’s not all that commercial. I don’t see that as a bad thing, but Lee’s wider commercial appeal might give him more votes.

Still, Crystal was so much better than Lee last night, I think she walks away with the win.

American Idol Top Three Performances

For the Top Three, each contestant performed two songs: one they chose themselves (performed first by each contestant) and one chosen by the judges.

 American Idol Season 9 - Lee DeWyze Homecoming Concert

Casey James
Ok, It’s Alright With Me by Eric Hurchinson

Not Casey’s best vocal. He lost the melody briefly several times, and it just never went anywhere. The Wife said it was boring.

I agree.

Crystal Bowersox
Come to My Window by Melissa Etheridge

It almost sounded like Crystal was out of breath all the way through the song.

“It’s not a good performance for her,” said the Wife. “Is the harmonica keeping her too far away from the mic?”

“I hate that thing,” she continued. “It’s useless and makes her look like Darth Vader.”

Certainly one of Crystal’s worst performances of the season.

Lee DeWyze
Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd

At least Lee came to perform. The best vocal of the night up to that point, but the bars not very high. “None of the performances have been anything exciting,” said the Wife.

Hopefully, the judge’s picks will be better.

ENT: Crystal Bowersox Hometown Celebration MAY 14

Casey James
Daughters by John Mayer

Much better vocal. I liked it, but didn’t love it. His emotional connection was quite good on this song.

The Wife thought it was boring. “I may fall asleep,” she said.

But then, she hates John Mayer.

Crystal Bowersox
Maybe I’m Amazed by Paul McCartney

Great performance. Showed alot of range with this song.

I found the repetition of the “Maybe I’m a man” line a bit jarring, but I can’t see how you could change the wording and make it work. I think I’ll get over that issue as I listen to the song again.

Lee DeWyze
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen

Ok, this song is really overplayed on American Idol. It’s a great song, however.

And with it, Lee wins the night. It was a great performance, and I think I may like Lee’s version better than Jason Castro’s.

I’d rank the performances as follows:

  1. Lee DeWyze, Hallelujah
  2. Crystal Bowersox, Maybe I’m Amazed
  3. Lee DeWyze, Simple Man
  4. Casey James, Daughters
  5. Crystal Bowersox, Come to My Window
  6. Casey James, OK, It’s Alright With Me

Lee easily wins the night, followed by Crystal, with Casey bringing up the rear. I can’t see how Casey doesn’t go home this week.

The two most consistent throughout the season have been Crystal and Lee, and I’m fairly confident they’ll be in the final next week.

American Idol Top Four Performances

This week’s theme was Songs from the Movies, with Jamie Foxx mentoring. In addition to their solo performances, each contestant performed a duet with another contestant.

Lee Dewyze
Kiss From A Rose by Seal (from Batman Forever)

Rough night for Lee. Pitchy notes all over, and a big step backwards. The Wife agreed that it wasn’t his week, but at least he hasn’t had a bad week in a while.

Michael Lynche
Will You Be There by Michael Jackson (from Free Willy)

Very gospelly (gospelesque?) version. I liked it a lot. Not particularly current, but Michael sounded good and it was a solid performance.

Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze
Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (from Once)

If memory serves, AI has done the duet thing a couple of times, and I’ve never been impressed. It’s just hard to mesh two performers together like this and get anything good.

But wow… These two sound great together. The Wife said she knew they would.

Great performance!

Casey James
Mrs. Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel (from The Graduate)

It was ok, but a bit boring. Casey never really connected with the song or those watching his performance.

“It was sure better than last week,” said the Wife, “but nothing special.”

Crystal Bowersox
I’m Alright by Kenny Loggins (from Caddyshack)

Great movie and great song! And Crystal definitely came to perform. She gave the song her own spin, but kept its cool vide.

“Crystal’s back,” said the Wife. “That was fantastic!”

I loved the arrangement and unusual beat in the song.

Michael Lynche and Casey James
Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman by Bryan Adams (from Don Juan Demarco)

This an example of a duet that shouldn’t work, but they really sounded good together. They started out alternating solos on the verses (Casey, then Michael). Both were good, but together was surprisingly nice. I wasn’t expecting that.

The Wife liked it better than Lee and Crystal.

The two best performances of the night were the duets. I preferred Lee and Crystal, but you could almost flip a coin to pick.

Crystal’s solo was next best. Not her greatest performance, but really good.

Then came Michael and Casey, in that order. Both were decent to ok, but nothing to rave about.

And Lee’s solo was the worst of the night, by quite a bit.

Predicting who goes home at this point it really tough. I would have to think that Crystal is safe. Lee should be safe as well, based upon previous weeks’ performances.

Either of the other two could go home, but Casey would be my guess, mostly based upon overall body of work.

American Idol Top Five Performances

The theme for the Top Five was songs of Frank Sinatra. Harry Connick Jr. provided mentoring as well as arranged the songs for the performances.

Aaron Kelly
Fly Me to the Moon

This is a good theme for Aaron, as Frank didn’t really have all that big a voice either. But Blue Eyes could do things with his voice that no one else could.

Unfortunately, there’s no swing in Aaron’s performance. “I don’t think he could swing it if he wanted to,” said the Wife.

It was a good performance. Not great, but decent.

Casey James
Blue Skies

I have to wonder if he was thinking of something more like Willie Nelson’s version. While that might have worked for Casey, Harry Connick Jr.’s version was nothing like Willie’s.

The first few notes were really rough, then he pulled it together a bit. He seemed very nervous throughout, and his vibrato was completely uncontrolled. “Well, he doesn’t have a guitar,” said the Wife.

Not a good vocal. The whole thing just didn’t come together. Casey could be in trouble.

Crystal Bowersox
Summer Wind

She really knows how to make a song her own, yet hold onto the feel of the original.

Great performance with lots of swing. She can sing anything.

Michael Lynche
The Way You Look Tonight

Great song choice! Love the slow, simple opening. He showed the most personality of the night (up to that point).

The only complaint might be that it sounds pretty much like everything else he’s done. He didn’t really do anything new, but I liked the performance.

Lee Dewyze
That’s Life

Nice bluesy arrangement. Casey should have gone this direction.

“My favorite of the night,” said the Wife.

Good stuff and great performance. He gave it the subtle cool that a Frank Sinatra song needs to have. We’re watching Lee grow into a real performer here.

Lee was easily the best of the night, with Crystal and Michael very close for second and third, but probably in that order.

Casey’s was the worst performance of the night, by a long shot. Given that he’s been living in the bottom three, I can’t see how he survives tomorrow night.

At this point, I think the final is likely to be between Lee and Crystal. Crystal probably wins, but stranger things have happened.

American Idol Top Six

I wasn’t able to watch television Tuesday evening, so the Wife and I watched both the performances and the results show Wednesday evening. One can certainly get through the shows quickly when you skip the commercials, fluff and repetiion.

The theme for the week was songs of Shania Twain.

Lee Dewyze
You’re Still The One

Loved the opening. It was really in a sweet spot of his voice. But why is he doing that John Mayer thing with his mouth, wonders the Wife?

The rest of the song didn’t hold up to the opening, but it was good.

Michael Lynche
It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing

“Ouch,” said the Wife. “He started the song sitting on the stairs. That’s never good.”

But Big Mike breaks the Stair Curse and has a great performance. Simple, emotional songs with a pretty melody are his forte. Maybe his best yet.

Casey James

Neither the Wife nor I were familiar with the song, but we liked it and Casey’s performance. It was much more of a vocal than he’s given in a long time.

Crystal Bowersox
No One Needs to Know

She went full-country on this one. The Wife thought it was not really her type of music, but it was still pretty good.

Good, but not her best. She’s starting to remind me a bit of Melinda Dolittle. Good every week, and sometimes great, but Melinda didn’t win.

Aaron Kelly
You’ve Got A Way

He changed the melody a lot, but it worked. The Wife thought it was one of his best. The song wasn’t too big for him, so for a change he wasn’t straining.

Siobhan Magnus
Any Man of Mine

“I don’t like it,” said the Wife.

And she was correct. The vocal was ok, but the whole thing was a bit strange for me. And I hated the scream at the end. Not good.

So, Casey was the best of the night, followed by Michael and then Lee.

Siobhan was the worst of the night, and she paid the price by going home. She just wasn’t consistent enough, and the screams were getting pretty bad. If she can find a producer to channel her strangeness just enough to be commercially viable, she could do well.

I’ve had a number of people ask if Crystal is going to win this season. I would have to say that the smart money would be on her. She’s clearly the most talented, but that’s not why she should win.

She’s the most consistent. Every week, she’s really good. Even her bad weeks, she’s pretty good. However, American Idol can certainly surprise. Adam was clearly more talented and more consistent than Kris last year.

I think Michael and Aaron are not long for the competition. Michael, in particular, seems to be barely holding on.

Casey’s had some great moments, but has also had some not-so-great moments. He could go all the way, or he could flame out.

After Crystal, Lee has been the most consistent the last few weeks. While some of his earlier performances bored me, he’s been plugging away with solid showings recently. He could surprise people a la Kris Allen.

We’ll see!

American Idol Top 7 Performances

In conjunction with Idol Gives Back, the theme was inspiration songs. Unfortunately, I found the performances overall to be mediocre, not inspirational.

Casey James
Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Fleetwood Mac

Once again, nothing risky, but a solid performance. The Wife thought he could have given the performance a bit more edge, but that it was good.

I’ve liked a number of Casey’s performances, but we’re getting towards the end. Safe may not cut it. Time to take chances, Casey.

>Lee DeWyze
The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel

He changed up the song quite a bit. I don’t think it quite came together, but the studio version might be better. The Wife said it was a strange performance.

The judges, of course, loved it. I thought it was ok to good, but I certainly didn’t hear what they did.

Tim Urban
Better Days by the Goo Goo Dolls

This was a good song choice for Tim, but the performance was pretty bad. Pitchy and very nasal.

I think the Tim Urban may be back.

Aaron Kelly
I Believe I Can Fly

Way too big a song for Aaron. The judges gushed about how great he sounded, but it was clear to me that he couldn’t hold the notes all the way through. Nasally at points as well.

The Wife said it was better than she thought it would be. Not good, but not horrible.

Siobhan Magnus
When You Believe by Whitney and Maria

The Wife said that it sounds just like every Disney song.

A bit sleepy, I thought, but I loved what Siobhan did with the ending. Very understated, especially for Siobhan.

At least she didn’t scream it, said the Wife.

Michael Lynche
Hero by Mariah Carey

Great performance. Good arrangement and solid emotional connection. The judges didn’t love it, however.

The Wife observed that Big Mike seems to be gaining weight. Muscle converts to fat rather quickly, and there’s no way Mike has enough time to maintain his muscle mass. Look for him to get fatter the longer he stays in the competition.

Crystal Bowersox
People Get Ready

Loved the a capella opening. Great gospel feel to the performances.

She connected emotionally with the song throughout, but got a bit overwhelmed by it at the end. Need to learn to control it, Crystal.

Easily the best of the night, and one of Crystal’s best performances to date.

Again, Crystal easily wins the night. Michael is second, and then you’ve got a group of Siobhan, Casey and Lee.

The worst of the night was Tim, but Aaron wasn’t much better.

It gets harder and harder to predict who goes home at this point. It should be Tim, but my money is on Aaron. Wouldn’t surprise me to see Michael sent home. He’s spent a lot of time towards the bottom, and the judges tore him apart.

American Idol Top Nine (Redux) Performances

With the judges using their save on Michael Lynche last week, we had nine performances again tonight, and two going home tomorrow. The theme was Elvis Presley, with Adam Lambert mentoring.

I’m on the road this week, so notes might be a bit short.

Crystal Bowersox

Good song choice, with a nice gospel feel to the arrangement. The Wife loved it, and thought it was one of her favorites from Crystal.

Andrew Garcia
Hound Dog

I’m not sure my expectations on this performance could have been lower. It’s a good song when Elvis performed it, but I’m not sure anyone else could make it sound decent.

The Wife said it sounded better than she thought it would. Ahhh, the benefit of low expectations.

“He just doesn’t have it,” says the Wife. And yet again, Ellen proves with her positive comments that she knows nothing about music.

Tim Urban
Can’t Help Falling In Love

I like the slightly sped up version, actually. Another from Tim that I kinda liked. It was simple and pretty. I wonder if realizes that they’re backing someone who may not be all that bad.

The Wife said that she liked the performance, but Tim’s smile still annoys her.

Lee DeWyze
A Little Less Conversation

I thought he did too much with the melody on the opening, and that it got lost. But it was better when he opened up. The Wife loved it from start to finish.

The rhythm of the song was very cool. It was good, although I didn’t love it as much as the Wife and the judges.

Aaron Kelly
Blue Suede Shoes

Horrifically bad song choice. “That’s karaoke,” said the Wife.

I agree, but it’s good karaoke. You know, the type that’s entertaining, and that you’d love to see your drunk co-worker do, so you can give him hell for the next six months. He thinks he’s giving a great performances, but you know he’s just making a fool of himself.

Aaron could be in trouble.

Siobhan Magnus
Suspicious Minds

It was like too different songs. The first half sucked. The second have as pretty good. Overall, it was just ok.

And it’s cleat that Siobhan doesn’t take criticism very well. She doesn’t have to follow it, but she should at least listen.

Michael Lynch
In the Ghetto

Michael gets back to what makes him good. I liked it alot.

Really simple. Really heartfelt. And really good.

Katie Stevens
Baby, What Do You Want Me To Do?

Great performance. Loved the attitude and the arrangement with all the horns.

Casey James
Lawdy Miss Clawdy

Blues sure works for him. He’s more and more relaxed every performance. I really liked it.

To pick the best of the night, flip a three-sided coin between Crystal, Michael and Casey. All were very good, but none was really much better than the other two. It’s going to come down to personal preferences. They were followed by Tim and Katie.

The worst of the night was Andrew by a mile, with Aaron being the next worst. I can’t see how either one survives tomorrow night.

American Idol Top 9 Performances

The theme for the night was entries from the Lennon/McCartney songbook. That certainly left no shortage of songs to choose from.

Aaron Kelly
Long and Winding Road

Pitchy, sleepy performance. The Wife thought it was dull. “His voice doesn’t sound right,” she observed.

Is he hoarse? There has supposedly been a bug going around the AI House.

Overall, it was ok, but a bit boring.

Fox's Meet The Top 12 American Idol Finalists Event - Arrivals

Katie Stevens
Let It Be

Great song, but any time the theme has anything to do with The Beatles, someone has to do this song.

Katie’s performance was a really nice vocal, but I don’t like the ultra-short arrangements they use for these live versions. Maybe they could cut back on the useless bickering and stupid jokes, and let each performer sing for a minute longer?

This is her best in several weeks, however. I expect the studio version will be quite good.

Andrew Garcia
Can’t Buy Me Love

Very much a cruise ship performance. And a weird cruise ship at that. The Wife thought he sounded like a wedding singer, without the Adam Sandler entertainment value.

It was really not good.

Michael Lynche
Elenor Rigby

It had a bit of Big Mike’s usual R&B flavor, but something seemed off. “It’s just not flowing right,” said the Wife.

The vocal and the instrumentation didn’t match. It really didn’t work for me.

The judges, of course, loved it, but I think they’d pump up anything from Michael at this point.

Crystal Bowersox
Come Together

Would have been much better with less going on. There were many distractions during the song, but it was still pretty good.

I think she may have lost the words for a moment on the second verse, but she got it back so quickly that I’m not sure.

A solid performance, but not her best.

Tim Urban
All My Lovin’

I hate to admit it, but I really liked Tim’s performance. A good vocal and cool arrangement. What is going on in the world?

The Wife thought the guitar kept him occupied so he didn’t act like an idiot.

I think it was his best performance, but the Wife like Hallelujah better.

Fox's Meet The Top 12 American Idol Finalists Event - Arrivals

Casey James
Jealous Guy

“I like it,” said the Wife. But she always says that about Casey’s songs.

However, I really liked the simple arrangement. The acoustic guitar with a standup bass (or was it a cello) really matched well with his voice.

“I think this is one of his best performances,” said the Wife. “I could hear it being on the radio.”

Siobhan Magnus
Across the Universe

After her disaster last week, Siobhan could only move up. I didn’t like the performance at first, but it was really nice after she settled in.

“She sounded good, but it was very broadway”, observed the Wife. “I’m torn.”

Lee Dewyze
Hey Jude

Wow. Very pitchy. Just all over the place. He sounded like the homeless guy in the subway station playing for spare change.

“It wasn’t that bad,” said the Wife, “but it wasn’t his best.”

And WTF on the bagpipe player entering halfway through? It was distracting and added nothing positive to the performance.

Overall, a mediocre night. Not too many great performances, but not many horrible ones either.

I think Casey’s was the best of the night, followed by Crystal. Surprisingly, Tim was the third best.

Andrew was easily the worst of the night, although Lee wasn’t too far behind. Third worst was probably Aaron.

The Bottom 3 will probably be Andrew, Lee, and either Aaron or Tim. I would think Tim would be safe based upon his performance, although’s protection hasn’t always been that good when they’re candidate doesn’t suck. I suspect they get a bit lazy.

I expect that Andrew is going home, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Lee at the bottom. The judges won’t save either one.

American Idol Top 10 Performances

The theme for the week was R&B and the mentor was Usher, so my expectations weren’t very high. Frankly, anything I liked was likely to be called old by Simon.

Siobhan Magnus
Through the Fire by Chaka Khan

Didn’t really come together on the opening. Then it got pitchy. Then it just got bad. Really bad.

Her worst performance, by far. I would assume she’s probably safe, but it’s based upon prior performances, not the one last night.

Casey James
Hold On I’m Coming by Sam and Dave

He looked rather stiff walking up to the mic, but then he relaxed. Solid, bluesy performance. Yes, it was safe, but this style really works for him.

The Wife really liked it!

Michael Lynche
Ready for Love by India Arie

I really wasn’t expecting anything different this week. He’s been doing R&B for several weeks now; he’s not going to change anything up.

But I was pleasantly surprised. The almost-acoustic version he did was really nice.

The Wife said it was just different enough.

Didi Benami
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted by Jimmy Ruffin

Ok, I’m tired of the crying. This woman is way to unstable to survive in the music business. She’s starting to remind me of Jeremiah Andrews from Season 7.

The performance wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t quite there either. The Wife observed that her voice just didn’t match the song.

Tim Urban
Sweet Love by Anita Baker

“It’s bad news when they start off sitting on the stairs,” said the Wife.

It wasn’t bad at first, but he sounded better in the clip from the rehearsal. It got worse as the song went on. It was very karaoke by the end.

Then he laughed at the judges critiques. While that will certainly garner him plenty of votes, it doesn’t usually encourage others to vote.

Andrew Garcia
Forever by Chris Brown

Wow. That was really good. I’m not a fan of Chris Brown’s music, but Andrew’s version was very entertaining. A cool acoustic version that really worked.

His first good performance in a long time.

Katie Stevens
Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin

Katie was a little off-beat on the opening and was pitchy at points. But a good performance.

“So much better than last week’s disaster,” said the Wife.

Lee DeWyze
Treat Her Like a Lady by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose

I liked it, although I’m getting a bit tired of the Dave Matthews soundalikes.

The Wife thought it was his best performance, and that he finally let go.

The song really grew on me, as the performance went on.

Crystal Bowersox
Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight

Definitely a great song, and one that should work for Crystal.

She traded in her guitar for a piano, however. She didn’t seem really comfortable playing. It was clearly distracting her.

It got better when she stood up and walked away from the piano, but the Wife thought she looked uncomfortable not having her guitar.

It was good, but not her best performance.

Aaron Kelly
Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers

Another American Idol overplay, but I like the song. It wasn’t bad, but his voice was almost too thin for the song.

I really liked the repetitive part. “Yeah, that was the best part of the performance,” said the Wife. “The rest fell flat.”

Decent performance, but a bit boring.

Surprise, surprise, the best of the night was Lee. Crystal, Michael, and Casey were all good, and Andew gets props for stepping it up.

The worst, by far, was Siobhan. And it was clear that she new it. After she stormed past the backstage camera in the green room, she was never seen again. Not a great example of sealing with adversity.

Still, I can’t imagine she’s in danger after her previous performances, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in the Bottom 3.

Other than that, it’s between Didi and Tim. Tim’s performance was much worst, but he does have the VFTW backing. He certainly needs it. It’ll be interesting to see whether they can save him this week.