American Idol: The Crystal Debate Rages On

brooke bates responds to brent’s blog about crystal bowersox.

Crystal Bowersox does, in fact, rock. If there was any prior doubt about this, her performance on Lennon/McCartney tribute night should have sealed the deal. She could have done the folksy/bluesy/hippie
acoustic version of “Come Together,” or any other song, for that matter. But she totally rocked it and made it -– dare I say -– more boppin’ than the original. Sure, she calls on the jazzy vibes of Janis, but it was far from “laid-back.” “Revolution” already rocks in its own right, so an edgy version of that wouldn’t
have impressed me as much as the the playful beats she tossed into “Come Together.” She made it, as Paula said, “slinky and sexy.” In my words, she rocked it. (And, hello, she brought a didgeridoo to the Idol stage. She should automatically win for that.)

I never understood the idea that she comes off as smug; I never saw that in her. From the start, I saw a chick who knew her style and was confident about that -– unlike the shaky Siobhan who relies on her
screaming, whether it’s on-key or not, and then pouts to the judges that she doesn’t even know who she is so they can’t expect her to know her musical style. Yeah, actually, we can, and it looks a little bit
like Crystal Bowersox. You can’t criticize her for being a cliché hippie because she is what she is, through and through. So she dresses like a hippie, wears dreads like a hippie and sings hippie songs; you
should admire that she is genuine and consistent. She’s never said that thinks she’s Janis Joplin or even that she thinks she’s raw and real. She just is, and that’s what matters.

Also, by the way, this is a singing competition, after all, not one of style or substance (though the judges, namely the female ones, often make that mistake.) And no one has the smooth, natural pipes that Bowersox does. She can wail with ease and still hit every note –- which may be what you mistook for smugness.

Truthfully, she probably could not try and still win. She’s never had an off night; even when they postponed the girls’ performances when she took an emergency trek to the hospital, she came back strong and still sang circles around the other contestants in her recovery phase.

OK, so maybe she doesn’t stretch herself with song choices. “Me & Bobby McGee” was a bit of a no-brainer. But she does experiment within her groove, donning a sleeker wardrobe to sit behind the ivories for an R&B-tinged “Midnight Train to Georgia” and trading in her hardy acoustic for an electric guitar to pay homage to the King with a fun, upbeat rocker of “Saved.” She’s proven that her grainy vocal chords can carry both an edgy tune like that and a lilting, soulful song like “As Long as I Can See the Light,” all the while maintaining a certain sneaky spunk in her voice.

I can do without Siobhan’s shock value –- if by that, you mean the constant surprise of whether she’ll reveal a dull, dragging ballad or shriek off-key like a banshee. But Crystal is by far the only contestant I would consider listening to with the show turned off.

1 COMMENT

  1. Saw her perform only twice and she is damn good. She knows what she is doing and knows how far she can push the envelope. Good critique.