Wednesday on the “American Idol” top three results show, Casey James was voted off. Yeah, this was hardly a surprise. Office pools and online polls were all heavily skewed against Casey. But still, I applaud him for making it this far.
There was a time when I never even thought Casey James would get to third place on “Idol.” Back in the audition rounds, I assumed he was just another pretty face (and chest): a marginally talented Fabio clone, recruited by “Idol” casting execs to titillate salivating admirer Kara DioGuardi (and millions of similarly riled-up female viewers at home) by removing his shirt on command and bedroom-eyeing the camera a la Season 4 himbo Constantine Maroulis. But then Casey started to win me over with stellar efforts like “Jealous Guy” and “Don’t,” and I seriously believed that if he could deliver more stunning performances like those, he could very well steal all of front-runners Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze’s thunder.
Obviously, that didn’t happen. Casey was frustratingly inconsistent throughout this season â€” for instance, after his brief Lennon & McCartney Night peak with “Jealous Guy,” he inexplicably backslid, regressing into the safe and familiar territory of bar-band guitar jams and making “Jealous Guy” seem like just a fluke. And after a while, his overdependence on his guitar became way too apparent, especially on Sinatra Night, when aÂ giant spotlight was sharply focused on his vocal weaknesses (especially his vibrato’s resemblance to a certain farm animal) after he was forced to croon old-timey Ol’ Blue Eyes sans his trusty six-string. (“Don’t take my guitar away from me again, because I think you see how well that goes!” chuckled a humbled Casey backstage.) The result was a performance so awkward, so cringe-inducing, it seemed like the only chance Casey really had of avoiding elimination was to win over (female) viewers by stripping offÂ his shirt one more time. And yet, Casey survived. He wasn’t even in the bottom two that week. Suddenly, he started to seem like a real threat. Like maybe he could even win this thing.
Well, the “Idol” judges and producers were obviously dead set on preventing that from happening. Their anti-Casey agenda was blatantly obvious this week. Casey was assigned a forgettable song with no big vocal peaks or deep emotional moments (John Mayer’s “Daughters”), which he performed under what appeared to be a bare lightbulb tacked to the ceiling as an afterthought. Meanwhile, Lee got to have Simon Cowell personally handpick him a big ballad (Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”), which he performed with Laserium-worthy mood lighting and a full choir. Lee also got to sing in the desirable final slot, while Casey performed first, further putting him at a disadvantage.
Did Casey deserve to get voted through to the finale over Lee or Crystal? Well, maybe not. But it’s not like he evenÂ had a chance, under those conditions.This is too bad, because I think Casey’s occasional glimmers of Eddie Vedder-esque greatness indicated he was capable of so much more than, say, hokey Huey Lewis covers.
Anyway, with Casey now successfully pushed aside, a straight path to victory seems definitively cleared for Casey’s closest competition, mellow rocker Lee DeWyze. I have little doubt that many of Casey’s supporters will shift their allegiance to Lee now, who’s become a heartthrob in his own right and whose guitar-oriented musical style isn’t that far removed from Casey’s. And it seems everyone in the “Idol” camp is rallying around Lee. Does Crystal even have a chance? We’ll find out next week at the big finale.