American Idol Top 30 Performances Of All Time: No. 10, Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze, “Falling Slowly”

Who didn't want to see them duet.

Who didn’t want to see them duet.

I can only imagine the pitch.

“Hey, we have a truly awesome singing show, but we need to see more of the contestants. How about late in the season when every performance matters immensely, we pair them together on competition night and have them sing as a threesome or a duet? Awesome, right?”

To say the duet/group portion of Idol has been a train wreck would be understating the whole thing. The giant group performances are only entertaining for how awful and out-of-place they looked. The duets usually contained one singer trying to outsing another, show buddies where one is clearly more talented and the other sounds like a bag of trash or two performers with less chemistry than a math class.

But one time, just one time, a pair of contestants – who happened to be headed to the final against one another – stepped on stage and performed a duet the way it was supposed to be done.

There was no relationship between Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox, but watching them performing “Falling Slowly” it was tough to believe the two weren’t hopelessly in love.

This performance comes in at No. 10, but that’s with extreme prejudice. It could easily move up three or four spots and you’re not blinking an eye. The only true issue with the performance is it meant nothing, at least in theory, so No. 10 is probably about right.

THE SITUATION: Season 9 was down to a terrific final four: WGWG Lee DeWyze, WGirlWGuitar Crystal Bowersox, crooner Michael Lynche and superhunk blues/country god Casey James.

With a whole lotta show to fill and not a ton of performers, there would be duets. Bowersox was so versatile she could have been paired with anyone; we’d see her bluesy side, we’d seen her do some R&B and she was a white girl with a guitar.

She was paired with DeWyze and it couldn’t have been a better pairing or come at a better time.

DeWyze opened the show with a truly forgettable rendition of Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” and was in some serious trouble even after Lynche did Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There,” solely based on the fact that he led off the night.

Now the duet portion isn’t supposed to be factored in. It’s like when a witness to a crime says something, a lawyer objects, and the judge tells the jury to strike it from the record.

Problem is, we couldn’t – and thanks to performance, Bowersox’s wonderful rendition of Kenny Loggins’ “I’m Alright” was forgotten as well.

HIGHLIGHTS: The entirety of the performance?

Everything about this is so perfect. The lighting, the standing alone and playing acoustic guitars while staring into each other’s eyes (which Bowersox admits to Seacrest was tough to do without laughing) and, from the timing and delivery, the perfect exchange of lines between the two.

There’s a certain gruff and toughness to DeWyze’s voice. It carried him to the title, one that I didn’t agree with (I was Team Bowersox) but completely understood. That gruff, manly sound is so perfect because there is Bowersox, who’s delivery is on the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s subtle and sweet, getting loud only when it needs to, but accompanying DeWyze perfectly, like Miracle Whip meeting up with relish to make a perfect tartar sauce (PS I had fish sticks for dinner when I wrote this and didn’t have such condiments; Top 5 life mistake).

When they come together to sing at the 1:07 mark, you don’t listen. You become a part of the moment. You’re wondering why this isn’t on the radio or played at middle school dances as kids get awkward boners. You cry and you sit there and wondering why in the fuck you are crying.

It’s love. It’s beautiful. It’s all that gooey shit dudes don’t talk about, but it’s brilliance.

And right there someone from Idol – whether it was Simon or some producer – should have stood up and said “We’re never doing Duets again because that will never be topped.”

WHY IT’S HERE: If you didn’t get moved by the performance, just GTFO right now.

Bowersox’s role shouldn’t be underplayed. While DeWyze came through with steady, consistent performances every week, Bowersox was bouncing between amazing and just good enough from week to week. She probably leads the way for “performances that made me cry.” Don’t believe me?

This one teared me up and it’s a GD audition from Hollywood Week:

So did this:

Like a fucking baby:

Did this duet do the same? Uh, yeah. I have a soul, after all.

Putting this duet in the Top 10 is a bit controversial only because it wasn’t supposed to count for anything. But how can you just ignore this? I mean, DeWyze may or may not have been saved on the back of this alone and if you look at everything he did, this is his best showing of the season.

I give it a spot because when you do something better than anyone else in the history of a 15-year old competition, you earned it.

PREVIOUSLY: No. 11: Fantasia, “Summertime”
NEXT UP: The most clutch performance in American Idol history