Just watching Casey, Lee and Crystal walk out on stage last night made me nervous. As they awaited their fates, we got to view extensive footage of each potential "Idols" trip back to their hometown, and each story was semi-touching in its own way.
Casey, from Cool, Tex., marched straight back to the hospital to personally thank the healthcare workers who saved his life (and spared his arm!) after a serious accident six years back. Crystal, who hails from Elliston, Ohio, ran straight to smooch her adorable baby boy right before a family barbeque in between gigs -- which included a sizable outdoor fest called "BowersTock" (with a cross in place of the "T"). Chi-town's Lee got to throw the first ball at a Cubs game -- and was nearly overcome. He said, "I look down at my parents and see them supporting me in doing what I love .... I don't think anyone could ever ask for more than their parents' support." PREACH!
Before anyone was declared a finalist, Texan Travis Garland -- an up-and-coming pop tween sensation endorsed by Perez Hilton ("He's better than Justin Timberlake!") and managed by Jessica's dad, Joe Simpson -- performed his track, "Believe." He was followed by current tween sensation Justin Bieber, who performed "U Smile" and "Baby." I'm so over this kid and his ridiculous hairdo already. But I digress ....
About 50 minutes into this kid-fest, Seacrest finally dims the damn lights. And the first person announced into the finale is Lee. A big fat DUH, considering that each judge's critique Tuesday had been designed to sway the voters this way.
Which meant that the second big fat DUH was when Crystal was told she's the second contender for the finish. She and Lee locked onto each other for dear life. She then admitted to having a little crush on Casey, but said that her man is in the know.
Casey's last hurrah was graceful: He held a little girl with Shirley Temple rags in her hair while reprising his cover of John Mayer's "Daughters," finally hitting the wider range of emotive notes I had hoped all season that he'd hit. Hey -- better late than never!