Crystal Bowersox wasn't exaggerating tonight when she told "American Idol" viewers: "Northwestern Ohio has been in a bit of a slump lately."
A big bit. Ohio, Michigan and Illinois have struggled. So it's a pleasure to see a couple of ordinary kids from the North, fighting for the "American Idol" championship.
Crystal is from little towns near Toledo; Lee DeWyze is from Mount Prospect, near Chicago. They are sort of like the people I meet every day in Michigan ... except, of course, that they have more talent.
"Idol" has always been dominatd by Southernors, from that first Kelly Clarkson win to the recent ones by Kris Allen, David Cook (well, Missouri is semi-South), Jordin Sparks and Taylor Hicks. So it's fun to see these everyday-sort-of Northerners get a shot.
And it was important to see Casey James be ousted. Sure, he's tall, handsome and likable, with a good voice and great guitar licks. But he kept himself bottled in a middlin' range of in-between songs with cheery themes. He became, as I said previously, Casey and the Sunshine Bland.
Here are a few of my comments; please add yours:
1) Don't look too soon for my interview with Casey. Usually, the person ousted talks to reporters Thursday afternoon; this week, however, that's been nudged back to late Friday morning.
2) Like most of the contestants, Casey became more appealing after he was ousted. That's when he relaxed and repeated Tuesday's song (John Mayer's "Daughters") to, apparently, his niece. It was filled with emotion -- something that's been too scarce with Casey.
3) The show loves to talk about "Cool, Texas," even if it doesn't really go there. I got suspicious when I saw bleachers; Cool, population 160, doesn't really need them. Actually, this was in Millsap, a nearby town with triple the population (485), where Casey went to school. Both are about 30 miles from Fort Worth.
4) Surveying the massive greeting, Casey said: "I was not expecting this at all." Hint: He would if he had had a TV set. Casey reportedly had never seen the show and hadn't had a TV since his family home was hit by lightning when he was 7.
5) Note about the Ford video and another ad: I don't care how cool the car is, you're not doing yourself any favors by showing one that's pea green.
6) The TV world is getting overJerseyed. There's "Jersey Shores" and "Jerseylicious" and "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," plus "Sopranos" reruns and more. And there was Ryan Seacrest, telling us that one of the upcoming audition spots will be Jersey City. Let's just hope that doesn't include the beach guys and the girl with the orange tan.
7) There was a lot of commotion onstage and Travis Garland also sang a little. I can't tell from that if he's good.
8) The Justin Bieber numbers were fine -- and may have been cleverly packaged. There was no proof that they actually happened tonight. Bieber had previously taped something that was going to be used for "Idol Gives Back," but the show ran over. This might have been that tape.
9) Please, no more extended interviews with the singers. Too often, they just say "it feels surreal." This time, even worse, Ryan asked: "Is it surreal?"
10) Now for my preference and prediction: Preference: Crystal Bowersox wins; she's been my favorite all year (with Michael Lynche, alas, as my second favorite). Prediction: Lee DeWyze wins. Either way, it will be a nice kid from the North, which has been in a bit of a slump.