If her straight-outta-the-hospital performance on last week's "American Idol" established Crystal Bowersox as the unlikely front-runner, well, her Tuesday night (March 9) performance definitely put some distance between her and the rest of the field. Miles of it.
Bowersox roared though a version of Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason," armed with an electric guitar and a newfound sense of confidence — perhaps influenced by "Idol" judge Simon Cowell's praise of her during an appearance on Monday night's "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." She positively blew away the competition, earned a much-deserved standing ovation and absolutely wowed the judges.
"I need a new adjective for you; I'm sick and tired of saying you're amazing," Ellen DeGeneres enthused. "It was the best performance of the night."
"Now I'm starting to see what the record is you're making," Kara DioGuardi said, praising Bowersox's selection of the song. "And that's when I get really excited."
Not surprisingly, however, the biggest praise came from Cowell, who complimented her brand-new swagger and all but gave her the season-nine crown.
"You are 1 million, billion percent going to be in the top 12 next week," he said. "What you've got now is confidence, and I can see that, and you're starting to believe in yourself. Right now, you are the one everyone has to beat, I'm telling you. It's yours to lose."
The song, a mid-'90s staple and Chapman's biggest U.S. hit to date, allowed Bowersox to show off both her big, soulful vocals and scratchy, worn-in style of guitar playing and new confidence — eyes closed, head back, smile on her face after a particularly tight vocal run. But as soon as she was finished performing it, the old Crystal returned, and she decided to sit down atop her amp to hear the judges' verdicts.
Luckily, there was no reason for her to take a seat (though it was kind of funny to see Ryan Seacrest squat down on that amp), and as each member of the judges' table rained praise upon on her, she thanked them and laughed.
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