Crystal Bowersox’s ‘People Get Ready’: Best ‘American Idol’ Performance Ever?

MTV News' 'Idol' expert ranks it among moments Fantasia, David Cook and Kelly Clarkson shined.

All season long, the judges on “American Idol” have been urging season nine’s lackluster finalists to search for a song that will give them their “moment.” Those breakout performances have been in short supply this year, but on Tuesday night one of the show’s only stand-out singers, Crystal Bowersox , provided one that could very well go down in the annals of the show’s all-time greats.

Bowersox’s emotion-packed cover of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions’ 1965 hit “People Get Ready” was like a greatest hits of past “Idol” moments. There was the a cappella open, a nice homage to season four’s Bo Bice, who famously performed “In a Dream” without instrumentation. We had a performance felt so deeply, it brought the singer to tears (think Fantasia’s “Summertime”). And we had a family member in the audience that was a big reason for the heightened emotions, in this case Crystal’s dad. She told Ryan Seacrest that just seeing him at the show for the first time brought her to tears.

The moment brought to mind the emotion surrounding David Cook’s terminally ill brother making the trip to Hollywood to see the eventual season-seven champ perform “You’ll Always Be My Baby.”

Michael Lynche may have admitted to having his own “Idol playbook” of songs on Tuesday night, but it was the 24-year-old dreadlocked mom from Elliston, Ohio, (who claims she never watched “Idol” before being on it) who ended up pulling out classic moves from the show’s bag of tricks. Moves, it’s worth noting, that were all employed by contestants who made it to the finales of their respective seasons.



Do I think Crystal’s “People Get Ready” is the best “Idol” performance of all time? Heck no. Her vocals weren’t as spot-on as one would have hoped, and she didn’t really reinvent the song. Essentially, Crystal just did late singer Eva Cassidy’s version, and Eva sang it better.



But it was certainly the best performance of the season. Thanks to the recent “Crystal Almost Quit” headlines, the song had an extra layer of interpretation automatically built in. It helped that the majority of Tuesday night’s performers were dull and removed from their songs, failing to tap into the inspirational quality the judges were looking for.

Watching someone connect to a song that deeply was a breath of fresh air. In nine seasons, the only time contestants sobbed through a song was after being eliminated or during the finale, post-win, when Carrie Underwood choked through “Inside Your Heaven,” Fantasia wailed “I Believe,” Kelly Clarkson sniffled the breakdown of “A Moment Like This” and Jordin Sparks got misty during “This Is My Now.” Watching Crystal break down was evocative of that finale moment. All we were missing was the confetti.

There’s plenty of time left in this season, and anything could happen, but there’s a good chance we might see her waterworks flow again.

What did you think of Crystal’s teary performance? Who was your favorite on last night’s “Idol”? Talk about it in the comments below.

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