Did 'Hallelujah' Earn Lee DeWyze A Ticket To 'American Idol' Finale?

The judges sure seemed to think so: 'You just owned the entire night,' Kara told Lee.

At the beginning of Tuesday night's (May 18) "American Idol," Ryan Seacrest declared that the night's performances were "a fight for the finale." Well, according to the raucous applause and overwhelmingly positive reactions from the judges, Lee DeWyze won that fight.

If DeWyze crushed his fellow contenders in round one, as Kara DioGuardi declared after his performance of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man," he obliterated them in round two with his spin on the familiar "Idol" pick "Hallelujah." Simon Cowell explained his selection for DeWyze as wanting "a moment" for the former paint-store worker. "We've heard this song before," Cowell said, alluding to previous versions of the song from Jason Castro and even Tim Urban earlier this season. "We always talk about the moment. I wanted him to do something that shows he has the potential to be a great artist."

DeWyze started out his version of the now-classic Leonard Cohen song softly, slowly building (complete with string accompaniment and a small choir of backup singers) to the night's undisputable highlight. At the end of the performance, the cameras panned to Simon, who gave a knowing nod.

Randy Jackson said he'd been "waiting all season to see who's going to throw down the real gauntlet to win the whole thing." He gave credit to Simon's song selection, then declared DeWyze's performance as his "biggest moment on this show. That was unbelievable." Ellen De Generes was glad Lee listened to Simon: "There's really nothing more to be said. That was stunning. Just stunning."

Kara continued to pile on the praise: "Lee you are what this show is all about: somebody who starts in one place and ends up in an incredible epic moment. You just owned the entire night."

Cowell summed things up nicely: "I'm very, very proud of you. When we sat down last week, I put myself where you were. ... This show has given you a break. Tonight, with that performance, you proved you are a fantastic singer and a great person. I really hope you make it to [the finale]."

Next week, another Idol will be crowned. But first, one contestant will be eliminated Wednesday night. Who do you think it will be? Sound off in the comments!

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