After a tepid opening performance that left the "American Idol" judges less than impressed, Lee DeWyze bounced back with an inspired take on R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" during Tuesday night's (May 25) performance finale.
It seemed like an odd, potentially sleep-inducing choice when Ryan Seacrest introduced the tune, but the 24-year-old stepped up to the mic with his guitar and immediately made clear that this performance would be different, and far better, than his first one (a second stab at Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer" from "Idol Gives Back" week). There was genuine emotion on his face and in his voice as he sang, "Everybody cries/ And everybody hurts."
The track is from R.E.M.'s 1992 effort, Automatic for the People, which reached as high as #2 on the Billboard albums chart. The melancholy song is perhaps best remembered for the band's music video, directed by Jake Scott. Filmed on a San Antonio freeway, the video shows the band driving along until they come to a standstill in a massive traffic jam alongside other drivers. Their thoughts begin to flash across the screen as subtitles. "Nobody can see me," thinks one woman. "They're going to miss me," thinks a young boy.
It's depressing stuff, no doubt, but DeWyze's rendition was an altogether more uplifting take. And the judges dug it, despite the singer's occasional pitch problems.
"What makes you great as a performer is that you're emotionally accessible and that I can feel every word that you're saying and that you're telling a story," Kara DioGuardi declared.
Simon Cowell agreed, albeit with a not insignificant caveat. "I thought that was a brilliant choice of song for you," he said. "You went a little bit off melody at parts. What I'm feeling from you tonight, Lee, and I understand this, is you're nervous. You've got another song to come, and I think you've really got to understand the importance of what this night can do in terms of changing your life."
What did you think of Lee's "Everybody Hurts"? Let us know in the comments!
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