Crystal Bowersox’s ‘Up To The Mountain’: Behind The ‘American Idol’ Cover

Simon Cowell calls Patty Griffin cover 'the best performance and the song of the night.'

On Tuesday night (May 25), “American Idol” fans got their first true taste of what kind of recording artist Crystal Bowersox might be, as she performed the single she’ll release if she ends up winning the competition.

The song is called “Up to the Mountain (MLK Song),” originally written by Patty Griffin, and MamaSox absolutely killed it. Sitting on a stool with her guitar, the song started slowly and, from the first note, perfectly fit the singer’s style. Her raw vocal power was on full display, a soul- and gospel- and folk-tinged vibe that establishes her as a sort of combination of Janis Joplin and Tracy Chapman for the 21st century. Her connection to the lyrics — inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic 1968 “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech — was unmistakable as she sang, “Sometimes I feel like I’ve been nothing but tired/ And I’ll be working till the day I expire.”

This wasn’t the first time the song was performed on the “Idol” stage.
Back in 2007, Kelly Clarkson and Jeff Beck busted out the tune during the “Idol Gives Back” charity effort. Susan Boyle also recorded the song for her debut album, I Dreamed a Dream. And after Bowersox’s take on the track, the judges had a hard time avoiding a sort of coronation moment.

“You are in a league of your own,” said Ellen DeGeneres.

Randy Jackson echoed that sentiment. “This is what this show is about,” he said. “An amazing song by an amazing singer. I’m telling you what, I’m so proud of you, man. This is one of the greatest performances and one of your best moments at the perfect time on this show.”

And then it was time for Simon Cowell’s final critique of his “Idol”
career, as he’s leaving the show after this season to jumpstart a new talent show on Fox called “The X Factor.” He did not hold back.

“I thought that was by far the best performance and the song of the night,” he said. “And since this is going to be the final critique I’m ever going to give, I would just like to say that was outstanding.”

What did you think of Crystal’s “Up to the Mountain”? Let us know in the comments!

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