Lee-lot This is it, people: one more night, three contestants, two songs to perform, about 30 million votes to count and we'll finally have ourselves an "American Idol" finale. As for who'll be left standing on that stage? It's still very much a toss-up.
Crystal Bowersox may have the air of a presumptive winner going into this week, but you never know with "Idol." Just ask Adam Lambert or David Archuleta. As for Lee DeWyze, a hometown turnout of more than 40,000 people might make you think he's got it in the bag. And for every naysayer who discounts Casey James? Well, we've said our piece on that front.
So what was the vibe like at Monday's rehearsal? Tense? Serious? Wistful? Goofy is more like it. Each of the final three was very clearly still riding a hometown visit high and perhaps relishing in the accomplishment of how far they've come. After all, whether they make it through or not, this next performance will be their last on the stage that's been a second home.
To that end, Lee seemed the loosest on Monday, wearing a red baseball cap sideways and his trademark baggy denim, and also the most lyrically challenged (he laughed it off). But when it comes to his vocal roar, Lee pushes the turbo button for his performance. You could say he's sticking to what he knows, but that's not a bad thing. Here for a 13th week in a row, he's found a comfort on stage that proves he belongs in the final three. The only advice stage manager Debbie Williams had to offer: "Go practice your smiling."
Crystal was up next, wearing her usual black flip-flops, black jeans and black shirt with exotic, beaded feathers woven through her dreads. Familiarity is key for Crystal, and the proof is in the microphone stand that she had shipped from her Ohio home, still carefully being handled by the show's many stage hands. And then there's confidence -- which this girl never lacked -- but with one hand in her pocket, she musters all the power her weekend-worn vocal cords can handle at 2 in the afternoon.
And last up: one Casey James, who was rocking a blues theme for his final-three run-through, which at one point consisted of him jamming away with a single heavy-duty amp without a care in the world. Or maybe that was Casey's way of practicing, because on more than one occasion, he reminded Rickey Minor and the band, "You don't need to hear my leads; I don't really know this song." He kids, of course. The guy could play a concerto on an acoustic guitar if he put his mind to it.
And that's all we're allowed to reveal in this spoiler-free preview. Tune in on Tuesday to see which song the contestants chose for themselves and who does the judges' pick proud. And tell us: Which two finalists do you want to see in the Season 9 finale?
-- Shirley Halperin