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The final 2 battle has been set on American IdolCrystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze are the last two standing and will battle each other for the “American Idol” title next week.

With over 47 million votes cast, eliminated last night was Casey James, a native of Forth Worth, Texas. “I never thought I’d get this far,” said Casey to Ryan Seacrest. “But to me, it’s like winning $10 million in the lottery and $100 million in the lottery. It’s so much more than I expected, so it can’t be bad.”

Lee was the first to be announced safe last night, which was no surprise judging by his amazing performance of Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah” on Monday night.  A performance which moved both the judges and the audience.

And while Crystal, 24, has been the front runner all season, Lee, 23, is steadily catching up. Judge Randy Jackson said Wednesday that Lee had “blossomed beyond belief” since the start of the season.

Next week is the two-part finale during which the 2010 “American Idol” will be crowned live on May 26, and will win a recording contract.

TELL US: WHO SHOULD WIN THE AMERICAN IDOL TITLE? CRYSTAL OR LEE?

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Michael Lynche found himself the latest hopeful to be eliminated from American Idol on Wednesday night.

The 26-year-old St. Petersburg, Fla. native also known as Big Mike was touted one of the early favorites to win the show. However his numerous appearances in the bottom two made his elimination not so surprising.  According to Ryan Seacrest, almost 37 million votes were cast this week, the most this season.

“It’s been unbelievable, man,” he said. “I just sit here right now and I think, ‘I wasn’t even supposed to be here.’ Thank God for the judges saving me, I got to spend more time here, and be with the people, perform for my wife, you know? It’s all good, man.”

Michael had performed Michael Jackson’s “Will You Be There” on Tuesday’s movie-themed performance night.

And this brings up to the final three.  Casey James, Lee DeWyze, and Crystal Bowersox now have a one in three chance of winning a $1 million recording contract. The three will also be filmed visiting their home towns and their fans next week.

TELL US: WHAT IS BIG MIKE’S TIME TO GO HOME?  WHO DO YOU THINK WILL WIN IT ALL?

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TMZ is reporting that American Idol contestant and front runner Crystal Bowersox tried to quit the show just 2 weeks ago.

According to TMZ, Crystal actually quit the show two weeks ago and was walking off when AI host Ryan Seacrest convinced her to change her mind.

Crystal’s reason for wanting off the show? Apparently the 24 year-old singer-songwriter from Elliston, Ohio told Ryan she couldn’t handle the competition, and that she hated the attention, at one point even saying to Ryan, “What’s the point?”

In addition to that, the single mother of one was also feeling very homesick and wanted to return to Ohio to be with her family.

Ryan was however able to convince Crystal to stay by telling her that being on “Idol” was like starting a business, and reminding her that a million dollar recording contract was at stake. Ryan then added that she could use her money to do some amazing things. “You can buy your mom a house,” said Ryan to Crystal.

So Crystal remains in the competition, for now at least.

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TELL US – DO YOU FEEL SORRY FOR CRYSTAL OR SHOULD SHE TOUGHEN UP?

American Idol Big Mike

Viewers watching American Idol last night were shocked to see Michael Lynche aka Big Mike in the bottom three, but what was even more shocking was when Ryan Seacrest announced Mike as the receiver of the lowest number of votes this week.

The 26-year-old singer from New York found himself in the bottom three with Aaron Kelly and Andrew Garcia, even he had an okay performance with his version of “Eleanor Rigby” by the Beatles.

In his plea to the judges for their save (a one time opportunity the AI judges have to save one contestant this season), Michael performed “This Woman’s Work” by Maxwell.

With the audience cheering on, Simon Cowell announced the judges would be using their save on him. “This is unanimous, Michael, if that’s any comfort. We have decided we’re going to see you next week,” said Simon.

Due to the judges’ save being used this week, two contestants will be eliminated next week.  One can only hope the judges’ other favorite, Crystal Bowersox, doesn’t get voted off anytime soon.  Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert will return next week to mentor the group.

TELL US – DID THE JUDGES MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION IN SAVING MIKE?

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American Idol finally pared down to its top 12 finalists last night in what most are calling a shocking elimination.

Out of the four singers eliminated, many viewers were shocked to see Lilly Scott (top right), and Todrick Hall (top left) leave. The two singers earned rave reviews for their performances this week.

“I thought that I was appealing to a lot of people,” said Lilly. “A lot of incredible talent is going home tonight. I don’t know what America wants to hear.”

Teen power seemed to be come out on top of the show last night as teen singers Katie Stevens, 17 and Aaron Kelley, 16, made it to the top twelve.

And now the real competition begins! The judges have already declared Crystal Bowersox, 24, of Toledo, Ohio and Michael “Big Mike” Lynche, 26, as the two to beat.

A photo of the top twelve is below -

american-idol-top-12-finalistsAmerican Idol finalists: Tim Urban, top left, Siobhan Magnus, Lee Dewyze, Paige Miles, Michael Lynche, Andrew Garcia, Didi Benami, Lacey Brown, Aaron Kelly, Crystal Bowersox, Casey James and Katie Stevens.

TELL US – WERE YOU SHOCKED BY THE ELIMINATIONS? WHO ARE YOU ROOTING FOR?

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The top 12 ladies of American Idol performed live for the first time last night, and according to the critical judges, they mostly left a lot to be desired.

The show started with a noticeable change in the line-up of the judges, with Ellen DeGeneres now sitting furthest away from Simon Cowell. Ellen, in Ellen fashion, jokingly explained that she had to move away from Simon because he kept putting the moves on her.

When asked about the talent pool of the ladies by show host Ryan Seacrest, Simon responded, “Some are good. Some are not.” Interesting foreshadowing.

First up was Paige Miles who kicked off the competition with the Free classic “All Right Now.” She sounded just okay to me, and didn’t seem to have much of a stage presence, but she ended up receiving good praises from the judges.

Next up was Ashley Rodriguez who sang Leona Lewis’s “Happy,” and ended up getting trashed by the judges. Ashley likely received the worst criticism of the night, in a performance that didn’t seem that bad to me.

My favorite of the bunch, Didi Benami performed Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am,” which I believed was a perfect fit for her singing style. However the judges disagreed and said her performance was missing a spark.

One contestant who did seem to win over some of the judges was my second favorite, Crystal Bowersox, who sang a soulful rendition of Alanis Morissette’s “Hand in My Pocket.” “You were good tonight. I think you have greatness in you, though,” said Kara.

Last night’s episode reminded me of why I tend to stop watching Idol after the audition rounds. I can’t help but feel like the judges are somewhat too critical and go out of their way to find flaws in sometimes amazing performances. But then again, I’m no music expert but I find some of the critiques to be a bit ridic.

The top 12 boys will perform tonight, with the results show airing Thursday night.

TELL US- WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE TOP 12 LADIES? WHO ARE YOUR FAVORITES SO FAR?

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The top 24 competition has yet to officially began and there has already been a major shake up on American Idol.

Curly-haired contestant Chris Golightly was removed from the competition this week and replaced by Tim Urban in the Top 24.  Chris is the 19-year-old Texas native who spoke in the audition rounds of living in 24 different foster homes as a child.“It has been determined that Chris Golightly is ineligible to continue in the competition,” says FOX in a press release.

The show’s  host Ryan Seacrest echoed the same statement on his Twitter page, where he also announced that for the first time in the show’s history, the contestants will have MySpace, Twitter and Facebook pages on the Idol hub. Ryan did not elaborate on why Golightly was booted.

However, Joes Place Blog was able to score an interview with Chris and revealed the exact reason he got booted. According to Chris, he had an old contract with a Boy Band that expired in June 2009.  Chris tried out for AI in July 2009 and when asked if he was entered into any contracts, he answered no.

After making it into the top 24 in January 2010.  Chris’s former manager then called Chris and American Idol and told them that he still had a valid contract. Chris denied this but couldn’t find his copy of the release. American Idol unfortunately decided to cut Chris when he couldn’t prove he wasn’t under contract.  Chris’s old manager ended up finding the contract release and emailed it to American Idol, but according to Chris, the people at AI are not taking his calls.

Even worse, Chris was told by American Idol he can no longer audition for the show again because he made the top 46.

Also, no word yet on whether or not Michael “Big Mike” Lynche was dismissed from the competition. It was reported back in January that he got the axe after his father revealed to a Florida newspaper that he made the Top 24, breaking the confidentiality rule of the show. As of today, his profile is still intact on Idol’s website.

The official Top 24 semifinalists are as follows:

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Ever since news hit that shock jock radio host Howard Stern was in talks to replace Simon Cowell as a judge on American Idol, a lot of tongues have been wagging, with most people being not too keen on the idea.

Though Howard himself has revealed his interest to judge AI, current judge Kara DioGuardi doesn’t think he would make a good fit for the show.

“I don’t really know if I can even speak on it,” said Kara on the Howard rumor. But then she added: “I don’t know that [Stern] has a musical background,” she mused. “I think that if you’re gonna replace Simon, you have to have that background.”

Kara continued, “You have to have somebody who knows about signing great artists and being a part of their career from the very beginning to the very end… I think that’s probably a precursor for whoever takes that position if they’re not a big artist who’s been through it themselves.”

Kara however went on to sing praises of new judge Ellen DeGeneres, who has received rave reviews for her recent performance on judging Hollywood week. “Ellen brings a sense of humor, of course, but also I think she knows more about music than we think she does,” explained Kara.

“She had a really good handle on whether a contestant had potential,” DioGuardi added. And as for those pesky rumors that Simon and Ellen have been butting heads? “You have to take every rumor you hear about “American Idol” with a grain of salt,” she said. “They usually aren’t true.”

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