Dish of Salt: Wednesday TV Dish (Backstage At ‘Idol’ With Lee & Crystal)

Well, it certainly was a busy night of television last night with the finales of “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Biggest Loser,” “NCIS: Los Angeles” and of course, “American Idol’s” final performance showdown between Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox.

“Idol” won the night (in terms of viewers) but what a difference a year makes! 19.6 million people tuned into for the show, which is still a great number of eyeballs - but it’s a 15 percent drop from last year’s Kris Allen/Adam Lambert showdown. What happened to “Idol’s” loyal viewers? Plus, what’s the story behind the coronation song shakeup? I’ve got the answers in today’s Dish.

“Idol” Numbers
I think the fact that viewers have begun to tune out of “Idol” can be summed up with these five reasons.

1) Bad Casting

The contestants were dull this year. A lack of personality and star quality couldn’t keep us interested.

2) So Long, Simon Cowell!

The snarky Brit revealed it was his last season and it seemed like he had one foot out the door the whole time.

3) The Paula Factor

Paula Abdul left and her bizarro antics and non-sensical comments just couldn’t be topped by Ellen DeGeneres’ nice and never-nasty comments.

4) Same Song. Different Season.

The show stuck with the same old stale format and the same old song list. How many times do we have to hear someone murder the same song we heard in seasons 2, 5 and 7?

5) Good Casting

“Dancing with the Stars” had more buzz this year (and I don’t just mean Aldrin!) by picking a great mix of characters including the reality show train wreck Kate Gosselin and the bombshell blonde, Pam Anderson.

Final Song Mystery
Moments before Lee took the stage to sing the song that could become his first single, my producer pals Celeste and Felidette and I were joking about what lyrics would be in the song. “Dream,” “Mountains,” “Life,” “Destiny,” “Climb” - we all blurted out. Of course, we were making fun of this finale tradition, but truthfully we had grown to have a love/hate relationship with the cheeseball coronation song. Remember songs like “A Moment Like This,” “Inside Your Heaven,” “Time Of My Life” or last year’s “No Boundaries”?

So, our mouths fell to the ground when Ryan Seacrest announced that Lee would be singing “Beautiful Day.” What!? How could U2 allow such an atrocity to occur? Maybe if he had sounded half way decent, I could have understood it. I was reminded of a famous line from “Glee” that Sue Sylvester uttered about Madonna. I tweaked it just a bit. “Somewhere in a stately countryside manor in Ireland, Bono is weeping!”

Crystal’s song, “Up To The Mountain,” by Patty Griffin seemed at least to be a more appropriate coronation song, especially because I don’t think mainstream “Idol” viewers would know it. “Beautiful Day” - what an iconic song. How could you “American Idol!?” I’m going to guess that it’s because Kris Allen’s version of “No Boundaries” sold only about 220,000 copies, that perhaps an original was no longer worth the effort. Lee told me he didn’t pick the song but Crystal said she did pick hers. Why did she choose and he didn’t? I have no clue. See if you can decipher from Lee what happened from our conversation:

DOS: What was the decision behind them using a song we all know? You sang the U2 song “Beautiful Day” instead of an original song that somebody wrote.

LEE: That, you know, it’s, ‘American Idol’ is really a, uh, it’s a funny thing because they’ve got their reasons for doing everything and they are good reasons, you know?… and I think this year was, I think this year was more about just, uh, doing the best you can with what you have got, you know? And that is what we had.

DOS: So you didn’t get to choose that, they gave that to you, that song?

LEE: The song choices?

DOS: Yeah.

LEE: The song choices, you know everything we knew, everything we did, you know we, we um, we knew about well in advance. As far as, this is a song you are going to be doing this week you have chosen for yourself, you prepare for it the best you can, and kind of arrange it the way you want and that’s what it is, and I had a really good time.

And here is what Crystal had to say about her song.

DOS: Normally on ‘American Idol’ the single they release is a single that someone has written, it’s an original song, but this year, for the first time ever, they did a song that you guys are going to release, It’s a song that we already know. But you guys got to choose that?

CRYSTAL: Yeah we got to choose our winners single release. So hopefully that’s “Up To The Mountain.”

DOS: Why that song?

CRYSTAL: It’s just a song about an incredible journey and just when you feel like you’ve finally had enough, and you just want to give up, you don’t. You just keep going, whatever your reason is… and the song was actually written, it was about Martin Luther King Jr. and the journey through civil rights and everything. I apply my own story to it.

Surprisingly, Kara DioGuardi, who co-wrote “No Boundaries” last year, told me she thought it was a smart decision to get rid of the original song. She told me the following…

KARA: Yes I do, because I think that when you try to write winner songs, they never come out feeling inspired because you’re trying to write about a moment that you are not really in. And those songs were felt by the artist that wrote them in whatever experience they were going through, and they have that real true meaning.

Go figure!

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