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Breaking down Lee's competition
By Kathleen Danes | Daily Herald Staff

Crystal Bowersox


Casey James


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Published: 5/13/2010 3:58 PM

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Here's who Lee DeWyze will have to knock off to take home the Season 9 "American Idol" crown.

Crystal Bowersox

The 28-year-old mom from Ohio with the down-to-earth sensibility and the gospel vibe. Bowersox also spent time in Chicago where she busked on the El and played in Lakeview.

Sounds like: Janis Joplin, Melissa Etheridge

Best performances: "People Get Ready," "Long As I Can See The Light"

Why she could win: She's been the front-runner all season. Some weeks, she's blown the competition away. "You know why they call you Mamasox, right?" Judge Kara DioGuardi asked her after Bowersox knocked everyone out with "People Get Ready." "Because you just schooled all these contestants."

Why she might not: Bowersox has faltered in recent weeks. Her sassy comebacks to the judges haven't helped and could be perceived as arrogance. Plus, like Adam Lambert last season, has she peaked too soon?

Casey James

The bluesman from Cool, Texas, plays it mostly low-key. But James, 27, shines when he strips away a familiar melody and makes the song his own.

Sounds like: Eerily like Huey Lewis

Best performances: "Jealous Guy," "Don't"

Why he could win: He's capable of turning out lush, tuneful covers when the audience least expects it.

Why he might not: James is maddeningly inconsistent. He's got better guitar chops than DeWyze, but you'd never know it considering he takes the easy way out most of the time. Plus he's lost on stage without his guitar.