Crystal Bowersox slays 'What's Up' on 'The Tonight Show': Let's brainstorm her summer tour set-list!

Crystal Bowersox popped up on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night to perform 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up,” a song she never tackled during her American Idol season 9 run. Crystal being Crystal, she was vocally terrific, and the ease she brought to Fox’s ubiquitous singing competition translated to the late-night talk-show universe without the slightest hitch. But don’t take my word for it: Check out the beaming face of the backup singer at the -1:13 mark, or the grin on band leader Rickey Minor’s mug at -1:42, then try to suppress your own smile when Crystal gets her holler on and soars over the chorus at -0:55. Gorgeousox indeed! As an unrepentant Idoloonie, I can’t wait to see Crystal on the Idols Live tour (even if, to put it politely, I’m not exactly bursting with anticipation for the entirety of the 10-act bill).

That said, the fact that Crystal is hitting the promotional circuit with “What’s Up” is a good indicator she’ll probably include it on her summer set list. (I’ve got a call in to reps for the singer as well as the Idol tour to confirm.) And that got me thinking: What other songs do you want to see Crystal tackling live? Under the blind belief that tour organizers will give her a six-song set, here are my picks:

* Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” (when it’s all said and done, her signature Idol number by a nose over “Up to the Mountain”)
* The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (based on my iTunes play-count, my personal season 9 fave)
* 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up”
* Self-penned “Holy Toledo” (we heard snippets during her hometown visit; now it’s time to hear the whole enchilada)
* Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want From Me” (Crystal did express during her Idolatry interview — embedded below the Tonight Show clip — that she’d like to duet with Adam…why not butter him up with a little live homage? Plus, it’s a damn good song.)
* Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” (MamaSox did just move to L.A.; plus, somebody’s got to go and rock the Swaybots’ faces off)

Okay, you’ve got my wish list for Crystal’s tour set, now it’s your turn. Drop your suggestions in the comments section below! And to get all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak; while you’re at it, sign up for the Music Mix feed @EWMusicMix!

p.s. Crystal Tweeted this morning that her Leno rendition of “What’s Up” was indeed a sneak preview of her set list.

p.p.s. Everything got signed, sealed, and delivered — officially! — yesterday: Crystal is signed to 19 Recordings/Jive Records.

More on ‘Idol’ and from EW.com’s Music Mix:
‘American Idol’ to change name to ‘The Search for the Next Justin Bieber’?
Singer Vanessa Carlton reveals she’s ‘a proud bisexual woman’
Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, and Zac Brown to play show in support of the Gulf Coast
Lil Wayne pleads guilty to Arizona drugs and gun charge
Radiohead ‘at the finishing line’ on new album, guitarist says

Comments (197 total) Add your comment
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  • Sharon

    Good version, but I like Adam Lambert’s better.

    • kansas

      would be interesting to hear them sing it as a duet

      • ladyg

        Omg great idea. That would be so epic! #WhatsUpLambSox

    • kansas

      I’d love some Pink…like I Don’t Believe You or Who Knew

      • Garrett

        Glitter in the Air would be amzing she would put so much soul and emotion into that song

    • Nathan

      She’s clearly better than whoever it was that won Idol this year, what was that guy’s name again?

    • Slips

      That is so surprising that someone would jump in and say Adam’s was better. I would never have expected that.

    • Brenda

      I love Crystal, but her version was almost identical to the original.

    • iamright

      Hmm..not a fan of the song, but I thought that Bowersox did a good job. Forgot that Lambert attempted it. My only “peeve” is that Rickey Minor and his band, drowned her out in a couple of places-or somehow she was too soft in her presentation of the song in places. I had to keep turning up my tv/stereo to hear parts of the song. I get that she is a type of singer who just builds and builds a song up to a crescendo -as she goes through the story. That is not a bad thing to do as long as you can hear the quiet parts. May I suggest wearing some sort of mic/headset instead of a mic stand-I have seen other singer songwriters do this.

      • Mary

        I disagree! She needs to be louder, don’t blame that on Ricky Minor! That man is a musical genius!

    • Crystal did good!

      Whatya want from is a good choice, but I would choose “Aftermath” of Adam’s album. I think if she does that acoustic, it would be perfect. And the lyrics are awesome and kind of reflect her life. Over all Crystal did good on Whats up, there were few spots where the band drawned her a bit, but overall she did great. She is a fantastic entertainer and if she stays focused she will go on longer. Good luck to her!
      Stan

    • alicia

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      • @alicia

        who cares about a dumb dating site. spammer!!!

  • anne

    I saw it last night and I was blown away! It’s definitely one of my favorite performances from her although I must admit there are plenty to choose from! Can’t wait to catch her live! As for my Crystal set list I want Whats Up, Me and Bobby McGee, Man who sold the world(she owes us some Bowie yes I’m an entitled fan hee), Holy Toledo, guns n roses sounds pretty awesome, and I personally love her Come Together version! So looking forward to watching her tear it up live!

  • Donna

    Perfect way to start my day. Thanks Michael. She is amazing, as always.

    • darclyte

      Welcome to the Jungle? Seriously Slezak, you shouldn’t post after washing down Ambien with NyQuil. What’s Up is probably about as “rocking” as Crystal would get. For me, I’d love to hear her perform Foolish Games by her childhood hero Jewel, or even Pink Moon by Nick Drake.

      • bobsaccamanna

        lol darcy..yeah I can’t even imagine how Crystal would possibly sing Welcome to the Jungle…
        on you tube there is a video of Crystal performing Foolish Games in a small club with a friend of hers,it’s not very good quality sound,but it’s pretty cool to see anyhow.

  • P77

    LOVE IT! Crystal — man, if you performed that show during the finale, you may have won the prize! Oh well. 2 nd place is better for you creatively. Can’t wait for the album.

    • MommaBowersox#1fan

      Are you for real? SHE SHOULD HAVE WON PERIOD, WITH OR WITHOUT THAT SONG! Sorry got carried away, I guess I am still very bitter that yet again a talented artist didn’t win, just because they are different? How horrible!!!!

  • rg

    wow she was great! Is that the guitar strap from the finale? It looks awesome

  • ATLgroove

    Now, why couldn’t the producers have assigned her that during the finals instead of f’n “Black Velvet?”

    • bobsaccamanna

      all season long I was hoping she would play this song,she kept mentioning it was one of her favorites.She was awesome as always and I love the obvious chemistry between her and Ricky and his band,it’s been there all season I’m sure partly because early in the season she was the only contestant who mentioned what a thrill it was to be able to play with such an amazing band.All that being said,why the hell can we not hear an original from her on one of these shows,I’m sure it has something to do with the idol contract they sign,but my god,it ends up stiffling for months the artist that Crystal will eventually become.I know there are many fans out there like me that are dying to see her perform one of her originals.

      • Lori

        “,why the hell can we not hear an original from her on one of these shows” THIS!!

  • sars

    She sounds exactly the same no matter which song she’s performing. I know some may claim that’s the mark of a true artist or whatever, but I find it boring and predictable, especially when I don’t find her voice all that remarkable and a bit irritating (especially when she goes high).

    • bobsaccamanna

      a simple solution to that is to stop listening sars,then we won’t have to hear your comments afterward.But if you truly had a discerning musical ear,instead of a tin one,you would know that she absolutely doesn’t sound the same all the time.That’s like saying the first six Beatle albums all sounded the same,or that Springsteen always sounds the same.What’s the point?

      • Lightspeed

        bobsaccamanna, Crystal has done the unthinkable, Crystallized, “What’s Up” Looks like another iconic song bites the dust!

      • bobsaccamanna

        @Lightspeed..I agree,maybe it’s just because I’m such a fan but I feel crystal does most of the songs she covers better than the original,I have always been partial to female singer/songwriters going all the way back to someone like Joni Mitchell of Janis Ian.The difference for me with Crystal is that she can also bring that harder edged rock/blues kind of quality to her voice as well,kind of like Joni Mitchell meets Bruce Springsteen,I love that about her.My favorite female singer is Margo Timmons who fronts the Cowboy Junkies and I think I love Crystal even more.I would love to see her cover a bruce song but do it acoustically like Melissa and Margo Timmons did with Thunder Road.Bruce used to every once in a while play Born to Run acoustically,I would love to here Crystal’s version of that,it’s right in her very large wheelhouse.

      • MommaBowersox#1fan

        Hey my main man Bobsaccamanna!!!! I agree with everything you say honey!!! :)

    • Astrid G.

      Exactly my thoughts, Sars. Of course she wouldn’t sing something this risky during Idol, the panel would have called it screaming and she would have been voted off before Siobhan – the better singer – was kicked out.

      • bobsaccamanna

        give it up astrid..still clinging to the ridiculous notion the shreeking siobhan was somehow a better singer than Crystal is just ludicrous.And just for the record,if she had sang this song on the show,it would have blown the judges away and idiots like you would have said that she was being predictable by singing a song she clearly loves and has stated as much in interviews.So you keep following siobhans career,I’m sure there will be plenty of good seats available when she headlines the Buzzards Bay Marriott show on a friday night,just get there early before the drunks get too rowdy.

      • Lightspeed

        Astrid G. See bobsaccamanna comments. Then put your pull-ups on, it’s time for you to take your nap.

      • MommaBowersox#1fan

        That is right Bobsaccamanna and Lightspeed, Astrid G take a chillpill darling and relax with a merlot! Or shot of whiskey, whatever will chill you the F out!

    • Beau

      Damn, I wish there were some “smileys” (or “laughies”) on this board! I could use a couple right now.

    • Lightspeed

      Sars, reach out and turn the dial off. Have a good life!

  • Marisa

    Two comments:

    1. Crystal was soooooooo robbed on American Idol.

    2. They ought to change the name of the show to “American Idiot”. (No offense top Green Day.)

  • anonymous

    Michael, did you ever look up her version of India.Arie’s “Video” on youtube? I listened to that over and over last season instead of getting annoyed over the, “I’m not judging her appearance, but [judges her appearance]” comments.

    • Jen

      I found Crystal’s cover of ‘video’ this weekend and have been listening to it over and over as well! I like it better than India.Arie’s version, wish the sound quality was better too. Awesomeness! Wish she had sung that on AI instead of the Melissa Etheridge cover.

  • Ashleigh

    Finally!!! Ever since Hollywood round I have hoped she would sing this.

  • sarah Nasif

    amazing! but i defiantly prefer Adam Lambert’s version :)

  • Lori

    I love Crystal’s voice and I like her as a person, but I really wish she would sing more current songs. No, I don’t want BEPs or Miley cr@p from Crystal but the 70s hippie sh!t has got to go. I know she’s constrained for the Idols tour, but I hope she invents her own style for her CD. I really want to enjoy her and buy her CD but not if she continues to sing the kinds of songs she has been singing on Idol (like this one). I really think this is why she lost to Lee. His sound and song choices were current with mass appeal and the segment of the population that wants to hear recycled 70s hippie music is small. It’s a shame because it would have been nice for her to win. (And that is not a diss on Lee. He earned his win.)

    • sparkle the gym bag

      wow you are off on so many levels I do not know where to begin..4 non-blondes is from the 1990s not 70s and the material she does cover from the 1970s are all HOFers and hippie music is 60s and the segment of the population that listens to 70s is far from small and that group still buys the most concert tixs (according to Ticketmaster AND Soundscan)

      • Lori

        What are HOFers? Sorry I referenced the wrong decade, maybe she is more 60s than 70s. I thought 60s music was beach boys and bubble gum, but what do I know? It was all before my time. But anyway I still would like to hear her sing something current. She’s got a great voice.

    • zod

      Lori,

      you might want to check your math and your history you are certainly entitled to your opinion but you are woefully misinformed about historical context regarding music

    • bobsaccamanna

      and this notion that Lee sang current songs on idol is ludicrous,he sang three songs during the top 24 eliminations that were current,Snow Patrol,Hinder,and Owl City…and that was it,After that he sang Beast of Burden 1978,The Letter 1967,Treat Her Like a Lady 1971,Hey Jude 1970,The Boxer from the 60′s,in fact the most current song he sang in the last 12 weeks of the show was the duet with Crystal that she had to talk him into singing.So your facts are all screwed up lori.

      • Jen

        bob, you missed his ‘Kiss From a Rose’ cover. Don’t blame you one bit though, that was one forgettable horrible mess in the key of Lee. And Crystal totally saved him during movie themes week.

      • iamright

        @bobsaccamanna
        I get what you are saying, but as I mentioned below in my post, Lori has a point about singing more “youthful” songs. I was born in 1965-so my HS years were peppered with listening to “New Age Music” which was the “Pop” music of the time-you know like Psychadelic Furs, Tears For Fears,etc etc..mixed with Aerosmith, Journey, Van Halen, Stones and the Who (they toured in the early 80′s). The point is that AI is a show to find the best “Pop” singer, and right now American Teens and Twenty somethings seem to like the Biebers, and Miley’s and Katy Perrys and Adam Lamberts of this world..look what AI did-they lowered the age of the contestants to 15!! Talk about “pimping” and “pandering” to the public. They know where they can make the most money..and they learned that they have to get back to the roots of the show this year-which is making sure that they have more singers that cater to the younger crowd, and the music they like–just sayin..

      • bobsaccamanna

        @ Iamright..well if what you’re saying about AI is true and they are making a conscious effort to cater to a younger and younger demographic,then why have a Stones week,and a Lennon/McCartney week,and a Frank Sinatra week.It’s impossible to pick a “youthful” song if the theme is Frank Sinatra or Elvis songs.Crystal even said in her interview how confining and limited song choices are on certain weeks.That being said,Crystal was never going to become the “pop” singer that idol is looking for so I’m not surprised she lost,in fact truthfully the fact that she made it to the final two is a testament to just how good she really is,depsite being the anti idol there was just no way someone that talented was going to be voted off and I can tell you from my perspective,I showed crystal videos to at least 20 people and music lovers who wouldn’t turn on idol if you paid them to watch it,and every single one of them,without fail,were blown away by her.But as you say in your lower post,crystal’s market will be an older market and I aslo agree that her music will have fringe elements of pop in it,some of her orginals already have very spohisticated and kind of folk pop hooks in them.She will certainly find her niche and I will definitely be part of that niche.It’s funny,I never start watching a season of idol expecting the best singer to win because my experience tells me it rarely happens,Carrie and Kelly are the exceptions.But this year,I’m sorry,it was so obvious week after week that Crystal was head and shoulders better than everyone else,no matter what genre they were forced to sing,that I think the show ended the season with a realy credibility problem when Lee won,and I know I am not the only person who feels that way.

    • Lightspeed

      Leroy didn’t earn his win, his four hour non-stop phone-voters won and not to overlook, Vote For The Worst. VFTW good choice and well done. I guess, for an American Idol season 9 we’re stuck with, “A little banshee called Leroy” “Everybody Hurts” on this Idol Champ. “Broken Hallelujah!”

      • @Lightspeed

        smart comment there. NOT!!

    • iamright

      I think Lori brings up a good point. I was born in 1965, so I may be one of the older commentators on this board. The music that was relevant to my HS years was “New Age” as we liked to call it-like Psychadelic Furs, Simple Minds, Tears For Fears, Talking Heads, Soft Cell, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Cars, Go-Go’s, B-52′s-I can go on and on..at that point that was the music that teens and twenty somethings were into-and it was pure “Pop” and dance music really. Sure everyone listened to the Who, and the Stones, as well as Aerosmith, Journey, Van Halen, etc..but what was considered “Pop” was “New Wave” music. AI has always been a contest, at least up until this year-that was looking for the best “Pop” Star. The kids think that Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Shikira is good music, who am I to judge (not saying that is what you like, Lori, however they seem to be popular now). I think that Crystal will find a market for her “sound” but it is going to be an older market in general-it will have elements of pop, but it will NOT be pop.. So, Lori, I would not hold my breath–I doubt Crystal will sing things during the AI concert that are more youthful. She will sing what matches her personality and voice-don’t expect dance moves…

    • Pop Culture Bystander

      Lori: HOFers = Hall of Famers; those who have been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Which can only happed 25 years after their first release, so yes, probably well before your time.

  • Louanne

    Michael, Yes to the Stones and duet with Adam!! He may have to pull it back a bit because of his strong vocals, but he’s always willing to let someone else shine. “Slow Ride” with Allison was magic. He and Crystal would be just as amazing. When both their tours are done they could give us some music to cozy up to this winter.

    Sorry you have to go to the Idols concert. Can’t wait to hear from you how it goes over though. Are you bringing earplugs for the Tweens’ squeeling? Ugh!!

    • dtwicks

      Enough with Adam. Crystal will make it on her own. She does not need Adam or anyone else. She is great all by herself.

  • kathryn

    Loved this performance, there was a delicate quality in her voice that I don’t recall hearing on Idol, however maybe that was because in this full length performance we were able to hear more contrast. I have this bizarre desire to hear Crystal sing some Talking Heads, maybe Burning Down the House? or Road to Nowhere?

    • bobsaccamanna

      @ Kathryn..now that’s an interesting song choice,something by Talking Heads..even as a huge Crystal fan I never really thought about her singing something like that before,but now that you mention it,I can definitely hear her doing a great job on a Talking Heads song..much better choice than Sleazal’s Welcome to the Jungle in terms of a rocking song for Crystal.

      • kathryn

        Thanks Bob, I value your opinion, and have enjoyed and been impressed by your posts in the past. Have a great day, it is bed time for us Aussies!

      • ZF

        John Legend did a cover of Burning Down the house, and it is pretty great. It would work well for Crystal’s style, too.

    • kathryn

      also,
      from Crystals twitter”Just so you know… last nights performance on Leno is a sneak peek at my set on tour this summer… ;)”

      • kitt

        Crystal – if you ever get feedback about these comments, I would love to write your life story. I know so many kids who’ve struggled would be so inspired by your strength, perseverance and the undying light of your amazing spirit. When your life has a break from all the craziness, maybe you could think about how we could make it happen. drkekurtz@peoplepc.com

  • Suzanne

    She’ll be singing Falling Slowly with Lee too.

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