American Idol Judge Ellen DeGeneres Asks Female Contestant to Sing Love Song to a Woman on Idol Semifinal

By Terence P. Jeffrey | May 19, 2010 | 12:17 AM EDT

American Idol contestant Crystal Bowersox (AP photo/Michael Becker).

( - American Idol judge Ellen DeGeneres picked a love song written to be sung by a man to a woman for contestant Crystal Bowersox--a single mom with a boyfriend--to perform on the show’s semifinal program on Tuesday night.

The song, "Maybe I’m Amazed," written by Paul McCartney and dedicated to his now-deceased wife Linda McCartney, includes the repeated lyric “baby, I’m a man” in the chorus.

There were only three contestants left for the semifinal of the popular Fox television program and each was required to sing two songs, one they picked for themselves and another picked for them by one of the judges or a pair of judges.
Judges Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi picked “Daughters” by John Mayer for contestant Casey James to perform. Simon Cowell picked "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen for contestant Lee DeWyze to perform. And DeGeneres picked McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” for contestant Crystal Bowersox.

The other judges and host Ryan Seacrest appeared to express a higher level of curiosity about DeGeneres’s song pick for Bowersox than they did for the other judges’ choices for the program.
“All right, Ellen, so why did you pick this one for Crystal?” Seacrest asked DeGeneres before Bowersox performed the tune.

“Well, I love the song,” DeGeneres said. “I think the song is amazing, and I think she’s amazing. And I just wanted her to surprise people. Everybody knows what she does, and I thought let’s show some range and let her just tear this thing apart. And I think she will.”

After Bowersox delivered a powerful rendition of the song without changing the lyrics that make it a song sung by a man to a woman, judges DioGuardi and Cowell congratulated her for a successful performance.

“Crystal, you didn’t change it up that much,” said DioGuardi, perhaps alluding to the lyrics. “But what you did with it was you really showed parts of your voice I don’t think we’ve heard until tonight. You really pushed. And no instrument. Huge risk for you. So, you did a lot of risky things tonight and I think it paid off."

With customary candor, Simon Cowell admitted that DeGeneres’s song choice for Bowersox had surprised him, noting that he thought it was out of Bowersox’s “comfort zone,” but that the song had paid off for her. 
“I must admit, when I heard the song choice I was kind of surprised,” said Cowell. “But now I get it, because what you just proved after that performance was that you’ve got soul and you worked outside of your comfort zone. And I think after that you may be thanking Ellen next week for putting you in the final.”
When Seacrest asked Cowell to explain why he chose Hallelujah for Lee DeWyze, Cowell said he picked the song because he thought it was DeWyze’s “night” and that the song would give DeWyze an opportunity to demonstrate great potential. “This is his night--big, big night for him,” said Cowell, “and I wanted him to do something which shows that he’s got potential to be a great artist. So, that’s why I chose this song. I love this song.”

After DeWyze delivered a powerful performance of 'Hallelujah," Randy Jackson gave credit to Cowell for picking the song and DeWyze thanked Cowell for picking it.  

“Dude, listen, I got to give it to my boy [Simon Cowell], because he set you up,” said Jackson, looking down the judges' table at Cowell. “This was, I think, your biggest moment at the biggest time of your career on this show. That was unbelievable, dude. Unbelievable.”

“And I just want to say, I do want to just say, thank you to Simon,” said DeWyze, “because when he first told me I was singing it, I was kind of like, oh, man you know--and I followed through with it, and I’m really happy I did. So, thank you.”
The chorus for McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” says:

“Baby, I’m a man, baby, I’m a lonely man who’s in the middle of something
“that I don’t really understand,
“Baby, I’m a man, baby, you’re the only woman who could ever help me,
“baby, won’t you help me understand.”