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AMERICAN IDOL: The Final Three: L-R: Lee DeWyze, Crystal Bowersox and Casey James. CR: Michael Becker / FOX.

He's the "American Idol" party-crasher. Or so it seems. The talent contest is down to its final three singers and — surprise, surprise — Casey James is still rockin'.

The 27-year-old Texan with the buff bod and long blond locks has never been a judges' favorite — save for Kara DioGuardi, who has an unnerving crush on him. And many fans would be hard-pressed to recall more than one or two standout performances.

But somehow he has exhibited a resiliency that baffles most of our "Idol" Readers Panel.

"Oh Casey — a subject that stuns us all," says Lauren Valla of Walnut Creek. "At first, I really liked him, but for the past couple weeks I thought he was a goner."

Other reviews are just as lackluster.

"I find (James' success) difficult to believe because America can't be that dumb and tasteless," says Mitch Green, of Castro Valley. Meanwhile, Pittsburg's Timothy Stelly calls him "a one-armed wrestler in a battle royal."

But not everyone on the panel is surprised that James is still in the running with Crystal Bowersox and Lee DeWyze.

"Casey plays a heck of a guitar, looks fabulous, has an easy-to-listen-to voice, and is an all-around nice guy," insists Tami Olsen, of Danville. "The combination of these things just resonates with voters. With the underwhelming caliber of finalists this season, I'm not a bit surprised that he's sitting in position No. 3. Casey won't win this thing, but he's already a winner just by making it to this point."

Meghan McGovern, of Alamo, also believes James won't win and she suspects he made it this far, thanks to young, active voters and his physical appearance.

"But just like anything, good looks can fade and get old, while true talent prevails," she says. "I don't think he'll make it past this week, even if Lee or Crystal does poorly."

Stelly agrees that this week will be the end of the road for James.

"Casey is there simply because he is getting some of the Tim Urban (voting) spillage and Kara is slobbering all over him like a Saint Bernard," he says. "... Unless Lee or Crystal develops laryngitis, he can start packing."

Reach Chuck Barney at 925-952-2685 or cbarney@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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Every Tuesday after "American Idol," our Readers Judges Panel weighs in on that night's performances. Read the judges' comments at http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/tv and then add your own.
tv show
WHAT: "American Idol"
WHEN: 8 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Channels 2 and 40 (Fox)