As this season of American Idol winds down, 24-year-old Crystal Bowersox has a real chance at winning. Eight years ago, when Kelly Clarkson won, she fit a certain "American" ideal: The squeaky-clean, slightly goofy girl next door. But Crystal's different.

The pierced, tattooed, dreadlocked mom from Ohio is insanely talented. She plays guitar, harmonica, piano and flute, and sings with a bluesy, throaty, soulful tone. But even though she is an amazing singer, she defies what you might think of when you think American Idol.

The show can be cheesy, overproduced, laden with product placement and painfully awkward at times. Crystal has often performed barefoot, with her own mic stand — which looks kind of like a bong. She used to sing and strum on the streets and in coffee houses. She's as "real" as the show is "fake." Clearly she's a different kind of girl next door. And thank goodness. Because in this digitally enhanced, Auto-Tune-crazy world we live in, a little honesty, some authenticity and true singing chops are a welcome and refreshing development. And if Lee Dewyze wins, that's fine, too.