American Idol 10 (2011) has whittled down to its Top 3 of Scotty McCreery, Lauren Alaina and Haley Reinhart. This marks the first time 2 country singers have made the Top 3.
These results are surprising in some ways and not so much in others. Obviously, this is a first for the country genre, but that’s not entirely accurate. Truthfully, Lauren Alaina doesn’t really have a musical identity. It is just thought that she should go the country route because that genre most closely suits her voice and background. Scotty, on the other hand, is country through and through and makes no bones about it. Haley admittedly has no clear musical identity, but it’s definitely more in the soul or rock direction than country.
McCreery has emerged as a favorite despite not having the booming voice of typical Idol winners. He is also the only favorite who was actually routinely poked fun at during the initial auditions because he seemed to only sing Josh Turner’s “Baby Lock Them Doors.”
However, what McCreery lacks in vocal power, he makes up for in demographics. Although Casey, Jacob and James definitely had their strong points, they don’t fit the image of previous Idol winners. Scotty is closer to that image even though there has been no male country winner.
Although Lauren Alaina is still a somewhat inexperienced singer, she was tabbed as a favorite from the beginning. I still never got the instant hype and don’t quite get it. But her “Anyway” was probably her best performance of the season, so at least she is hopefully starting to finally peak.
The path of Haley Reinhart is a rather strange one for Idol, filled with disappointing early performances, improvement in her style and an odd mix of overcriticism on some songs with overpraise on others. Throw in a bit of sassy backtalk to the judges, and we have kind of an enigma here. However, Haley’s path is not that much different than Syesha Mercado’s. She has probably picked up a fair amount of the generic vote that tends not to favor the harder rock of James Durbin.
Reinhart’s best chance of getting to the finals is to have vote splitting between Scotty and Lauren. Some people think that Scotty and Lauren will split a lot of votes because they are both country. I don’t believe this to be the case. The winner now depends on the casual vote. There aren’t enough country-only fans to make that the deciding factor. The contestants who win the casual vote are going to the finals. Of course, if the casual vote is super close among all three, then vote splitting in the country-only voters could make a difference. But that would be only because a contestant failed to dominate among the casual voters.
Reading tea leaves here, it appears that Scotty’s strong musical identity and demographic appeal will push him to the finals. It’s a bit of a tossup between the girls. But since Lauren was hailed as a favorite from the very beginning, she would be favored due to the fact that early favorites tend to have the fan base to see them through if they can make it to the Top 3. Reinhart, on the other hand, is the kind of “late bloomer” that tends to fall short in the end.
Top 3 Rumors:
A few rumors have come out about song choice. The contestants are back home for their hometown visits, and they always announce the judges’ song choices for the Idols. I consider the following rumors at this point until verified. Sometimes, Idol fans like to play jokes. These appear to be real, though. That’s all I can say:
a. Scotty is supposed to sing Kenny Rogers’ “She Believes in Me.”
b. Lauren is supposed to sing Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance.”
c. Haley is supposed to sing Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.”
Haley’s parents leaked that she is also singing Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” and Led Zeppelin’s “What Should Never Be.”
Start of the Show:
We see cheesy clips of the contestants visiting their hometowns. There is also a feature on tonight’s mentor, Beyonce Knowles. First up are the contestants’ own song choices.
Scotty first sings Lonestar’s “Amazed.” This was a rather poor performance that I predicted would be overpraised before the first judge opened his mouth. Of course, it was grossly overpraised, as only Randy mentioned his pitch problems. It was a pretty good karaoke performance but showed as much of his weaknesses as his strengths. If the voters somehow decide to vote on talent, that is not a good start for Scotty McCreery.
Lauren Alaina chose Faith Hill’s “Wild One.” This was also a poor song choice and not indicative of Lauren’s best work. She had breath problems in several spots again. Yes, she has a good voice, but singing is a combination of having a good voice and using it properly to interpret and deliver a song. This song also completely lacked emotion. Never mind all of that. Of course, the judges overpimped their early favorite just like they do Scotty every week.
Haley owned the first round with Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be.” This was an extremely odd song. She tripped, but I don’t see that as relevant. The point is that she was the only one who brought any real style to the song. Scotty and Lauren were Karaoke City in the first round. Although Haley may have growled and screamed a bit much in spots, she was the only one who did anything at all special with the song.
Jimmy Iovine picked Thompson Square’s “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” for Scotty. This performance was better in many spots, but it also showed his weaknesses yet again. Scotty just has no range and little versatility. Of course, the performance was overrated by the judges, a common theme this season. But if the voters go on talent, forget Scotty winning now. His weaknesses have been exposed over and over again. However, he is a runaway train and may have too big of a fan base to lose now.
Lauren’s second song choice was Perry’s “If I Die Young,” Jimmy Iovine’s choice. Overall, I think this was much better than the first performance of hers. Her vocal tone and belting notes soared in this one. She did miss a key change, but the beginning and ending were great despite that little bobble. Finally, the judges acknowledged a mistake. In some ways, this season is like Baby Idol. The judges just want to forgive every mistake. I thought that was a parent’s job, not a judge’s.
Haley’s second performance was Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon.” This was not nearly as good as her first song choice, but it was okay. She came across as a bit of a copycat in the beginning and made some attempts to make it more unique in the end. For the second round, I surprisingly agreed only with Steven Tyler. I think Lauren won the second round even though she had that one technical mistake. Overall, I give it to Haley over the first two rounds.
We then see some horrible thing claiming to be “music” in a Beyonce video. The industry really has turned its back on real music these days.
Scotty’s last song was the judges’ choice of Kenny Rogers’ “She Believes in Me.” This was probably his best performance of the night. Scotty finally hit the emotion that he needs to hit to show his best side. I don’t think Scotty deserves to win this at this point, though. He may still win based on his existing fan base, but I would even put Haley ahead of him at this point. I did not feel that way until tonight. I think Haley has finally caught him even though I would have removed Reinhart earlier in the season before she improved.
Lauren’s last song was Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance,” the judges’ pick. This performance was so overpraised, I just don’t know what to say anymore. I am slowly getting off the Idol bandwagon. Every bit of credibility it seemed to have in the past has transformed into an X-Factor-like pure popularity contest. This was an okay performance, but the breath control and timing were off again in spots. And Lauren’s stylistic gimmicks made the song worse instead of better. She may deserve to make the finals over Scotty (I’d say it’s close there).
Haley’s last choice was Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.” This was not Haley’s strong performance of the night. It was a weird judges’ song choice. It’s too fast, and Haley couldn’t maintain her power in spots. I don’t know if she did enough here outside of the great first song to overcome the Scotty and Lauren trains.
I’d pick Haley and Lauren for the finals based on performances tonight and throughout the whole season (probably James and Pia or Casey if I had been deciding all along). It’s amazing that such a limited singer like Scotty (who literally screeches out his high notes) may actually win this. Idol is clearly no longer about talent.
Over 95 million votes were cast just last night for the Top 3 performances. This is the highest amount in the history of Idol for a non-finale vote (as if more optimized power voting is something to brag about).
Jimmy Iovine predicts that Scotty will make the finale.
Il Volo was the first guest group to perform. They sang some Italian song in opera. It was pretty good. Now how about actually getting some contestants to sing opera and other genres instead of pretending no one buys it? This is one of the reasons I prefer America’s Got Talent. You get to see a variety of acts perform instead of just people trying to copy guys and girls on the radio.
We also saw footage of the Top 3 returning to their hometowns before this week’s live performances.
Nicole Scherzinger also made an appearance with 50 Cent. Her new crappy song is called “Right There.” Nicole is actually a great singer. We have seen this more than once on The Sing Off TV show, which is coming back in the fall. But there was little to no actual singing in this performance. Most of it appeared to be lip syncing.
I don’t have a problem with someone doing a dance routine instead of singing. But this was just average dancing with almost no singing. I don’t see the point of this kind of live performance. Do people really not know that the average person sitting on their coach could do the same dancing in this performance?
It’s now about time for the results. All three are called out to the stage.
The first person to make the American Idol 10 finale is Scotty McCreery.
The two girls are left, and Ryan announces that Lauren Alaina has made it to the finals.
So we have our first all-country finale in American Idol history.
Look for Scotty to win this one pretty easily. He fits the demographic much more than Lauren Alaina. Talent wise, it’s close.
Haley does her sing out with “Benny and the Jets.”
Thad Ogburn’s Tweet about Scotty McCreery’s Pick
Derrall Stalvey’s Tweet about Lauren Alaina’s Pick