Though Haley Reinhart fans had big hopes for the “American Idol” Top 3 results, we knew it was a pretty big hill for the Chicago girl to climb. With Scotty continually nabbing the most votes each week, and never landing in the bottom 3, it was a pretty good bet that the favorite of teen and tween girl voters everywhere was moving on. So it was down to Haley, who’s been sabotaged at nearly every turn by the producers and judges, and Lauren, who’s been a favorite from the audition rounds. It was pretty much a sadly inevitable result.
Ryan opened the show tonight by telling us over 95 million votes had been cast. Judging by the number of comments and tweets online I saw about people voting with multiple phones simultaneously, I can believe it. Jimmy gave his big prediction, that we pretty much all knew: “There’ll be a guy in it.”
“Super 8” Promo
For the first filler segment, we got a visit by the Top 4 to J.J. Abrams, who actually showed them a sneak peak of “Super 8,” which they seemed to enjoy. Lauren was the most frightened, and I wondered if it was an R movie that she needed parental consent for. After the preview of the movie, Abrams gave the contestants Super 8 cameras of their own to film their hometown visits. I wondered at the time if we’d get a shot of James’ as well, since they showed part of his visit last night, but the footage didn’t turn up tonight.
Haley Reinhart Hometown Visit
Haley was overwhelmed by her hometown visit, blown away by all the support. At the start of her journey, she even walked past her limo, not realizing it was there for her. Haley was hoping for sunshine on a cloudy day, but it wasn’t to be. “It kinda blows that they’re raining on my parade,” Haley joked, but she was rewarded with diehard fans that greeted her at every turn in Wheeling, Illinois.
“Thank you for freaking out!” Haley said, grasping the hand of a girl going absolutely crazy being touched by the Hand of Haley. As people cheered her along her parade route, Haley said she would only cry if “Aaron” would–and then the camera panned to her enormous security guard. Haley did tear up, though, when she greeted all of her family at home, saying the three months was really a long time to be away.
Along the parade route we got kids, adults, and shirtless guys with their chests painted to spell out “Haley.” At Haley’s former high school, she got choked up over the big show of support, with cheerleaders lining the path into the school. One of my fave signs at the gathering was “Goldilocks Rocks.” Haley got a roar of agreement when she asked if they were going to Arlington Race Track for her concert later.
Haley stood on the back of the seat in the limo and waved out of the sun roof to her fans as she entered on the track at Arlington. I was there that day, and stuck in the middle of the crowd, I had no idea that the stands were so full. There were 30,000 people in attendance, standing in the rain and windy 50 degree weather, cheering Haley on. “American Idol” only showed a clip of her singing “Sweet Home Chicago,” jamming with her parents and sister on stage, but she actually played a half dozen songs for the sold-out crowd.
Back in the “Idol” studio, Aaron the security guard stood next to Ryan and Haley, holding a tissue box, and shedding a few comical faux tears for Haley’s home visit. Haley actually did wipe away a few tears, and Ryan looked a little frightened at Aaron’s imposing presence. All in all a very cute segment.
Next filler segment, was the Ford video, giving the “American Idol” Top 3 a day at the beach. It was actually a cute video, and one of the first commercials to look more like a real slice of life than some manufactured cheesefest. Looks like the kids had fun playing volleyball and tossing a football around, and building sand castles.
This Italian trio of young guys was amazing. Singing “O Sole Mio” with huge, beautiful, clear operatic voices was just amazing to listen to. Panning over to the Top 3 contestants, Lauren’s jaw dropped, stunned, while Haley floated her arms to the music. The guys were adorable, dressed in blazers, tee-shirts and dark trousers, wooing the crowd of ladies with their stunning vocals. It’s impossible to truly describe how amazing these guys were.
Scotty McCreery Hometown Visit
Scotty’s hometown visit had a lot of crying, from both his local fans and from Scotty himself. There were plenty of screaming girls, some sobbing just at the sight of him, a phenomenon I’ve never understood. “Wow,” Scotty said, stunned at the volume of people greeting him at every location. “Wow…wow.” Scotty did a turn at the local radio station, then had a visit with his family, where he rested for a bit in his bedroom–in his family’s big house.
After visiting his high school, and playing some baseball with fans, Scotty got back to his limo. Surrounded by screaming girls outside, Scotty finally broke down on the inside of the limo, totally overwhelmed with tears at all of the fan support. He later donned his old grocery store apron and greeted a crowd at his old job, which also got him crying, as all the girls around him cried.
The best part of Scotty’s hometown visit was his big stage performance to a giant outdoor crowd. Scotty started his trademark “Baby lock them doors..” verse of “Your Man.” Someone joined him on the stage, and Scotty turned and put a friendly hand on the shoulder of someone he probably thought was a band member–and then he saw it was Josh Turner. “Oh my God!” Scotty exclaimed, breaking off completely from the song in laughing shock. Then the two dueted on the tune. It was a funny, cool moment for Scotty.
Nicole Scherzinger & 50 Cent
I’m not sure who thought it was a swell idea to have a Pussycat Doll on as entertainment in the family hour, especially with the super conservative Lauren and Scotty fans in attendance. Nicole’s white, feathery wisp of an outfit was like Vegas gladiator, or as my husband dubbed it, “hooker ostrich.” The song was a catchy dance tune, though Nicole sounded a bit nasally at times.
To make the whole half-naked woman scene worse, 50 Cent came out to do his bit, and he was so fully dressed he was even wearing a jacket and hat. He started stalking Nicole, and looked about to start gyrating against her when Nicole laughed and pushed him away. I actually have to say I think that Nicole and her dancers, while scantily clad, seemed to tone down the booty-shaking for the PG audience. At least that.
Lauren Alaina Hometown Visit
I’m glad the previous performance came before Lauren’s visit, because tonally it would have been awful to have afterwards. If possible, I think Lauren may have been greeted by even more fans than Scotty and Haley, and the crowds seemed to spill out on either side of the limo wherever Lauren went. She signed kids’ hands and even a cowboy boot, delighted all the while at the screaming fans who were there to support her. Her high school is apparently huge, or else the whole town showed up at the football field to see her during her day visit.
Lauren also visited the tornado-ravaged areas around her hometown, and she and her mother were both in tears as they witnessed the incredible devastation on either side of the road. They made a visit with an 11 year old boy, who was a hero for digging his family out of the rubble after the tornado. Lauren was so choked up she didn’t even know what to say as the boy said he helped his brother because he knew if he didn’t, his brother might not live through it. Lauren hugged him and told him how proud she was of him and that he is an amazing kid, which he definitely is.
An emotional Lauren greeted her huge final crowd of fans at her concert, and once again sang “Anyway”, and I think this time the lyrics meant more to her than they ever have.
Ryan didn’t play around much with the results tonight, no doubt because there really wasn’t any suspense in it. Haley looked the most nervous, and Scotty looked calm as usual. The guy could simply hum for three minutes and he’d still win a spot in the finale. Ryan named Scotty safe first. The two girls held hands, and then Ryan quickly named Lauren the other Top 2 contestant. Haley looked absolutely stunned and upset. She took a moment, and then snapped herself out of it, offering a big smile to the audience and blowing them kisses.
Haley said “American Idol” was the “best platform” anyone could hope to have, and “I rocked it out and I had a blast.” She then launched into her signature song, “Bennie and the Jets.” She was sexy, sauntering across the stage and down the steps that had tripped her up the night before. She worked the judges’ names into her song, and then went down into the audience, where Naima and Jacob totally rocked out with her to the vocals. She ended with a big hug from her dad and mom, and then launched back up onto the stage, where Scotty looped her into a hug. Haley hugged both he and Lauren, then, and Steven was the first judge to come out and hug Haley. Unlike her tear-fest for James, Jennifer seemed happy that Haley was going home.
So, it’s an all-country finale, just as most of us expected. Haley just couldn’t overcome the late start in her fan base, and the producer manipulation to get two teens into the final night. It will be interesting to see what the viewing numbers are for the finale. With all the support Haley has gotten for her skill and style, including the blessing of Led Zeppelin, we can only hope Haley is at the start of a big career.
Originally I had expected Scotty to take the whole thing if it was a finale with Lauren, but now, seeing her giant homecoming and her passionate fans, I’m thinking she may have a chance to win. Especially with all the producer love. What do you think? Will we finally get a girl “Idol”?
“American Idol” airs next Tuesday and Wednesday at 8/7c on FOX.
Check out: Ranking the “American Idol” Top 3: Who’s In It To Win It?