The pressure to perform is starting to show. Little criticisms are beginning to mean a lot to the finalists. One negative statement could mean the end of the road and the Top 4 finalists on “American Idol” knew it when they hit the stage Wednesday evening for this week’s performance round. And as it has been since the show began, everybody seemed to get mostly positive (if not all positive) feedback from the judges, except for Haley Reinhart. And on Wednesday night, the 20-year-old singer let it show on her face that the judges words, especially those of judge Randy Jackson, had made her angry.
As they had been doing for the last few weeks, the Top 4 finalists were asked to sing two songs. The first, a song of their choosing that inspired them. The second, a tune chosen from the catalog of classic hits penned by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriters Leiber & Stoller (“Jailhouse Rock,” “On Broadway,” “Stand By Your Man,” “Kansas City,” etc.).
James Durbin led off with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” and brought down the house. But then Haley Reinhart performed “What About Us?” from Michael Jackson and Jennifer Lopez told her she sung it beautifully but she probably should have picked a more current song, one people would recognize. Then Randy Jackson said that he didn’t like the performance, that he agreed with Lopez about song choice, that Reinhart did not have the range of Michael Jackson. But the crowd grumbled at Lopez’ words. They booed Jackson’s and cheered when Haley, whose jaw had set during Lopez’ criticism, said she chose an inspirational song and didn’t see where it was that bad and she wouldn’t change it if given a second chance. Then Steven Tyler stepped in and told her to stick to her guns and not to change a thing and not to listen to the other two judges; she was beautiful, he insisted.
After all the verbal fireworks, Scotty McCreery performed Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?,” a timely song that, if one didn’t know better, was pandering to his fan base. Then Lauren Alaina nailed Martina McBride’s “Anyway.” The judges praised both performances.
But then host Ryan Seacrest brought out the four finalists and asked the judges what should be done by the contestants for the second round. Both Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson told a determined-looking Reinhart that they thought she would need to do better in the second round. They told her they were pushing her to do better because they knew she could. (For her part, the Illinois singer did not looked convinced of the sincerity.)
Then it was time for Lady Gaga to mentor for the Lieber and Stoller songs. The overly mascaraed hit maker told Haley Reinhart to add some theatre to her rendition of “I (Who Have Nothing).” The “American Idol” hopeful took her advice and brought the audience and the judges to their feet in a standing ovation, her second in as many weeks. Lopez and Jackson attempted to take some of the credit with a “See? That’s what we’re talking about” moment. (Reinhart still looked unconvinced.)
Scotty then had some fun with “Young Blood.” Although it seemed karaoke-ish and ditzy, it was fun and the judges gave him kudos for. Lauren then did a version of Elvis’ “Trouble” but laughing at herself spoiled the effect of the song, which was supposed to be sexy. And Durbin finished the night with a guitar-driven version of “Love Potion #9” that had everybody cheering, including the judges.
So where do the Top 4 stand? Did Reinhart’s backtalk cost her or help her reach the Top 3? Was Durbin still the consistent singer he’s been labeled, worthy of remaining a frontrunner? How about Scotty — or were his two numbers too stunt-ish and without substance? Did Lauren Alaina, who was in the Bottom 2 last week, rise to the challenge or will she be sent home this time around?
The “American Idol” results show will broadcast live from Hollywood on Thursday, May 12. The Top 3 will journey to their home towns, with the homecomings to be filmed for the next show. The eliminated finalist will also go home — but for good.
“American Idol,” Fox Television
“Top 4 Performances,” AmericanIdol.com