The naysayers who predicted a sleepy, ho-hum, who cares night of finals for Season 10 on “American Idol” after its two youngest talents were voted to the finals, who just happened to be both country talents, couldn’t have been more wrong. Scott McCreery and Lauren Alaina know what’s on the line and in their futures, no matter the winner, and they’ve sung their heart and souls out for it for nearly five full months, and no one was quitting now. The first surprise guest of the final night of competition was the “American Idol” house doctor, who came on to announce that Lauren Alaina’s push to bring her voice to full power and rehearsal had put her in a precarious position for the night, akin to a runner racing with a sprained ankle, but like a great athlete, she was pushing on through the pain, and the bumps in the road can be boosts to big moments. Round one would be Scotty and Lauren’s personal favorites from the season, round two would be chosen by the contenders’ own idols, George Strait and Carrie Underwood, and round three would be the first single picked for release for each hopeful upon winning the title. It was polish and confidence up against promise and potential in some very memorable performance moments.’
Lauren won the toss to perform first, and chose to go second, so Scotty gave a rip-roarin’ reprise of his “Gone,” going full-throttle fun all the way through, slick as any arena artist out there'”he could join any megastar country tour this summer! He slammed it home with a baseball swing! Lauren made her pick from “Then and Now” night, too, with “Flat on the Floor,” and she out-sung her original , which was her coming-out party as a true star. She took it on with a new fury'”no vocal hiccup was getting her down'”and she owned her moment! George Strait’s pick for Scott was “Check Yes or No,” and the song may not have been one to push McCreery to greatness, but was a perfect choice to showcase his connection with the audience and ability to make even the most iconic song his own. One of our fellow writers, Nancy Goodman, got her wish , as Lauren got Pam Tillis’ “Maybe It Was Memphis” chosen as her selection by Carrie Underwood, and she delivered beautifully, in her mix of boots and lace. Leaning on the shoulder of fellow Georgian, Ryan Seacrest, after the performances, Lauren got a hint of winning the night, with Randy Jackson giving a slight edge to Scott after two rounds, but Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler tilting toward her, if only “just because she’s prettier” as Steven Tyler put it! Taio Cruz performed the Coca-Cola songwriting challenge winning song, “Positive,” before the final round, and the two talents took the hint!
“Love You This Big” was Jimmy Iovine’s single selection for Scott McCreery, and set against the montage of his playful moments through the journey of these weeks, and the swaying arms upheld in his own fan pit, it’s almost impossible to believe he ever did anything besides entertain from a stage. No other contestant made more of his Idol opportunity, and truly transformed into a complete performer through the experience. He’s ready for his future, and his mother’s real but happy tears conveyed the truest sense of how unexpected this platform was, and all that waits ahead. Randy Jackson called his vocal “brilliant,” and Jennifer Lopez reiterated him as the storyteller of the season and deemed it “amazing,” and Steven Tyler said he nailed it. The song showed off his full range and could put him on the charts tomorrow. Lauren Alaina’s song was “Like My Mother Does,” and however country it sounds, she ripped my heart plum out, and maybe America’s, too! Taking Ryan Seacrest’s hand to safely descend to steps, she embraced her mom while singing the last chorus, and the softness in her voice, the welled tears in her eyes, made one of the most perfect final performances ever. The judges unanimously gave her the edge by the end of the night.
As the two stood sharing smiles and encouragement as the comments came, I could only think how the spirit, humility, and authenticity of these two artists echoed something more worthy of aspiring to than any Idol title. Season 7 winner, David Cook, sung out the night with “Don’t You (Forget About Me).” No one will soon forget this remarkable finale.
The votes tell the tale for Season 10’s winner Wednesday at 8 PM ET on FOX TV.