Haley Reinhart has made the Top 3 on the 10th season of American Idol. She is competing for a spot in the finals against country singers Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, who are both teenagers, as well.
Haley has had one of the strangest story lines created for her by the show. She started out being in the bottom 3 several times. Eventually, Reinhart stopped appearing in the bottom 3 with 7 or 8 contestants left. She appears to have both improved and gained a bigger fan base along the way.
The really odd thing is the way the judges have treated her. I disagree with criticism that Haley has been thrown under the bus. While some of the criticism was excessive, she has also been overpraised and given the final performance on several occasions. It appears that the show wants to create some kind of “fighter” image out of Haley. More than once, she was overcriticized on the first song of the night and then overpraised on the second.
None of her recent performances seems to have been critiqued based on the actual performance. But the sum effect may have actually helped her, as the audience remembers positives more than negatives. Time and time again, American Idol voters have been shown to forgive mistakes (such as David Archuleta forgetting lyrics or loads of contestants going off pitch for almost an entire song). But the positives tend to be remembered, especially since the overpraise for Haley is on the second song every time.
In the end, this makes it hard to tell exactly what the producers have tried to do with Reinhart. It seems their motive is to create TV moments, not to actually help or hurt Haley.
At any rate, conventional wisdom suggests that she will have a hard time making it to the finale of American Idol 10. Scotty and Lauren have been pimped so hard it’s not even funny. They have been generally overpraised, as well. When Scotty is screechy at times trying to hit the high notes, he is never called on it. When Lauren has breath-control problems, it’s simply ignored by the judges. More importantly, though, Scotty has completely avoided the bottom 3, and Lauren has largely avoided it, as well. Unless Haley has a strong fan-base turnout to power vote like mad, she is probably going to be eliminated in the Top 3.
Haley’s first song choice that we know about so far is the judges’ choice (Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know”). This is kind of a vulgar song, so I don’t know how the edit is going to change it to make it acceptable for Idol. But it does allow a lot of emotion. It just doesn’t seem like the emotion that wins on Idol.
Update: Haley’s parents apparently spilled the beans on her other two song choices. According to them, she is singing the producer’s pick of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” and her own pick of Led Zeppelin’s “What Should Never Be.” I don’t think Haley has the voice for Led Zeppelin. Even Mary J. Blige struggled with “Stairway to Heaven.” And why copy Didi Benami just last year with “Rhiannon?” These appear to be two bad picks here for this stage of the contest.
Sappy love songs and the like work great on Idol. But “You Oughta Know,” while totally awesome, may turn off some voters. It’s practically an anthem for angry women. But as long as the viewers don’t take the lyrics too seriously, the style allows for a much more emotional performance than the somewhat lackluster songs chosen for Scotty and Lauren (“She Believes in Me” for Scotty and “I Hope You Dance” for Lauren) by the judges. In the end, it is still a mystery whether the show is trying to help or hurt Haley Reinhart’s chances. This song choice cuts both ways.
Haley goes in with Beyonce and rehearses “What Is and What Should Never Be.” The rehearsal is pretty good. The song seems to lack emotion for the most part, but she gets a little emotion in there at the beginning. The song is quite odd. Parts of it are very nice, but the song jumps around all over from slow to fast and back again. Overall, Haley is owning the first round of the night. She is the only one who really did anything with her song. There may have been too much growling and screaming in spots, but it was easily the best performance in the first round.
Jimmy Iovine picks Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon.” I can see her fans loving this, but it seems like an attempt to copy Stevie Nicks’s style, especially in the beginning. I don’t like this song choice nearly as much as her first one. Jimmy did a poor job picking this one, as Haley doesn’t have the kind of voice that works very well on these soft songs. She tries some runs and a power note at the end, but they come across as desperate attempts to make the performance unique. Although I didn’t like this one as much (and Haley seemed to lose confidence on this one), but I’d put her in the lead after the first two rounds.
Haley then sings a somewhat odd choice by the judges (Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know”). This song was so fast that Haley couldn’t maintain her vocal power/breath control throughout the song. It was okay in spots but did not match her own song choice. On the night, I would easily make Haley the winner. I have been very critical of her so far, but I think she deserves to make the finale of the three left.