AMERICAN IDOL S10: Top 3 Fight for the Finale

by Poncho

Let’s cut to the chase. Tonight there were three rounds, each one with different “rules.” For their first performance, the kids got to choose whichever song they liked. And it went like this:

Scotty opened with Lonestar’s “Amazed.” And I am…at least a little. This song did seem like a change for him, both in tone and in range. He managed to bring real movement to the stage instead of his trademark corniness. Sadly, I could hear the stretching of his voice as he tried to reach the higher parts of the song—which he didn’t. And during those parts, the backup singers totally outsang him. I couldn’t even hear him. He did nail the lower parts, though. I gotta admit that I really like his low-tone singing, but this performance, which could’ve been a nice moment for him, turned instead into an I-think-it’s-OK one.

Next was Lauren, singing Faith Hill’s “Wild One.” Again, it was just nice. She did seem very comfortable on stage, much more than she’s been for a long time. Lauren fills my screen during the closeups, but she lacks the experience to blow away the audience with her voice. It’s not how loud your voice is, but how you can bring people into your performance (see: Kris Allen’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” cover). This is when I remember Lauren is just a child, and I wish they would’ve let her grow before they threw her into this machine.

Closing the round, Haley sang “What Is and What Should Never Be” by Led Zeppelin, and she fell on her face, quite literally. After making a tour around the judges’ table, she tripped and fell. But that aside, the performance was pretty impressive. The song choice was highbrow for me (I don’t quite like it), but the fact that it’s not that familiar gave her the chance to own it. And own it she did. And the fact that she fell, and then stood up and continued singing, gave her applause from J. Lo & the block for being professional. Also, her dad was playing guitar during her performance, which gave her like a thousand how-cool-is-that points.

So round one, the winner was Haley, hands down. For round two, the songs were picked by Jimmy Iovine.

We saw Scotty again, singing “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not.” (Hell, no!) The performance was really good vocally, and even McCheesy’s Velveeta felt like it belonged where he put it. It actually felt honest and quite age-appropriate for him, and it sounded like he could record it. What made me quite uncomfortable was that his legs looked like he came from a seventeen-hour horseback ride and he couldn’t pull them straight. But I like when a song allows Scotty to use the twang in his voice and abuse his lower register. This Thompson Square song did that for him.

Iovine chose “If I Die Young” for Lauren. She started out sounding pretty good, but then she blew it. Not “out the box,” as Mr. Dawg likes to say. She missed some words because of the key change at the end of the song. And that blows. It’s sad, because she was having a very tender moment in the performance and then bam! But the judges pampered her like the kid she is. I wish they would start treating her like the professional she wants to become.

If Iovine’s the one to blame for Haley’s “Rhiannon” arrangement, then I’ll say he’s totally trying to screw her up. Haley looked gorgeous on camera and the almost-Marilyn-Monroe situation with the wind machine made the performance shine, but the arrangement was weird. The vocal part was very impressive because there wasn’t a moment where Haley growled, but instead, she sang softly and caressed the words, even though her pronunciation wasn’t top-notch. But I didn’t like the arrangement. I just didn’t.

I’ll call Haley again for round two. For round three, the judges gave their song choices to the contestants.

Trouty Mouth Steven Tyler chose Kenny Rogers’s “She Believes in Me” for Scotty. It was not only a great song for him, but also a very good performance. Scotty even managed to slay the big notes. Though the arrangement was that of a piano-driven ballad, he made the song feel a little country with his voice alone. It was quite nice, for a change.

J.Lo picked Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” for Lauren, who redeemed herself big time. But I have a big issue with ballads. When you sing a ballad, you need to find a way to engage the audience, find something to do, either moving, playing an instrument, or even sitting on a stool or chair (when you sing uptempo you need to move less so you can keep your breath). With that gorgeous dress on, Lauren looked like she was in the talent portion of the Miss Georgia pageant, the teen version. She did show off amazing vocal chops, though.

What Steven & La Lopez did in their picks was choose a song that fit their singers’ voices and asked for some stretch. Randy, however, gave Haley a very tough song to sing: Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.” I don’t know what he was thinking. That song has so many changes in pace, it’s insane (I love it, though). Haley belted the choruses like there was no tomorrow, and did a fantastic job with them, but the fact that she botched the staccato bridges made the performance lackluster. It just wasn’t good. And, for the first time, the judges recognized the problem instead of just bashing her.

I’ll say the winner for round three is Steven’s song choice for Scotty.

And that’s how it went. I totally want to see Haley in the finale, and watch her take the trophy home. HALEY FTW!

Photos: FOX



  • Reply
    May 19, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I love how I can write some ramblings, and the Edit Ninja makes my opinions seem coherent.

    Again, thanks PCN for the chance to share my Idol mind. You rock!

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      May 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm

      I enjoy your writing. That comment about Scotty being on a 17-hour horseback ride cracked me up. It’s mighty impressive how well you write in another language. If I were to do posts in Spanish, they would be nonsensical.

      Last night was an interesting mishmash of highs and lows. I agree with most everything you said. When the judges picked “She Believes in Me” for Scotty, I thought, “That is the PERFECT song for him.” I remember when that single was a hit for Kenny Rogers and even sang along because I knew all the words.

      Haley was bold as usual for tackling Led Zeppelin and Alanis. Dang. Talk about a high level of difficulty. She wasn’t angry enough for “You Oughta Know” but there isn’t anyone who can sing it like Alanis because it was personal for her. I’m glad the judges chose that song for Haley, though. They must respect her skills if they thought she could handle it.

  • Reply
    May 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Let’s be honest, Poncho, if you take away Haley, then shouldn’t they call this the Country American Idol? If they stick to what AI is supposed to be all about, then Haley is the clear winner. And she can fall, trip or backflip for all I care, I would still listen to her and buy her cd. Final Note: Rhiannon was terrible choice. Iovine should have had her do Gypsy or Gold Dust Woman at the least. Maybe it was rights issue? And to have her do You Oughta Know when it’s so clear she can’t sing all the angry words on national television? WTF, Randy?!

    The thing I am dreading most right now is when it’s the final 2 and they have to sing a song that even one of those Disney teens would turn down.

  • Reply
    May 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    OK, I had an experience last night. I was making a sandwich with the TV on in the background. I wasn’t watching, just background noise. But I was under the impression I was tuned to Idol, but it sounded like I was listening to some Grand Ole Opry show rehash! I can’t believe we are down to these 3. No wonder why I haven’t been tuning in.

  • Reply
    Paulette Feeney
    May 19, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I actually voted (several times…for Haley)! Nice recap Poncho! I was thinking it would have been great to hear Haley sing “I hope You Dance” and make Lauren tackle Alanis…hah! I was NOT feeling Scotty’s version of “She Believes In Me”. Perhaps I am just countried out…..

  • Reply
    May 19, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I’m a little sad, guys. I’m sad about the results tonight.

    I won’t go saying that Haley is the best that could happen to Idol. I couldn’t. She stumbled and fell (metaphorically and literally) through her Idol run.

    But instead of what could’ve been an interesting finale, we get (as EIREGO says) “Country Idol”. And I wouldn’t mind if we had such people as Carrie-bot, Kellie Pickler, Josh Gracin or even Kelly Clarkson (hey! she’s done the country thing once or twice). Hell! I’ll even take Kristy Lee Cook or (heaven spare me) Danny Gokey over these kids we got left. I like country. I don’t love it, but I enjoy it well.

    My point is that neither Scotty nor Lauren has done anything worth pushing the replay button. In previous seasons, when the final two were revealed, they had often given at least one “wait, what did just happen?” performance: either they made you stand up or give you goosebumps. Neither Scotty nor Lauren have acchieved that.

    See what I mean:

    I didn’t watch Season 1, but I’ve watched Kelly Clarkson’s “Natural Woman” and “Stuff Like That There” a lot of times. During Season 2, Ruben did “A Whole New World”, while Clay sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Solitaire”. In season 3, Fantasia sang the hell out of “Summertime” and Diana DeGarmo did “Don’t Cry Out Loud”. In the fourth run, Carrie-bot wowed us with “Heart” and sang “Independence Day” great, and Bo Bice shocked everybody with “In a Dream”.

    I refuse to talk about Taylor Hicks, but McPhee sang “Over the Rainbow” in season 5. In season 6, little Jordin made everyone reach for milk and crackers (to cut their collective wrists) with “I (Who Have Nothing)”, and Blake reinvented Bon Jovi. During season 7, the Davids both gave outstanding performances: “Hello”, “Billy Jean” by Cook, and “Imagine” and “Stand by Me” by Archuleta, just to name a few.

    Kris Allen, who at the time was labeled the worst idol winner ever, made buzz with “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Falling Slowly”, “She Works Hard for the Money” and his coup-de-grace “Heartless”, when Adam Lambert did things like “Mad World”, “The Tracks of My Tears” and the out-of-this-world “Slow Ride” duet with Allison.

    I even accepted Lee Dewyze as a finalist after his “The Boxer” cover, and MamaSox’s whole Idol run was a huge highlight.

    My point is: Tell me, name anything any of these two kids have done (musically) that’s worth breaking the replay button on your VCR/computer?

    Have an answer yet? Didn’t think so. So… we’re having the lamest Idol finale, coupled with the lamest winner.

    Anyway, I will be watching so you don’t have to (for the first time this season, Mexican cable will air the finale live). I’ll be setting my coffee machine early and bringing my Don Quijote mug and refilling between breaks.

    Wish me luck.

  • Reply
    Paulette Feeney
    May 19, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    It is sad…I am not looking forward to the final. I am usually excited for that night, but…YUCK! I think it will be a huge disappointment. I am tempted not to watch, but I cannot let you suffer alone, my friend!

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    May 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Oh Poncho, I hate to think of you suffering alone with your 500 ml Don Quijote mug but it may be time for me to jump ship. I don’t think I’ll survive COUNTRY IDOL. Sounds like Paulette will be keeping you company, though. And I, of course, will look forward to your recap afterwards.

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