Last Night on American Idol, Haley Reinhart Showed Us All What is and What Should Never Be

Last night on American Idol, the three remaining contestants had the daunting task of having to sing three songs each. One song was their choice, one song was mentor Jimmy Iovine’s choice, and one song was the Judges’ Choice. I know. It’s almost impossible to believe that we’re down to only three people left. And one of them isn’t rocker James Durbin, who was voted off last week. For a while it seemed a dead lock that he was on his way to the finals.

The winner of Season 10 of American Idol will be chosen next week, live from the Nokia Theater. Host Ryan Seacrest announced last night that the performance show will be on Tuesday night instead of Wednesday, and the season finale (and results show) will be on Wednesday night instead of Thursday night.

To help out with the Contestants’ Choice, they had none other than superstar Beyoncé as guest mentor. After all, Jimmy Iovine was going to mentor them during his song choice, so he couldn’t really do both. And if Idol wanted to show they still had some juice, snagging Beyoncé for this gig just a week after featuring Lady Gaga certainly is one way to do it.

Since there were three separate performances, I will rank them separately as well.

Scotty McCreery started things off with his favorite Lonestar hit, Amazed. He certainly did the right thing by not starting in his normal low register. He started much higher, and hit nice high notes that he’s not used to hitting. There were some great country lifts that we’re not used to hearing and even a few short runs. Over the past couple of weeks, he has really come way out of his box in terms of expanding his once monotone performances, which were growing old and starting to sound the same. He has shown some very good range and depth, things I didn’t even know he had three weeks ago. This turned out to be a great song choice. I’m not sure he could have sung it any better. And we were very happy to hear a whole new phrase by Randy Jackson, “that kid’s got money!” It sure beats, “He’s in it to win it!” 2

Lauren Alaina got a little pep talk from Beyoncé during her mentoring session. Beyoncé told her that before she goes on, she tells herself that she deserves it, she’s a diva, etc… This is what Lauren needs. Beyoncé clearly sees the same thing we all see: The total lack of confidence holding Lauren back from greatness. Anyway, Lauren took on Faith Hill’s Wild One, a stepped up, country kickin’ ditty. And it was still missing something. It just seemed to fall flat somewhere. It was good, but not great. 3

Haley Reinhart chose Led Zeppelin’s What is and What Should Never Be. This isn’t the first time Zeppelin has been sung on Idol (Adam Lambert covered Whole Lotta Love in Season 8), but it’s the first time this song has been featured. It is also the first time that a contestant’s parent has ever played onstage with them. Haley’s dad joined her onstage with his guitar and he was absolutely jamming. As for Haley, she was rockin’ from beginning to end. And she was in tune throughout, and not using that crazy growl of hers at inappropriate times, which is her usual sore spot. Unlike last week, she didn’t wait until she was about to get bounced to tear the top off the box. She started kicking some ass right from the beginning. Sadly, Randy brought back, “She’s in it to win it.” I was hoping he retired that for the night. No such luck. 1

Scotty started off Round 2 with Thompson Square’s Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not. Jimmy compared it to some of the Tom Petty albums he had worked on many years ago, like Damn the Torpedoes (my favorite Tom Petty album, by the way). After listening to Scotty play the song, I can definitely hear the TP in it that Jimmy was referring to. I had never heard the song before, but I heard strains of Tom Petty in it for sure. And I thought Scotty sounded very convincing singing it. When you hear a song like that for the first time, you look for a couple of things: is the song in tune? Can you believe it? Yes on both counts. It was nice to hear him sing something besides straight up country for a change, and sing it well. 1

Lauren sang If I Die Young, by The Band Perry. Jimmy felt that even though the words were sad (and they were), the song was right in Lauren’s sweet spot (and they almost were). Like in Round One, it was beautifully sung, but something seemed to be missing from her performance. Like listening to a Jack Johnson song, she takes me there, but leaves me right at the cliff. This is why I don’t listen to Jack Johnson. At one point, she got very soft, then seemed to realize where she was, then picked up her modulation again. This won’t help her. Not her best performance. 3

Jimmy picked Rhiannon, by Fleetwood Mac for Haley. The beginning started off too slow, but by the second bridge it was flowing smoothly. I liked the second half better than the first half. During the last verse, she had her rock fully on and she was in stride. Nowhere near as good as her first performance, but not terrible either. Would have done better to pick up the tempo a little to start. Also, I’m thinking If Jimmy was going to give her a Stevie Nicks song, there were better ones for her to sing, like Edge of Seventeen. 2

Scotty started off The Judges’ Choice with Kenny Rodgers’ She Believes in Me. He sang it with passion and emotion, like he has learned to do with so many other songs. And he hit some beautiful runs. Another great song choice. He had the audience and judges like putty in his young hands at this point. 2

The judges picked LeAnne Womack’s I Hope You Dance for Lauren. This really was a great song choice for her. These are exactly the types of songs this girl should be singing. Country power ballads. They are her strong suite and where she is at her absolute finest. Screw taking her out of her comfort zone. Leave her there. It’s right where she belongs. Easily her best performance of the night, by a country mile (if you’ll pardon the pun). 1

The judges’ chose Alanis Morrisette’s You Ought to Know for Haley. Now, I’m not really an Alanis fan, but this was not an easy song to perform. From the very fast paced lyrics to the shift tempo in the second verse, back to anger in the chorus. She handled the changes well, and managed to show some anger belting out the choruses, even though the verses were a little flat. Very disappointing after her first two performances. I thought she was going to be on fire all night. 3

LYNN (Wife – Judge #4): Wants HALEY to go; thinks LAUREN will go (begrudgingly)
TARA (Daughter – Judge #5): Wants LAUREN to go; thinks SCOTTY will go (in an upset)
NIKKI (Daughter – Judge #6): Wants HALEY to go and thinks it’s time for HALEY to get voted off (like the judges, always had it in for her)
ME: GOING HOME: LAUREN (I think that although Lauren has the best pure voice out of the three, she is afraid to use it. Time for her to go home. )

As you can see, we can’t come to an agreement of any kind in our house on this. We’re not throwing dishware or furniture at each other over it, and no one is sleeping on the couch, but the discussions are fun and lively. I hope your households are more in agreement and if not, I hope there is at least fun discourse involved.