Well, despite the laugh-a-minute fun of hellfire and eternal damnation, Saturday’s impending Rapture does offer one downside for us sinners. With squeaky clean Lauren and Scotty undoubtedly ascending to that big honky tonk in the sky, it pretty much takes all the suspense out of which sultry singer will be crowned the next “American Idol.”
(That is, of course, if the Big Guy doesn’t take Lauren’s fashion sins into account.)
Seriously, though, with the finale only a week away, it is anyone’s guess as to who will take home the coveted title. Randy handed out “in it to win it’s” the way Schwarzenegger hands out houses to baby-mamas, while mentor Jimmy Iovine said that he’s “in love with all of them.”
With the judges displaying considerable restraint in the favoritism department, guess we’re tasked with making our own decision, America. Each contestant sang three songs — one of their choosing, one chosen by Jimmy and one selected by the judges. Interestingly enough, there was nary a negative comment regarding song choice, though some of the selections were as iffy as an STD test on "Jersey Shore."
Beyonce was on hand to mentor the kids and debut her disturbing video for the not-quite-radio-friendly “Run the World.” (Do not watch if you have epilepsy or a fear of hyenas.) Kind of like the Lauren Conrad of music, she’s not only a singer; she’s a songwriter/choreographer/actor/fashion designer.
Sasha, you are way too fierce for me!
ROUND 1 — CONTESTANT’S CHOICE
SCOTTY McCREERY “Amazed” by Lonestar
McCreepy’s choice gave Beyonce an opportunity to use her acting chops to deliver lines such as: “I love Lonestar!” She thinks Scooter’s charm is “so innocent” and that he’s a “cutie pie.” It was a pretty shrewd move for Scotty to chose this song. Though it stays comfortably country, it showcases his higher range, a side that we haven’t seen much of. Amid (truly apocalyptic) signs that read “Scotty the Body” and “Scotty Rocks My Boots,” McCreery delivered an admirable vocal. If only he could refrain from constantly throwing gang signs! Steven liked that he “got angry” at the end of the song and thought he took the piece up a notch. Jennifer was happy that he used his vibrato like she told him to and thinks that there are a million girls out there wishing he were singing to them. (Seriously?) Randy bragged that he produced Boyz II Men’s version of the same song before proclaiming that “Scotty is money!”
LAUREN ALAINA “Wild One” by Faith Hill
Beyonce enjoys Lauren most when she’s singing fun songs because they loosen her up. It’s true; Lauren has been on the cusp of amazing many a time but she always seems to be in her head a little, judging herself as she sings. An empathetic Beyonce, shy by nature, gave her a lesson in Sasha Fierce 101. Borrowing boots from Western Barbie and earrings from the family Christmas tree, Lauren belted out a song she has been singing since childhood. Kudos to her, this time she wasn’t worried about the audience taking her literally and thinking that she actually is a “wild one.” Jennifer commended her for attacking the song and said that she has to do it like that every time. Randy loved Beyonce’s fierce advice and the fact that she was having fun. Steven said she sang like she owned the song. “You’re so ready for this. You’re ready for America to just be all over you.”
HALEY REINHART “What It Is and What Should Never Be” by Led Zeppelin
Beyonce didn’t seem sold on this song choice, calling it “interesting.” She did, however, think that Haley has guts for choosing an anti-pop song and feels that her presence is that of a true rock star. Personally, I think that Haley’s choices benefit her because they make you lean in and listen. And her rock pedigree is legit; she grew up listening to classic rock, thanks to her rocker parents. In fact, her father even played guitar on stage. While that seemed a little unfair, it also seemed a little weird when it came time to “sexy-dance with Daddy.” As she delivered a fantastic vocal, I was just thinking of how she had overcome her initial awkwardness with movement. Then — BAM! — she bit it on the stairs. To her credit, she missed only a beat before scurrying back on stage and finishing strong. Randy gave her a standing ovation, saying that “this girl is slayin’ it” and she’s – you guess it – in it to win it. Steven used her fall literally and figuratively: “It’s not about how many times you fall; it’s about how many times you get back up.” Jennifer said that the fact that she kept going was the “sign of a professional.”
Round 1 GOES TO …..
Randy: “Hands down Haley”
Steven: “Scotty sang it like he meant it. Lauren had too much fun. And she [Haley] got her freak on.”
Jennifer: “Haley….you could feel the energy she was creating.”
ROUND 2 — JIMMY’S CHOICE
SCOTTY McCREERY “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” by Thompson Square
Flashing back to Scotty’s initial audition, we are yet again treated to him singing about lockin’ them doors and turnin’ them lights down low. He’s got a buzzcut, which makes him look even more like Buddy Lee of Lee Jeans. He says he feels like that audition happened 10 years ago. Jimmy thinks this lyric is perfect for Scooter and it reminds him of old Tom Petty. Iovine seems to be the most in touch with who the Idols are (or should be) as artists and tells Scotty that when he records his album, “a touch of this feel should be in it.” Accompanying himself on guitar like a true country star, McCreery sang while doing eyebrow calisthenics and bugging out his eyes. In his defense, perhaps the stage lights were too bright, as Jimmy was sporting sunglasses in the audience. Steven thought that he was “living that one” and that he “sang it good.” Jennifer thought “it was so good” and wants him to shave his head again for the finale. Randy gave him the ultimate compliment by comparing him to Garth Brooks. “You’re approaching that Garth level…Scotty’s in it to win it!”
LAUREN ALAINA “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry
What’s obvious upon reviewing Lauren’s initial audition video, aside from her talent, is that the girl has lost a lot of weight! It’s either completely inappropriate or super appropriate for a 16-year-old to be singing this morbid song about dying young. That being said, Jimmy Iovine, who has always wanted her to sing this, is a genius. Lauren’s rendition made me a believer. Donning an Audrey-Hepburn-meets-Madonna party dress, Lauren gave a near perfect performance. That is, until the key change halfway through. She stayed in the previous key before realizing her mistake but, like Haley, recovered immediately. Jennifer blamed her mistake on “getting caught up in the honesty of the moment,” while I'm pretty sure it was just nerves. Lopez lauded her for having the most beautiful tone of the finalists, while Randy said it was emotionally flawless and commended her for recovering during the modulation. “You are definitely in it to win it too!” Steven thought it was a beautiful song, she’s got a beautiful voice and she “nailed it again.”
HALEY REINHART “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac
During Haley’s flashback video, we were reminded that she tried out for “Idol” the previous year but didn’t make the cut. Multiple times in the Bottom Three, tongue lashings by the judges, falling on stage — this girl really is the comeback kid. Haley called Jimmy’s choice a “very abstract song,” but she didn’t have much of a problem interpreting it. Jimmy wanted her to build towards the end so that people could her all the colors in her voice. While she didn’t quite do that, she hit it out of the park in a different way. Translation: Wind machine! Sporting an ethereal drapey nude dress, she writhed in the wind like a banshee as fog pumped in around her legs. The effect was a haunting softer side of Haley. Randy said that her pitch was perfect and wants his own wind machine. Haley reminded Steven of why he fell in love with Stevie Nicks. Jennifer thought that she would take it further but that it was a nice contrast to what she did earlier.
ROUND 2 GOES TO….
Steven: “Lauren Alaina, she did it for me.”
Jennifer: “Scotty, Scotty, Scotty!”
Randy: “Scotty, Scotty, Scotty. He wrecked it.”
ROUND 3 — JUDGES’ CHOICE
SCOTTY McCREERY “She Believes in Me” by Kenny Rogers
While their comments were pretty positive for each of the contestants tonight, some may say that the judges showed a little favoritism with their song choices. Kenny Rogers? Really? Everyone knows that teen girls are throwing their votes to “Scotty the Body" but are the judges trying to get their grandmas on board too? If they were going to go old school, I would suggest the George Jones classic “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Regardless, Scotty pulled it off in his typical way. Steven marveled that he hadn’t heard him sing a chorus like that yet. Jennifer said one of the reasons they picked it was to see if he could hit that big chorus. “I guess you showed us!” Randy thought it was very “nicely done, dude.” Prompted by Seacrest, Scotty’s dad Mike sang “baby, lock them doors and turn the lights down low” and Scotty reacted that Dad was “in it to win it.”
LAUREN ALAINA “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack
Lauren was making her hometown appearance at — where else? — the AT&T store when she got a text from the judges with her song assignment. This song choice seemed a little cliche and treacly. Lauren is already so saccharine; do we really need her singing from the plaques at the Christian book shop? Wearing the Blue Fairy’s prom dress, she looked beautiful and tried her best with a song that didn’t offer much. Her ad libs were a little gratuitous; I’m sure she wouldn’t sing them on the record. She was probably just trying to make a not-that-challenging song sound impressive. Thankfully, the judges were impressed. Jennifer got goose bumps and dared to say that she had already won the round, in her mind. Randy namedropped his good friend Lee Ann Womack and said “This girl’s also in it!” Steven said she walked in like she owned the Grand Ole Opry and sang the song perfectly. Then he one-upped Randy by saying that he, too, was friends with Ms. Womack and that she’s so happy, he’s so happy and America is so happy.
HALEY REINHART “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette
I’m not sure what the judges were thinking when they chose this song but the phrase “angry tramp” comes to mind. While this was a hit back in the day, it just didn’t seem appropriate for the family-friendly “Idol,” despite changing some of the dirty lyrics into happy tales about "going out with you to the theatre” (without engaging in sexual activity). The beginning verses seemed too low for Reinhart to pull off and grinding against the judges table while singing about scratching nails down someone’s back was just, well…..Ewwwww. Though the judges seemed to have stacked the deck against her with their selection, Haley delivered a strong wailing chorus that earned their respect. “Those were some amazing choruses by you,” said Randy. “Haley is in it to win it!” Steven thought it was “amazing” and that she “so nailed the choruses.” Jennifer thought it was “a really good job.”
ROUND 3 GOES TO….
Steven: “Haley, you slayed me tonight.”
Jennifer: “I think Lauren gave us one of the best performances of the night.”
Randy: “The way I see it, Lauren won this third round.”