I don’t know if it’s desperation, publicity, or truth – but an hour before showtime at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, Idol leaked a rumor that Lauren Alaina was losing her voice, and that Haley Reinhart was rehearsing as a last-minute replacement. I’m skeptical, although TV Guide was tweeting as close to showtime as 7:45pm (Eastern) that Haley was on-set and ready. Most likely, it’s a planted stunt with TMZ.
The reality is that our battle of too-young-to-vote country hopefuls is about to take place on the big stage at L.A. Live, and we’re 26 or so hours away from one of them being named the 10th American Idol. Will it be the classic country crooner, or the new country warbler? Lock the doors and turn the lights down low, because THIS… is American Idol!
Let’s see if Seacrest makes anything of the rumors…
We start with… video of Carrie Underwood at age 8? Oh, we’re showing early footage of some past Idols, mixed with all kinds of old footage of the current Idol finalists. Seacrest is in a tux, of course, as we open the show from L.A. Live… the judges aren’t so formal, and Nokia is packed to the gills…
No reference to the Twitter rumors (yet) as Scotty and Lauren take their pre-competition bows… I spoke too soon, as Seacrest asked Lauren about it, and she said that she was “ready to go”. They even brought their doctor on-stage to explain that Lauren “sprained” her vocal cords in rehearsal, but she’s heavily medicated (no jokes about her mother – yet) and medical staff is on standby.
Seacrest explains the rules: contestant’s favorites in Round 1, Idols’ Idols selections in Round 2, Coronation Songs in Round 3. Scotty won the coin-toss, deferred to Lauren, she’ll sing second in each round.
ROUND 1: CONTESTANT FAVORITES
Scotty McCreery – “Gone”, Montgomery Gentry (from May 4/Round of 5)
Scotty carries the VFTW banner into the finale… I thought this was a good choice three weeks ago, and I think it is now. He didn’t get quite as energetic with the presentation, but gave the song another solid rendition. A good start to tonight’s Country Idol.
Lauren Alaina – “Flat On The Floor”, Carrie Underwood (from May 4/Round of 5)
With an Underwood song coming in Round 2, this isn’t a surprise. Maybe it’s me, but I’m hearing some of the roughness in her voice from the vocal problems – and I think it’s helping the song… definitely showing some urgency. As she was the first time, she’s in “little Carrie” mode, wearing an outfit that Carrie would definitely wear on tour.
No judges’ comments this round. That would be a good thing.
Round One Scoring: Draw. They sang the same songs back-to-back three weeks ago, so we don’t really get a new comparison here. Right now, a draw would (likely) go to Scotty, so Lauren needs to score big in Round 2 – because the Coronation Songs are usually awful.
ROUND 2: IDOLS’ IDOLS CHOICES
(replacing the Clive Davis round from earlier seasons)
Scotty – “Check Yes or No” (George Strait; chosen by… well… George Strait)
Scotty’s on guitar… of course, it’s a George Strait song. Right in the ol’ comfort zone. And he did a solid job. Exactly what you would have expected from Scotty doing Strait. Scotty’s playing prevent defense tonight. Will it be enough?
That depends on what Lauren does with her idol’s song choice… after a…
*break* in which Oprah bought time for her farewell show tomorrow…
Lauren – “Maybe It Was Memphis” (Pam Tillis; chosen by Carrie Underwood)
A solid country song, given a solid performance. But I’m not sure it was the home run she needed. Likeable, but not a “moment”. I’m not sure the song choice served her well.
Seacrest brings Scotty out for judges’ comments… Randy filibusters before declaring it basically even through two rounds… J-Lo babbled (while Steven looked bored) before declaring it basically even through two rounds… Steven said crazy things before giving Lauren the advantage because she’s cuter. And, of course, Randy had to get in one in it to win it for both of them… because he’s become a catchphrase caricature.
Round Two: Slight edge to Lauren, but not enough to overcome the season-long lead we all believe that Scotty built up.
Oh, great, it’s the Coca-Cola crowdsourced song (it’s been written by fan vote all season on the Idol website). Taio Cruz “singing” (OK, it’s autotune) “Positive”. I’m positive I won’t be terribly eager to hear it again… especially since it appears the autotune failed partway through the song… ouch…
*break* in which we confirm that Hollywood has no creativity left with a commercial for “The Smurfs… in 3D!”
During this break, Vote For The Worst has undertaken to make #worstfinaleever a trending Twitter topic…
ROUND 3: CORONATION SINGLES
Oh, look, they found Jimmy Iovine for this round… and both contestants are singing to a video of highlights of their journey, projected on the big screens at Nokia…
Scotty – “I Love You This Big”
Wow. They took no chances at all on this song… right down to bringing back the swaybots at the front of the stage. It’s another mediocre Coronation song. OK performance, forgettable song. This is a football team running out the clock in the 4th quarter… nothing more or less. The judges, of course, tripped over themselves to love it.
Lauren – “Like My Mother Does” (a Kristy Lee Cook album track??? Seriously?)
Wow. A tribute to stage-mom extraordinaire Kristi Suddeth. If this song is meant to determine where Lauren goes as an artist, she ought to sue everyone for non-support. Anyway, the swaybots are back… for a song which is exactly what they shouldn’t have had her sing. This is not a competition-winning song. She’s been betrayed by the Idol machine at the last minute… and going down into the audience to sing to the Mamabot isn’t going to change it. The judges, of course, tripped over themselves to love it… and to attempt to change the inevitable. They’re basically ordering America to vote for Lauren.
The judges final score: Randy picks Lauren. J-Lo punts (perhaps because she couldn’t bring herself to follow orders and give it to Lauren?). Steven picks Lauren.
Round Three: Both songs suck. Scotty coasted. Lauren did the best she could with that glop. We all lost 15 minutes we won’t ever get back.
Final Thoughts: A truly mind-numbing finale – nobody took a chance, nobody stretched at all, and nobody won. With nobody winning, Scotty maintains his lead and will be the 10th American Idol.
We leave with the traditional live performance of the sing-off song: it’s David Cook with “(Don’t You) Forget About Me”.
So… we get a colossal letdown to wrap up the competition portion of AI season 10. The 2 hour, 7 minute finale starts tomorrow night at 8/7c, with the results announced at about 10:02pm. If all goes well, I’ll liveblog updates at every commercial break. If you’re DVRing, remember the show goes long, and might overshoot the allocated 127 minutes.
Up next, your favorite 30-year-old high-schoolers… it’s Glee’s season finale on FOX.
See you tomorrow night.