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|05-12-2011, 01:52 PM||#1|
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'American Idol' Report Card: Haley's Got Something Judges Can't See [MTV]
Her inspirational tune earned demerits from Randy and J.Lo but we think she belongs at the head of the class.
By Eric Ditzian
Haley Reinhart performs on Wednesday's "American Idol"
Photo: Michael Becker/ Fox
With that one little word on "American Idol" Wednesday night, Haley Reinhart offered a devastatingly sarcastic "J'accuse!" for one of the most frustrating seasons in reality show memory. To the judges who have consistently slammed her while praising anything and everything from other contestants, to the judges who last night declared the best first-song performance was a three-way between everyone not named Haley, Ms. Reinhart turned and said, with equal parts frustration, anger and sadness, "Thanks."
And thus, she encapsulated the emotions of so many "Idol" voters, who can't quite understand why Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez just don't seem to like Haley, as a singer and a person. Ultimately, though, the voting is up to us, and if this ongoing affaire Reinhart ends up sending the 20-year-old home on Thursday (May12), we'll have only ourselves to blame.
But enough with the judges! This is a singing competition, not a judging competition (if it had been, everyone would have been sent home months ago). With the task of performing both an inspirational song and a tune from the songbook of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the contestants had their ups and downs. There were pleasures aplenty, not just from Haley, but from Lauren Alaina too. Scotty McCreery and James Durbin shone at times and stumbled at others. None of these hopefuls, however, can escape our "Idol" report card.
Haley Reinhart: "I (Who Have Nothing)"
For the second straight week, Haley was forced to return to the stage for a second song following some nasty criticism. And for the second straight week, she bounced back in big, take-that-you-damn-dirty-judges fashion. She took mentor Lady Gaga's advice to get a little psycho, nailed the high notes and had an "Idol" moment in spite of the judges.
Lauren Alaina: "Anyway"
Perhaps inspired by her "Moulin Rouge"-like get-up, Lauren took on her biggest notes of the season and came out looking like a champ. She started out tentatively, but found her form quickly and didn't let up. But what was J. Lo talking about when she said she's been tough on Lauren at times?
Scotty McCreery: "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)"
Oh, Scotty, what is there to say at this point? You're a simple guy singing simple songs, and you'll soon be selling millions of them. Did you so much as break a sweat up there? Well, no, but this type of country stuff comes so easily to you. Perfectly competent, perfectly predictable — and neither of those points are bad things.
Haley Reinhart: "Earth Song"
Before she had her "Thanks" moment — our vote for the most delicious moment the entire season — Haley gave a heck of a performance. It was hardly her best of the season. The cover was a little sleepy and there was something a bit predictable about how she went into her growls midway through. Yet the utter disdain Randy and J. Lo showed her was inexcusable. If we've had to put up with Steven Tyler's hollow words all season just so he could turn to his fellow judges and announce how wrong they were, it's all been worth it.
James Durbin: "Love Potion No. 9"
We didn't mind the hard-rock-ification of this song. Here's our issue: James' version of rock star has always smacked of a suburban kid in his bedroom, a boombox turned up to 11 and his parents downstairs begging him to turn that racket off and come down for dinner. In others words, there's something inauthentic and unearned about that persona. At least his vocals this time around were more on-point than during his first tune.
Lauren Alaina: "Trouble"
Yikes, we've seen smaller shoulder pads on middle linebackers. And we've seen soooo much better from Lauren. The tune started off well enough, but perhaps those Gaga-induced evil thoughts got the best of her, because the second half of the performance utterly fell apart. Either she or Haley is going home on Thursday. Of their four performances, this was the weakest. But seeing as the judges love Lauren and have never fully embraced Haley, anything can happen on elimination night.
James Durbin: "Don't Stop Believin' "
As if the judges needed another reason to fawn over James, the deviously brilliant 22-year-old singer busted out this Journey tune, ensuring that not only former Journey bassist Randy Jackson but his judging cohorts would hoot and holler no matter what the performance sounded like. James has approached this season as if it were "Survivor," and he's not entirely wrong; he's strategized, he's appealed to the soft spots of voters and judges, he's arguably played up his homesickness for maximum "aww" factor. More power to him. This tune was honestly so much fun we could almost ignore the warbling that has been a staple of his vocals all season. Almost.
Scotty McCreery: "Young Blood"
Was Scotty still trembling in his cowboy boots after his run-in with Gaga? Something was clearly off here. His idea of theatricality was to raise his eyebrows up and down so often it looked as if they were trying to leap off his face. We don't blame those brows. This was Scotty at his least flattering, trying to have a good ol' time and instead coming off as an awkward goofball. If this is what Scotty is like when he steps outside the box, we encourage him to hop back in, grab a hold of Alan Jackson's songbook, and never let go.
Don't miss "Idol Party Live" every Thursday at noon on MTV.com for analysis, celebrity guests and even some karaoke — get in the conversation by tweeting with the hashtag #idolparty! In the meantime, get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.
Note: this news is being syndicated from MTV.
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