Recap: ‘American Idol’ Season 10 Finale – The Performances

05.24.11 7 years ago 26 Comments


If you’re as Twitter addicted as I am, you spent the 90 minutes leading up to Tuesday’s “American Idol” finale on pins and needles waiting to see who FOX would offer up as a sacrificial lamb at the altar of St. Scotty McCreery. Would it be laryngitis-battling finalist Lauren Alaina or possible comeback kid Haley Reinhart?

Click through to find out who sang on Tuesday and who will lose to Scotty on Wednesday.

Whew. Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery take the stage, hand-in-hand. An “Idol” doctor is brought out to explain that Lauren Alaina has a sprained ankle in her throat, but that he’s pumped her full of drugs and she’ll be just fine. WHEW.

OK, so tonight Scotty and Lauren will sing thrice. First, they’ll reprise a favorite performance from the season. Then our Idols will sing songs chosen by their Idols — Carrie Underwood for Lauren and George Strait for Scotty. Finally, they’ll each perform the song that will be their first single. Buckle up.

Singer: Scotty McCreery
Song: “Gone”
My Take: Gee, Scotty. Jeans and a t-shirt? Way to dress for the occasion. If you’re not going to take this seriously, why should we? We was just wearing the t-shirt before, but now he has a jacket, like the maitre had to give him a loaner so that he could go on stage. Anyway, this was Scott’s choice. And it’s a good one, because it really showcases the minimal advances that he’s made as a performance. He’s not intimidated by the huge Nokia Theater and he works the aisles and the stage like a pro. As was the case when he first sang this song, his voice gets a bit thin on the higher notes in the chorus, but overall, it’s an engaged and lively way to open the show. And we know that Lauren is going to be struggling to stay alive, much less to perform with an iota of energy. This is going to be a huge rout.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Wait. The judges aren’t… judging? Why is this night different from all other nights, I suppose.

Singer: Lauren Alaina
Song: “Flat on the Floor”
My Take: How… odd that Lauren and Scotty choose two songs that they sang consecutively just two weeks ago. Lauren sounds fine through the first verse, but when she gets to the chorus, you can hear the strain on her voice and it is, indeed, somewhat painful. She’s holding back on every note and you can sense that it would tear her apart to actually sing all-out. There’s also a weirdness in the audio mix that makes the whole performance more uneven than it would have. I mean, it’s pseudo-heroic that she’s doing this and the judges give her a standing ovation for the effort, but who are we kidding here? This was a rout to begin with, but are we thinking Lauren Alaina is going to pity-vote herself to an “Idol” win?
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: The judges don’t say anything. But you just know that J-Lo thinks Lauren’s a trooper and that Steven thinks it was beautiful. Randy thinks it was just like being at a Lauren Alaina concert.

Singer: Scotty McCreery
Song: “Check Yes or No”
My Take: So George Strait chose to have Scotty McCreery sing a George Strait song? He must have put a lot of effort into that decision. It’s a perfectly acceptable song choice, a right-down-the-middle hit for Guitar Scotty. Part of me thinks that they need to handicap Scotty in some way to make this a bit fairer. Maybe they should let Haley stand in the wings and knee him in the groin before each performance? Anyway, this is a very simple, decently performed number for Scotty. But he’s not all that connected to the song. Maybe he’s replaced Real Scotty with Robo-Scotty and he’s waiting to see if anybody notices the difference? Or maybe he’s uncomfortable by how close-to-pink his plaid flannel shirt is.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: The judges aren’t talking again. But I’ll surmise that J-Lo is disappointed Scotty didn’t shave his head like she instructed. Steven Tyler thinks it was beautiful. Randy thinks it was just like being at a Scotty McCreery Concert.

Singer: Lauren Alaina
Song: “Maybe It Was Memphis”
My Take: Carrie Underwood thought outside of her own songbook and gave Lauren a Pam Tillis song. Dressed in a golden tutu, Lauren doesn’t look unsteady and even though she seems to be dropping out on the high notes, she plows ahead and even finds her inner-growl on a few of bigger notes. That was a much better performance than her first one and I’d even go so far as to say that Lauren Alaina wins Round Two on my scorecard.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Oh. Now we’re going to the judges? Randy begins by saying that America did a fine job choose and that this is “so even.” Randy says Scotty’s first performance was “brilliant” and that his second was “very good.” Randy loved both of Lauren’s performances as well. And he scores it Round One to Scotty, Round Two to Lauren. J-Lo agrees with Lauren on the scoring. Randy gives Lauren the first and second rounds, “Only because she’s prettier than you are.” Randy closes with, “They’re both in it to win it.” The judges were every bit as insightful in their silence as they were in their commentary.

Singer: Scotty McCreery
Song: “I Love You This Big”
My Take: “I Love You This Big”? Really? Was the coronation song written by a love-starved six-year-old? Mockery aside, it’s a flawlessly arranged piece of Scottified treacle. And it’s totally OK that every time Scotty sings the chorus, I’m yelling “That’s what she said” at my TV screen. God, that’s an awful song. But Scotty sounds fine singing it.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Randy is just marveling at the range Scott got to sing. Randy tells Scotty that he’s in it to win it. Randy, you’re dead weight. J-Lo says that Scotty is “our great storyteller” and she calls him “amazing.” “You nailed it again,” Steven adds. Sigh. I miss way back when the judges were mute. Ryan praises Scotty for his well-cultivated calm. Scotty resists saying, “Ummm… I might as well be singing against Stephen Hawking.” You know what helps make people calm? Absence of competition. [Also, beta-blockers.]

Singer: Lauren Alaina
Song: “Like My Mother Does”
My Take: This is a savvy song for Lauren to get to sing. She’s never been comfortable pretending to sing love songs, so playing directly to all the moms out there is pretty wise. You can barely hear Lauren over the pervasive string section and you can barely see Lauren over the front-row arm-swingers. Following several rough notes, Ryan comes to the stage and helps Lauren descend the stage to hug her mother. It’s the first truly great moment of the entire finale. The first actual emotion of the finale. And if Lauren somehow pulls out the votes and wins tomorrow, it will be 100 percent because of THAT moment. The crowd loves it and Lauren is in tears.
Steven, J-Lo and Randy Say: Randy says it was a great song. “Lauren Alaina has arrived, America. That was amazing,” Randy says, standing. J-Lo says that with that song, Lauren may have just won. Steven says that Lauren is American Idol in his eyes. Randy gives Round Three to Lauren. Jennifer agrees. And Steven says, “Sorry Scotty. Lauren gets it hands down.”

TONIGHT’S BEST: David Cook’s performance of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” was the night’s top performance both vocally and in terms of stage confidence.

TONIGHT’S WORST: Scotty gave one solid performance and two dull, disconnected performances. Lauren Alaina gave two awful vocal performances and one decent one in the middle. In the balance, that was a really poor hour of television, wasn’t it?

BOTTOM LINE: Note: Lauren’s performance on her third song was vocally dreadful, but it was everything Scotty wasn’t for most of the episode and for much of the season. It was personal. It was emotional. And it was entirely connected. Yes, it was a vocal mess, but as a piece of “American Idol” theatricality, was exceptional. The only thing that Lauren Alaina could possibly have done to stem the tide was have A Moment. And guess what? She did. I still think Scotty wins this thing, but before tonight, I couldn’t have pointed to anything going in Lauren’s favor. After tonight, I can. Kudos to “Idol” and FOX for milking the story of her illness to start the show, introducing a worth underdog narrative in case people want to vote to fight off the inevitable.

Who did you like? Who did you dislike? Who’s gonna win?

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