The singers, the songs:
Round one (contestant choice)-
Scotty, “Amazed”, Lonestar
By now we all know what these kids sound like, how they move, and what we would call a typical level of performance for each of them. Scotty was typical on Amazed. Not bad, not great, just typical Scotty. I expect that this won’t be the last “typical” performance tonight. We know these kids so well now.
Lauren, “Wild One”, Faith Hill
Lauren sounded terrific in her upper range, whispery and out of breath in her lower range. Something weird happened at the end, when Lauren stopped a verse ahead of the band. My guess is that it was Lauren’s fault, but who knows? The judges didn’t even mention it.
Haley, “What is and what should never be”, Led Zeppelin
Other than falling on her butt, Haley was terrific. The first half of the song, before she ran out behind the judges, was moment quality. You gotta respect that she didn’t fall apart when she fell; she just soldiered on and finished up the song. I kept trying to remember who she reminded me of at the start, that quirky and beautiful tone… It was Didi from last year that I was thinking of, but you could go with Adele or KT Tunstall too. It’s a very current sound.
Round one went to Haley in a unanimous decision, though Steven gave some love to Lauren.
Round Two (Jimmy Iovine choice)-
Scotty, “Are you gonna kiss me or Not?”,Thompson Square
Scotty seemed a little tight on his first song and he started out tight again on this one, really pitchy and throaty. He hit his stride about halfway through, though, and finished really strong; more in line with his better performances.
Lauren, “If I Die Young”, The Band Perry
I sent out a mailer before the season started with a link to this song. I thought that it would be one of those songs that everyone would be singing. As it turns out, this is the first time anyone has sung it.
Her voice sounded fantastic on the song, but she made a couple of big mistakes and it seemed like the performance wasn’t very well rehearsed. Lauren really isn’t ready to do this much performing in such a short time. She forgot about the key change, and while she recovered and got right back in she looked a little bit lost to the end, especially when she went to sit down for the last phrase. I have to give some blame to whoever came up with the arrangement. They put too much into it, more than Lauren could handle comfortably. That said, I’ll say again that her voice sounded fantastic. The girl has a huge, rich, powerful voice.
Haley, “Rhiannon”, Fleetwood Mac
This is a tough song to wring dynamics out of. I really like it, but it’s more of a mood song than something to show off on. Haley did extremely well in giving the melody some cool twists, and she caught the mood very well. I liked the fan blowing her hair around, that was effective. Her rhythm wasn’t perfect, which is something that Haley sometimes struggles with, but let’s be real. She was much better overall than the other two contestants again, though Lauren’s voice sounded the best.
Aside- The judges and Ryan are really loose tonight, funny and spontaneous. The tone in the room is really positive and relaxed.
Round two went to Scotty according to the judges in a split decision (Steven called it for Lauren), while Haley got the predictable green weenie because she was AGAIN sabotaged by a song choice from Jimmy.
Lauren- B (A- for singing, but dunned for the mistakes)
Round Three (judge choice)-
Scotty, “She Believes in Me”, Kenny Rogers
Was it a moment? It’s hard to really define Scotty’s moments this year, since the judges call just about everything Scotty does a moment. I’ll say this: Scotty sings the holy crap out of ballads like this, and he had the high scratch going as well as that amazing first verse in his signature lower range. He put the perfect cherry on top with his last note, hitting it sweetly and on the tuning fork. The kid is a star, and I’m giving this one an A. I was skeptical about the song choice for Scotty, since it has that long chorus in the upper register without much movement to hide tone flaws. Scotty made it work much better than even Kenny Rogers did.
Lauren, “I Hope You Dance”, Leann Womack
She was about as flawless as she’s been all year, and she sang beautifully. That said, I don’t think that this song was any more dynamic than Haley’s “Rhiannon” was. It was sleepy and fairly boring. There is no question that Lauren has a world class tone, but there are many questions about how long it’s going to take to get the rest of her game to the level that it needs to be. This was probably a good song choice, simply so that Lauren wouldn’t have three consecutive songs with glaring mistakes in them.
Haley, “You Oughta Know”, Alanis Morrisette
I didn’t think that this was a good song choice either, and I question why both Jimmy I and the judges would misread Haley’s style so badly. The first part of the song wasn’t very good because it was way too low for Haley’s wheelhouse, but she brought it from there on in, and nailed that last note as perfectly as anyone could. Haley sang as well or better than the other two contestants in all three rounds, but she was AGAIN sabotaged by a song choice that wasn’t her own.
Again, the judges gave all the love to the two country singers and reserved the only criticism for Haley. Let’s hope that it works again, lol….
Round three winner was…… Lauren? Steven called it for Haley, but the other two judges goose stepped, saluted Nigel and shilled for the chosen one.
Safe to in danger–
I was way wrong last week, so obviously anything is possible, but again I expect Scotty to cruise to the finale and I also expect that it’s going to be very close between the two girls for the second spot. DialIdol has Scotty at 30, Lauren at 14, and Haley at 12. That’s too close to call, but it’s pretty obvious that the show wants Lauren while Haley would, to me, make for the much more dynamic finale.
Tonight was a microcosm of the last month, really. Haley blew her songs out, got stuck with bad songs whenever it was possible, and the judges reserved all of their criticism for Haley while they slurped Scotty and Lauren. The final round was the sickest example all season. Lauren was “perfect” while singing a boring, safe song while Haley was given some criticism for her verses while performing a song Lauren, or J-Lo for chrissakes, would butcher at karaoke.