Saturday, May 28, 2011

Scotty McCreery – Our Hometown Superstar

When we saw Scotty’s first audition and learned that he was from Garner, we became instant fans. Not just because his hometown is right down the road from us, but because of his deep, rich voice and sparkling personality.

Scotty consistently performed well during the season, never straying far from his country roots. He gave his fans exactly what they had come to expect. What has impressed me the most about the lovable 17-year-old is that he has never wavered from professing his devout faith in Christ.

The winner of season ten revealed more insight during his wrap-up interviews. “This is pretty wild, I gotta say. A whole lot more than I bargained for coming into this – I never would have expected it.” Scotty feels that he is handling the "crazy ride" well so far.

Scotty looks forward to performing at the upcoming CMA music festival. He’d like to play the Grand Ole Opry as well. The teenage winner was surprised and thrilled to learn that his first single is currently number one on iTunes.

The young southern gentleman genuinely felt that he would come in second to Lauren Alaina. “She's something else. She sings like a bird. She’s just an amazing young lady.” He denies rumors of a romance with the fellow contestant. He hopes to cut a duet with Lauren for his first album.

In regards to his amazing voice, Scotty says, "I’ve always kinda sounded the same… Vegas week was the week that I discovered that I could kinda sing higher than I had been singing in the competition so far."

He adds, "Everybody had their own niches. Country music is me. It’s what I grew up with. It’s what I do. I didn’t have any intention of changing. My thing was - if it got me this far, why change it up? It’s what I love to do."

Read more about this season’s winner on his official American Idol page.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lauren Alaina – Teenage Dynamo

From her very first appearance on the show, fans could tell that Lauren would be a front-runner. The cute, funny, talented teenager demonstrated versatility during the season that won her many fans.

Week after week Lauren delivered entertaining performances; the Georgia native is a natural on the stage. We learn more about this year’s adorable runner-up from her post-show interviews.

Lauren was raised on country music and it’s the genre that is closest to her heart. She is hoping to make it to the CMA festival this year. Carrie Underwood is one of the artists that she looks up to, and she was thrilled to perform with her at the finale.

She has been a fan of American Idol since the beginning and was thrilled when the age limit was lowered to fifteen. She doesn’t regret trying out so young. “I feel like if something’s your dream and you know what you want, you should go for it.”

The teenager feels that her lack of self-confidence had a positive effect in the long run. She is her own worst critic. “The things I didn’t like about myself, I worked on the whole time I was on the show and really tried to improve myself. It was really helpful for me to grow as a person and as an artist.”

She is completely satisfied with her second place finish on the show this year. “God has a different plan for me,” she says. “I’m very fortunate to have made it.”

There has been a lot of gossip that Lauren and Scotty are more than friends but she denies this rumor. She says, “I couldn’t have picked a better person to get second place to but him.”

As for being a role model to others, the singer says, “I’m not fake and I don’t want to mislead people as to who I am. I crack jokes a lot but I can be serious too... I plan on not changing who I am for anything.”

You can read more about Lauren Alaina Suddeth on her official American Idol web page.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

And the Winner Was a Country Teenager

At the beginning of season ten approximately half the population of planet Earth tried out for American Idol. Now we are down to just two.

Two hour finale tonight! Spoilers on the ‘net promise lots of surprises. “Who do you love?” Ryan wants to know. And now that song is stuck in our heads. Thanks Seacrest.

Over 122 million votes were cast, a new record. All in all the season total of votes equal almost the amount of money that Oprah made this year.

They Who Must Not Be Named are already seated. My Kid Tru asks me why I am so down on the judges after spending weeks as their biggest fan. I don’t have all night to explain it. Got a show to blog!

The adorables come out to the stage, and they are both dressed in white. I have grown fond of both of these kids. Lauren and Scotty – here’s hoping that when you get grown you’ll end up together, and H'wood will make a Lifetime movie of your journey. Seriously. That would be epic.

We see a quick shot of Chattanooga and Raleigh where cheering fans are holding viewing events.  Looks like more folks are at the RBC Center, but that could just be me being partial.

The top 13 lip synch Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way.” It would be so HIGH-larious if they opened the big door and Madonna came out and started singing “Express Yourself.” How Gagme got away with ripping that off remains an unsolved mystery. But I digress… The group number is as cheesy as ever which is why we love it. Long live the pointy pose!

Judas Priest and James Durbin beg us all once again to “give metal a chance.” The Durbs looks like he’s ready for a Village People reunion. Pyro! James sounds really good here. It’s like old metal meets new. Their version of “Breaking the Law” makes me giggle. My mom just turned 67 and she is a big James fan; I bet she is loving this gig.

A video montage showing the “best of” Randy Jackson (the veteran) being in it to win it. He is amused at the drinking game that he has created this year.

Next to perform are Jacob Lusk with gospel star Kirk Franklin; they are here to take us to church. They sing “Smile,” then Gladys Knight joins them with a full-fledged choir. There is a shout out to tornado victims with a text number to donate to the American Red Cross.

Casey Abrams is on stage with a couch singing “Fat Bottomed Girls.” Of all the Queen songs, why this one? Oh, so that scantily clad back-up dancers can prance on stage. Jack Black joins in; Tru loves him in School of Rock. At first I thought he was Randy Hickey. As a singer he is a good comedian. We still adore Casey, but this act is more like an SNL skit.

Next the ladies of the top 13 take the stage dressed in red. They start with “Single Ladies” and then go into a Beyonce medley. Karen sounds really good, and Naima of course still has the moves. Haley sounds awesome on “If I Were a Boy.” And Pia, oh how we missed you. Then Beyonce Herself comes out to sing “Crazy in Love.” Hugs to all the girls. She shows them how it is done.

The Steven Tyler highlight reel is shown next. We are reminded of when he was funny and sassy and a huge old flirt. Man, the things that ancient rockers can get away with.

My girl Haley is up next to sing a duet with Tony Bennett. Tru and I both wonder why she got the 85-year- old, but you know what? He is fabulous and so is she; that was some good “Stepping Out.” It’s so strange that Tru and I are the only Haley fans that we know personally. There have to be more – she made top three after all.

The most beautiful woman in the world (according to People magazine) gets her judge montage next. it’s all about the fawning. And I am a-yawning. See, I am a poet.

The R&B group TLC, minus the one who died but plus Lil Jon, sing a medley. Then the ladies of the Idol 13 come out. Their mics seem to be turned down. Lauren is absent in this group performance. Just realized that she wasn’t in the Beyonce group either. The TLC gals sound rough tonight.

Scotty and country superstar Tim McGraw sing the song “Live Like You Were Dying.” Scotty and Tim sound really good together. Goodness, Faith Hill’s hubby is hot. He is a decent actor too, especially in Blind Side. Tru doesn’t remember this, but when she was three, she sang his songs all the time. “I Like It I Love It” was her favorite.

The DJ wannabe from earlier in the season does a mock W-IDOL to do highlights of the best of the very worst of the auditions this year. The “unsung heroes” segment reminds us of why the early rounds were so entertaining. Because mocking obtuse people is fun, especially when they literally fall flat on their faces.

An angry mummified corpse is singing some kind of Spanish ditty. Oh wait, it’s J.Lo's hubby Marc Anthony. He is surrounded by flamenco dancers, and then she shows up midway to shake her booty.  The marvelous Sheila E. is on drums. Marc just seems irritated all the time for some reason.

A video of the losing Idols is shown next and it’s full of sass and humor. Casey and James are really funny as they battle for the most shocking boot. They could definitely do a sitcom. It turns out that Pia is the most shocking, and she has the sash and tiara to prove it.

Boys in black from the top 13 take the stage to do the Prince song “Kiss.” Stefano shines on this one. Wait, it must be a Tom Jones medley because they do “She’s a Lady" with Paul on lead. Then that stupid pussycat song, but James and Casey can add humor to anything. Finally Tom Jones himself shows up. When did he turn into Fred Sanford? All in all a good time is had by all.

The last Ford music video of the season is of Scotty and Lauren singing “Whenever You Remember.” They sound good together. A highlight reel of previous videos is shown. Zombies! Superheroes! Spies! Oh yeah and Fords.

Ryan introduces Scotty and Lauren’s favorite teachers next. On their hometown visits the contestants invited them to the finale. Tonight the teachers each get a Ford Focus as a surprise.

The final two contestants also each get a Ford; they get to choose which one they want. Those cars will come in handy when they learn how to drive.

Lady Gaga comes back to perform her new song “Edge of Glory.” She stands on something that looks like a big rock, which reminds me of a Buffy quote - Spike: “It’s a big rock. I can’t wait to tell all my friends. They don’t have a rock this big.” Some famous sax player shows up. Gagme makes out with some shirtless dude. Hide your kids’ eyes, mommas; the show just turned R-rated.

Next to the stage is our own Lauren Alaina who sings the Carrie song about keying 4-wheel-drives and whatnot. Then Carrie herself joins her on stage. Wow she has grown into a true performer. Gone are the Carrie-bot days. Say whoa to awesomeness. It’s very admirable how Ms. Underwood stands back to let Lauren shine.

In the funniest video I have seen in a long long while, the other contestants reveal their “true feelings” about the final two being mere children. It starts out serious but then gets funny. There is some untapped acting talent among this group.

Beyonce is back AGAIN to showcase a new ballad. Not sure what it’s called but she shouts “make love to me” about a thousand times. Geesh, family SHOW. At least she’s dressed. Proof that you can perform well without standing on top of a piano half nekkid, Gagme.

I like Beyonce and most of the other stars that they’ve had on the show tonight, but it seems like they could have had more past Idol recognition on the finale. Last year’s winner Lee DeWyze was sitting in the audience. I also spotted David Cook and Micheal Johns, and there were probably tons more.  Just saying. Drink your own Kool-Aid, American Idol.

We have read about Spiderman being made into a Broadway musical and that there have been hardships. Some very extremely handsome young man joins Bono and The Edge on stage to sing a song called “Rise Above.” Wow this is a great song. A guy in a Spidey suit is aerialing his way above the Nokia. He makes a stop to hang upside down in front of J.Lo, but she is not doing the kiss thing like Mary Jane Watson.

Steven (sans Aerosmith) plays piano and gently sings “Dream On.” Then he kicks it up a notch and swings his be-scarved mic stand around. Look out orchestra! When he hits the high note, look out glass objects! “That was just beautiful.”  “He is in it to win it.” “Y’know I’m in love wit’ch you.”

Finally it’s time to learn the results from the 122 million votes. Scotty looks handsome and Lauren is gorgeous in her yellow dress. They goof off while the requisite British guy brings Ryan the envelope.

Scotty is the winner! Lauren seems to be fine. Scotty hugs Lauren and she gives him a kiss right on the lips. In his short speech he says that he and Lauren have been together since the beginning and they will stay together. Then he thanks The Lord; I love this kid for that the most.

It’s time for Scotty to sing the “Big” song again. He hugs his parents and various family members in the audience. Jack Black is left standing there like - where’s my hug? So funny!

Back on the stage Scotty hugs all of the top 13, and then falls to the floor crying.  He hops back up though like a trooper. Because he is a kid he tries to catch the confetti like snow. Lauren keeps kissing him on the cheek over and over. Such cute young'ens.

Ryan: I promise I will try to get it in before your DVRs stop this year.
Ryan: Nice abs.
James: We’re the shocker rockers.
Ryan: You guys have hot teachers.

Now it’s time to watch the news footage from the action that is happening right down the road - 8200 people at the RBC center. Whew what a season! Here’s a proud North Carolina gal signing off, with sniffles.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Boy Next Door and The Southern Belle

It’s been all over the interwebs this afternoon that Lauren Alaina has lost her voice and might have to drop out of the finale. They say Haley is there practicing in case she needs to fill in at the last minute. Yeah fricking right. Lauren wouldn't drop out if she was rendered mute. Wake up and smell the conspiracy, NIGEL.

While I believe it’s true that Lauren had problems, WHY publicize them to death at this stage of the competition? Read: Publicity stunt to garner the sympathy vote. This producer manipulation is so irritating, but I am going to try not to hold it against the contestant. It’s not her fault she has been pimped out as Lythgoe’s Choice all season.

Okay. Games be danged… on with the finale. 

The beginning of the show recalls good memories of Carrie’s win in season four and my favorite champ of all time, David Cook in season seven. Quick montage of Lauren and Scotty as kids (about a year ago.)

The puppets, er, I mean judges arrive. Whoop. Tuxedo’d Ryan says that there are 7,000 fans in the Nokia tonight. The rest of the top 13 are in the audience. We have only an hour tonight for Scotty and Lauren to do three songs each, so let’s get busy.

When the top two teenagers come out on stage, I am reminded of a Buffy quote – Anya: “This isn’t going to get all sexy, is it?”  Willow: “I’d be shocked.”

As we figured, they are going to milk this "Lauren’s voice" issue for all it’s worth. They even bring the DOCTOR out on the stage to explain it. My Kid Tru and I both call BS on this. Where was Casey’s doc when he had a ruptured ulcer earlier this year? He just shrugged it off, no drama. Gah.

Again… can’t hold it against the kid. Can’t hold it against the kid. Repeat ten more times.

Deep breath. Okay. Three rounds of singing tonight. Last week, they did the coin toss to see who would go last, which traditionally is the best spot. Scotty won but because he is a gentleman, he deferred to Lauren to decide. In essence, he lost - he will be up first tonight.

The first round will be a repeat of one of the songs the kids did before. In his best tee-shirt and leather jacket, Scotty chooses the upbeat Montgomery Gentry hit “Gone.”  He works the crowd and changes it up a bit from last time. Wisely dials down the campiness. Hot fiddle player alert! Evidently the “judges” - and I use sarcastic quotation marks - will be saving their comments until later.

Carrie’s "Flat on the Floor" is the song that Lauren is repeating. She did this great the last time and in spite of all the voice problems, she does fine again. She’s wearing a shiny Star Trek-like outfit. I am really trying to not be skeptical but Jaded is my middle name these days. Surely the viewers are not going to swallow this drama hook line and sinker are they? Still no remarks from the peanut gallery.

The second round includes songs that were picked from the contestants' own idols. If this was a two hour show then perhaps we would get a chance to see these mentors interact with the finials. No chance of that – Seacrest is talking 80 mph.

Scotty’s song was chosen by George Strait. Back in plaid, he is singing “Check Yes or No,” a song that is very special to me. My angel daughter used to love this song and sang it all the time. Scotty plays guitar and does a fine enough job. Funny faces aside, he really is the most adorable human on the planet.

For Lauren, Carrie Underwood chose a song by Pam Tillis called “Maybe it was Memphis.” According to Carrie’s twitter, this is a song that she wanted to do back in her AI day. In her sequined dress with mushroom skirt, Lauren does well with the song, as she always does. It’s still not evident that she has vocal trouble.

Finally the judges speak. And you know what? I really could not care less. Actually there are several other things that I could not care less about but would rather reflect upon instead – the upcoming Glee season finale, Oprah's big good riddance, er I mean farewell, that whiney Meredith voiceover soap about doctors, and that dancing show that has kicked American Idol out of the number one spot. Just to name a few.  

The other day I was reading the January entries of this blog. Back then I was full of hope and wonder about this new judge panel. Now? Bring on The Voice and X Factor. I will even settle for America’s Got (Very Little) Talent.

The Coke songwriting contest with Taio Cruz is over, and he is here to perform the song called "Positive." Yes, I am positive that I want to claw my eyes out and poke holes at my ear drums. This sounds like every other song out there but with ghostly drums for backup. And sunglasses indoors = not cool. Next please.

We’re at the final round for Scotty and Lauren tonight. Ryan explains that they will be performing the songs that will be their first singles if they win. Usually both winner and runner up release a song so I expect that both of these tunes will be available for download before daybreak.

Jimmy explains how important this whole “original song” thing is, and the selling of records and whatnot. He is really excited about the song choices. He reminds me of a cartoon character who has dollar signs for eyes.

The song for Scotty is called “I Love You This Big” and it’s a nice ditty with clever word play. Scotty is handsome in a suit from the Jacob Lusk collection. Clips of his Idol journey play in the background while he sings. For the first time he seems a bit nervous, but he does well on a song we’ve never heard. The swaybots are so distracting and annoying.

For Lauren, the song is “Like My Mother Does” which was on Kristy Lee Cook’s album that kerplunked.  They don’t mention that part on the show of course. Her montage plays in the background too. Lauren looks lovely and the song is nice enough treacle. Ryan walks her down the stairs so that she can go hug her mom. Thank you show, I needed a really good cry.

Before I can even get flared up about this propping, I see David Archuleta's sweet face in the audience. Awww!  Lauren’s mom is sobbing and Lauren has tears also. The three people on the panel hand the contest to Lauren on a silver platter. With shimmer and gloss. Whatevs, it’s time for a girl to win anyway. Poor Scotty is just an afterthought at this point.

Recap time of the six songs, which all went as well as expected. Both of these kids are super talented; they are great singers and performers. Scotty and Lauren each have their own quirks as well, but they can work those out in time. It's heartwarming how sweet those two are with each other.

Finally, the moment that I have waited all evening for… David Cook!!! He is there to sing this year’s boot off song “Don’t You Forget about Me.” He looks and sounds just as wonderful as ever. THIS is how it’s done, y’all. Highlights of the best and worst of season 10 play on the screen behind him.

Ryan: The only doctor in black scrubs.
Ryan: How do you feel about the last Oprah, ladies and gentleman?

Well, they couldn’t have made it more obvious if they’d all been holding up signs that read "Nigel wants Lauren to win." If she loses tomorrow night the producers will blame it on her busted voice.  I’d rather see our hometown boy take the title but am okay with either of them. We shall see tomorrow night at the finale. Until then, rest your vocal chords.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Haley Reinhart - the Bluesy Bombshell

From the time we first met Haley at the Milwaukee audition, she proved to be full of spirit with a unique singing style. It took her a few weeks to gain momentum, but the 20-year-old Chicago native had something to prove – and prove it she did.

We learn more about Haley, the self-described “goofball,” during her exit interview. The superstar in the making has been performing in her family’s band since she was a child. “My parents have taught me the rules of the stage since I was 8.” She was thrilled to have her dad perform with her on the show and at her hometown event. “I got to go back home and play with them – having them on the stage and actually getting to give them a couple of licks and show America what they could do was so special to me.”

In regards to her rendition of Idol cover songs, she explains that she liked taking the songs in a different direction and making them more “funkified.” She believes that the judges’ criticism was to help her move further in the competition. “It was apparent that they liked to get me to where I could be at the top of my game, and get me a little fired up…I come out with something that they didn’t expect. It’s up to America. I got to Top 3 and that was quite alright.”

Haley has no regrets and is glad that she got to show versatility. “I took a lot of risks in the beginning when usually you do the opposite, maybe they didn’t know how to take me. I started getting into my own little niche – the rock, bluesy sultry feel – and I think America finally started to catch on.”

In regards to her ousting this week, she is not upset. “Of course everybody is going to be surprised with the verdict. All in all, I accepted it very quickly, took it in, took it all with a grain of salt. Everything happens for a reason. This is a good thing; it only means that I’m going to start my career as a solo artist even sooner.”

She adds, “You have seconds to think about it. I took a second and then I said – alright. This is it. Guess what – I have to sing a song in about five seconds. Let’s have a good time with it – show America why they kept me there so long. Give them a good show.”

The singer has a lot of ideas about what her debut record will be like. “To begin with, I would love to do an album that’s like sultry bluesy rock. I absolutely love jazz, so hopefully I can slip that in somewhere.”  She is thankful for the advice she received from the mentors on the show and grateful that they treated her like a professional. “They were all so down to earth and very generous with their comments. It was very sweet all around.”

Haley doesn’t feel that the audience really got to know the real her. “I’m usually bubbly.” She will miss everyone on the show. “Everybody is such a big family… They’ve got my back. Gosh, I love everybody back there.”

Learn more about Haley on her official American Idol web page.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Which Two Will Be “Right There” in the Finale?

Tonight the show will make it official that this year’s finale will consist of teens Lauren and Scotty. No surprises to be had here folks, nothing really to see, so move along.

Last night – Scotty was amazed and believed he would get a kiss. Lauren took a wild one on a dance to die young. Haley and Rhiannon oughta know what should never be.

Jimmy Iovine gives his take on the performances of the final three. He says that there will be a guy in the finale. More news from the file marked duh.

The rest of the top 13 are in the audience tonight. Some of these I barely remember … was Tyra Banks one of them? Oh, it’s that Ashthon gal.

Ryan says that 95 million votes were cast, more than any other at this stage. It makes sense because of online voting. Thank you internet and AT&T.

When we had a top four, they visited J.J. Abrams to see a clip of his new movie Super 8. While it’s obvious to a fan girl like me how awesome this guy is (Lost! Alias! The new Star Trek reboot!), the contestants don’t seem to connect the dots. Oh what sheltered lives they lead. J.J. is kinda off-kilter as well. This American Idol thing, that’s a show? Okay. Here are some cameras for you. Off they go.

The littlest Fanning sister is in the audience with Ryan. She is in the Super 8 movie and is also there to gush over Scotty. On behalf of her six-year-old cousin, natch.

The first hometown visit we see is for Haley in Wheeling, near Chicago. It’s raining and she freaks out over the limo. She is thrilled and surprised at the 30,000 fans in attendance. Haley is so funny with Aaron the bodyguard. She reconnects with her family and tries not to cry at various reunions. Footage from her high school visit and park concert show an excited yet laid back Haley giving her all to the fans. It’s cool that she sang with her family. I’d like to see the entire concert; hopefully it’s on YouTube somewhere.

The core voting base – tiny little girls – help Ryan with the intro of the Ford music video. The two gals and a boy frolic on the beach and take videos which they then upload using the Ford Focus technology.  Supposedly, the Idols are the ones singing in all of these videos, but in this version of “Smile,” I dunno. That does not sound like Scotty on the verse AT ALL. If that is him, he has been holding back his pop persona this whole time.  

My Kid Tru and I can’t sit through this next segment. We can’t even. It’s a trio of Italian boys who are singing opera. Gah. I have some laundry to fold. At least these kids can sing; their voices are fabulous. This just isn’t our thang.

The next hometown visit we see is the one that was right down the road from us. Scotty’s visit to Garner is chock full of people that we know, especially Tru. Thankfully I can pause the DVR so that she can name all of them. After watching this, if folks aren’t convinced that Scotty is a sweet kid, then they just have no soul. Scotty is crying as well as little girls and their grandmas. So are Tru and me. We especially lose it when country star Josh Turner shows up to surprise Scotty on stage. “Baby lock them doors” will go in the dictionary this year as the definition for quirky awesomeness.

Our other musical guest star performers are that Nicole gal from the Pussycat Dolls. She’s everywhere these days – she won the Dancing with the D-List show a couple years ago (to which Tru says RIGGED!) She is also going to be a co-host on Simon’s X Factor show this fall. Last week we saw her in Steven Tyler’s music video. Tonight she is here to perform “Right There” with 50 Cent and 14 thousand backup dancers.  Like the opera guys before, this is not music that I am interested in listening to at all. Seems like they could have brought in Melinda Doolittle or Mandisa. What’s David Archuleta doing? I’d settle for freaking Sanjaya over this mess.

The last hometown visit is to Georgia with Lauren Alaina. The peppy teen is funny in the limo with the police escort. She shows compassion during the tour of the devastation from the tornados. (Tornados hit our area too, but that was ignored on the NC visit.) Tru and I are totally loving THIS Lauren - the typical teenager who is living her dream. When she visits the little boy who saved his family during the storm, it’s a sweet teary moment. Hopefully she will cherish this day regardless of the outcome of the show. And we finally see cousin Holly again!

It is time for some results… all three are gathered as in prayer. Ryan is just going to make them wait and wait and wait… FINALLY the first person in the finale is Scotty. No surprise.

Next Lauren learns that she will be joining Scotty next week in the Nokia Theater.  The expression on Haley’s face says DISAPPOINTMENT very clearly, but she bounces back though like a pro. The girl has always worn her heart on her sleeve. Naysayers and Haley haters (JENNIFER) will be laughing at her this week – last night the fall and tonight that face…. oh well. When Haley outsells all of them she will get the last laugh.  

Back in the early rounds, who knew that perpetual bottom 3-er Haley Reinhart would land in the final three? As a fan of hers, I am proud of the progress that she has made.  Her farewell montage clearly shows her journey, which has been a good one.

Haley, in her crazy headband and flowing belly shirt, gives the sing out of her life. She shines on the Elton John song she did earlier this year. She looks like a superstar, she sings great, she improvises the lyrics to fit the moment. She works the audience to include the other ten ousted contestants, then gives a hug and kiss to mom and dad. Voters, man - “they’re weird and they’re wonderful” indeed.

Scotty: J.J.'s in it to win it!  James: J.J. just might win the whole thing!
Haley: You guys are nuts. I love it.
Ryan: Dude’s big!
Lauren: Oh no it wasn’t me, I swear!

So next week, as predicted – two country teenagers. Joy. (That was my sarcastic voice.) Seriously, I like both of these kids and wish them nothing but the best. For now, I am going to burn myself a CD of Haley songs. It’s like “soul food” for the ears. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Two Blondes and a Country Boy

“Their journey began as a humble dream,” so say the placards. A typical teenage girl who likes to tumble in the front yard. A southern high school boy who plays baseball.  A jazzy blonde bombshell who sings the blues. We see a brief snippet of each of the three’s hometown visits and will get more details on that tomorrow night.

The judges arrive but they are of no consequence to me. I am very disappointed at the direction our star/fan relationship has headed. So hmmmph!

Some yahoo in the audience has a homemade sign that says THANK U FORD. I agree - yes Ford, thanks for ripping me off on that Escort, much appreciated.

Ryan reminds everyone that next week the final two will perform on Tuesday with results on Wednesday. Why? We don’t know. Perhaps that is the only time they could get the Nokia Theater.

As we all know, the top three got sent home in style last weekend. Scotty’s venue was about 10 miles from our house but we didn’t want to fight the crowds. I watched it on the local news and that was good enough.

For the first time, the fourth place contestant got a hometown visit. We see about ten seconds of the footage from James Durbin’s return to Santa Cruz.

The top 3 come out and wow – their outfits are the best of the 70s, 80s and 90s. My Kid Tru tells me that I have no fashion sense. So I guess white go-go boots, faded denim jackets and black fringe are making a comeback. Who knew?

This year’s top three episode is the same format as usual – contestants’ choice, producer's choice (in this case, Jimmy), and then judges’ choice.

The mentor for the first song is mega star Beyonce. Every time I hear or see her name I immediately start singing “to the left, to the left.” It’s just a thing that happens automatically. In her montage, we see Mrs. Jay-Z go from Destiny’s Child to Dream Girls, with 16 Grammys in between.

Beyonce says that there is something special about each of the three contestants. She will be tutoring them from a lovely wood-paneled piano room with a splendid garden view.

After the Beyonce clip, the camera cuts back to the judges and their reactions are comical. Jennifer gives “Eff You” face, Randy claps as an afterthought, and Steven wakes up to mouth “Hi mom” or whatever to the camera. Did I mention that I am over these three?

First up is Scotty and his personal song choice is “Amazed.” Beyonce exclaims “that’s my boy” and pretends to know the band Lonestar. He sounds good during practice and as always delivers a calm, confident performance on stage tonight. We agree with Ms. Knowles, he is a cutie pie. He must have caught a “buy one plaid shirt, get three free sale” at Kohl's or wherever he shops in H’wood. The judges profess their devotion and Randy name drops. Scotty drops a name too – he says he put a little “Casey growl” in his first song tonight. That young Scotty, he “jest keeps gettin' better.”

In the piano room, Lauren is thrilled to meet Beyonce. The superstar likes Lauren’s loose and fun performances the best. She tries to explain her Sasha Fierce persona to the teenager, but it does not seem to compute. Tonight Lauren has chosen the Faith Hill version of “Wild One” for her first song. It’s a tune she knows well and she has fun with it. A couple of weeks ago Lauren said that the stylists were trying to kill her and tonight there is proof of that. I hope she waters the huge flower earrings before they wither. The judges “little baby” did great but she is still holding back.

Our gal Haley has been warned a thousand times about doing the lesser known songs, but she doesn’t care. Even Beyonce is confused as to why the songstress has chosen a Led Zeppelin tune for contestant’s choice. Haley explains that she has performed this with her family band. Once again she proves that being a risk taker pays off – her rendition of “What Is and What Should Never Be” is fantastic. Having her dad playing guitar on stage with her adds to the energy of the performance. Even a stumble up the stairs doesn’t stop Miss Reinhart from owning round one!

Terra Nova = CAN’T WAIT! A weird guy in a dog costume is in the audience. Tru says it’s from an upcoming sitcom that I will not be watching. Donnie Darko still gives me nightmares.

There’s no more Clive Davis, so producer and season 10 mentor Jimmy Iovine picked the songs for the next round. 

On the chat stools with Scotty, we see the initial audition footage again of “lock them doors” and Steven’s duck abuse. After trying to explain Tom Petty, Jimmy’s choice for Scotty is a song called “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” by a group I have not heard of before. Google tells me that Thompson Square is not only a landmark in Boston but also a husband/wife country duo. This is a very recent hit song on country radio, so fans of that genre will be thrilled. Scotty plays guitar and sings the light-hearted song as well as ever. The judges state the obvious when they tell Scotty that ten crazillion tweeners are drooling. Jen wants him to get the buzz cut again. (Nooo.)

Ryan is backstage with Lauren – she ripped her hose so a stylist is giving her legs a rub down with the shimmery stuff that J.Lo uses. Some things we do not need to see or know about, RYAN. We flashback to Lauren’s initial audition, when she blew everyone away. Her cancer survivor cousin Holly was with her.  Jimmy has chosen a song called “If I Die Young” for Lauren. Well that sounds happy. Tru says that it’s by the band Perry. The lyrics are really sad but Lauren sounds pretty, and like Jimmy said it’s her “sweet spot.” The judges are thrilled that she missed a key change because they are weird like that. Lauren’s lookalike mom gets to talk about how proud she is of her girl.

We are reminded of when Haley auditioned in Milwaukee; it was not her first time around with the show. She also had a mini duet with Steven. Jimmy picked the Fleetwood Mac song “Rhiannon” for Haley. I’ve loved that band forever; Stevie Nicks is one of the coolest artists in rock music history. Thankfully Haley does do justice to the song and dare I say it? I prefer her voice to the original. Our Lady Reinhart is flawless and beautiful, and she even gets a wind machine. Awesome! “Dreams unwind, love’s a state of mind” indeed. She does so much better when she just shuts up and sings. The judges agree but seem to be aware that she is going home tomorrow.

Ryan polls the judges – Steven thinks Lauren took round two, and the others proclaim “Scotty Scotty Scotty.”  Jimmy’s in the audience with Neil Sedaka. He is proud of the execution of the song choices he made for the top three.

Now it’s time for shameless product placement of the guest mentor. Beyonce debuts her latest music video “Run the World,” and it’s one of those girl power anthems. It’s in a Mad Max-like setting with Beyonce in the Tina Turner role. It’s a celebration of girls that will run this motha as long as they have great boobs and long legs. The ditty has one of those beats that will rob your brain of necessary cells that you need to function. I probably will download this as soon as it’s on legalsounds, knowing me.

Tru says that J.Lo is probably sitting there thinking, “Wow Beyonce is like me, only younger and with actual talent.” Snark!

For the final round the top three will sing songs chosen by the judges. Which judge picked what we don’t know yet.

For Scotty, it’s the 500-year-old Kenny Rogers song “She Believes in Me.” He learns this while in Lowes Foods during his hometown visit. Scotty’s face says it all: WTH? This song is about a struggling musician who is glad that he has a very supportive wife. Yes, he can definitely relate. Not. The teenager does right by the song and has a very tender moment. He hits notes that we haven’t heard before – the last two are worth the price of admission. The judges trip all over themselves. Ryan lets Scotty’s dad do a shout out in a heart-warming and funny “lock them doors” moment.

Lauren is at the AT&T in Rossville, GA when she learns that her judge pick is “I Hope You Dance.” (This is commonly known this year as “Nuts of Wonder.” See Hollywood Rounds: Scotty McCreery.) Lauren is gorgeous in the Disney prom gown, and this is the perfect song for her. When given a chance to shine on a song she understands, Lauren is great. Tru is so in love with the hot fiddle player that Lauren always gets. Judges are predictably smug at their song choice. It’s funny when Steven makes fun of Randy’s name dropping. If Lee Ann Womack is watching, hopefully she got a giggle. And maybe some “goosies.” 

Last but not least, Haley gets her text message. Poor gal is in the limo; no footage of a crowd for her. She is doing the Alanis Morrisette hit “You Oughta Know.” Tru immediately asks about the controversial song lyrics and wonders what the judges were thinking when they picked this for Haley. Of course she changes the "theater" line to something more family friendly. She does okay with the chorus but the verses are too low for her. She is not nearly angry enough at Dave Coulier or whoever. Am glad that she bravely took those stairs again, this time successfully. The judges go on and on forever about choruses.

Once again the judges are divided on who won this round. ST says Haley but Randy and Jen pick Lauren.

Ryan: Scotty - he’s got money and punctuation.
Lauren: I always put my hand on your shoulder.  Ryan: That is why they hired me. I am here. I’m like a lean- to.
Steven: Did you fall for me?
Ryan: She looked up and said "somebody’s getting fired."
Randy: I would grow my hair out if I could have the whole wind thing.
Jimmy: I feel like Bruce Springsteen and Garth Brooks had a baby just now.

After the recap, I am convinced that tonight was the night that Haley decided to just go out there and give it her best, results be danged. While I am sure that the final two will consist of teenagers, I have to give my favorite jazzy bluesy gal props for three solid performances. Especially the first one – it rocked the house down. Am off to iTunes to download it right this minute. Because I am in it to win it! (Shut up, it rhymes.)