Thursday, May 19, 2011

Idol Is Country Strong

Not only is the title of American Idol going back to the South, but it's going to go to a country singer in Season 10 after Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina were voted into the finale.

Haley Reinhart's impressive closing run came to an end, and boy, was that moment awkward. Lauren was announced as going through, and she started jumping up and down celebrating while Haley stood there looking PISSED. Usually the hugs come immediately, but this was not the case here, on either end. And when they did hug, Haley just gave her a one-armed hug that looked so forced. Haley did recover quickly from the bad news, however, and delivered a fun farewell performance of Bennie & the Jets.

Haley's swan song was the best performance of the night, by a mile. Instead of getting a group song, we had to endure guest performances by Baby Il Divo (or Il Volo, as they are called) and (X-Factor Host) Nicole Scherzinger. The hometown visits were great, with highlights coming from Haley's big, burly crying bodyguard; Josh Turner, who surprised Scotty McCreery on stage; and Lauren Alaina's visit to tornado victims.

Looking back on Haley's video, I suppose I could have spotted a few clues that she was the one going home. The president or whatever of Wheeling proclaimed it "Haley RAIN-hart Day". And the editors played a (semi-) country song (Lady Antebellum's "Hello World") over the ending. Clearly, this is the year of the country music on this show.

Next week's finale will be two high school country kids going up against each other. While non-country fans will hate this, I kind of feel like country music deserves to have this spotlight on the show since it's the only genre who has fully embraced Idol singers.

I've felt like Scotty has had this in the bag since the semifinals, but Lauren has the potential to provide a really big moment. Not that easily winning the night helped Crystal Bowersox last year ...

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