In Memoriam: American Idol's Third Place Contestant
Last night American Idol booted one last hopeful, knocking the survivor count down to two and setting the stage for next week's big -- and hopefully star-studded -- finale. But which loser lost? Was it Stetson-bedecked frontrunner Scotty McCreery? Is it lowlight sorceress Lauren Alaina? Or did unspeakable terror rear its Randy Jackson-resembling head and kick out Haley Reinhart? Join us for our last memorial.
The answer is unspeakable horror! Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina sailed through to the finals on the wings of one-note glory, while Haley Reinhart was eliminated.
Legacy: Haley Reinhart isn't just an amazing Idol comeback story; she's also the most improved contestant in the show's history. She started with growl-tortured versions of "Fallin'" (my least favorite song; yours too if I like you) and "Blue," and accelerated into decency with growl-aided renditions of "Bennie and the Jets," "Piece of My Heart," "Beautiful," "Rolling in the Deep," "The House of the Rising Sun," and "What Is and What Should Never Be." She topped our weekly rankings more than any other contestant, but to be fair, Naima Adedapo only lasted four weeks, and she continues to rank as the single greatest entertainer/Jamaican-accented hip-hopstress of the past 150 years/days.
What Could've Been: During next week's Tuesday showdown, we could've been treated to climactic takes on "I Never Loved the Man the Way I Love You," "Someday We'll be Together" and (my prediction for her first cover single) "Irreplaceable."
We Will Miss Most: The way she knocked Randy Jackson off his swivel chair -- to my eyes -- with her unimpressed stares following his each and every critique. Her seal pup eyes. Her Star Search hand gestures, compliments of 8-year-old LeAnn Rimes. The way she made Bennie and the Jets seem like a weird, wonderful, spaced-out band you'd really like to see. The way she never caved to expectation like Scotty or Lauren. The way she didn't suck.
Closing Words: Haley, you were a fighter and a barnstormer and a chicken coup-riler and all those other things Scotty McCreery writes on his resume. You took a competition that seemed to be heading in a patently bland direction and invigorated it with Zeppelin blues, Morissette howls, and your own signature hand gestures -- what I will call "swimmy sign-language." You are missed. And they better not pair you with Miley Cyrus as a duet partner next week.