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.


  • Zach says:

    sad to see haley go. scotty vs lauren is going to be like watching paint dry...can't think of a more boring finale. this season went down the tubes between shallow talent pool and non existent judging. id rather see a diana degarmo vs blake lewis showdown then this years. yea i said it! it would be bad, but not as bad as this years is gonna be. yikes.

  • tom says:

    shallow talent pool? you must not have been listening to the judges. if you had, you would know that the talent this year was the best EVER! would steven tyler lie to you?

  • Tommy Marx says:

    I find it amazing that with all the great talent this season started out with, it's ending with two teenage country singers. Lauren is a decent singer but nothing extraordinary, and Scotty has a great voice but has always sounded like an imitation of a country singer. I doubt I'll watch any of next week's episodes. I agree with Zach. This is the second year in a row that I could care less about who wins the finals (I didn't watch any of the finals last year, either).

  • janey says:

    Most boring finale ever. Lauren is a good singer, but lacks any magic.
    James, Pia, Haley and Casey were all far better. Pity the judges felt they had to be proved right in their initial assessment that Scotty was legendary and Lauren was the one. All about their egos. You could see that Steve had lost interest in their manipulations a while back already.
    Simon would never have tolerated these one dimensional singers. What is the point of genres, when every song was sung the same by these top 2.

  • Louis Virtel says:

    I was about to agree that Simon would've been bored by these two, but remember, he was the one who pushed hardest for Lee DeWyze.

  • bill says:

    American Idol: A televised singing competition where each week the best remaining performer is eliminated.

  • SunnydaZe says:

    It's demographics at this point which means the main voting audience are country teens and their families. I am going to edit together my own finale using Naima's "Dancing in the Streets", James and his "Uprising" Marching Band, and Haley doing "Rising Sun". This is the America I choose to believe in....

  • haleyfan says:

    for all of those people who think haley will fade out and be unsuccessful: nigel lythgoe's lastest tweet suggests otherwise. It seems jimmy iovine is going to help haley get a record label with interscope 🙂

  • Charles says:

    The fact that Haley might get a record deal doesn't mean she'll be successful, Haleyfan. I hope she is, but it's no guarantee.
    Anyway, I too am sad Haley didn't make it to the finale. I'm afraid that what I most liked about her -- her (dad's) preference for 1960s/'70s pop-rock over today's music -- may have done her in at the end. That, and the demographics thing Sunnydaze cites above. But hell, she went out with a bang with that amazing Zep rendition.
    As far as the "shallow talent pool" comment above, that may well be true. But, more accurately, it was the most EVEN talent pool the show has ever had. I know people who, early on, were expecting James, Pia and even Casey to be in the finale. Compare that to, say, season 2, when EVERYBODY knew it would be Ruben and Clay at the end.

  • Megan says:

    are those the songs she was going to sing next week? or what you wanted her to sing? I would KILL to hear her sing I Never Loved a Man.

  • Frank says:

    This is the saddest pathetic excuse of a singing competition..All the talent there was, and the only 2 country singers ended up staying...If they just wanted country singers why even bother? CMT already has a singing competition show, go there. Haley was amazing, I was stunned by her, in fact, I never watched this show, only reason I watched was because she had caught my attention, and I ended up voting for the FIRST time ever.

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