Well we now have the American Idol Season 10 Top 2. Early favorites Scott McCreery and Lauren Alaina, both Christian musicians, made it to the finale and will battle on Tuesday night for the Season 10 title. This is pretty amazing. I don’t believe any two performers made it to the final after being favorites from the audition episodes. Every year I have watched American Idol some underdog comes from the pack to shake up everyone’s early perception of who should win. Jordan Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen and Lee Dewyze were all relatively unknown coming into the live shows and then put together a series of show stopping performances to rise to the top.
That brings us to this week’s surprising elimination of the Season 10 underdog, Haley Reinhart. After reviewing the season, Haley was the best singer in the competition along with Pia Toscano and Lauren Alaina. For all of Casey Abrams‘ boundary stretching performances, Haley Reinhart was the biggest risk taker of American Idol Season 10. Casey did jazz interpretations of pop and blues songs from a platform of judge adulation. Haley Reinhart, on the other hand, forged a path for herself in face of being eviscerated on a weekly basis by the judges. Through it all she outlasted early favorites Pia Toscano, Casey Abrams, Jacob Lusk and James Durbin.
Even with all of that, I think Lauren Alaina and Scott McCreery earned their places in the American Idol Season 10 Top 2. What surprises me is the voting. Scott and Lauren share a distinct demographic. Their Christian/country/young teen voting block should have been strong enough to get one of them into the finale. However, I through Haley Reinhart‘s voting block (all of those not in the Chrsitian/country/young teen category, plus Vote for The Worst) would be enough to push Haley into the finale. I though Scott and Lauren would split votes enabling Haley to make it into the finals. However the small town charm and charisma of Lauren Alaina and Scott McCreery pushed America to generate the most votes ever for and an American Idol top 3 (95 million) and proved too much for the thrills that Haley Reinhart was providing. That is the surprise.
American Idol Season 10 Top 2 Power Rankings
I am going to take a slight diversion from my normal power rankings. I have underestimated Lauren Alaina the past three weeks. I thought she was in trouble in the top 6, was on the edge in the top 5, gone for sure in the top 4 and only held a slight chance of making the top 2. I will tell you why below. I still think Scott McCreery will win but, if Lauren Alaina let’s loose with all of her talent this week I think she still has a shot at winning. So instead of doing a power ranking I would like to review Scott’s and Lauren’s journey through American Idol Season 10 and highlight some of the reasons why two of the youngest contestants ever to perform on American Idol are still standing.
The Scott McCreery Journey Through American Idol Season 10
Scott started strong with a good audition and a short feature during the audition episodes. Scott McCreery had no heartbreaking stories to tell, his was just a story of the All American, small town, country boy who has a once in a generation voice and uncanny country sensibilities. Captain of his baseball team, checker at the local grocer and A student with an open Christian faith could be a heroic character in a teen novel.
Scott McCreery Group Day in Hollywood
Everything was going great for Scott until group day during Hollywood week. First, because of his uniquely deep voice, country sensibilities and thick southern drawl, Scott could not find a group to accept him. He was almost washed away until he stumbled upon a group that included Jaycee Badeaux. Scott did not know this but Jaycee convinced his group to let Scott join them. If you remember the early episodes, Jaycee was one of the younger contestants. He was fifteen, looked 12 and was a little heavy, the type of kid who would be bullied at school. In the middle of the night, after many of the groups had already worked out their routines and gone to bed, the self appointed leader of Scott’s group kicked Jaycee out for no apparent reason other than he was not a good dancer. Scott said nothing. I think Scott’s reaction to his mistake the next day soldified him as a fan favortie to all of the young teens and their parents who make up a huge part of American Idol’s demographic. See what I mean.
After Hollywood week, Scott McCreery spent the rest of the season as a front runner. I don’t know if he would have done anyting differently, but through most of American Idol Seaosn 10 Scott stayed steadfast in his country genre, singing country songs and not listening to the critics who were calling him a one trick pony. Then we got to Mowtown week and we all thought Scott McCreery was going to stumble. Instead, he took a well know Stevie Wonder song, performed it with ease, grace and feeling and maybe created a true country hit out of “For Once In My Life.”
In my opinion that performance, in the Top 11 round, solidified a place for Scott McCreery in the American Idol Season 10 Top 5. It is a good thing he was able to deliver that performance because over the next few weeks, as James Durbin was going nuts with stage rock n roll stage shows, Pia Toscano was blowing us all away with her ballads and Haley Reinhart was staging a thrilling comeback, Scott waltzed through a series of capable but bland country performances. He was never in trouble, but I thought his chances of winning and maybe even making the finals were slipping away. Then the Top 4 were allowed to select a song that inspired them. In the midst of tall the emotions stirred up by the killing of Osama Bin Laden, Scott McCreery put his character, his faith and values on display with “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning).” I think this is Scott’s most heartfelt performance of the year.
After that, I knew Scott McCreary was a shoo-in for the finale, but Haley Reinhart was blowing America away week after week with thrilling, daring performances, perfectly delivered. The judges unwarranted harsh criticism of Haley was generating a lot of sympathy for her, so Scott had work to do if we he truly was “in it to win it.” Jimmy Iovine came through for him by selecting a perfect song. Scott McCreery then strapped on his guitar and delivered a winning perfomance of “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not.”
All of that should add up to the American Idol Season 10 crown for Scott McCreery, but Lauren Alaina has proven fooled both James Durbin and Haley Reinhart to get to this point.
The Lauren Alaina Journey Through American Idol Season 10
How could you not fall in love with Lauren Alaina from the moment this young Christian musician showed up in Nashville? Yes she had an inspiring special, but it was her on stage performance that took the American Idol audience by storm. No only did she have a perfect audtiion, this, barley 15 year-old, girl from a small Georgia town convinced the judges to meet her family and then sang an Aerosmith song to her parents and even called Steven Tyler to sing it with her. Amazing. At that moment every pre-teen girl in America wanted be her BFF.
Lauren Alaina skated through Hollywood week as a front runner soaking up all of the judges adulation. Coming into the live shows she was a favorite to win and she started her season off with a bang. She demonstrated strong country rock skills with “Turn On The Radio.”
Then she started reading the Internet and all of the vile, hateful things people say under the cloak of anonymity. Lauren Alaina is a 16 years old girl, with a 16 year-old’s fragile self-confidence. She was shattered. For weeks Lauren Alaina appeared lost and unsure on stage. She was clearly falling in the competition even landing in the Bottom 3 once. I firmly believe that her natural, engaging sense of humor kept her in the competion until she made it to the Top 5. In the Top 5 it seemed to be a battle between Lauren and Christian musician Jacob Lusk to stay on the show for one more week. Lauren reached back to her country rock roots and delivered a winner with “Flat On The Floor”
Even with that bold, fun, booming performance, Lauren Alaina found herself in the bottom 2 with Jacob Lusk. It was heartbreaking to see Lauren stand there fighting hysterics in fear that her time was up. After, Jacob was eliminated, it looked inevitable that Lauren was next. After weeks of refusing to fully challenge her talents she really had no chance to beat out James Durbin, Scott Mccreery and Haley Reinhart. Then she was asked to sing a song that inspired her. In the wake of devastating tornadoes that ravaged her homeland, the youngest performer dug deep to show her character and her faith with “Anyway.”
Even with that performance Lauren Alaina continues to hold back in the competition performances. We know there is more in her but she just cannot bring herself to let it out, except in a series of results night duets. That is when we see the Lauren Alaina that will be a music and television star for decades. For those of you that believe Lauren Alaina does not compare to Haley Reinhart as a singer, I point to “Gunpowder and Lead”, her Top 4 results show duet with Haley Reinhart.
So here we are. The American Idol Season 10 finale features, for only the second time in 10 seasons, two Christian musicians. Lauren and Scott are the most country leaning final group in American Idol history and they are definitely the youngest. If Lauren Alaina wins she will be the youngest ever to win American Idol. If Scott McCreery wins he will be the first male country singer to win and only the second country singer to ever win American Idol.
So join us TUESDAY night as we live blog the last American Idol Season 10 performances by Christian musicians Scott McCreery and Lauren Alaina.