You know what they say: Bad dress rehearsal, good show.
Scotty McCreery had all the momentum going into Tuesday night’s “American Idol” finale, but the show ultimately belonged to Lauren Alaina, despite the fact that she sprained a vocal cord in rehearsals.
Scotty started off strong in round one, in which each contestant was asked to reprise their favorite performance of the season. He chose “Gone” by Montgomery Gentry, making all the usual Scotty faces (cue the huge eyeballs) and doing the usual Scotty thing.
Lauren followed with Carrie Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor,” immediately beating Scotty in the song choice contest and giving a much more entertaining performance as far as our eyes and ears were concerned (though she did sound a little bit hoarse).
For round two, the “Idols” asked their own personal idols to select a song. George Strait chose his own tune, “Check Yes or No,” for Scotty, and we checked “No,” though Scotty did try to inject some personality into the song.
Carrie Underwood picked “Maybe It Was Memphis” for Lauren, and once again, Lauren -- rocking a shorter version of last week’s prom dress -- just seemed to have more energy than Scotty.
So what did the judges think? Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez gave a “slight edge” to Scotty in round one and a “slight edge” to Lauren in round two; Steven Tyler gave both rounds to Lauren, but “only because she’s prettier.” Come on, Steven: You know you’ve been pulling for Lauren from the start.
The third round featured the single each contestant will release if they win the competition (aka the one you will hear on the radio 20 times a day). Jimmy Iovine chose “I Love You This Big” for Scotty, and again, Scotty seemed a little more muted than usual (maybe it was a case of Nokia Theater nerves?) The lyrics, however, worked well for Scotty, addressing his youth and lack of experience. Randy wasn’t sure it was the “perfect song” for Scotty, but said it showed off his range (beyond that famous deep voice) and proved how Scotty has grown during the season.
Jennifer said it was “amazing,” and Steven, alluding to that unbelievable basket Scotty made a few months ago, said Scotty proved “You can’t make a 3-point shot from under the net.”
Lauren followed with “Like My Mother Does,” a tribute to American moms and Lauren’s own mom, whom we’ve all seen dutifully sitting in the audience week after week. The performance was a little too wholesome for us (at least for finale night -- where’s James Durbin when you need him?), but it surely struck a chord with moms and daughters everywhere, and J-Lo Lauren said Lauren “may have just won” with that song. Randy declared that “Lauren Alaina has arrived,” but perhaps the most poignant words came from Steven:
“The first time I saw you I though you were my American Idol. I think America’s gonna find that to be true as well.”
Is he right? Randy still thinks Scotty has a “slight edge,” but like J-Lo, we think we’re just going to call it a “tight race” and leave it at that. One thing is certain: The winner will be a teenage country singer!