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American Idol final three: Haley Reinhart falls for Led Zeppelin

American Idol countdown: With only one week until the finale, the last three contestants each took on three songs Wednesday night. Haley Reinhart may have had some literal missteps, but her Led Zeppelin cover was spot on.

By Contributor / May 19, 2011

In this publicity image released by Fox, the final three contestants on the singing competition series, American Idol, from left, Haley Reinhart, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, are shown on May 12 in Los Angeles.

Micahel Becker/Fox/AP

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On Wednesday’s episode of American Idol, the top three contestants took on three songs each.

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In the first round, the songs were contestant’s choice and Beyoncé was on hand to offer some hard-core, tell-it-like-it-is mentoring . . . just seeing if you were paying attention. In reality, like most Idol mentors, Beyoncé’s role seemed confined to pleasantries and tepid observations of the contestants in exchange for a flattering intro and a promotional plug.

The second song was Jimmy Iovine’s choice and the final songs were chosen for the contestants by the judges.

Scotty McCreery:

A steady and consistent performer, sometimes Scotty fails to convince the audience that there is a real creative passion behind his talent. Scotty’s performances on Wednesday night were not significant enough to win or lose him any fans.

1) Contestant’s Choice: “Amazed” by Lone Star

Scotty started out the night and the judges, who seemed to be on track to completely destroy their credibility by the end of the season, told Scotty he made a great song choice. If by great they meant dull and completely forgettable, they were right on. B-

2) Jimmy Iovine’s Choice: ““Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?” Thompson Square.

Maybe country fans appreciated this performance as much as the judges did, with Steven saying he had never heard Scotty deliver a chorus like that before and Randy comparing him to Garth Brooks. But, much like his first performance, it seemed underwhelming and completely anemic for a final-three selection. B-

3) Judges’ Choice: “She Believes in Me,” by Kenny Rogers.

The judges, ignoring all of their mantras, selected a song that was completely ill suited to a 17-year-old boy. While he hit the right notes, the song was just not believable coming from Scotty. In a Paula Abdul-esque moment, Steven Tyler repeated the same feedback he gave Scotty for his previous performance, “I never heard you deliver a chorus like that before.” But this time, he really meant it. B-

Lauren Alaina

Maybe it was not a good idea for the producers to show the footage of Lauren’s audition since it made it painfully obvious that Lauren peaked in auditions and has never quite delivered on her early promise. While she seems to have slowly begun to gain back some of her earlier confidence, the magic of her first performance has proven to be elusive.

1) Contestant’s Choice: “Wild One” by Faith Hill.

Lauren’s song choice failed to show off her voice in any meaningful way and ultimately sounded sophomoric for a final-three performance. Steven said that Lauren was “so ready for this,” a statement that contradicts everything we’ve seen from her throughout the season. C

2) Jimmy Iovine’s Choice: “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry.

Jimmy’s was an odd song choice for a 16-year-old contestant who is naturally effervescent. His advice to sing it optimistically only muddled the chances of the song being really poignant. Lauren faltered with her timing toward the end, but thankfully Jennifer explained to us that she merely “got caught up in the truth she was creating.” Huh? C

3) Judges’ Choice: “I Hope You Dance,” by Lee Ann Womack.

If the producers are going to continue to reduce the minimum age for contestants(next season I hear they will be accepting zygotes), they need to start finding some age-appropriate songs to assign to them. Lauren sang the song relatively well, but a performance needs to be believable to be moving, though obviously JLo disagreed since she claimed it gave her “goosies” all over. B

Haley Reinhart

With an eclectic style and an unparalleled tenacity, Haley has clawed her way from frequent appearances in the bottom three to the final three. Beyoncé described her as a risk taker with conviction. Someone with a presence, even when she’s not singing.

1) Contestant’s Choice: “What Is and What Should Never Be” by Led Zeppelin.

Unlike Scotty or Lauren, Haley seemed to understand that tonight was not about toeing the line, but laying it all on the line. It is hard to say whether her performance shined in spite of her daring song choice and mid-song stumble or because of. The addition of her father on guitar certainly added to an already riveting performance. The judges all agreed that Haley stole round 1. A

2) Jimmy Iovine’s Choice: “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac

Maybe Jimmy really felt that Haley could do Stevie Nicks justice, or perhaps he was just out to get her, but there was no denying the challenge of his song choice. Haley struggled to create a moment with the enigmatic lyrics, but even a wind machine and a flowing dress couldn’t overcome the deficit. Randy said it was somber while JLo found it pretty and ethereal. B-

3) Judges’ Choice: “You Oughta Know,” by Alanis Morissette.

When the judges followed Jimmy’s song choice with Alanis’ “You Oughta Know,” conspiracy theories took root. Could the show really be setting Haley up for failure? Yes, Haley can do hardcore, but she was instantly constrained by having to sing a G-rated version of a song that emotes through its raw lyrics. If the judges were smart and wanted Haley to shine, they should have assigned Haley Alanis’s “Forgive Me Love.” Despite Haley flubbing the timing and the lyrics midway, the judges loved her chorus. C+

Based on the performances, Lauren should be the one to part tomorrow, but chances are it will be this season’s underdog, Haley Reinhart.

What did you think of the performances this week? Did the show live up to the final-three hype? Discuss!

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