American Idol finale: Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery close on a low note

American Idol featured Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery, the two youngest contestants ever to face-off for the title. But did the decidedly unremarkable American Idol finale teach the producers that they should be careful what they wish for?

Robert Willett / The News & Observer
American Idol finalist Scotty McCreery of Garner, N.C. performs at Lake Benson Park in Garner, N.C. on May 14, 2011. McCreery competed against Lauren Alaina Suddeth in the season finale of the singing competition series, Tuesday night.

In Part One of the two-night season finale, the two youngest finalists, Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery, sang for the chance to become Season 10’s American Idol.

But if you are not a fan of country music, there is a very good chance that you sat through this show asking yourself, “This is the finale? This is the culmination of the season?”

Each contestant had three songs to sing: their favorite of the season, a song chosen by their singing idol, and finally an original song that will become their first single if they win.

Scotty McCreery

Maybe it was the pressure or the 7,000 audience members, but Scotty McCreery seemed like he may have been in shock this episode. Sure, he hit all of his facial choreography while singing, but tonight’s Scotty was a subdued, almost somber performer. There was no light in his eyes and few country boyish grins.

Round 1: For his favorite song of the season, he chose Montgomery Gentry’s, “Gone.” The performance was nothing special and seemed rather blasé for the finale. But by the end of the show, it was the most energetic of all Scotty’s songs Tuesday evening. B-

Round 2: George Strait, picked one of his own songs for Scotty. Certainly, a totally altruistic move and Mr. Strait could not have been imagining his song being revitalized on iTunes the next morning. Scotty did a decent job with, “Check Yes or No,” but again, his heart didn’t seem to be in the performance. B-

Round 3: Anyone who has watched a season of American Idol should know full well that the songs written for the finale are nothing short of torturous, both for the singer and for those listening. But this year, Scotty’s original song,” I Love You This Big,” was not the horror fans have come to expect. If Scotty had tried to sell it, it could have been better. But as with the first two rounds, Scotty seemed distant and emotionally detached. B-

Lauren Alaina

Host Ryan Seacrest explained to viewers that, prior to the show, Lauren Alaina had been struggling with her voice. Any concerns were immediately put to rest when viewers learned that Lauren’s strained vocal chords were treated by the very same doctor who pulled Casey Abrams back from the brink of collapse when the judges opted to save him from elimination.

Round 1: Lauren chose Carrie Underwood’s, “Flat on the Floor,” for her first round. The performance was lively enough and her voice didn’t seem to be compromised during the song but like most of the songs on Tuesday night, it certainly didn’t seem finale worthy. B

Round 2: Carrie Underwood chose, Pam Tillis’s “Maybe it was Memphis,” for Lauren and it proved to be a perfect choice. Lauren sang the song beautifully and it showed some of the range that made her such a standout in auditions. A

Round 3: Apparently contributing to the demise of Haley Reinhart by choosing “Rhiannon,” wasn’t enough for Jimmy Iovine. This week, he presented Lauren with an original song that has the dubious distinction of being even worse than Season 8’s “No Boundaries.”

The song was an ode to mothers and what mother wouldn’t swoon over lyrics like these?

“She’s a rock. She is great. She’s an angel.”

Come on Idol, just because it was written for a 16-year-old doesn’t mean it has to sound like it was written by a 16-year-old! Lauren tried to buoy the appeal of the song by entering the audience to hug her mother as she sang. She did what she could with what she was given. C

Aside from the country music, awful winner’s singles, and a random performance at the end by Taio Cruz, there was one redeeming quality in this year’s finale: the judges were given only a limited window to talk. As you may have guessed, both Lauren and Scotty were brilliant, amazing, wonderful and in it to win it . . . but here were the judges breakdowns of the night:

Randy Jackson:

Round 1: Scotty

Round 2: Lauren

Round 3: Lauren

Jennifer Lopez:

Round 1: Scotty

Round 2: Lauren

Round 3: Too close to call.

Steven Tyler:

Round 1: Lauren

Round 2: Lauren (But according to Steven it is only because Lauren’s prettier than Scotty.)

Round 3: Lauren


Both Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler predicted the win for Lauren. JLo told her after the third round that, “With that song, you may have just won it.” And then Steven added, “As far as I’m concerned, the first time I saw you I thought you were my American Idol and I think America is going to find that to be true. You’re it in my eyes.”

Although agreeing with the judges is not something that has been easy this season, they might just be right this time.

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