You’ve been waiting for it all season. While other contestants were shooting themselves in the foot with their vocals or performances without negative feedback from the judges panel, Haley Reinhart was doing good to great renditions of her song choices, only to get so-so reviews, backhanded compliments, or praise about her vocals tempered with criticism about her stage skills from the “American Idol judges (with the notable exception of Steven Tyler). But on the Top 4 performance show, the 20-year-old had had enough. And she chose the perfect episode to stand her ground, the show highlighting the songs of Lieber & Stoller, whose many hits include the song “Yakety-Yak” and its famous warning line, “Don’t talk back.”
But the young singer wasn’t in the mood to hear any more blunt and non-productive criticisms about her performances. After performing her inspirational choice (the contestants began two-round episode by singing a song that they had found inspirational), Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” Jennifer Lopez told her she did a beautiful job vocally, but… (and this has seemed to be a pattern with Lopez’ criticisms of Reinharts numbers throughout Season 10) she probably should have chosen a more popular song, one that the audience was more familiar with.
Haley Reinhart locked her jaw, the disappointment evident in her eyes.
Then judge Randy Jackson lowered the boom. He bluntly told her, after agreeing with Lopez that it was not a good song choice, that the song was out of her vocal range and that he didn’t like it.
Reinhart, who icily told him she didn’t think the song was out of her range, said she was fine with the way she had performed it, that she had ended the song the way she had because it was perfect that way. The audience was clearly on her side, cheering her for her spunk.
Steven Tyler flat-out told Reinhart not to listen to the other two, that they were wrong. He was so adamant, he repeated himself.
After the first four songs were performed, host Ryan Seacrest brought the finalists on stage and asked the judges who was leading and who needed to try a bit harder in the second round.
During he second round, which showcased the Lieber & Stoller tunes (and was mentored by Lady Gaga), Haley performed “I (Who Have Nothing),” giving it both a classical and theatrical twist (the latter at Lady Gaga’s insistence). It brought the audience and the judges to their feet. They were all praises. Jennifer Lopez tried to appropriate some credit, saying that that was why they were so hard on her, because they knew what she was truly capable of. Lopez said it was one of the best performances of the year. Jackson heartily agreed and added that it was Haley’s best performance ever. (Haley, for her part, did not look convinced. In fact, she still looked a bit ticked off.) Steven Tyler told her, “Haley just Reinharted herself into the middle of next week.”
It was Haley’s second standing ovation in as many weeks. She received her first for her Top 5 performance of the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” under similar circumstances.
But anyone who has seen the show during Season 10 has seen the smokey-voiced singer get shot down again and again by Lopez and Jackson (and sometimes deservedly so), only to see Lauren Alaina, Jacob Lusk, Casey Abrams, and Scotty McCreery get free passes from the judges on obviously sub-par song choices and performances.
Up until the Top 4 performances, Haley had stoically took it all in. But the judges apparently crossed a line Wednesday evening. Haley was done taking what appeared to be superfluous and often-time Will it help her make the all-important Top 3, where “American Idol” film crews follow the finalists back to their home towns to film their homecomings? Or will it hurt her, costing her that coveted slot? Considering that her first performance was really the only number that was given any really harsh criticism, it is difficult to say which way the vote will fall. Either way, whether she moves ahead to a filmed homecoming or travels home for good, she discovers her fate Thursday evening, May 12, on the results show.
Haley Reinhart fans in the Myrtle Beach area can see if Haley makes the Top 3 by watching “American Idol” on WFXB Fox TV.