The Top 3 performance show began with a quick glimpse at Haley Reinhart's, Lauren Alaina's, and Scotty McCreery's hometown visits, and it only took 14 seconds for me to get chills. I'm disappointed in myself--I had "the goosies" before Randy Jackson could even say, "In it to win it!"
Beyonce met with the Top 3 this week, and when we got a quick glimpse of her resume via a video montage, I realized she has a career similar to Jennifer Lopez--triple threats indeed. Perhaps Beyonce will be PEOPLE's Most Beautiful Woman of 2012. She worked with the Idols on their first of three songs of the night--the one they chose for themselves.
Scotty McCreery kicked off the night and selected Lonestar's "Amazed." Aww, that reminds me of high school...and it reminds Scotty of preschool. Beyonce loved that Scotty reached into his higher range, and that he saved this little trick for when the competition is down to three. Leaning on the piano with his eyebrows under control, Scotty delivered "Amazed." The "Swaybots" (as some like to call them) were alive and well in the balcony over Scotty's right shoulder. I wonder how it felt for Scotty to sing in front of Priscilla Presley--his late idol's ex-wife. After a lengthy applause session, Steven Tyler borrowed from the song's lyrics and said Scotty's melody just keeps getting better. He also said, "I saw you get angry. You really did take that song up a notch." It is a little strange to get angry during a proposal song. Jennifer Lopez commented on Scotty's vibrato and said that "It's just a natural thing for you now." Randy thought it was "money" when Scotty looked in the camera at the end of the song.
Lauren Alaina chose to sing "Wild One" by Faith Hill. Beyonce, who likes when Lauren sings faster songs, encouraged Lauren to create her own Sasha Fierce. Dressed like it's the 70s, Lauren took the stage and performed the song that would be a close fit to the type of music she'll release post-Idol. She had fun with it and Jennifer was clapping along from her chair. Jennifer loved the way Lauren attacked the song. Randy loved seeing Lauren have fun and said, "I could tell in your heart you were loving it and had a connection with it." Steven Tyler gave a specific compliment to a moment in the B verse that she shined and he said "You're ready for America to just drool all over you." I don't know if anyone is ever ready for that.
Haley Reinhart took a risk by selecting to sing a Led Zeppelin song, "What Is and What Should Never Be," and she got the rare opportunity to be joined on stage by her father on guitar. Starting at the top of the staircase and leaning on saloon-style doors, Haley started the slow part of her song in her upper register and then moved down the staircase--with no railings--during the hard-hitting chorus. She ran around the judges and twirled around all while singing, and just as I commented aloud about how impressed I was that she can do all of this stair climbing in stilettos, Haley tripped on her way back to the stage. Although she missed a lyric or two, she immediately picked herself up and continued without making any faces. Randy gave her a standing ovation and Steven joined him. Randy complimented Haley on her fearless selection and said it was "One of your best performances ever!" Steven asked Haley if she fell for him and then eloquently stated, "It's not about how many times you fall; it's about how many times you get back up." Jennifer commented on Haley acting like a true professional. Haley's overcome the lipstick massacre and the stair spill. Welcome to Hollywood.
In-house mentor Jimmy Iovine selected the second song of the night for each Season 10 finalist. First we looked back at Scotty's initial audition. Jimmy sat down with Scotty earlier in the week and told him he chose "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not" by Thompson Square because it reminds him of Tom Petty and is a good type of song for Scotty's future album. Channeling Kris Allen in his second button-down plaid shirt of the night, Scotty took the stage and his acoustic guitar to perform the song I wasn't too familiar with prior to this week. Scotty's never been shy, but he's really come into his own the past few weeks. Steven never heard Scotty deliver a chorus like that. Jennifer loved the little moments like when Scotty grabbed his guitar tighter. Wow, Jennifer has amazing attention to detail. She also asked Scotty to shave his head like it was last summer in Milwaukee if he makes it to the finale. Once again, Randy felt like he was at a Scotty concert. If Randy attends a Scotty concert one day, I wonder if he'll have deja vu.
Apparently in show business, when your panty hose rip, you slather your legs in shimmery makeup. The question here is who under 50 wears panty hose? We revisited Lauren's audition, and I could watch that duet with Steven to "I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" over and over again without getting tired of it, which says something because I became tired of that song in 1998. Lauren has made quite a physical transformation since her audition. I wish I had my own style team. Jimmy and Lauren not only introduced me to The Band Perry's "If I Die Young," but they made me love it. Lauren was right about the song--it's a sad message, but it's sung in an optimistic way. According to the judges and Lauren, she missed a key change, but I was so caught up in it I thought it was intentional. Jennifer said that Lauren has the most beautiful tone, and natural ability is magical. Randy compared Lauren's professionalism with her modulation slip up to Haley picking herself up from the fall. These contestants are human and it's live TV! Steven used his favorite word, "Beautiful," twice to describe Lauren's performance. Lauren's mom interviewed that she's felt like she's aged about 20 years since Lauren's been on Idol, but she doesn't look a day over 35!
Jimmy Iovine was 3 for 3 in awesome song selections when he picked Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" for Haley Reinhart. When we flashed back to her initial audition, we're reminded that she didn't make it to Hollywood last season, and this season she's at least Top 3! Her speaking voice sounded deeper back then, and she looks different too. Spared from the stairs, Haley stood in one place and sang "Rhiannon," which showed a softer, less growly side of Haley. I loved her dress, but the wind machine distracted me a little. Haley has a similar tone to Stevie Nicks, but she made some small changes to the song. She made Randy crack up and he said, "Your pitch was perfect...You're funny; you're in the zone now." Steven shared, "You sang the song so beautifully it reminded me why I fell in love with Stevie." Jennifer thought it was a beautiful moment that looked beautiful on camera, but she wanted a little more Haley-wail--my new favorite term.
Round 3! Who's in it to win it? Back in Garner, NC, Scotty stood up on the grocery checkstand conveyor belt (which thankfully didn't turn on accidentally) and announced that the judges want him to sing Kenny Rogers' "She Believes In Me." The teen took the stage and moved on from his plaid shirts to a blazer, so he must be in it to win it, as was Ray Chew in his sparkly fedora. Scotty was backed by an orchestra and at that moment we realized that Scotty holds his mic the way the violinists hold their bow. He gave an honest performance and for the third time tonight he took a trip to his upper register. "She believes in [him]" and so did Steven Tyler, who thought it was the first chorus Scotty sang in a big way. Jennifer spoke for the judges when she said, "We all wanted to see if you could hit the big chorus--guess you showed us!" Randy commented on "the sweet and tender" front of the song. In the audience, proud papa Mike McCreery crooned some of "Your Man" and Scotty said his dad is "in it to win it!" Aww, I love Season 10.
Lauren's last performance of the night was "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack. This song has taken a beating this year--with Scotty and Ta-Tynisa Wilson forgetting the lyrics and Christine McCaffrey's cartoon voice audition with it. Would Lauren adopt the Season 10 revamped lyrics of "I said this zone zoo talk and nuts of wonder?" Lauren had no trouble with the lyrics and she looked great in a ball gown amidst the strings and smoke. I wish they would have slowed the song down to create more of an impactful moment, but the judges were happy. Lauren gave Jennifer "the goosies" and she dared to give Round 3 to Lauren before the night was over. Randy said it was one of his favorite songs in life. He's a fan of zoo talks and nuts of wonder. He thought Lauren slayed it and was in it to win it. Steven stated, "You wanted out there like you owned the Grand Ole Opry. Singing is an extension of who you really are."
The last performance of the night was Haley Reinhart, who received a text from the judges while riding in the car to sing Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" (the PG version). Put on your seatbelt, Haley! You're a rock star and all, but no need to live on the edge. The moving staircase pushed Haley out on stage as she sang the song. Much like her first song of the night, the verses are very quick, but she nailed the chorus. The judges looked like bobbleheads at the table with the way they were bopping to the beat. Randy told Haley, "I loved seeing you rock out like that in a soulful way," and so of course she was in it to win it. Steven said, "That was so perfect. You nailed the choruses." Jennifer stated, "There's nobody that can match you there with how high you can go and the power behind the growl," or Haley-wail.
After three solid performances from three solid competitors, who would you send to the finale?