It's the moment we've been waiting for...who will be your tenth American Idol? Well, we wouldn't find out until the next day, but it was time for an exciting night of 6 performances from our youngest Top 2 ever--Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery. It's amazing to think these two have been juggling school with a very demaning Idol schedule all season long.
The show started with the cutest home videos I've ever seen. Carrie Underwood singing as a child and then footage of her winning American Idol. A little David Cook performing in a talent show lead to a clip of his confetti shower 3 years ago. Then, we saw footage of Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery, which wasn't too long ago for these kids. And it appears that Scotty played "American Idol" with his classmates and he had the role of Ryan Seacrest. Priceless!
Live from LA's Nokia Theatre, Ryan Seacrest took the stage in a bow tie--an unusual departure from his signature skinny neck ties. That's how you know it's a big night! Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler helped each other down the staircase and took their seats amongst 7,000 screaming fans. It appears as though every piece of neon posterboard and glitter that ever existed was at the Nokia this evening.
Ryan revealed that during rehearsal, Lauren blew out a vocal chord. The guy has many jobs, but he's not a doctor, so he brought out the Idol doctor to explain that it's comparable to an athlete getting a very severe sprain. But don't worry,they pumped her full of medicine and she's ready to take the stage. I feel like Lauren doesn't have a choice. It's the biggest night of her 16-year life, and even with compromised vocals she earned her spot to perform on the huge finale stage.
Scotty McCreery won the coin toss, but instead of picking if he wanted to perform first or second, he deferred to Lauren who chose to go second. That worked out well because it probably bought her an extra 5 minutes for her medicine to kick in. Scotty began the night with a reprisal of "Gone," his up-beat, fast-paced, Montgomery Gentry cover. He was all over the Nokia stage and only an athlete like Scotty could do that without becoming winded. It's amazing to see how confident and comfortable he's become. There's no sign of nerves here! He even attempted audience participation, hoisting out his mic for the audience to yell "Bang! Bang!" With no judges comments, Ryan read off Scotty's numbers and cut to commercial.
Lauren Alaina went with Carrie Underwood's "Flat On The Floor." I would have suggested "Anyway" or "Candle In The Wind," but I guess it's always good to kick off the night with energy. Lauren rose from the floor and almost was flat on the floor as she traveled down the staircase. I saw her get a little bit rocky at one point. There was no sign of her vocals being affected by the vocal chord blow out, except maybe she was a bit raspy, which can be a benefit (see Haley Reinhart). The Top 13 (minus the Top 2, obviously) were in the audience, and I noticed a very enthusiastic Jacob Lusk. Again, there was no judges' feedback, but Randy and Jennifer stood up at the end. I figured we'd get a Round 1 goes to, but we went to another commercial.
The Top 2's idols got to pick their second song for them. How cool! One of Scotty's idols, George Strait, selected his own song, "Check Yes Or No." Scotty grabbed his guitar and was back in plaid. We should get a plaid shirt count and see if he wore more plaid than Kris Allen. The teen sounded like all the old country singers, and there's no doubt that no matter what place he (or Lauren Alaina) come in, they'll be successful. Again, there were no judges' comments. I hope we get to hear from them at one point in the night, otherwise they're just audience members with the best seats in the house.
Appropriately, Lauren idolizes Carrie Underwood, and the Season 4 winner picked "Maybe It Was Memphis." In full Southern Belle attire, Lauren took the stage and was joined by the violinist. That violinist is working overtime tonight! Carrie proved once again that she can do no wrong, because "Maybe It Was Memphis" was a perfect choice for Lauren's vocals, which showed even less of a sign of giving out.
After Lauren's performance, Ryan brought Scotty back to the stage, and we got to hear from the judges about the first two rounds. First, Randy commended America on doing a fine job picking the Top 2. The dawg thought Scotty's reprisal of "Gone" was brilliant, and again he felt like he was at a Scotty concert. Randy also thought that Scotty's George strait song was really good. As for Lauren Alaina, he thought Lauren's "Flat On The Floor" was really good, but he loved her Pam Tillis song. He gave a slight edge to Scotty for Round 1 and a slight edge to Lauren for Round 2. Jennifer Lopez said, "It was such an explosive start from both of you." She thought Scotty's "Gone" was the perfect way to start the show, and that Lauren attacked "Flat On The Floor" like crazy. She then said Scotty's second song was good, but not as dymanic as Lauren's "Maybe It Was Memphis" which she called "Strong, clear, and beautiful." She agreed with Randy, giving Round 1 to Scotty and Round 2 to Lauren. Steven Tyler stated, "I'd like to say if you two sang that better you might be in the finals of American Idol, but you're already here!" He said it was such a close race but he gave the first and second to Lauren "only because she's prettier than you are," and Scotty nodded his head in agreement. Randy chimed in with, "Most importantly, they're both in it to win it!"
Coca-Cola's Perfect Harmony contest came to a close, and the winning collaborative song was created with Taio Cruz, who, after a slight delay, rose from the stage to perform "Positive" with an army of drummers.
For the third and final performance, Scotty and Lauren performed what will be their debut singles if they win American Idol. Mentor Jimmy Iovine explained why "I Love You This Big" was the perfect song for Scotty. Scotty McCreery then took the stage and performed his potential first single as footage of his Idol journey playing as he sang. The camera cut to his mom who was crying in the audience. I can't imagine what it's like to be in his family's shoes, watching their little baby perform for millions. And since he's a minor, his mom has been by his side every step of the way. Randy Jackson was glad the song showed off Scotty's vocal range, and he said, "I'm proud of you because you've grown throughout the contest, and that was a brilliant vocal performance." Jennifer called Scotty a "brilliant storyteller"and said that's what it takes to perform a song that no one has head before. "You did a really amazing job with that song," Jennifer said. Steven stated, "You've come a long way. You took your chances, you ran with it, you got it. You nailed it again!" When Ryan met with Scotty to read off his voting numbers, he said "You're so calm. You're just hanging out, singing songs." A seasoned professional!
Before Lauren Alaina sang her final song of the season, "Like My Mother Does," Jimmy said, "Moms are the bedrock of American society." In a long, flowy white dress with flowers, Lauren performed the emotional song as footage playing behind her. Ryan escorted Lauren off stage and over to her mom. She continued to sing while embracing her mom, and I have no idea how she was able to do it without breaking down. Like Scotty's last note, Lauren's last note was also really impactful. Lauren's parents were very emotional and hugging in the audience, and Lauren was emotional on stage. Randy said this song was the exact summation of Lauren's journey, and a great ode to Lauren's mom. He said it's the Lauren the judges fell in love with in Nashville and he loved "that Mariah Carey soft whisper at the end." Randy stood up to applaud her. Jennifer commented on how tight the race is, and said, "But with that song, you may have just won. You sang it beautifully. It was the perfect song for you and you sang it with heat, emotion, feeling, and it was beautiful." Steven said, "The first time I saw you, I thought you were my American Idol. I think America will find it to be true. You are in my eyes."
At the end of Round 3, Randy said it was so close, but he gave a slight edge to Lauren Alaina. He's all about slight edges tonight. Jennifer shared that Scotty was her frontrunner from the beginning and that this has become a very tight race. Steven gave it to Lauren, "Hands down."
The night ended with a performance from Season 7 winner David Cook with this year's farewell song, "Don't You Forget About Me." As he sang, highlights from auditions on forward played in the background.
So, the question of the season...who is the Season 10 American Idol? We'd find out in 24 hours, but first we get to see our favorite Idol alumni and celebs walk the red carpet and special performances on Wednesday's 2-hour season finale.