— Apparently, Lauren Alaina’s vocal cords were not badly strained in rehearsal.
The big rumor before the final “American Idol” performance show of the season on Tuesday was that Alaina might not be able to sing because of laryngitis. In theory, that would have bumped her in favor of Haley Reinhart. Rumors had the producers searching for Reinhart to get her in the studio for some last minute rehearsals just in case.
If that was the case, it was probably just someone playing a cruel joke on the third-place finisher. Alaina took the stage, which surprised approximately nobody. This is the finale of “American Idol” … even if she had no voice at all, odds were good that Alaina would have stood up there and mimed the lyrics rather than cede her spot to a rival.
Instead, she showed up, accepted all of the sympathy and said she’d be able to sing without a problem. She then played every card in her arsenal, including a trip to the Kodak Theater crowd to sing directly to her mother while performing “Like My Mother Does,” which will be her initial single should she win and likely even if she loses. Ultimately, she did well enough that the judges predicted she’d be this season’s winner.
Of course, as David Archuleta and Adam Lambert could tell her, that kind of endorsement from the judges is about as accurate as the average weather forecast. Though it was Alaina’s best night of the year, McCreery began the night as the favorite and did not appear to lose much, if any, ground to the rival he graciously allowed to sing second.
Regardless of who performed better on Tuesday, McCreery remains the favorite heading into Wednesday’s finale, and both will be fixtures on the country music circuit for years to come.
How big is 'this big?'
If McCreery wins, his first single will be “I Love You This Big.” It’s not the most dynamic tune in the world, but he sang it well and made it seem like something people might actually want to buy, surprisingly uncommon in an “Idol” coronation song.
One thing going for it – with a title like that, it has a 100% chance of being a huge hit among drunk men trying to woo women at karaoke bars across the country.
Strait, Underwood weigh in
Before debuting their projected singles, McCreery and Alaina sang two other numbers: their favorite songs of the season, and another that chosen for each singer by his or her musical idol.
Stunningly, McCreery did not pick “Your Man,” so we did not get to hear him sing again about locking the doors and turning the lights down low. Instead he kept things up-tempo with Montgomery Gentry’s “Gone,” a better choice in that it got the audience’s energy up and allowed him to strut the stage with some confidence. Then, George Strait modestly gave him his own hit, “Check Yes or No.” I’d make a joke about that showing some ego, but when you’ve had Strait’s career, you can do whatever the heck you want.
Alaina started off with “Flat on the Floor,” which did a nice job of getting her going without straining her voice to its limits and kept the audience rocking. Her idol was Carrie Underwood, and she made a great selection in Pam Tillis’ “Maybe it was Memphis.” That helped Alaina maintain her momentum all the way to the finish.
Silence was golden
The judges have not offered much in the way of criticism all season, and except for the occasional J.Lo note of advice, tended not to offer any useful feedback either. Fittingly, they spend a good chunk of Tuesday’s show saying nothing at all.
Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and J.Lo were all silent through McCreery and Alaina’s opening two numbers. When they did finally speak, it was to give round one to McCreery and round two to Alaina, which had it all coming down to the final song.
With predictable comments like that, silence was the better option.
And note to Randy: You mean Alaina and McCreery were “in it to win it?” Really? The only two singers left in the competition? That’s some real insight there. Though I guess given the rumors about Alaina’s voice, maybe it was a big deal to have multiple singers competing until the final note.