'American Idol' ousts Haley Reinhart, leaving Lauren vs. Scotty finale
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/20/2011
American Idol eliminated Haley Reinhart and determined its Top 2 tenth-season finalists during Thursday night's live results show broadcast on Fox.
Reinhart, a 20-year-old from Wheeling, IL, became the eleventh finalist sent home from American Idol's tenth season after she received the fewest home viewer votes following Wednesday night's performance show, which featured the Top 3 finalists each performing one song of their choice, a second song selected by in-house Idol mentor Jimmy Iovine, and an additional judges' pick.
"Oh my, this is the biggest platform any girl -- anybody -- could ask for, and I rocked it out and I had a blast. This is only the beginning and I thank you guys all so very much," Reinhart replied when American Idol host Ryan Seacrest asked her to reflect on her experience following the announcement of her elimination.
"This is the journey that I want to take. Singing is indescribable. It's the only thing I picture doing for the rest of my life.American Idol is a huge gateway to everything that I want. I really want to say thank you to everybody out there who's given me a chance. I just want you guys to know that you're the very reason why I do this," Reinhart added during a video montage which aired after her ouster.
Lauren Alaina, a 16-year-old from Rossville, GA, was the other finalist still in danger of elimination when Seacrest announced Reinhart's ouster but was not necessarily the week's second-lowest vote-getter.
In addition to Alaina, Scotty McCreery, a 17-year-old from Garner, NC, also remains in the running for American Idol's tenth-season title, which will be revealed during next week's season finale.
While it has aired on a Wednesday/Thursday schedule this season, American Idol's live final performance show will take place on Tuesday night and be followed by a special Wednesday night results show.
Reinhart -- who was one of the 10 finalists voted into the season's Top 13 finalists by home viewers -- had received excellent feedback from Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson following her performance of Led Zeppelin's "What Is and What Should Never Be." Her father performed on guitar while she sang onstage during Wednesday's show.
"This is what it's all about! Yo look, man. I love the fact that now in this moment when you need to be great and every performance needs to be a moment, this girl is slaying it. You're fearless. You chose a song that's not for the weak at heart. This is Zeppelin, dude. This is like crazy vocals -- you got your father on stage -- this was one of your best performances ever," Jackson said. "Haley's in it to win it, baby!"
"Haley, did you fall for me?" Tyler joked, referencing when Reinhart took a little spill on the stage in the middle of her performance. "It's not about how many times you fall; It's how many times you get back up. That was superb! That was just so, so good. You even picked that song."
"Everybody's fallen onstage. When happens is you gotta keep going. You keep going. That's a sign of a professional. That's a sign of somebody who knows what they're doing up there! These people deserve more than that and you gave it to them. It was a really tough song, but you sang it really, really great. It was a good, good good round for you. Good round for you," Lopez explained.
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All the judges agreed Reinhart nailed her rendition of "Rihannon" by Stevie Nicks although it was a more laid back vocal, and they felt Iovine chose a song well suited for her style and ability.
"I think you did a good job with it, man. We were just saying your pitch was like perfect during the whole thing. It was more of a somber moment for me, but I think you did a really good job with it. We saw a little bit of the Haley growl at the end at that last note... You're in the zone right now. You're just having a good time up there," Jackson told Reinhart.
"So sang that song so beautifully, it reminded me of why I fell in love with Stevie Nicks to begin with. That was nice, yeah, and after your last performance, this was a nice way to slow it down a little bit. You let your hair down and let the wind catch it and you did play it like we knew you would," Tyler said.
"It was a beautiful moment and it looked really beautiful on camera as well. I thought you were going to take it a little further at the end, like a Haley wail a little bit at the end, but it was a nice contrast to what you did earlier. So, it was a very pretty, ethereal moment," Lopez added.
Reinhart closed out Wednesday night's performance show with their selection for her -- Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know." She impressed the judges with her power and edge during certain spots in the song.
"America's got their work cut out for them, because I don't know. I'm telling you what, those were some amazing choruses by you. I love seeing you rock out like that in a soulful way. I mean, sometimes there's a little bit of a problem with rhythm because it's so fast, but Haley is in it to win it!" Jackson explained.
"Amazing. I don't know what to say. That was so perfect. You so nailed the choruses. It was incredible, beautiful, beautiful," Tyler noted.
"It was a really good job. Like I said, the choruses, there's nobody that can match you there as far as how high you can go and how much power you can put behind your growl and everything. I think we all heard the same thing in the middle parts, when you were going low... but definitely the stronger parts were the choruses," Lopez said.
Over 95 million home-viewer votes -- the biggest non-finale vote total in Idol history and 15 million more than last year's final broadcast -- were cast following Wednesday night's Top 3 performance show, according to Seacrest.