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Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 05/25/2011

‘American Idol’ 2011: Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina battle it out


Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina will battle for the Season 10 crown. (Frank Micelotta - FRANK MICELOTTA/FOX/PICTUREGROUP)

It’s the final performance night on “American Idol.” The producers have moved the show to the [Cell Phone Manufacturer] Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, in order to accommodate the 7,000 “Idol” fans in attendance.

Somehow, into just one hour, the producers think they’re will be able to jam three performances by each of the two remaining Idolettes: Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina.

It’s a battle of Boy Next Door versus the Southern Belle, and the youngest Idolette face-off ever, says show host Ryan Seacrest, who’s dressed in an elegant tux. Yes, the look is a bit out of place, next to judge Jennifer Lopez’s circus bareback rider costume, the jacket that judge Steven Tyler’s has had made out of some wide ties from the 60’s he had lying around, and judge Randy Jackson’s Little Lord Fauntleroy hunting jacket. But the fashion panoply adds a certain raffish vintage clothing store air to the proceedings.

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Seacrest mentions that minutes before they went live “there was a breaking story that Lauren was having trouble with her voice.”

Actually, tabloid web site TMZ reported that “Idol” producers were trying to locate last week’s booted Idolette Haley Reinhart, in order to replace Lauren because it was a “real possibility” Lauren would not compete tonight after losing her voice.

Seacrest wonders how Lauren is doing.

I’m here, I’m ready to sing and I’m fine – don’t worry about it,” Lauren says un-dramatically.

“It was pretty dramatic,” Seacrest says, ignoring her. Seacrest drags out the show’s doctor who explains Lauren “kind of blew out one of her vocal chords – kind of like a runner with a badly sprained ankle.”

“Can she make it?” Seacrest asks breathlessly.

”We gave her a lot of medicines,” the doctor says.

That sounds ominous.

“She’s going to do great,” the doctor forecasts. Anyway, no time for a second opinion.

First, the two Idolettes will re-sing a fave from the season.

Scotty’s first song, “Gone,” by Montgomery Gentry, is much better and less tic-filled than the first time Scotty sang it. Either Scotty’s really worked on his performance style, or record mogul/”Idol” in-house mentor Jimmy Iovine has knocked the quirky out of Scotty with a slap upside the head. No eye bulges, no corn-on-the-cob-eating imitation with the mike. Scotty actually looks like he’s in sync with the song.

Lauren’s first song, Carrie Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor,” continues the “Idol” tradition of drowning out the competitor with “background” noise.

The judges, who won’t say anything critical of the competitors, have apparently given up saying anything at all.

For the next round, the Idolettes each asked their mentor to pick a tune for them. In Scotty’s case, that’s George Strait, who told him to sing “Check Yes or No.” It’s perfunctory country. Sure, Scotty’s voice is fine, but half way through hearing Scotty’s second tune so soon after his first, you start to think: a Scotty album would be mighty short on variety.

Lauren has shrewdly chosen Carrie Underwood as her mentor, thereby associating herself with a past “Idol” winner turned country star. Carrie’s picked “Maybe It Was Memphis,” by Pam Tillis, for little Lauren. She’s in a cute short dress and cowboy boots. Her reticence of earlier in the season seems to have vanished. Good meds – nicely done “Idol” doctor!

Ryan interrupts this singing at a breakneck pace, in order to wake up the judges.

“Yo, listen, I got to tell you something, America: these are the two that you have chosen and you did a fine job,” says Randy, adding, “I’m going to say Round 1: a slight edge to Scotty. Round 2, however: a slight edge to Lauren Alaina.”

JLo jumps on that bandwagon. But Tyler, who’s not committed himself to much this season, suddenly perks up and tells Scotty he’s giving both rounds to Lauren, “only because she’s prettier than you are.”

Now, there has been nothing this entire season that would indicate the judges’ comments have any impact on the viewer voting but it’s nice to see Tyler take a stand, finally.

Here’s the point at which Randy remembered he’d forgotten to deliver The Randy Jackson Shout-Out. He interrupts and adds: “Most importantly, guys: They’re both IN IT TO WIN IT!”

Before the Idolettes sing their third tune, it’s time to debut the [soft drink] Perfect Harmony Tune, written by you, the viewer. It’s called “Positive” It will be sung by Taio Cruz. But, more importantly, the soft drink manufacturer’s logo will remain at the bottom left of the screen for most of the number.

It’s perhaps the worst American Idol Treacle Tune.

Ever.

Cruz sings it while surrounded by drummers who’d just left a “Star Wars” convention. It’s like a half-time performance at the Alpha Centauri Bowl.

The soft drink company will make a limited number of downloads of this tune available tonight, Seacrest says optimistically.

Scotty’s third song is chosen for him by Iovine and will be his first single if he wins. The song: “I Love You This Big.” Poor Scotty. No song that requires the singer to hold his arms out in a fish-that-got-away gesture should ever be sung on a topic other than fish. In this case, it’s the hook for a cutesy-romantic song. Scotty doesn’t look too comfortable singing it. We blame Jimmy I.

Lauren’s Iovine-chosen possible first single, on the other hand, is “Like My Mother Does,” and it’s everything Scotty’s designated tune isn’t. In the taped bit, Jimmy Iovine lays out the strategy: “Moms are the bedrock of American society and they’re all going to be moved by this.” It’s the perfect ode for a 16-year-old girl and Lauren plays it well, going down into to the audience to embrace her mom, but also singing it with real feeling and the best voice control we’ve heard from Lauren.

After they sing for the last time, Randy cautiously tip-toes down the middle while giving “a slight edge to Lauren Alaina.” But JLo, while acknowledging it’s “a very tight race tonight,” says that “Lauren, with that song you may have just won.”

Tyler goes farther: “I like how Jimmy said moms are the bedrock of America for kids right now.”

Could they re-run his recent music video behind him while he gives this speech just for kicks?

“Scotty, sorry…Lauren gets it – hands down,” Tyler says after both perform.

Last week’s results: Goodbye, Haley Reinhart

Last week’s performances: The top three perform

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 05/25/2011

 
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