Last year, Crystal Bowersox entered the American Idol finale with a clear competitive advantage over Lee DeWyze. Yet to people like myself, who look beyond what happens on stage, it was also clear that Lee’s fan following far exceeded Crystal’s, and that he was destined to win Idol as one of its weakest finalists ever.
Fast-forward one year, and the scenario is very similar. In spite of what the judges have continually crowded about Scotty McCreery, the critics are quite so deceived. Including tonight’s performances, Lauren Alaina dominated Scotty in 13 of 19 numbers according to the cumulative reviews on WhatNottoSing.com. For the season, Lauren has close to a nine-point advantage per performance over Scotty (61.4 to 52.8). And with that rock-bottom average, Scotty is poised to ascend to the title as the poorest-reviewed winner in the show’s history.
Tonight’s finale didn’t help his numbers at all. In an encore of DeWyze’s 2010 travesty, Scotty averaged in the low-40s for his trio of performances. By comparison, Lauren averaged just over 60. It was just about as dominating a finals performance as we’ve seen. And yet it simply won’t be enough. At about 9:50 EST on Wednesday, Ryan Seacrest will announce to the world that Scotty McCreery is the new American Idol. He seems like a nice enough kid and I wish him the best, but if his time on Idol is any indication, one year from now we’ll be talking about his disappointing album sales and comparing him to the next champion. Hopefully by that time, the producers and judges will figure out what constructive criticism actually looks like.
Round 1/ Contestant’s Reprise: “Gone” by Montgomery Gentry
Round 2/ George Strait’s Choice: “Check Yes or No” by George Strait
Round 3/ First Single: “Like My Mother Does”
Scotty’s first choice was solid, considering that “Gone” was probably his best upbeat performance of the season. It probably wasn’t as good as the first time he performed it in the Top 5. Maybe that’s because Scotty so often seems wooden and even casual in his movements. There’s so little performance quality in him, so he rarely adds energy to each number, relying only on his vocals (which are slightly above average). I rated his first turn on “Gone” as an 8.5; this one was a half step off of that.
For his second number, one of Scotty’s idols, George Strait, chose “Check Yes or No.” It might have been a big hit for Strait, but there was little special about Scotty’s take on it. It was basically a nice karaoke version of the number, with Scotty taking up the acoustic guitar again. And once again, the guitar was mainly a prop, since Scotty is really only comfortable with about three chords (G, D and C with a capo). Some of the notes were flat, and that’s a good description of the entire performance – flat.
In his final performance, Scotty revealed his first single, “I Love You This Big.” By far, this was the lowest moment of the night for Scotty and for the show. The song was sleepy, Scotty was horrendously flat and the “waving hands of hell” in the mosh pit were present to ensure that the entire thing sucked. It may chart because it’s by an Idol winner, but it might rank as the most forgettable winner’s single in the show’s history. For once, Jimmy Iovine made a terrible call; for a season-closing performance, it was as bad as it gets.
(Round 1: 8/10; Round 2: 7/10; Round 3: 6/10; Total: 21)
Round 1/ Contestant’s Choice: “Flat on the Floor ” by Carrie Underwood
Round 2/ Carrie Underwood’s Choice: “Maybe It Was Memphis” by Pam Tillis
Round 3/ First Single: “Like My Mother Does”
Like Scotty, Lauren chose a solid, upbeat number from the Top 5, “Flat on the Floor.” We found out before the show that Lauren was singing with an injured vocal chord, and maybe because of that her vocals were lacking some crispness. It was a little fun and pretty good, but it wasn’t great. Even with Scotty being a little off, he still seemed to edge Lauren out in the first round.
That didn’t carry over into the second round. Even though I wasn’t thrilled with Carrie Underwood’s choice of “Maybe It Was Memphis,” Lauren seemed to pick up some momentum midway through the song and by the end of the number was singing the lights out of it. Again, it was very good, but not amazing. But with Scotty being way off with “Check Yes or No,” Lauren easily captured the second round.
The momentum continued into the third round with “Like My Mother Does,” a song which first appeared on Kristy Lee Cook’s post-Idol album and was later a non-charting single for Jess Lee. Based on what we saw tonight, Lauren should have no trouble moving this song at least into the Billboard country charts. Inspired by singing to her mother, Lauren let her emotions flow, yet wasn’t completely overcome by them. Midway through the performance, she was helped down the steps by Ryan, and then walked to her mother, where she sang part of the song while locked in an embrace. It was undoubtedly the biggest moment of the night and maybe the most memorable performance of the season. Ordinarily, it would have been a winning moment, but we know better. At best, it could be when we realized that this girl really would be a star.
(Round 1: 7.5/10; Round 2: 8/10; Round 3: 9/10; Total: 24.5)
1. Lauren Alaina #3 (9)
2. Lauren Alaina #2 (8)
3. Scotty McCreery #1 (8)
4. Lauren Alaina #1 (7.5)
5. Scotty McCreery #2 (7)
6. Scotty McCreery #3 (6)
Top 2 (Odds to Win)
1. Scotty McCreery (1/2)
2. Lauren Alaina (9/4)
And the winner is…
Do we really need to ask that. Betting sites are giving Scotty about an 80 or 90 percent chance to win. My odds are more conservative, so he “only” gets about a 68 chance here. That’s enough. Unless the Idol producers pull a fast one, Scotty McCreery will win Season 10 in a landslide.
Let me know what you think about tonight’s performances? Do you agree? Who was the best? Who was the worst? And who should be the winner when the results are revealed? Remember to follow this blog on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/capnpen. Also be sure to follow our Facebook group, American Idol Update.