Back to live-blogging/live-recapping "American Idol" tonight. And man, the drama has already started. It's not even 8 p.m. and already Fox has America buzzing with the "news" that Lauren Alaina is being treated for laryngitis (here after known as Laurengitis) and may not be able to perform tonight.
If Lauren can't perform, last week's eliminated contestant, Haley Reinhart, will take her place to compete against Scotty McCreery.
Two things. First, I prefer Haley over Lauren anyway. By a wide margin. Sue me. So I'm fine with Haley filling in, except she doesn't really have a fair chance if she only has today to rehearse. Second, we all kinda know in our hearts that Scotty's gonna win anyway, so whatever. I just don't want an asterisk by his name.
EXCEPT ... if Lauren "soldiers through" and earns massive sympathy votes from America, pulling the upset over Scotty.
I'm a little ticked off right now.
Reporter Sarah Nagem is working the crowd at the Garner High viewing party. They seem to agree: "Doesn't matter -- he's going to win either way," said Cathy Young, 56, of Garner.
Here we go...
At the top of tonight's show, Ryan Seacrest introduces Lauren and Scotty and asks Lauren if she's okay: "I'm here, I'm ready to sing, I'm fine, don't worry about it." (See: #publicitystunt #sympathyvotes).
Ryan then has Batman's doctor come out and explain that Lauren "blew out a vocal cord" and compared her injury to a runner with a "badly sprained ankle." (See: #publicitystunt #sympathyvotes).
Scotty sings first and he picks a song from earlier in the season. He sings "Gone" and it's G R E A T (and this is from someone -- that'd be me -- who isn't into country music). Scotty, looking much more mature in his t-shirt and leather jack, kills it. (The plaid is cute but makes him look a little Opie-ish. With the longer hair and updated clothes, Scotty has gone from looking like a 12-year-old in some of the early shows, to looking like a -- dare I say it! -- young man.)
Lauren comes out and sings "Flat on the Floor." If she's "off" I can't tell it. Sounds like she always does to me. (See: #publicitystunt #sympathyvotes). She's wearing a shiny Jetson-inspired black and silver outfit.
Remember, Lauren is singing second all night because Scotty, who won the coin toss, deferred to her and let her pick.
Scotty's hero is George Strait so Strait picked Scotty's second song, which is Strait's "Check Yes or No." Scotty's back in the plaid (looks pink and white on my TV). This plaid stuff *has* to have been focus-grouped somewhere and with a much younger audience than me. Scotty plays the guitar for this one, and it's a nice song for a 17-year-old high school kid. My critique: "Yeaaaaaah!"
Next up, Carrie Underwood picks a song for Lauren.
And then, Lauren sings a song by
someone (I'll check!) Pam Tillis...
I'm sorry, I was retweeting some Fox conspiracy theories and I missed the name of the song. It's a pretty song. Maybe later I'll google Tillis' version and listen to it sung by someone with all her vocal cords intact. (Update: The song is "Maybe It was Memphis").
Did I mention Ryan Seacrest is wearing a tuxedo? Mr. Fancy Pants.
Seacrest calls Scotty out to stand with him and Lauren and finally asks the judges to weigh in on the performances. Randy Jackson says they're both great but says Scotty's reprisal of "Gone" was "brilliant" and the George Strait song was really good too. He gives Round 1 to Scotty and for Round 2, he gives a "slight edge" to Lauren.
J-Lo says "explosive start" from both singers and agrees with Randy: Round 1 to Scotty, Round 2 to Lauren.
Steven Tyler says they are both great and it's pretty even, but he'll give both rounds to Lauren only because "she's prettier." Scotty agrees with him. About the "pretty" part.
Now we get to hear the terrible single they are going to make Scotty sing if he wins the show. I say "terrible single" because they are always terrible. Universally. Jimmy Iovine says they picked a "big song." So we don't forget it's a "big song" they named it "I Love You This Big."
Oh! Scotty's wearing a nice shirt and dark gray blazer. Looking like a handsome grownup!
I'm probably not qualified to offer a judgment on the quality of the song (didn't do anything for me), but Scotty sang it well.
They show Scotty's mom in the audience and she's crying.
For the millionth time Randy tells Scotty he's "in it to win it" and I realize that I really kinda hate Randy.
J-Lo tells Scotty he did an amazing job. Steven Tyler tells him, "you ran with it, you got it, you nailed it again."
Scotty tells Ryan: "Tonight has just been wild. I tell you what, never in my wildest dreams would I have seen myself on this stage back in Milwaukee. I'm here and I'm taking in every moment."
Ryan tells him he's so calm, so chill, and Scotty says, "I don't know, I'm just a chill person."
Lauren's song is called "Like My Mother Does." Iovine says "this song is going to showcase her tonight in her best light." And also, Iovine does not say, make all the mothers in America vote for her.
Lauren sounds flat to me, like someone missing a vocal chord (just kidding -- she sounds fine. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH HER). So. Lauren is playing the sympathy card and the "mom's are the greatest" card.
Nicely done, Lauren Alaina. Nicely done. You are a more worthy adversary than I gave you credit for. But you forgot to hold a kitten while singing, the one you just rescued from a burning church.
J-Lo says with that song, Lauren probably just won the "Idol" contest -- especially on the back of the whole sympathy vote thing. I'm sorry. I'm calling BS on the blown vocal chord drama. Any "news" leaked by Simon Fuller to Harvey Levin at TMZ is instantly suspicious to me...
All the judges give the edge to Lauren. So there you go. Time to vote!
See you back here tomorrow night...
Okay, one post-show update: At a press conference following "Idol," Lauren wasn't talking. Instead, she used a marker and notepad to communicate with reporters. Here's a photo. Lauren told reporters (I'm assuming she wrote it): "I knew somehow God would get me through it."