'American Idol' Finale Recap: Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina Sing for It All

by Hilary Rothing, posted May 25th 2011 12:10AM
Tonight, it was finally time for the battle of the country teen titans, with Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina taking to the stage to sing it out for the 'American Idol' title. Or was it? With Lauren suffering from laryngitis, there was talk of third place finisher Haley Reinhart waiting in the wings with 'House of the Rising Sun,' 'I Who Have Nothing' and 'Bennie and the Jets' locked and loaded to hit the stage, if need be.

Of course, we all knew there was nothing that could keep Lauren (or her mom) out of the 'American Idol' finale, and we were right. Ryan Seacrest addressed the situation at the top of the show, asking Lauren how she felt. "I'm here and I'm ready to sing and I'm fine," she said. Seacrest then called the resident 'Idol' doctor to the stage for a statement on Lauren's condition. "Lauren blew out one of her vocal chords (during rehearsal) so her vocal chords were really rough and sprained ... we gave her a lot of medicines and got her an emergency crew, she's gonna do great," said the doc.

With that said, let's get down to it, ya'll!

With 7,000 fans packed inside Los Angeles' Nokia Theatre, Seacrest informed us that Lauren and Scotty would sing three songs. The first would be their favorite song of the season, next up a pick from their personal idols, Carrie Underwood for Lauren and George Strait for Scotty, and finally, each would perform their ostensible first single, should they win (or not, probably).

Though Scotty won the coin toss, he graciously gave the lady the pick and Lauren wisely chose to go second. Scotty opened the evening with a reprisal of Montgomery Gentry's 'Gone.' The performance felt a bit laid back for a finale affair, but Scotty's so confident, it's easy to find his relaxed approach underwhelming. If there's one thing we've learned about Scotty McCreery this season, it's that you always know what you're going to get with the Garner, N.C. teen. But was it enough to win 'American Idol' tonight?

Oddly, Seacrest didn't throw to the judges. Instead, Lauren followed up with Carrie Underwood's 'Flat on the Floor.' There was definitely more energy in her performance than Scotty's, but it wasn't anything we hadn't seen or heard before, obviously. Despite her vocal issues, Lauren sounded great and brought more passion to the stage than Scotty. Let me qualify that by saying as much passion as any green 16-year-old singer can bring to 'American Idol.' Nothing against Lauren, but she's still very young.

Still no comments from the judges and I'm almost thankful for it, now (and will definitely be later when they do get to weigh-in). Scotty started round two with the George Strait assigned, 'Check Yes or No.' It was an unapologetic country moment for Scotty, but far from a strong performance with his vocals heading in and out of key. Check "Yes" for pitchy.

Lauren countered with Carrie Underwood's pick of Pam Tillis' 'Maybe It Was Memphis.' While some might accuse Scotty of under-dressing for the finale with black jeans and a gray T-shirt, Lauren did no such thing. Dolled up in a ballerina dress and cowboy boots, she once again delivered vocally, despite the Laryngitis. Of course, once Seacrest made such a fuss about it at the top of the show, it was hard to keep that factor out of my mind ... and the possibility of Haley replacing Lauren ... Oh well.

At the end of two rounds, Seacrest turned to the judges for some insightful commentary. Too bad that didn't happen.

Randy said "America did a fine job" in picking the two finalists and commended Scotty's 'Gone' revisit. "It was a Scotty concert" said Randy for the hundredth time this season and gave the 17-year-old "a slight edge" at the end of the first round. Round two, however, he predictably awarded to Lauren.

J.Lo said both had "an explosive start," calling Scotty's performance "amazing" and applauding Lauren for "attacking" 'Flat on the Floor,' a comment she's made multiple times this season. Like Randy, Lopez gave round one to Scotty and round two to Lauren.

Always one to turn a phrase, Steven said if the two sang better they'd be in the 'American Idol' finale. Oh wait. Face palm anyone?

Steven gave both rounds to Lauren "because you're prettier." She's also 16. But hey, at least Steven has fresh material.

Randy proclaimed both Scotty and Lauren "in it to win it." Well, they are in the finale so ...

Next up, British R&B star Taio Cruz sang the song put together by 'Idol' fans, thanks to the support of Coca Cola. Called 'Positive,' I'm sorry if I can't help but be negative about this one. It was pretty lame. But points for lasers.

Finally, the most exciting, if you will, part of the show came when Scotty and Lauren prepared to perform the songs that would be their first singles. Jimmy Iovine commented on each song. "It's so right for him," said Iovine of Scotty's song, 'I Love You This Big,' which is believed to have been written by hit country songwriter Tim Nichols.

There was nothing "big" about the performance; in fact, it felt a bit phoned in, as the swaybots moved back and forth in a sleepy trance.

Randy said he wasn't sure if it was "the perfect song" for Scotty, but loved the note at the end, labeling it a "brilliant vocal" and throwing in another nauseating "in it to win" for good measure.

J.Lo called it "amazing" and remarked on Scotty "the great storyteller." If that was the story of Scotty McCreery winning 'American Idol,' I don't buy it.

Steven said Scotty "has proved (he) has range" and "made a three-point shot from under the net." I thought you had to be far from the net to make a three-point shot, but I know less about basketball than I do 'American Idol.'

Finally, it was time for Lauren (and her mom) to close out the show and boy, did they come with a one-two punch to the gut. Taking a cue from the Kristy Lee Cook (season 7, seventh place) rehash single she was assigned, Lauren went for the waterworks. Yes, her vocals on 'Like My Mother Does' were good, but getting Mamma Suddeth all in the mix was a brilliant move. Not only did Lauren's mom get the screen time she so desperately craves, but America got that big, heartwarming finale moment they needed to start dialing away in favor of Lauren.

Randy gave Lauren a standing-O and called it "a great choice" and noted how Lauren's mom has been with her every step of the way, like that's a good thing. "Finally, the Lauren we grew to love in Nashville has arrived" Randy said.

"You may have won it with that song," said J.Lo. And Steven reminded us that the first time he saw Lauren Alaina, he knew she was his 'American Idol.'

A pre-taped David Cook performance of the season 10 send-off song, 'Don't You (Forget About Me)' closed out the rather sleepy final performance show.

What about you, Idol diehards? Did Lauren manage to pull off what could be a major upset tomorrow night or is Scotty still going to run away with it, as predicted. Let us know in the comments and in our poll and check out an all new 'Something Pitchy,' plus our favorite moments from season 10!

The 'American Idol' finale airs tomorrow night at 8PM ET on Fox.

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James Durbin should win. Ido not care about lauren or Scott, they are a dime a dozen.

May 26 2011 at 8:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've never cared less about an American Idol finale. While they're both talented singers, I would never buy anything either of them released. This season started out limping with Simon missing, staggered to its knees when Pia got the boot, and collapsed into a heap after Casey was voted off.

May 25 2011 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Scott should win it, so Lauren will ( See last year, and the year before, and the year before...) The actual winner this year should have been James Durbin. and, sorry Haleyites, looking like a twelve year old street walker and yodeling every song should have kept her out of the top ten (make that out of Hollywood).

May 25 2011 at 4:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was on TMZ today that Scotty's mom revealed that he has Down's Syndrome. It's amazing he can sing at all.

May 25 2011 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, the voting by the public has made this a grade scholl day by day popularity contest. Not a TALENT contest -which is what is is and why they pay frickin' pro judges.
That said, Haley has the most talent of all and should never have been the victim of an idiot pre-teen and teen public. What is wrong with these creators and network people??? Haley and Scotty are probably the top two or in the top four for sure. This is just an embarrassment. Change the voting so that the public stops when the final 12 are in.

May 25 2011 at 3:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hope Scotty takes it. I don't think Laurens Mom should have been a part of her last song. I think it showed
favoritism for Lauren. Shirley-AZ

May 25 2011 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can say I am very happy with Scotty and Lauren. They were my pics from the get go. I like them both so much that I didnt even vote because I dont care who wins. They both are great!! I won't be the bit surprised to see them all over the place singing country. They both are winners to me!!

May 25 2011 at 2:30 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I would have liked to have seen a girl win this year. Lauren has a lot of talent for her age, and -- I must admit -- I was touched by the song to her mother. Scotty, however, has more poise and stage presence and should be the one to win. Still, I will be happy no matter who wins.

May 25 2011 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

An observation -

Isn't it just a little ironic that for all the grief the judges gave people this season about singing ballads that most of the songs last night were ballads, including both songs on both of their recordings picked by Jimmy Iovine?

May 25 2011 at 2:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

i was rooting for both of them but after the clear favoritism on laurens part last night SCOTTY FOR THE WIN. team mclaina has always been my fovorite but now scottys in a league all his own.

May 25 2011 at 1:53 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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