American Idol Top Three Recap: Suck, Sucker, and Suckest

The uncontested loser of Wednesday's

American Idol

was Beyonce, who debuted the video to a single entitled "

Run The World (Girls)

" which has no melody, chorus, or hook. It is the closest thing to atonality I've ever heard in a pop single, and it's going to impact the charts about as profoundly as

Anton Webern

's last anthology.

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As to Wednesdays winners -- well, were there any? Ford, maybe? Scotty McCreery? Isn't every day a victory for those guys?

Since we're down to the Final Three, the remaining AI contestants each sang three songs: One personal selection, one selected by resident hitmaker Jimmy Iovine, and one selected by the judges. None of these people apparently grok what flies and what doesn't on American Idol, and as a result Wednesday was mostly a disaster.


Scotty McCreery sings "Amazed" by Lonestar, "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not" by Thompson Square, and "She Believes In Me" by Kenny Rogers: Scotty's

personal choice, the Lonestar joint, was his best moment of the night.

Confident and tender, Scotty sounded a lot older than 17.

"Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not," Iovine's pick, was a sweet bit of music and an absolutely virtuosic piece of branding. The dude knows his marks -- that

last look he gave to the camera, imploring America's 13-year-old girls

to lay on a wet one. would have won him the title if he'd saved it

another week.

"She Believes In Me," the judges' pick, was an attempt to get Scotty to

sing in his upper register -- a trick he'd already managed just fine on

"Amazed." He dispatched "She Believes In Me" with a little less aplomb

than the earlier number, but it was okay. Scotty's solid: He sells

his performances without pyrotechnics, relying solely on the deep, simple umber of his voice. As a result, he doesn't have to

work half as hard as the other contestants to turn in a fine

performance, and he's far more consistent.

Lauren Alaina sings "Wild One" by Zaca Creek, "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry, and "I Hope You Dance" by Leann Womack: Lauren

had a rough night. "The Wild One" sounded anything but -- the

performance was clenched and timid. "If I Die Young" began better, but a

false step during the bridge (a part of the song which Randy Jackson

can't stop calling "the modulation") killed her confidence, and her

throat operated at half power for the rest of the performance.

"I Hope You Dance" is a song I sincerely hope to never hear again, but

if I must hear it, please let me hear Lauren Alaina's version. Lauren's

mouth produced this most treacly of songs like spun gold. Never in this

competition has she sung with such power, authority, and sheer beauty.

Haley Reinhart sings "What Is and What Should Never Be" by Led Zeppelin, "Rhiannon" by Fleetwood Mac, and "You Oughtta Know" by Alanis Morisette: The

Zep joint was Haley's personal choice, and you can understand why. Like

Robert Plant, she's got a more impressive dynamic range than tonal

range, and few songs are as dynamic as "What Is....", with its

whisper-quiet verses and screaming chorus. That said, Haley's not Robert

Plant -- her great gift is in using her dynamic range to add punch and

drama to great melodies, which Zep's music lacks. So the whole thing

felt kind of formless. Still, Haley's growl is the closest thing you'll

hear to Robert Plant's primal yawp on American TV, so that's something. (Worth noting: She fell on her ass in mid-song and recovered beautifully. Also worth noting: Haley's dad accompanied her on guitar. Sweet!)

"Rhiannon" could have been great, but wasn't -- the song's climactic lines, in which Stevie Nicks sings "Take me like the wind...",

were mysteriously excised, even though the build-up to those lines was

there. ("Dreams aren't wine," etc.) So the song felt half-finished. (It

didn't help that Haley botched the lyrics in the first verse and came in

a beat too early on the second.)

And "You Oughtta Know," the judges' pick, was just outrageous. Haley can

sing those big choruses, no problem -- but the verses? Alanis spoke those

verses, and it only sounded okay because Alanis was willing to put on a

character voice and sound nasal and gritty. Has Haley ever given any

indication of wanting to speak-sing? No? Then why burden her with this

shit? Disastrous. In the first verse, anyway. Once she got the wailing bits, she was awesome.

Who should go home? All of them! Where the hell's Casey Abrams?

Who will go home? God, who knows? It almost certainly won't be

Scotty, unless his many fans have become so convinced of his

invulnerability that they declined to vote. Both Lauren and Haley have

picked up considerable momentum in recent weeks, and so far the most enthusiastic supporters seem to have been Haley's. But she made no

compelling case this week for new fans to join her cult. Lauren did.

Haley's going home.

...unless, that is, Nashville fans are as partisan with their music as

they are in politics, in which case Lauren and Scotty will split the

country vote, in which case Lauren's doomed. Either way, we're stuck with Scotty.

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