American Idol Top 3: I Have Some Thoughts

That’s a deeply original title I’ve got going on up there, now isn’t it?

Just reels you right in.


I just watched the Top 3 episode of American Idol, and I’m conflicted. Because while there were parts that I really enjoyed, there were parts that left me sort of shrugging my shoulders. I’ve been trying to figure out why that is, and I think the reason dawned on me just a few seconds ago.

Stay with me. I’m going to get to my point eventually. Promise.

Everybody sang well tonight. There were no major flubs (save Haley’s spill at the front of the stage), but nothing blew me away. There was no MOMENT. No great big crowning achievement for anyone’s AI journey. I think Haley probably came closest with the Led Zeppelin song that she sang first (seriously. she WAILED.), but then she followed it up with a Fleetwood Mac song that nearly put me to sleep, and the Alanis Morissette song just felt too big for her, like she couldn’t fit in all the lyrics in the allotted time.

(However, I did have a bit of a Haley breakthrough when I realized that she reminds me a little bit of Fiona Apple.)

(And once that dawned on me, I felt like I finally had some sort of understanding about what kind of recording artist she’ll be.)

(So that was nice.)

Scotty did his Scotty thing. I give him credit for knowing his strengths, and he definitely played to those strengths tonight. He’s made big progress in terms of being more comfortable on the stage, more expressive when he sings – but he’s kept it between the country music ditches this whole season. At some point it would’ve been fun to hear him do a country version of something unexpected – sort of like Kris Allen’s acoustic version of “Heartless” a couple of years ago.

And listen – that Lauren. I could just hug her. When she walked out on the stage for her first song wearing those white cowboy boots and those white flower earrings, I couldn’t help but smile. She’s so bubbly and cute and talented – but she lacks confidence. It’s the biggest difference between her and Haley. They both have great voices, but Haley owns hers in a way that Lauren doesn’t yet. I think the reason why she didn’t wow me tonight is because even though she sounded good, she didn’t have authority on the stage. That’ll come with time. And there’s not a doubt in my mind that she’s got a big career in front of her.

So given all of that, my big a-ha moment tonight was this: the judges have been so much nicer and more pleasant this season, but they haven’t pushed the contestants as hard. And that’s the reason why we’ve sort of gotten the same thing from them week after week after week. On one hand I so appreciate the judges’ consistent encouragement – I’d rather listen to their kind words instead of Ryan bickering with Simon any day of the week – but if there’s a drawback to all the niceties, we saw it tonight. And I couldn’t help but wonder if Simon would have been able to do for Lauren what he did for Carrie Underwood. You know?

(And listen – I don’t take issue with the judges being kind. I’m just not sure that they’re getting the same results from the contestants that they would if they offered more constructive criticism and less validation. I’m also very aware that if I were in the position of being a judge, I would probably do nothing more than tell every single contestant that they’re ABSOLUTELY DARLIN’ and then I would offer them some sort of homemade cobbler or maybe even a casserole.)

(I tend to overcompensate when I’m worried about hurting somebody’s feelings.)

If I had to wager a guess, I’d say that Haley and Scotty will be the top two. I’d never have guessed that eight weeks ago, but Haley is confident. And that confidence has propelled her ahead of Lauren, I think.

I also think that Scotty will win the whole thing running away.

What did y’all think? Who are your top two?

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  1. Top two: Scotty and his Dad.


    I too have grown weary of all the NICE coming from the judges. I have a low tolerance for nice, though, you know.

  2. I completely agree with you on the whole nice thing. Yeah, the arguing of the last seasons was annoying but the criticisms were helpful. Really helpful. You could see the growth week to week that I have not seen this season, At all, sadly. I believe if Laina got her confidence in gear she is the winner. Scotty is good but sounds so much like an established singer who’s name escapes me, and I have never liked Hailey. I think it is her wailing and screaming that gets me each time.

  3. I think you’ve nailed it, Sophie. I love the nice but it isn’t always helpful when you’re developing an artist. They need the truth, whether it’s pretty or not.

    My top 2 are Lauren and Scotty. Haley just isn’t my style.

  4. Brilliant and accurate! I wish I could put this post on Yahoo’s main page because this has definitely been an issue. I was very disappointed in the producer’s and the judges’ choice of songs for each contestant as well. ….boring! Scotty will probably win though he has been one of my least favorite’s though I must say that he might be the most confident 16/17 year old guy I have ever seen. I have a feeling that all three of them will do very well in the music industry.

  5. Cheryl says:

    You have nailed it with the judges…….I loved these new judges during the audition rounds….totally!!!!……but I haven’t found them to be at all helpful to these kids since the top 12. These are all undeveloped talent…..they are not perfect every time they go out and sing…..and that’s okay, you know? But that is why they have needed constructive criticism….to grow, to learn, to get to where they need to be…..and to toughen up…..this is the real world and everybody they are going to encounter in the music business is not going to coddle them…….(while Simon could be harsh, I felt like he was really trying to prepare the kids for what they were going to run into)………I was not a Haley fan at all, at all…..but that girl has won me over…..she has developed the most out of the three of them…..she has sang much more challenging songs than the other two….and she is confident in her own skin……….Scotty?….well, I’m sure he will have success and he is a cute kid…..but I get the feeling every time I watch him sing, that he is being who he thinks a country singer is….kind of like role playing?………Lauren?…..cute as a button, a real southern beauty……..but she doesn’t go for it….she plays it so safe…..where are those big notes?….as much as I didn’t like Pia (and don’t boo me for that)……I have needed Lauren to have some Pia moments………and she doesn’t do that….can she vocally?…..I don’t know at this point….I’m assuming she can but lacks the confidence to go there so instead of trying it, she has just ducked it……..I don’t think that is the Idol…………Lauren would have benefited most by there being a Simon this year…….she is the little girl with a big talent who grew up being told by parents, family and friends how wonderful she was….definitely the star of her high school……but this child has had so little critisism that she is lost when anyone says even a slight negative thing to her……..I fear the music industry is going to chew her up and spit her out…….this is where Simon would have been genuis……he would have been telling her the truth on her songs, he would have challenged her and she would have grown so much………..anyway, can’t say I think any of these three are THE AMERICAN IDOL………ha, ha….but they are who we have……it will be interesting to see who makes the finals…….love the discussion!!!!

  6. I agree with the consensus – the judges haven’t challenged the contestants at all this year. As a result, they all seem about the same as when they started X many weeks ago. I lost interest a few weeks back and haven’t watched since and won’t watch the final. I miss Simon – while he could be blunt, he was usually spot on.

  7. I thought the season was boring. I don’t think I’d download music on Itunes or make plans to see any of the final three (five/ten) in concert. Initially I liked the judges but then it just became Steven talking crazy and the other two unable to say anything real. The music business is harsh and as cruel as it seems they need honest feedback.

    If I were voting I’d vote for Lauren but I think the contestants from this season will be forgotten fairly quickly. Also, Haley-I really dislike backtalk.

    That’s my rant : ) Have you watched The Voice…I like it and the judges are critical but don’t come across as mean. Let’s face it though-if you’re singing out of key you need to be told and there is really no nice way to say that.

  8. Amen and amen. Judges need to judge and give constructive criticism so the contestants can push and grow. Every week Randay says, “so and so’s in it to win it!” and Stevens says, “I loved it. Beautiful. I love you.” Jennifer is the only one that tries to give a different response each week and it’s just not in her to be tough. Makes me wonder who would have been in the final three if they had done their jobs a little better.

    I definitely did not pick these three to be in the top. Scotty, well, I still can’t stand to watch him. I guess that’s OK if you’re going to make a record. You’re right about Lauren – no confidence. Watching that audition tape it looked like a totally different girl than what we’ve seen week to week. What’s happened? I’m hoping Haley will take it all. She’s been the underdog and in the bottom three more times than I can remember. She gets back up, wipes herself off and comes back out growling. Love it.

    The song choices can’t be blamed on the singers. They did well with what they were given. Stevie Nicks? Seriously? Bless their hearts.

  9. I wrote a similar post last week on my blog and I agree about the judges. As for the contestants, I hope Scotty wins. He seems the most mature of the three, I think/hope he could handle a big career (although it seems in recent past being the *Idol* does not guarantee a big career.)
    My beef with Haley is that she is a sassy pants. Her confidance crossed the line with me last week when she sassed back to Randy for FINALLY giving her some constructive criticism. I’m not sure either one of these girls could have handled Simon. Just had to chime in with my two cents.
    On a postive note, last night was the first week I was not bored beyond tears and actually voted. (Big for me… I love Idol, went to the Crystal Bowersox concert last month and have been to 2 AI concerts and I’m NOT a 12 yr. old girl… embarassing, I know!)

  10. Lynette says:

    I agree that the judges did not do these contestants any justice by not giving constructive criticism, and there was no wow moments last night by any of the three. But I have to say Lauren has the best voice, and could have a promising career in country music working with the right people. As well as Scotty because country music fans buy music and have some of the best fan support. I agree with with Joyce..Haley and her backtalk…really…made me dislike her. I find many of these contestants that made it in the top 7 or 8 really have this attitude they are really really great and I believe that is due to the Judges…(for example James Durbin and Stefano)…anyway should be interesting tonight…and I totally miss Simon.

  11. I would hope for Lauren and Scotty to be in the Final but I think that Haley and Scotty will be in the Finals w/ Haley winning. I am not a fan of Haley. To me, she seems to scream her songs and I tune out. Lauren has the better voice and I agree with you about her lack of confidence. I believe Simon would have gotten more out of Lauren. I miss Simon on the show. :)

  12. 1. Scotty is like a Saturday Nite Live character to me. I think he is just silliness. With all the holding-the-microphone-like-a-flute and always leaning to the right while singing out of the right corner of his mouth, IT DRIVES ME BANANAS.

    2. I’ve actually got my $$ on Haley. We’ll see what happens :)

  13. America will never accept a Country Music Idol, just as it will never accept a Hard Rocker. Ask James. But, as in the case with Adam Lambert, we will only remember runners up, not the finalist. Let’s face it. I wouldn’t go to a Haley, Lauren, or Scotty concert. I did get very excited last night when Randy and Ryan joked about the wax; it made me miss the Simon ol days even more. We have most definitely lacked biting criticism. Yes, Randy. They are all in it to win it………The judges need to give the final three a reminder that they not always be met with kind words and bobbing heads. This is not the final round on Dancing with the Stars where every couple gets a 10.

  14. You hit the nail on the head. Last night when I was watching I texted my friend and told her I had SO MUCH to say about last night’s episode. I am just going to forward her your blog from today. I agree with you about Haley and Scotty being in the top 2. I think Lauren lost her way. Her presence with Steven Tyler at her audition faded as she got further along. Her nerves got the best of her. But she is 16!!!! I could not have done that at 16! And Scotty is only 17!!! They are babies! I think that is why Haley appears more confident, etc. on stage. She is older and “wiser”. That is what I was thinking last night. Lauren epitomizes innocence….Haley not so much!

  15. Totally agree with everything! Without Simon, the judges just aren’t pushing them, and especially with them being so young, they need the push.

  16. Brenda says:

    Yep, the judges haven’t been judges. They’ve been encouragers, almost enablers. They need to be consistent and come out with real criticism or just let Ryan handle it.

    I do think each contestent had a moment, but they are all so good, each performance overshadowed the other. I think they are all so young and overwhelmed, but especially Lauren. She often looks distracted while she’s singing – like she’s checking out the audience or grasping for the next words. She’s just too young.

    I think the country vote will be split between Lauren and Scotty, making Haley the winner. And I’m okay with that.

  17. I like nice, too.

    But I recognize that what I am about to say doesn’t sound like it.

    Haley CAN sing. No argument there.

    However, (…and that’s a BIG however) I became tired of her confidence, and how it could easily be interpreted as arrogance, about a month ago.

    I feel like she is her own biggest fan.

    And with a fan base like that, who needs all the other votes?

    Lauren has been shaken since her spot in the bottom 3 a couple of weeks ago. She is young, she is humble. As is Scotty (or so it seems).

    They get my vote…based on personality alone.


    This is a SINGING competition?


  18. Also, (apparently I wasn’t done), I totally agree with the absence of an “Aha Moment”. In fact, as I listened to the first round last night, I paraphrased to my husband what I thought the judges would say…”It is all coming down to this! You HAVE to bring your “A game”. You were just so-so and you can’t do that at this stage of the competition.”

    To my surprise, nothing along those lines were said.


    Should I submit my application to be a judge?

  19. I got underwhelmed and stopped watching when Casey got the axe then James. Seriously what’s up with that??

    Anyway, have you checked out The Voice? Thought it would be hooky, but then everyone kept telling me how good it was, so went to Hulu for the first 2 episodes. . .OH MY WORD. LOVE. IT!!

  20. Well, I was surprised last week when James left but then again, I NEVER vote. I’ve felt that when Haley is given constructive criticism {as in last week, namely} she has a major attitude. I realize it’s not fun to hear. But given that these judges lace their times of criticism {with the exception of Steven who rarely says anything less than some strange variation of WOW}, she cops a major attitude. That’s affected how I feel about her. She DOES have confidence and I love that and LONG for Lauren to grab hold of it although I’d say she is getting there slowly. Haley just seems to me overconfident and a bit cocky. That turns me off. I’ve always loved Lauren. But I’ve felt that both James and Scotty were just about “there” in terms of being ready for a career. I have no doubt James will make it big and so will Scotty in all his country glory. I believe the girls will. But Lauren, being young and struggling more with the confidence thing, if she wins, WOULD BE HUGE for her. So that makes me hope she wins. I’d feel stronger about Haley if she’d gain some humility.

  21. I. LOVE. HALEY. She is original and awesome!!! Just because she KNOWS she can sing, doesn’t make her arrogant. Lauren is soooo irritating. Last week’s “I don’t want America to think I’m EVIL” almost made me mute the rest of her part. Something about her….. I think she is PLAYING the humble roll. And Scotty is a little on the irritating side as well, but I think he has a bigger fan base than the girls. Hands down, Haley is the true artist/singer/performer of the three! She will go far whether she wins or not!

  22. PRECISELY. Where were the “moments”?

    For the humpteenth week in a row, I repeat – I love Scotty. Honestly do, but his three songs this week were kind of hum-drum. Great vocals as usual, but nothing spectacular. Jimmy and the judges kind of did Scotty in with their song choices. (Who can have a moment with either of those song selections?) So it was up to Scotty, I suppose. When Ryan first said Scotty was going to sing Lonestar, my immediate thought was if Scotty sings “I’m Already There”, I’ll never make it to the end without tears. Not that song sung by that precious boy. Relief hit when he started singing “Amazed”, but half way through that I heard myself saying, Well, I wish he WOULD have sung “I’m Already There”. Sure, I’d have been crying, but Scotty would have had his Moment. Alas and alack. Three solid, yet remarkably predictable performances by Scotty.

    Lauren – Well bless her heart. She’s just as cute as a button and does have talent. Up until last night I would have sworn it was going to be a country finale between her and Scotty, but Haley’s come on strong. Lauren’s first two songs were fine, but, unlike the judges, I didn’t care for her version of “I Hope You Dance”. She still hasn’t had her moment yet and Lauren needed it moreso than either Scotty or Haley.

    I was so relieved Haley didn’t show any attitude I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t care for her Led Zepplin, but even I know it was good. Unfortunately, the constant windblow in the Stevie Knicks performance bothered me so much I couldn’t tell you how the vocal was. Dang distracting fan. I say NO MORE FANS, Idol. And, finally. “You Oughtta Know”. Ooooh. Good song choice, judges. Here it comes….here’s Haley’s moment. The moment that shockingly catapults her into the finals. And……she was oh, so close. It could have been spectacular. It could have been IT. Perfect fit for her voice. Perfect angry style. Not a perfect performance. Still, though, it may have been enough.

    One final thought on my beloved, Scotty. I keep hearing and reading people saying that Scotty’s not original. There are numerous other country artists out there right now who sound just like him. And I want to respond (to the point of being a buttinski). Yes. There are, but you know why? BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT PEOPLE LIKE TO LISTEN TO. That’s the sound. The tone. The feeling. And that’s the point.

  23. I stopped watching last week after James was kicked off. I hope Scotty wins though.

  24. I think Jimmy is serving as the heavy this season, with J-Lo, Steven and Randy there to cheer lead.

    I am just glad that so far ( keeping fingers crossed) that Scotty has not sung “Proud to be an American.” Like “Jesus take the wheel”, the first EIGHT THOUSAND times I heard it , I love those songs. Then. Like to much caffeine or a whole box of cookies… those two songs make me crazy and vaguely nauseated.

    I am afraid ol’ Scotty may play the “Merikan” card and pull it out, and then Lauren will feel compelled to pull out Jesus. If they both sing those songs next week, I will declare that American Idol has jumped the shark.

    PS for the record. I love Jesus and America- just not those two over played songs!!

  25. I still cannot get over Casey being gone! His musicality amazed me, and not one of these final three does that. I love Lauren’s tone, but her lack of confidence keeps her from having her “moment”. Scotty’s adorable, but I don’t love his style of music. And for reasons I still cannot put my finger on, Haley annoys me. I’ve also wondered if Simon could have done for Lauren what he did for Carrie. Guess we’ll never know . . .

  26. I miss the constructive criticism but don’t miss how cruel Simon could be. I haven’t liked how when one of the judges, namely Randy last week, tried to say whatever he was saying to Hailey that the other two judges kept interrupting him telling him he was wrong and wouldn’t let him finish. I found it really unprofessional on their parts and I think that’s what spurred on Hailey’s attitude showing. I think you are right on in your evaluation in that the contestants haven’t grown as much. Seems like they praised Lauren up so much from the beginning that any amount of non-praise sets her right over the edge.

    I think Scotty and Hailey will be the top 2. Not sure who’ll win, though.

  27. Lisa D. says:

    I SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Agree with everybody. But,since I’m only 11 I’ve gotta go with SCOTTY THE HOTTIE and LAUREN THE DARLIN!
    Lisa’s daughter Ashlyn :)

  28. 1. Haley gets my vote (except that I’m too lazy to actually call in and vote. But mentally Haley gets my vote)

    2. You’re welcome to hurt my feelings anytime if there is a casserole involved. I like anything noodle-based. We can negotiate things like vegetables and cheese later.

  29. Barbara Brown says:

    Ok well it looks like Im in the minority with CJ here……but I. LOVE. HALEY. there I said it. I wanted Casey, James or Haley in that order……Now that my boys are gone I am TEAM HALEY. I think everyone has forgotten all the backtalk, sassypants, arrogant past Idol contestants there have been, but that could be because of the easy going judges this year.

    I probably will get slammed for this but I believe Lauren is playing the “oh poor innocent me, Im not sure if I am that good, I’m so cute vote for me(finger pressed in to cheek, eyes looking up to the clouds)” roll. Yes Lauren your cute now go home and grow up! Scotty yeah yeah yeah…you have a deep alluring voice, go over to CMT Next Country Star, and see where you end up! I just don’t think he needs AI, he will do good without it.

    I think they all sang good last night…..but I think the only one that pushed the envelope was Haley with her Led Zepplin pick.

    yo dog……dude……here’s what up……..

    Why did Jimmy and the Judges pick country songs for the country singers and rock for the rock singer! I thought years passed they always wanted the contestants to try different genre’s then what they were comfortable in. The Judges didn’t even have the back bone to pick ONE big winner last night, each round they picked a different (well except Steven he chose Haley twice, but I can’t hate him for that) contestant…..what? were they afraid that Lauren would start with her big ol crocodile tears?

    Also,@Laura, America has accepted a Country Idol………Carrie Underwood!

    I better stop now!

  30. lavonda says:

    I’m gonna be crazy and say my top two are Lauren and Haley, with Lauren for the Win. Scotty’s great, but I’m just going with my gut. Haley is totally the dark horse here… I never saw her coming in the beginning. Didn’t even think she sounded that great early on. But last night she won me over with her voice. I dislike her attitude when she gets criticism… very much dislike her attitude. That’s keeping me from rooting for her.

    Lauren from day 1 has been my favorite (along with Casey and Jacob) (I’m a huge Luther fan, don’t hate)… and to be THAT young and sing THAT well? No condemnation here for her confidence. To get on stage in front of millions of people and not forget words? She’s doing way better than I would be at 40. Her confidence will grow with each paycheck she deposits. :)

    Mary@My3LittleBirds just made me laugh out loud.
    Your comment #2?
    Yes, amen.

  31. Well, no T.V. here. Never watched that show. (Yep, we’re hicks up here, just living quiet, simple lives with the kids and the pigs and the dog. :) Thanks for taking us anyways ;)

    Now this… “but she lacks confidence.”

    Oh, yes, ma’am. I hear you. This can be a game changer. How to walk humbly, less of us, and oh, so much more of Him, and yet…

    It’s having God-fidence, yes? Having your identity just firmly rooted in Him and nothing in this whole big world can shake who you are in the King of Grace and Glory, the Love-scars proof right there through His hands.

    Now see? Your post’s sparkly title did this: you got me all turned around right and looking square at Him.

    Thank you, Mz Boo Mama.
    You are a gem, friend.

    All *is* grace,

  32. I am rooting for Scotty and Lauren. Haley just does not do it for me.

  33. I was a James fan as well,but I have enjoyed the fact that Scotty was not expected to change from his true country style. Lauren has such a full voice for a 16 year old. I have never been a fan of screaming. I do believe Haley will loose her voice if she doesn’t learn proper belting methods. She has great stage prescence. I predict they all will have a future as our next artists. I too like productive criticism not silly trivia. Good luck to them all.

  34. Yessss! it’s rossville, georgia versus garner, north carolina! i’m so happy lauren and scotty are the last two standing, i can’t stand it…….

  35. Lauren and Scotty have nice voices, but they are very immature. Haley has more talent in her little toe than the other two put together. Haley chose more difficult & challenging songs. Let’s face it country music is pleasant, but not difficult. I was not at all impressed with the songs that Jimmy and the Judges picked for any of them, bleh.

    Now that Haley is gone it’s a toss up who will win. Lauren and Scotty have the same talent just male and female. I can listen to Scotty, but I can’t watch him and Lauren, with some coaching, can go far.

    I’m really sorry that James didn’t make it to the finals. To me it was between James & Haley, but I’m a ROCKER!