Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Haley gives the performance of the season, makes Top 4 on American Idol

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Entertainment Weekly has already added Haley Reinhart's performance of "House of the Rising Sun" to their 30 All-Time Best Performances on American Idol.
Last Wednesday's episode of American Idol featured the theme "Now and Then," which had the Top 5 singing a current hit and then a song from the past. Sheryl Crow acted as guest mentor for the singers while Jimmy Iovine appeared to have a strong influence in their song choices. For Wheeling native Haley Reinhart's current song, Iovine picked the unreleased "You and I" by Lady Gaga, which she's performed on her Monster Ball Tour and is on her upcoming album Born This Way. Haley was unsure about singing a lesser known song but decided to take the risk after speaking to Lady Gaga herself, who gave Haley her blessing. "You and I" was a great fit for Haley's bluesy growl and I thought she sang it like it was her song. Iovine noted that on this performance Haley "shows you where she could go" in the music industry, and I agree. Judges Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson were not supportive of the decision to sing an unknown song. But in my opinion, just because songs are released and available to listeners, that doesn't mean everyone knows the words and connects with them. I wasn't familiar with "Gone," performed by Scotty McCreery, and to be honest I did not know several of the metal songs tackled by James throughout the season. I love when a contestant sings a more obscure song and makes me say, "Where has that song been hiding?" Judge Steven Tyler shared this same sentiment, calling the ability to make an unknown song work on stage "a beautiful thing."

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
Haley's "in it to win it."
For her second song Haley sang "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals. Sheryl Crow suggested Haley start the song a cappella, which I thought was great advice. Intimate moments with just the singer and her voice on stage are moments I wait for each season on Idol. Haley's interpretation of the song made me feel I was hearing the lyrics for the first time, and hands down, her performance is now my favorite from any singer this season. She took her time with the opening of the song, lingering on the notes and holding the audience's attention in the palm of her hand. When the band joined her, she moved around the stage with confidence and belted out notes while not over-singing. She ended the performance with her fist up into the air, as if saying, "Take that!" back to the judges or any naysayers.

On both her performances last week Haley proved she is a star and willing to take risks. Thinking back to her earlier performances of "Fallin" and "I'm Your Baby Tonight," you can tell how much Haley has matured on stage. Tonight the Top 4 will sing songs from the Lieber and Stoller songbook and they will be mentored by Lady Gaga. The Top 3 contestants will be revealed on Thursday's results show. If Haley makes the Top 3, Wheeling will throw her a hometown welcome and celebration concert just like Mount Prospect held last year for eventual winner Lee DeWyze. According to the Daily Herald article "Wheeling ready to host new 'Idol' party," the events will take place this Saturday, with a parade ending at Wheeling Village Hall and a concert at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights. I know I will be voting for Haley tonight!