Monday, May 23, 2011

Haley Reinhart leaves American Idol with a bang

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Haley is joined by her father Harry Reinhart during "What Is and What Should Never Be."
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With season 10 contestants cheering for her, Haley lets loose on her farewell performance of "Bennie and the Jets" on last Thursday's results show.
Wheeling's Haley Reinhart, a top 3 contestant on American Idol, was sent home last week. Haley brought a mix of jazz, soul, and rock to her songs, and had some of my favorite moments of the season, including "Bennie and the Jets," her duet on "Moanin'" with Casey Abrams, "You and I," "House of the Rising Sun," "I Who Have Nothing" and "What Is and What Should Never Be." Fans of Haley (and I'm one of them) hoped she would continue her rise from underdog to the next American Idol, but the vote for teenage country singers Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina pushed them through to this week's finale.

I thought Haley got better with each week's performances. She owns the stage and has an amazing range. Plus she makes interesting song choices and is not afraid to take risks. After she was eliminated from the competition on Thursday's show she ripped into "Bennie and the Jets" for her farewell performance, ending up in the audience next to the rest of the top 13.

Here's how Haley did the previous two weeks:

Wednesday, May 18: Top Three perform three songs each
The first round of songs where those chosen by the contestants. Haley sang "What Is and What Should Never Be" by Led Zeppelin. According to AI vocal coach Debra Byrd, Haley is only the second contestant since Adam Lambert in season 8 to be cleared to sing a Zeppelin song. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant gave permission for her to perform the song after they received a clip of her singing. Haley's performance of "What Is and What Should Never Be" was my favorite performance of the night and one of Haley's best. Her father Harry Reinhart joined her on stage on electric guitar. Haley had fun with the song and didn't let a fall on the stairs get to her. I love how she started the song very tender, as if she were caressing the notes, and then brought out the rock side to her voice.
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The Reinharts rock out.

Her second song was picked by mentor Jimmy Iovine. He chose Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon." I enjoyed Haley's haunting interpretation of the song and thought it was a good fit with her voice.

The judges picked "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morrisette for Haley's third song. She did a good job with the chorus but had trouble hitting all the words leading up to the chorus. Many AI bloggers wrote that had Haley performed her Zeppelin cover last, she probably would have stayed in the competition.I agree that it would have been better to end on a high note, but I don't think the producers of the show allowed the contestants any input in the order of the song selections.

On May 14 Haley returned to her hometown of Wheeling for a parade and concert at Arlington Park. You can view photos from Haley's hometown visit from the Daily Herald. Unfortunately I wasn't able to attend because I was out of town, so I missed all the fun of waiting to watch Haley perform in the rain. I was in the audience last year for Lee DeWyze's concert at Arlington Park, and I wanted to be part of the craziness again!

Wednesday, May 11: Top 4 perform
In the first half of the show the contestants sang "Songs That Inspire." In the second half they sang songs from the Leiber and Stoller songbook and were mentored by Lady Gaga. For her first performance of the night Haley chose to sing Michael Jackson's "Earth Song" because it is very inspirational to her. She really felt the lyrics of the song and you could tell the song is meaningful to her. But judges Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson criticized her song choice and felt she should have picked something else. Not only that, but after all the contestants sang, Randy declared the first round as a tie between James Durbin, Lauren Alaina, and Scotty McCreery, leaving Haley as the only one who had to improve. I was really upset after hearing their comments, mostly because of how they have avoided bringing up other contestants' problems throughout the season but will go on and on about what they didn't like about Haley's performances and song choices.
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Haley brings some "psycho" to her performance of "I Who Have Nothing."
Haley picked "I Who Have Nothing" from the Leiber and Stoller songbook for her second song. I liked the advice Lady Gaga gave to Haley, which was to be a little psycho in her performance. Taking that different approach to the song, coupled with the fact that Haley was mad after the judges' comments, helped Haley give the performance of the night.

I definitely think this week's finale will be a little less interesting and more predictable without Haley in the competition.