American Idol is back to two hours again tonight and it could be worse — it could be the two-hour finale! This week, the contestants sing a song that one of the judges chose for them, a song of the producers’ choosing, and a song they’ve chosen for themselves. We know some of the songs they’ll be singing (and all of Haley’s songs) but the question remains: does it matter? Well, more specifically, can a performance sway votes anymore or will people just continue to vote for their favorites, just more vehemently?

Other questions include: Will it be a country finale? Are we watching Nashville Star by mistake? How will Haley have to change some of the more vulgar lyrics to Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know”? I’m curious to find out why they chose that song for her. Conspiracy theorists say it’s to take her out of the competition. Also, the whole thing is rigged, maaaaan.

This week the Top 3 also go back to their hometowns and have parades and interviews and parties and autograph signings and tornado devastation viewings. Wait, what? More importantly: Beyonce is this week’s mentor!

Flashbacks before the American Idol Top 3 go home remind me that Scotty used to have a less-flattering buzz cut. I’m glad he grew it out. I’m also glad there’s a guy dressed up like a dog in the audience. I hope it goes unexplained.

James got to go home and have a big party, too — he just had to stay there. Did that one sign say “I *heart* my cousin too”? The audience is in rare form tonight, let’s just let it be “what it is” and enjoy videos of little baby Beyonce! Thanks for bringing hips back, Bey!
Scotty McCreery chose a Lonestar song for himself, and it’s about time. Like me, Beyonce just can’t get over Scotty. We both think he is hilarious. Talented, but helplessly hilarious. You know he’s going to kill it with “Amazed,” though, as we all grab each other by the waist with our arms outstretched and shift our weight back and forth before our moms pick us up at 4:30. Scotty is always leaning against something, which makes me wonder if maybe he has a tilted diaphragm, and that’s the way he gets the best sound.

ScottyAmazed.jpgI’m no doctor, but the leaning is working for him. Of course “Amazed” was great. I was impressed by Scotty’s range. Even though he seemed to peter out a little in the middle, he finished strong.

Lauren Alaina is singing “Wild One” by Faith Hill, even though I always want her to sing Reba’s “Fancy.” Beyonce helps Lauren with a dose of Sasha Fierce, because Lauren still struggles with confidence. I say she struggles with styling, but maybe they’re connected. Now that I think about it, that is exactly what I would have liked to wear when I was 15 or 16, and I would have paired it with an unflattering blue eyeliner. This performance seemed like it was over very quickly. It was alright, I didn’t have time to let it sink in. The judges coax Lauren to be more fearless all the time. She’s cute and she did a good job. Even the Seacrest has warmed to her.

LaurenmeltstheSeacrest.jpgWhen Haley Reinhart met Beyonce, Beyonce called her song choice “interesting,” but they got along. I think Beyonce is Team Haley. So this awesome for a lot of reasons: 1) Haley is singing Led Zepplin and 2) Her dad is shredding on the guitar next to her like it ain’t no thing.

Haleyandherdad.jpgHaley has really improved her once-awkward stage presence. She fell down a little bit and laughed it off. She really looked like she was having a good time, and the judges actually liked it too. Randy proclaimed that “this is what it is all about.” Ryan chimed in to deliver the numbers, ask Haley about the fall, and make J. Lo look bad. Don’t get it twisted, Seacrest, NO ONE makes J. Lo look bad.

The judges (Jennifer and Randy) give Round One to Haley. Steven Tyler said something about someone getting their freak on. In other news, can we all agree that Terra Nova looks dope?!

After a look back at Scotty McCreery’s memorable (haunting? I can’t get it out of my head) audition, and Scotty reminds us that it feels like it’s been ten years since we started watching this season, we learn that Jimmy Iovine has chosen “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” for Scotty. Scotty gets to play his guitar and talk about kissing, which will drive the ladies crazy. The judges loved it, and I agree that Scotty had a lot of moments and star power. Jennifer requests that Scotty shave his head for the finale and I’m very much against it. Randy, showing signs of self-awareness, realizes that he might have cried “in it to win it” too many times.

During the break Lauren Alaina’s pantyhose (who is wearing hose anymore?) ripped, so she is hastily having shimmer applied to her legs. It got real weird. Style-wise, Lauren has actually come a long way, now that we’re looking back at her original audition. It makes me sad to see that Lauren has lost confidence through this process — she was so cute and fearless in that first audition.

With her legs all shimmery, Lauren Alaina will be singing “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. Jimmy Iovine has been waiting for her to sing this song. As usual, Jimmy is right, and this song is great for Lauren. It went really well, and the judges agreed. We’re all willing to overlook a few little bloopers. Jennifer insists that Lauren “got caught up in the honesty” that she was creating. Jimmy Iovine smiled for the first time maybe in his life?

Haley Reinhart, with equally sparkly legs, reminds us with her audition that she is the underdog. She didn’t make it into Season 9 but Season 10 is all about her. Jimmy Iovine chose “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac for her and I’m like, YES PLEASE! To go with the spooky, seventies feel of Stevie Nicks, they turned on the smoke machine and Haley is backlit in hot pink. Then they turned on the wind machine! I love it. She was having such a Xanadu moment, it might be one of my favorite things to happen on Idol this season. Then Randy threatened to grow out “just one long piece” of hair so it could blow in the artificial wind. Oh, god!

HaleyXanadu.jpgRandy and Jennifer say Scotty took Round Two, and Steven votes for Lauren. I think Haley took it, but I might just be taken by the special effects.

If you tuned in for the sole purpose of seeing the premiere of Beyonce’s new music video for “Run the World (Girls)”, you did not wait in vain. Our girl Bey was on a horse and had two hyenas on a leash. Then Beyonce exploded a car with her mind.

Beyoncerunstheworld.jpgIt’s time for the judges’ choice round! Scotty McCreery is singing “She Believes in Me” by Kenny Rogers. Sometimes I wish Kenny Rogers was Kenny Loggins, but then I remember they’re both cool. Oh man, this song is so sweet. I’m not sure it’s totally right or appropriate for Scotty (particularly the chorus), but Jennifer was obviously having a MOMENT listening to it. I liked the beginning, but the chorus felt pushed. The judges think it was great. We can all agree that Scotty became a man on this show.

The cutest moment of all time happened when Scotty’s dad said how proud they were of Scotty, then reluctantly sang “baby lock them doors and turn the lights down low.” I would be proud of Scotty if he was my son, too. (For the record, I don’t have a son so it’s okay for me to say that). Scotty’s reaction to the whole thing was equally cute, even later when he had to remind himself later not to call his dad “Mike.”

Scottysproudfather.jpgFor Lauren Alaina, the judges chose “I Hope You Dance” by Leann Womack. Ugh, this song. Even Ryan is like, “it was a huge hit … back in 2000.” Zing, Leann Womack. Lauren is dressed for the Miss American Idol pageant, but at least she doesn’t sing of “nuts of wonder.” She did a good job with the song, and made it more exciting than it usually is. The fog machine is really earning its keep tonight! The judges agree that they are all friends with Leann Womack.

Laurenpageantdress.jpgLast but not least, Haley Reinhart will sing an edited version of Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.” Am I the only one watching this like “don’t swear, don’t swear, don’t swear”? Because singing this song in the car on your own is SO satisfying with the cursing. Does Haley live on those stairs? She’s always sitting on them as they roll forward.

Haleyonthestairsagain.jpgI’m a fan of Haley, but this performance started out pretty low energy. Things picked up once she got to the chorus (and after she sang “would she go out with you to the theater”). That’s a difficult song to sing! When singing it in the car, most of us just end up mumbling “cause the mess that you made was a blahdahblahblehhh … and you KNOW IT!” The judges liked it, agreeing that she nailed the choruses. Yeah, the choruses were really good.

So the judges gave Round Three to Lauren (and Steven voted for Haley). I’d disagree, but I think I’m being swayed a lot by the song choices and not always the performances. Who did you like in each round? Can Haley make it to the finale or will it be Scotty and Lauren?

(Images courtesy of FOX)

Carla Patton

Writer, BuddyTV

Originally from Seattle, Carla recently took a husband and moved to Austin, Texas, where she is finally using her television “problem” to her advantage. It’s sort of like Dexter, but boring and less murdering. Carla’s favorite shows include 30 RockThe Amazing RaceProject RunwayModern Family, anything with murder, and pretty much anything gross and weird (CSIThe BachelorToddlers & Tiaras, etc.). Favorite canceled shows include: Arrested DevelopmentVeronica Mars and Average Joe. In her spare time, Carla leads tours of downtown Austin on a Segway (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!), blogs about Netflix Instant, and visits elementary schools telling children they don’t need math to succeed (just kidding, stay in school, kids).