Season 10 of American Idol is finally coming to an end, and thanks to the surprise elimination of James Durbin last week, it is doing so with a whimper rather than with a bang. Without Durbin’s theatrics, this may very well end up being the most boring finale in the show’s history. If this week’s show is any indication of what’s to come in the finale, this once-promising season hit its peak much too soon.
This week, the remaining contestants were given the opportunity to perform three songs each. The first song was the contestant’s choice, the second was Jimmy Iovine’s choice and the final song was the judges’ choice. The order in which these songs were performed will probably be more important in determining the finalists than the quality of each performance because the last song is what will be on the voters’ minds as they start dialing.
Regardless of which contestants advance to the finale, the end of this season couldn’t come soon enough. There is very little excitement or intrigue with the remaining contestants, and even the judges’ families must be getting tired of listening to the same recycled comments after each performance. Is there anyone on the planet (aside from the irritating Ryan Seacrest) who can stand to hear Randy Jackson proclaim which contestants are “in it to win it?”
As usual, this week’s show had its moments, but overall, it was one of the more boring late-season performances in the show’s history.
Here is this week’s breakdown (in reverse order):
 Scotty McCreery – Consistency is never an issue for McCreery. He is always solid, but never spectacular. Even though the judges tried to give him songs to force him to show his range, McCreery only goes so far before reverting back to his comfort zone.
For his song choice, McCreery chose Lonestar’s “Amazed.” This seems like an appropriate song given the fact that the voting nation seems to be amazed by McCreery. However, it was not amazing. It was typical of his weekly performances. And though he has gained confidence in his stage presence since the beginning of the season, somehow the “leaning tower of Scotty” returned in full force for this song.
Jimmy Iovine chose “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?” by Thompson Square. It was about the same as all of his other performances, only this time he was leaning awkwardly with a guitar instead of doing it over the piano.
The judges chose “She Believes in Me” by Kenny Rogers. It was an obvious attempt to get McCreery to shoot for a big note. He did, but overall the song was too mature for him, and his performance lacked the character of the original, but it won’t matter.
McCreery is adored by the voters and the judges and should easily cruise into the finale. Of course, that seemed to be the case with James Durbin last week, so there’s always a chance that there is another surprise this week.
 Haley Reinhart – At the beginning of the season, no one could have predicted that Reinhart would have made it this far. She is defying the odds on a weekly basis by surviving while more highly-regarded contestants go home. Those with an open mind will realize that she has earned it, but those who focus on her early-season performances, will surely be shocked if she survives yet another week.
While her competition was choosing safe songs, Reinhart took a huge risk by tackling Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be.” But the risk paid off. It was the best overall performance of the night, in spite of the slight interruption caused by an embarrassing trip on the steps. To her credit, Reinhart didn’t miss a beat. She regained her composure and continued to deliver one of the best performances of the season. Unfortunately for Reinhart, she peaked early in the evening.
Jimmy Iovine chose “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac for Reinhart. It started off brilliantly as Reinhart captured the essence of Stevie Nicks while adding her own signature sound to the song. As the song progressed, her singing transitioned from special to light, airy and kind of moody. It was still one of the better songs of the night, but it wasn’t as impressive as her first song.
The judges inexplicably chose “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette for Reinhart’s final performance. She did a decent job with the choruses, but the verses were very weak. It seemed as though she didn’t have enough breath to squeeze in the multitude of lyrics in the song. She would have been better off if this was her first song of the night rather than her last. If the judges really wanted to showcase her talent, they would have been better off choosing “Black Velvet” by Alannah Myles.
 Lauren Alaina – Can Alaina become the next Carrie Underwood? She certainly has the talent to do so if she is provided with the right songs and packaged the right way. As one of the early favorites in the competition, it is not at all shocking that she has made it this far, and would not be a surprise to see her in the finale.
Unlike Reinhart, Alaina got better as the night went on. The song that she chose for herself is one that she claims to have been singing since she was a kid, but it wasn’t evident from her performance. Her rendition of “Wild One” by Faith Hill was decent, but nothing special. It sounded more like Dolly Parton than Faith Hill, and it wasn’t very impressive. Even though the judges liked watching her have fun, this performance didn’t measure up to most of her performances in recent weeks.
Jimmy Iovine chose “If I Die Young” by Perry, largely for the lyrics. It was a good fit for Alaina’s voice, but she did get caught up in the emotion of the song for a brief moment. Like Reinhart, she quickly regained her composure without missing a beat. While her singing was very good on this song, she was very statue-like on stage. This was Pia Toscano’s downfall, but Alaina’s likability will most likely inspire the voters to pick up the phone for her.
The judges’ choice for Alaina was perfect. Her performance of Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” was a great way to end the show for Alaina. Aside from Reinhart’s inspired performance of “What Is and What Should Never Be,” this song was the best of the night.
Overall, Alaina has delivered performances worthy of landing her in the finale for most of the season. The order of the songs definitely helped her this week, as she got to save her best song for last.
WHO GOES HOME?
Haley Reinhart delivered arguably the best and worst performances of the evening. Unfortunately for Reinhart, her best performance was very early in the show, and her worst came at the very end. This season has been nothing if not unpredictable, so there is always a chance that she upsets one of the remaining favorites and squeaks into the finale, but it doesn’t seem likely.
Country music is alive and well in America, and it seems that this year’s finale is destined to be a battle of the young country music performers.
It hardly matters which two contestants make it to the finale. Without James Durbin’s electrifying performances, this finale is destined to fail to live up to expectations.