As everyone who has ever met me, chatted with me, and heard about me they know that along with a few other things in life I'm completely addicted to American Idol. It's actually so bad that on my computer I have every season broken down and separated in folders for performances and then I have sub folders dedicated to songs released before Idol and then of course songs released by an artist after Idol. I even have songs/albums from Idol contestants that I never particularly liked but think that others might want something so I save them. Thankfully this never reached the William Hung phase for now.
I decided to write an article about someone that from the first moment I heard her soulful, bluesy, jazz tones with an unmistakable growl I fell under the power of seasons 10's love her or hate her contestant Haley Reinhart. I have friends who not only find her unbearable but feel like she's the drunk girl at a party you hopefully gets pulled off the stage and silenced for the length of the party. The first moment I remember her was during Hollywood week where she belted out a version of “God Bless the Child” while also looking like a “Sex in the City” Sarah Jessica Parker simply irresistible and from that moment surrendered to her charms.
I know this has been the season of the boys, the season of Lauren's confidence, and the season of Pia's shocking elimination but with all that drama going around I was able to find someone who started out with no love from most people and then on the first voting show turned out a cover of “Fallin” that after many repeated listens is so far from the over-copied Alicia Keys version that you would think it had it's on zip code. I can also agree with the critics who say that Haley's live performances need work. Let's face it all those smiles, flannel mouth, and hand waving can take you right out of a performance, however if we were only going off Idol's live performance argument then a certain Country Superstar diva who during her season performed as if she was a wind-up Barbie doll without the wind-up would NEVER have won compared to her relaxed “seasoned” competitor Bo Bice. I can still remember Simon on the finale begging people to vote for Carrie Underwood because sawas an in experienced performer compared to Bo Bice just so she would win? He might have “forgot” about that part where she had recorded two solo discs and been performing since she was a child but since she looked robotic he had to pass her off as a newcomer and look at her today.
Let's face it out of everyone on Idol this year that is currently left we have a lot of “could” be a LOT better performers. There's the generic Adam Lambert James Durbin who seems to tip the balance on ego/talent so much that after hearing his performance of Muse's “Uprising” not only did he fall off the balance beam but also he smashed the annoying bandwagon to the point that I cringe now when he screams at me, therapy will be next. The other front runner Scotty McCreey, who besides being known for one song that he sang three bars of during his audition has never aimed for anything bigger then boring including the way he holds his microphone, for now we're also stuck with Jacob Lusk, and well nothing else really needs to be said about him. The others remaining are Casey Abrahm's who feels the need to scare people with his facial ticks and a performance style that reminds me of a drunk Dungeons and Dragon player who you keep telling go home and someone keeps egging him on to see how he can embarrass himself just a little further and Lauren Alania who not only look's like an over made DJ Tanner but seems to be the contestant that is talented but the focus on her seems to be the story of Lauren overcoming herself, which she currently at the top 6 she still has not done yet!!
What I love about Haley is she is the only contestant that gets ripped to shreds by the judges, and humorously and doesn't seem to care because she will still be Haley. Case in point re-watch Movie Night's critiques when everyone else is praised by the judges with the lone exception of Haley, and you know ir who seem to not be able to give a negative critique except when it came to her, and then next week what was she able to do? She didn't let it break her and delivered her best performance to date with Adele's “Rolling in the Deep.”
I still haven't come to the point where I think she's going to win but she's doing more now to start making me think it could happen. However the track record Idol seems to have though is just at the moment when you think thatv about a favorite Idol then spring's Country night or songs that work for one contestant but are completely wrong for others and she will probably be voted off though with the music of Carol King I'm hoping that will again play to her strengths but until then I'm going to review her Live/Studio performances to chart her growth on the show and include the television performances.
“Fallin'” (Top 12 girls night)
In her first full performance I can see the criticism that people have thrown at her about her weaknesses. Haley comes across as inexperienced, unsure of herself and seems to overplaying a sex kitten role and it's probably most evident here which could be a reason some people have never warmed up to her as they can't get past their introduction with her. However for this one just listening to her voice you can hear the star quality tone and she plays around with the melody to make a song that is way overdone sound fresh and slightly original. I'm not sure if it was good enough to get her in the top 13 but vocally it does show the promise she delivers later on.
“Blue” (Top 13)
It's risky as an artist selling themselves to the public to do R&B one week and the next week to sing Country but with the exception of a few odd notes in the beginning Haley pulled off a strong vocal and showed a chameleon way about her that I don't think anyone else has shown this season. She kept the hand movements to a minimum and was still able to inject her personality and some interesting vocal moves into the show and looked stunning doing it. It showed a growth from her other performances and another thing I don't think she gets credit for is her personality. She comes across as loveable and doesn't seem to let anything get her down.
“I'm Your Baby Tonight” (Top 12)
In her live performance Haley uses her raspy tone to stunning effect to make a Whitney song that often the girls are told never to do sound like a soulful jazz record and separate it from the original so much so that it's smart enough to be a Whitney song but doesn't invite comparisons to Whitney. What I also noticed in this performance she worked the stage with magic so she does have it in her she just needs . In the studio recording which is outstanding she's able to combine a blues and jazz sound to a pop song and make the large melting pot work sonically. I also give her major props for handling the lipstick on her chin with grace and class.
“You Really Got a Hold on Me” (Top 11)
At the start it's again a little distracting because she seems to performing as if she was The Phantom of the Opera walking down a staircase hunched over while showing some amazing legs in a pair of hot pants that draws comparisons to Seasons 6's Haley Scarnato. However this was also the moment on the show that things seemed to start changing for Haley. You can see the confidence growing in her along with the trademark growl, and the natural bluesy jazz tone to her voice makes for an exciting effect in the song for her. As much as she's critiqued for being all over the place performing wise she's able to go all over the place with her voice and continues to surprise us with it. The studio recording starts off soft and by the end of what I can only describe as a vocal roller coaster she proves that she's serious about winning and it's also nice that the audience started getting behind her at this point with her first non bottom three performance.
“Benny and the Jets” (Top 11 Redux Performance)
The start of performance on the piano has a cabaret feel to it but that's not saying it negatively because she started it small and built it to the showstopper of the night. I have to admit I had never cared for this song before I heard Haley's version of it and it's one of the best I've heard. I love that she starts off sultry and brings up her growls to a basically a Lions roar and you can see why the comparisons to Janis Joplin with her vocal ability are so often used. Again in this performance Haley makes a strong case for why people will either love her or hate her based on certain idiosyncrasies she did for this song but for me I was hooked and picking out china patterns. Also on a night when so many kids decided to be deep and went with ballads she came across as fun and chose an uptempo song that came to life.
“Piece of My Heart” (Top 9 Performance)
Haley loses points for picking such an obvious choice for herself and for smiling a little too much during this song but vocally and in delivery she's incredible and sells it with such force and power. She throws in her unique tones to actually make this song sound fresh and exciting to the point that I think this is the best Idol performance of this song. She's was also able to add a sound we hadn't heard from her yet, rock to the rest of the styles she had been employing in her vast vocal melting pot along with blues, jazz, country, and soul all in the same song and I love when she goes full throttle vocally here and in the studio version.
“Call Me” (Top 8 Performance)
With Haley making huge leaps and bounds on Idol this felt like a fall backwards and it truly wasn't a Sanjaya performance. This song is so identified with Debby Harry that it's hard to hear anyone else singing it especially someone who has their own unique vocal style as Haley has. I will say though as much as it was a mistake to take on this song it also takes a lot of courage to do this because it's one of those songs that vocally is all over the place and I applaud Haley for being able to stay on it for the most part something that's not easy to do the song is all over the place and for the most past she was able to handle it. Again if you can listen to the studio version because at that point shw I just hate when someone who is moving up the ladder falls backwards because worry if that will happen when there are fewer numbers of contestants..
"Moanin” (Top 8 Results)
An exciting thing about Season 10's underdog is that for every moment you think you've written her off she comes right back swinging and here she swung with what arguably is one of the performances of the season and not just from her but from anyonr. In her duet with Casey Abrahms Haley did everything perfect. She knew how to work her body and her arms so she didn't look awkward, she made jazz scatting look effortless, she used that growl at the right time and perfectly, and tossed out what appeared to be the full range of her voice with ease. She made supposed front runner Casey look like a bad audition and even had Ryan asking the judges how she did like it was a Wednesday night.. I normally don't think a performance from an Idol on a result show is going to have any effect on them in the competition however I in Haley proved me wrong.
“Rolling in the Deep” (Top 7 Performance)
Showing her fearless moxie Haley chose a current song by someone who has exploded on the music scene and did it KILLED it. It was for me again one of the best performances of the season and reminded me when Kris Allen sang “Heartless” and proved to everyone that he was much more of a current artist then either Adam or Danny. There were a few performances issues but those are minor compared to her killer vocals. I love the build Haley does in this song ending with unleashing a storm that stays true to the original and yet is completely her own. As of this moment this is Haley's best performance and her best studio recording where she sounds like the love child of Norah Jones and Adele.
On Idol the American public generally picks a contestant and rallies around them to either the exciting finale or an early elimination even though fans on this show can see things like talent, originality, modesty, a sense of humor, personality and growth. If you look at previous seasons these are all things that Kelly Clarkson Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, and Kris Allen all of these winners had them in abundance and they're all traits that Ms. Haley Reinhart possesses, now lets see if she can that into an Idol success story.