AJ is a floor director for HLN's "Morning Express with Robin Meade". She has been obsessed with this season of Idol, and takes notes to share with the Morning Express writers and producers. The opinions below are AJ’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the staff of "Morning Express with Robin Meade" or HLN. These are her impressions of last night:
If you do not want to know who was sent home on Thursday 5/19... do not read any further!
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Hmm. Very interesting. I, like many people, thought Lauren was a goner after Wednesday’s pageantry. Instead, the kiss of elimination went to our sassy honey badger Haley, and boy, did she not look pleased. Honestly, I’m okay with that. Let’s explore:
Last night was obviously all about the hallowed hometown visits. Screaming people on the side of the road! Screaming people at high schools! Screaming people in fields! They were literally everywhere, and each Idol had their own way of dealing with the OMG of it all. Haley was jazzed, but honestly, she also seemed a little put off (“uh, thanks for freaking out”, she mumbled as she passed a girl practically in convulsions). She was also the least soggy of them, barely a tear mottled her perfectly made up eyes. As Ryan oft reminds us, THIS is American Idol, and bizarre /somewhat unsettling fan enthusiasm is part of the package. Sister, if you can’t jibe with mass crowd freak-outs, you’re on the wrong show.
Then it was Scotty’s turn to kiss the ground (and promptly wipe his mouth) in Garner, NC, and man, I’m split on the best parts of his visit. It could have been during his concert -in a field, of course- when country singer Josh Turner (of “Your Man” fame) surprised him onstage. Josh freaking Turner! Scotty was appropriately freaked out and starstruck and adorable and that’s why I love this kid, and can’t help it. Or it could have been when, after what seemed like miles and miles of signs, t-shirts and other Scotty-themed craft projects wielded by screaming females, our dear cherub crumpled back into his limo, sobbing, his adoring public just an arm’s reach away. It was like a movie! How does that happen, Idol producers? Explain it to me.
Lauren and her twinny mom made it to Rossville, GA, where Lauren squealed, twanged and thanked before taking a sobering drive through her storm-ravaged area. Impeccable lady-tears here, by the way. Lauren is a seasoned crier. She also met with an impossibly cute little boy who saved his family from a tornado, and it’s clear she has done her share of babysitting. I prefer my interactions with children to be limited to a firm handshake, but she was just as kind as could be.
In between these segments, a few real live people sang for us. If you haven’t heard Il Volo, an Italian tenor group made up of bronzed fetus Ken dolls, you’re not alone. They’re really big in places that aren’t America. They certainly captivated, as our contestants expressed slack-jawed awe at the trio’s are-they-seriously-teenagers voices.
At the complete other end of the spectrum was, well, what was it? An ostrich! Kim Kardashian! It was actually Nicole Scherzinger wiggling to a terrible song no one was listening to anyway. And 50 Cent was there, for literally thirty seconds, which is mathematically satisfying. Well played, Mr. Cent.
Yadda yadda, Scotty in, Lauren in, Haley out. Cue the most clear sign of emotion Haley has ever put forth on the Idol stage. She looked absolutely gobsmacked, before Ryan took her hand, mostly out of concern, I’m sure, and she snapped on a terrifying smile and beauty queen wave. Shock does strange things to people. Yadda yadda, Bennie and the Jets. Gosh, she really is such a fantastic singer.
Let’s go back to her hometown visit for a sec, and maybe we’ll find the reason this superbly talented chickie is no Idol fare. The best parts of her Chicago tour weren’t her and her public. They were just her, talking to the camera, her family, and even her faux-weepy bodyguard. Haley is a piano lounger, a crooner, and, despite her howl and growl act, a fairly intimate performer. She doesn’t seem to be a people person, and there’s no sin in that. Get thee to small venues, woman. There’s no sin in that either.
So it’s settled then. Scotty v. Lauren next week. What’s more important to you, armchair judges? Would you rather have the profoundly talented, yet vacant Haley, or the sweet-as-pie but slightly unripe Lauren? Are you like me, on the seemingly unstoppable Scotty train? Will it reach the station…of victory?