American Idol Episodes

2002, TV Show

American Idol Episode: "2 Finalists Compete"

Season 10, Episode 38
Episode Synopsis: In Part 1 of the two-part Season 10 finale, the remaining two contestants battle it out in song.
Original Air Date: May 24, 2011

American Idol Episode Recap: The Final 2 Perform Season 10, Episode 38

The time has come. Tonight's Nashville Star American Idol finale pits confident crooner Scotty McCreery against bashful belter Lauren Alaina for the Season 10 crown. But it wouldn't be finale night without a bit of drama, and reports of Lauren's last-minute vocal problems had us sitting on the edge of our couch all night (or at least the first 10 minutes). Add to that a confusing lack of judges' commentary for the first half of the show and an absolutely terrible tune written by America, and you've got this season's penultimate episode. So, who will take a confetti shower tomorrow night?

Ryan notes that this is the youngest finale matchup ever and proceeds to give us the rules for the evening. Round 1 will be comprised of the finalists' favorite songs from the season. The second round of songs were chosen by the contestants' real-life idols: Carrie Underwood for Lauren and George Strait for Scotty. The final round features the prospective first singles for each artist, chosen by mentor Jimmy Iovine. Got it? Then, let's break it down.

Scotty McCrery, "Gone" by Montgomery Gentry
This was easily my favorite song of Scotty's this season, and the encore was just as satisfying. He didn't offer anything dramatically different the second time around, but it was a great way to start off the night. At the risk of sounding like Randy "I Felt Like I Was at a Scotty Concert" Jackson, Scotty's strength is his complete level of comfort on stage, and this song is a fine showcase of that. Although at one point, his extra energy did take on the appearance of anger. In any case, a strong first effort for Scotty.
The Judges Say: Nada. For an entire half-hour. The silence was both maddening and, in many ways, a blessing. We'll get the panel's feedback after Round 2.

Lauren Alaina, "Flat on the Floor" by Carrie Underwood
I liked some of Lauren's other songs this season, but this number marked the first time in the finals that the judges really started paying attention to her. So: smart choice. On the other hand, it was probably this song that blew Lauren's vocal chords and thus created all the "Will she sing? Will Haley get another shot? Does it matter anyway since Scotty has the teen girl vote?" drama just before the show started. She powered through, even though that raspy, strained portion did make me long for Haley to be in the finale again.

Scotty McCreery, "Check Yes or No"
George Strait chooses one of his own songs for Scotty, and while it's a perfect fit, I personally don't think it shows off as much range as the judges clearly do. In fact, I much prefer the rockier side of country for Scotty. Don't get me wrong: He makes perfect sense as a guitar-strumming crooner, but those performances are always so paint-by-numbers that I inevitably want to reach for the fast-forward button. Nothing wrong with it really, but I've seen it enough already this season.

Lauren Alaina, "Maybe It Was Memphis"
Carrie Underwood chooses this Pam Tillis classic for Lauren, and she really sang it beautifully. She did have some timing issues, which often made it seem like she was rushing to get all the words in. Or perhaps it was a breathing problem. Whatever it is, it culminated at the end, when I couldn't tell if Lauren skipped a falsetto note all together or if her weakened voice didn't quite eek it out.  But compared to Scotty's Round 2 choice, I absolutely preferred this song to his.

The judges' cone of silence is lifted with no explanation as to why it was ever lowered in the first place. Their comments are as follows.

Randy says America did a fine job picking the final two, and that it's incredibly even. He really dug "Gone" from Scotty, but was less enthused about the George Strait song.  Randy was impressed by how Lauren belted out her songs despite her voice problems. He gives Round 1 to Scotty and Round 2 to Lauren.

Jennifer says both singers had explosive starts. She loves the way Scotty kicked off the night, but also likes how Lauren attacked the first song. Scotty's second choice, however, was not as dynamic while Lauren's was clear and beautiful. J. Lo agrees with Randy: Scotty wins Round 1; Lauren owns Round 2.

Steven says they both couldn't have sung any better. He gives Lauren the edge over Scotty because she is prettier than him. (Eye roll.)

Oh, in case you were unsure, Randy confirms that they both are "in it to win it."

Taio Cruz, "Positive"
This is brutal in every way possible. The lyrics, which purportedly were submitted by viewers, are ridiculous and the sound cuts out for at least 15 seconds. (Mercifully!) Taio Cruz clearly wants to be anywhere but on this stage, and you can almost see him counting the Coca-Cola money in his head. But the green laser lights are awesome! Overall, this is a big promotion for Coke, which claims this effort is about "perfect harmony." I think not. Watch this to get the bad taste out of your mouth.

Scotty McCreery, "I Love You This Big"
Jimmy says this is the perfect "big" song for Scotty. But not surprisingly, it isn't that big at all. Yes, he hits a few higher notes, but it's not like he's belting it out. That's just not what he does. The girls in the mosh pit get their full sway on, so you know something is working. The song seems suitably cheesy to be an Idol coronation song, as does the video of Scotty's journey that plays behind him. (It distracts me a number of times though.) By the time it's over, I feel like Scotty sang the chorus about seven times, but maybe that's by design. It is a solid performance from an always-consistent Scotty, but is it enough to win?
The Judges Say: Randy says it is the perfect song and shows Scotty's range, especially the really high note at the end. (Did I fall asleep and miss it?) He calls it a brilliant vocal. Jennifer says he's a great storyteller, which will help voters connect with a song they don't know. (Hmm, I guess that wasn't true for Haley Reinhart when she sang Gaga, right, Jenny from the Block?) Steven says Scotty takes chances (No. Just no.) and that you can't hit three-pointers standing under the basketball net. Yes, folks, Steven is coming back next season!

Lauren Alaina, "Like My Mother Does"
Aside from clearly having the better voice of the two, Lauren also gets a song that will be able to exist much better outside the realm of Idol. Her lyrics are inspirational like all coronation songs, but it's also a tribute to all mothers, which should appeal to those country fans. As Jimmy says, "Moms are the bedrock of American society," and I imagine many moms were bawling when Lauren sang to her mom in the audience. I really like the performance, and think that Lauren may just have a shot at stealing this competition away from Scotty after all.
The Judges Say: Randy says Lauren has arrived and calls her performance amazing.  Jennifer says the song was beautiful and shows Lauren's heart. She thinks Lauren may win based on that song alone. Steven says Lauren has been his American Idol from Day 1, and he thinks America may make that come true.

Overall, the judges give Round 3 to Lauren, which I think is a fair assessment of the evening. But will that translate to a win for Lauren? Or will the seemingly invincible Scotty roll on to victory? Share your thoughts in the comments below and join us tomorrow night as we host a live discussion of the Season 10 finale!

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The time has come. Tonight's Nashville Star American Idol finale pits confident crooner Scotty McCreery against bashful belter Lauren Alaina for the Season 10 crown. But it wouldn't be finale night without a bit of drama, and reports of Lauren's last-minute vocal problems had us sitting on the edge of our couch all night (or at least the first 10 minutes). Add to that a confusing lack of judges' commentary for the first half of the show and an absolutely terrible tune written by America, and you've got this season's penultimate episode. So, who will take a confetti shower tomorrow night? read more

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Premiered: June 11, 2002, on FOX
Rating: TV-PG
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Premise: The smash reality series showcases wannabe pop stars competing for a record deal by crooning for a panel of judges, including, most entertainingly, the acid-tongued Simon Cowell, who departed the show in 2010 after serving for nine seasons. The judges review a performer's talent (or lack thereof), and at-home viewers then vote for their favorite potential star. The show helped launch the careers of such artists as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert.

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