According to Randy Jackson on Wednesday night, all four of the remaining American Idol contestants are "in it to win it" - whatever that is supposed to mean.
As if a contestant who made it this far would ever be like: "Well I'm in it, but I'm only in it to finish third or fourth. I really have no desire to be runner up and winning is for the birds. On second thought, is there any way I could be in it, but only as like a backup singer or the person whose job it is to remind Steven Tyler what day it is? Because I really don't want anything to do with that winning business."
All four contestants did have at least one good performance, though some were better than others.
Scotty McCreery had the performance of the night with his cover of Alan Jackson's "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." The teenager pulled off a mature, stripped-down version of the song - propped on a stool with a guitar in hand - that surely choked up more than just the Idol judges given the song's references to 9/11 and the recent death of the man who planned it.
McCreery's second song "Young Blood" - written by the legendary songwriting duo of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, whose catalog the contestants had to pull from for their second songs of the night - was decent, but it was too quirky for my taste.
Lauren Alaina had the second best performances of the night with Martina McBride's "Do It Anyway" and Elvis Presley's "Trouble." Alaina still lacks the swagger of McCreery and rocker James Durbin, but she has definitely broken out of her shell.
I loved the performance of "Love Potion No. 9" that Durbin ended the show with, but I think his cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" that he opened the show with felt flat and came up a little short of its potential.
J. Lo and Randy hammered Haley for both a bad song choice and poor vocals after her "inspirational" cover of Michael Jackson's "Earth Song," to which Steven Tyler told her not to listen to them because "they're wrong."
I don't mind that the song wasn't a blockbuster hit that everyone knows the words to, which was J. Lo's criticism. But her vocals were too raspy and sleepy in the beginning of the song and all she did was shout through the second half of it.
But, like last week, Reinhart made the judges eat their words with her second performance of the night. Last week it was a killer cover of "House of the Rising Sun" and this week it was "I Who Have Nothing."
When her left arm stops flailing around - as it usually does awkwardly on up-tempo songs - and she gets some legitimate attitude behind her vocals, Reinhart is as good as anyone. Unfortunately, it has taken the judges bashing her to bring that out. (Side note: I was also getting tired of the camera cutting to Casey Abrams during all of her performances. I understand the two are rumored to be courting, but these are the most important performances of Haley's life - the camera should be on her and not her cartoon-looking spring fling).
With that said, I think Reinhart will be in the Bottom 3 this week, but will be safe. Because much can be said about what I call the "American Idol Pity Vote." Haley was the only Idol contestant who was criticized Wednesday night, but she stood up for herself and came back with a performance that earned a standing ovation from the judges.
I think the judges only stood up because they felt bad bashing her - it was a good performance, but not worthy of a standing ovation - and I think there will be enough people who vote for her because they felt bad for her too.
I think James Durbin will also be in the Bottom 3, but will be safe because he is so much different than the other contestants and that usually means he has his own pool of fellow rockers voting for him. But this theory has failed me twice before, however, when both Adam Lambert and Chris Daughtry were upset in their seasons' final four weeks.
I know I said that Scotty and Lauren had the two best showings this week, but both are unapologetically country and are pulling from the same fan base. If it doesn't hurt one of them this week, as I predict it will, it will certainly happen next week. Because I don't see the American Idol producers being happy with an all country finale - it would alienate too many viewers.
I doubt Scotty will get eliminated, because the Idol judges and mentors have been sure to mention every week since he was suspiciously in the Bottom 3 a few weeks ago, that he is bound for superstardom.
So based solely on genre and the "pity vote," I think Lauren will be going home this week. Even though I think she is good enough to be in the finale.