If you wanted any more proof that this year's crop of American Idol talent does not match up with those of year's past, the performances of Top 3 on Wednesday night were that proof.
Don't get me wrong, there were some solid performances - especially by Haley Reinhart - but for the most part they lacked the "wow" factor that this round has typically produced.
Last year's champ Lee DeWyze broke out awesome covers both "Simple Man" and, of course, "Halleluiah" during this round, which sealed up the title for him in my opinion.
The year before that Adam Lambert knocked out Aerosmith's "Cryin'" and U2's "One," to edge Kris Allen's cover of "Heartless." And this followed a year when David Cook crushed Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face," Switchfoot's "Dare You to Move," and Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss A Thing."
This year, however, a hodgepodge of vocal miscues, onstage stumbles and a pair of torn pantyhose overshadowed a set of nine performances that produced only one somewhat memorable performance - Reinhart's impressive cover of Led Zeppelin's "What Is and What Should Never Be" with her dad on lead guitar.
I still don't think Haley will have one of the more successful post-Idol careers. But even though she tripped on stage, this was easily one of her two best performances of the season - alongside "House of the Rising Sun" - and it came at the perfect time of the season for her. But her two other performances of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" and Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" were both good, but overshadowed by covers done last season by Didi Benami and Crystal Bowersox, respectively.
Meanwhile, the country duo of Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina battled it out for the other spot in the finale and it is a battle that McCreery deserves to win.
For the first time all season McCreery showed that he could carry a big chorus, like he did Wednesday night on Kenny Rogers' "She Believes in Me," and he sang his first real believable song in "Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not" by Thompson Squared.
It also helped my wonderful wife and I settle something that we have been arguing about all season - a theory I have about McCreery's future career. If you close your eyes and listen to McCreery sing, he sounds like a grizzled country veteran - the kind who usually sing songs about things like losing his job at the factory or having his wife run around with the manager of the Piggly Wiggly. But when you open your eyes those illusions are shattered when you see how young and "green" he is. I argued that he would have the most success when people could believe that he lived through the experiences he was singing about, which is something that only comes with age. He will sell a ton of country albums, but I felt that his best music would not come until he was at least in his mid 20's. My wife said it didn't matter because his voice was already perfect for the country music scene.
But his cover of "Are You Going to Kiss Me or Not" seemed like something you could imagine an teenage boy, which he is, singing to a girl he has a crush on in his geometry class. And for this, I had to admit to my wife I was wrong... kind of. I agreed with her that if he was singing pop-style lyrics about things teenagers would sing about, that he could have more success at an early age. But I still contend that the deep tone of his voice is best suited to sing about more mature subject matters. Only time will tell, I guess. But this round goes to the wife and I will hear about it for weeks.
Wednesday night was unfortunately a rough night for this season's sweetheart, Lauren Alaina.
She had a very difficult time keeping up with Faith Hill's "Wild One" and had a self-described "embarrassing" wardrobe malfunction when her pantyhose ripped just before she took stage for an uneven cover The Band Perry's "If I Die Young." Her version of Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance" was very good, but not nearly impressive enough to get her into the finale.
Things are not all bad for Alaina, however, I still think she will sell many more albums than Reinhart.