Kerri Strug's injured ankle in the 1996 Olympics. Curt Schilling's bloody sock in the 2004 World Series. And now Lauren Alaina's blown vocal cord just hours before the American Idol finale could enter the discussion of conspicuously timed injuries that were "overcome" during high-profile victories.
Let me make this clear, I am not saying that Lauren was faking just to beat out her buddy Scotty McCreery for the Season 10 title.
There is nothing about how she has presented herself this season that would lead anyone to think that. And her vocals on the three songs she sang Tuesday night were very good, but were clearly shallower than she would have been able to sing with a full compliment of vocal cords.
But consider this:
- The Idol producers and Ryan Seacrest made sure that is was mentioned early in the broadcast, and in great detail, that Lauren was playing hurt. This surely struck a "chord" with Idol voters, both regulars and those watching for the first time of the season because it is the finale.
- What Lauren was criticized the most for this season was her lack of confidence when she would back down from the bigger notes in the songs she performed. This was something that the Idol judges, celebrity mentors and even Lauren herself harped on throughout the season. But with a blown vocal cord, no one can criticize her for not trying to hit the harder notes or belt out a powerful chorus. And as result, she was showered with nothing but praise from the judges Tuesday night.
- And be honest, did you catch yourself at all during her performances thinking to yourself that she was doing pretty well "considering..." ? I'll admit that both my wife and I did. And sometimes, especially in the American Idol realm, the only thing needed to level the playing field between a frontrunner, like Scottie was, and a contender is a tiny seed of "Yeah, but..." being planted in the minds of voters. For example, Adam Lambert was definitely more deserving of the Season 8 title than Kris Allen, but the Idol judges said: "Yeah, but Allen really tried hard and made improvements on his past performances in the finale." And sure enough, Allen beat Lambert.
With that being said, it was a much closer competition between this season's finalists than I expected it would be.
I gave the first round to Lauren due to her cover of Carrie Underwood's "Flat on the Floor" over Scotty's version of Montgomery Gentry's "Gone." The contestants were able to pull from their favorite songs of the season for their first performance of the night - Lauren made the perfect choice, while Scotty made my entire household say "really?" I understand that the judges praised his song choice, but his best performances of the season were definitely "The River" and "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)." And can you imagine what the crowd would have done if he started off singing "Baby lock them doors..." He will probably be associated with those lyrics - from Josh Turner's "Your Man" - for the rest of his life and it would have been a fitting choice for him in the finale.
I gave the second round to McCreery for no other reason than his cover of George Strait's "Check Yes or No" had exactly the kind of lyrics he should be singing at this point of his career, because it was believable coming from a teenager. Lauren's cover of Pam Tillis' "Maybe It Was Memphis" was good, but I didn't like it as much as Scotty's second performance.
The final round and the Season 10 Idol crown I give to...
I liked Scotty's performance of "I Love You This Big" better, but I think Lauren had a better "moment" with "Like My Mother Does" - a teary performance that surely cemented the votes of every mother, daughter and momma's boy watching.
If I'm right, Alaina will be the first female in the last four years to win American Idol.