No contestant this year divided “Idol” watchers as much as Wheeling, IL’s favorite daughter Haley Reinhart. Many blogged that she was full of herself, the girls were envious of her looks, while still others questioned her song choices. And despite surviving four separate occasions of being in the Bottom 3, she proved a plucky survivor, finishing with an in-your-face version of “Benny and the Jets,” the song that launched her comeback into a contender, with former “AI” contestants like Adam Lambert and Elliot Yamin singing her praises.
Whether battling the judges or her own missteps, the 20-year-old Reinhart was the one finalist who took risks and stepped outside her comfort zone on performances of Lady Gaga’s unreleased “You and I,” her sassy take on Adele’s “Roling in the Deep,” a near-operatic version of “I (Who Have Nothing)” during Leiber Stoller week or the memorable cover of Led Zeppelin’s “What Is and What Should Never Be,” accompanied by her dad’s fiery guitar solo.
Watch Haley’s Elimination:
So it was no surprise Haley went out like the fierce competitor she proved to be, with confidence and attitude intact, claiming, “I’m not too big on the blogs. I didn’t want to read anything that could be considered negative.”
She also dismissed notions the judges unfairly picked on her. “It could go both ways. I believe their intentions were to push me along further. It was apparent they tried to fire me up so that I would be at the top of my game. Ultimately, it’s up to America. I got to top three, so that’s quite alright. I don’t live in regret. I do nit-pick because I’m a Virgo. Each step along the way has gotten me to where I am today. All the different genres I got to show off in the early stage, I wouldn’t trade that for the world. I got to show my versatility.”
As for her shocked reaction upon hearing she was eliminated: “I accepted it very quickly. I took it with a grain of salt. Things happen for a reason. It only means I will start my career as a solo artist even sooner. ”
She denies the fans’ perception of her as aloof or arrogant. “It’s easy to get depicted in different ways on the shows, the way the cards end up playing out. I like to have a good time. I’m usually always bubbly. It’s really hard to get your personality out in that short amount of time.”
Haley did put the kibosh on rumors of her and Casey Abrams’ rumored courtship: “We bonded and got really close. We confided in each other and had a different connection than we did with the rest. We laughed about it. We have a really, really strong relationship—not dating, but the musicality between us.
“I would love to do an album that has a sultry, bluesy rock feel,” she said of her soon-to-be-started debut recording. “And I absolutely love jazz, I’d love to sneak that in there.”
Among those artists she admires or might like to collaborate with, she mentioned Corinne Bailey Rae, Esperanza Spalding and Janelle Monae. “I think they’re very unique and powerful in their own ways, and I hope to do something just as cool.”
Haley feels “Idol”’s two remaining survivors, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, perfectly reflect the show’s teenage demographic. “They’re both so darn cute. And they got that country thing going for them, and this is the year of country. I can see why young America is so captivated with them. It’s a close race. I think it’s anybody’s game.”
Will not winning actually increase her control over her artistic output? “You never know. I’m excited to go out there and try to do exactly what I want to do. This is a great position for me to be in. I’m very excited for the future.”
POWER RANKING: HALEY’S TOP 5 “IDOL” PERFORMANCES
1. “Rolling in the Deep” (Adele): Perfect match of performer and song which played to her strengths as a blues-soul shouter.
2. “The House of the Rising Sun” (Animals): She came back from a shaky version of an unreleased Lady Gaga song to thrust herself back into the competition.
3. “I (Who Have Nothing)” (Leiber-Stoller): Shows her strength at seizing the drama of the moment.
4. “Benny and the Jets” (Elton John): Her fiery farewell song summarizes everything this feisty performer brings to the table.
5. “What Is and What Should Never Be” (Led Zeppelin): Jamming with her dad was one of “AI” Season 10’s signature moments.