It is down to the Top 2 tonight when 17-year-old Scotty McCreery faces off against 16-year-old Lauren Alaina at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE for the American Idol title in what looks to be a country sing-off.
But first, we talk to Haley Reinhart who made it to the Top 3 but was eliminated last week after receiving the lowest number of votes in a record-setting 95 million votes. Now, the raspy-voiced blues rocker from Wheeling, IL gives us her take on the judges’ criticism, whether or not she has any regrets, and if she and fellow contestant Casey Abrams ever dated.
Your performances on Wednesday night were some of your absolute best. Would you have done anything differently if you could get a do-over?
Haley Reinhart: I don’t live in regret. There’s, of course, going to be some things … and I do nitpick, I’m a Virgo, but other than that I don’t regret anything because each step along this way has gotten me to where I am today. All these different songs and the genres that I got to show off in the early stages, I wouldn’t trade that in for the world. I got to show versatility and I’m proud to do that.
You were in the bottom three or four times before last night. Did you get the feeling it was only a matter of time before you’d be voted off, or did it give you a feeling of invincibility because you survived so many times?
Haley Reinhart: I kind of go with option B a little bit more. I don’t like to sell myself short and I believe that taking that all in stride and realizing I’ve been in it so times and I’m still around, there’s something going on. I just got to step my game up even more, week to week, and I pulled it off.
Would it be fair to say that you were angry last night when you heard what the vote was?
Haley Reinhart: Not at all. Not angry. Of course, everybody’s going to be surprised with the verdict but all in all I accepted it very quickly and took it in, took it all with a grain of salt and said, “Hey, everything happens for a reason and this is a good thing. This happened for a reason and it only means that I’m going to start my career as a solo artist even sooner.”
The judges seemed to be a little bit more critical of you than they were with Lauren and Scotty. Do you think that helped or hindered how far you got in the competition?
Haley Reinhart: It can go both ways. I believe their intentions for it, throughout this whole process, was simply to push me along further. It was apparent that they wanted to get me to where I could be at the top of my game and get me a little fired up inside so that I’d come out with something that they really, really, really didn’t expect. So it can go both ways. It’s up to America, but as far as if it hindered anything I mean I got to Top 3, so that’s quite all right.
Can you also tell us what was it like backstage after the show? Can you describe that scene and some of the things people said to you?
Haley Reinhart: I got offstage and I was at peace with everything. I had the moment where I realized how much I was going to miss everybody — even just the stage crew. Everybody is such a great big family and I’ve gotten really close. I think that’s one of the most wonderful parts of this whole experience is to create bonds through everybody and make sure that it’s an enjoyable experience throughout, and I knew I’d miss them. But then again, I’m going to see them [soon]. But you know, it’s just sad, that reality check. But everybody was just so supportive and they’ve got my back and gosh, I love everybody back there.
After he got voted off, Casey Abrams made it clear that you guys were never dating — even though there had been a bunch of rumors floating around about that. What was your reaction when you first heard those rumors, and do you have any idea how they may have gotten started?
Haley Reinhart: Oh, man. It started a long time ago. I forget which week but it’s when we just really started bonding a lot more and getting really close. And really we just could confide in each other and had a different kind of connection from the rest, so we’d sit by each other and all that jazz. So I’m pretty sure that’s when it all started. We laughed about it. Obviously, we have a really, really strong relationship — maybe not dating but the musicality between us and everything else has just been wonderful.
What did your dad tell you after the show last night?
Haley Reinhart: Oh man. He was just on cloud nine. He had a blast. He said this was my best concert ever. This is a keepsake for life that we’ll always have. Nothing can take that away from us.
The final night of American Idol performances airs tonight at 8 p.m. on FOX. Then on Wednesday, the new American Idol will be named.