By Grady Smith
February 22, 2012 at 02:22 PM EST
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Idol junkies, the time has finally come!

Haley Reinhart, that jazzy flower child, that little growler who could, that scatting singer who stepped onto the American Idol stage in Season 10 and miraculously survived near-constant critiques from J.Lo and Randy to eke out a third place finish, has debuted her first post-Idol single, “Free,” live on stage, and you know you want to give it a listen.

While performing at the Hard Rock Cafe in Los Angeles yesterday at at the 104.3 MYfm New Music Night, Ms. Reinhart, who scored a contract with Interscope soon after Idol wrapped, gifted audiences with an acoustic version of first-ever single, which is set to be officially released in March. Check it out below:

Back in November, when I asked Reinhart what kind of sound we could expect from her debut album, she described it as, “soul and R&B mixed, with some jazziness in there,” adding, “You can hear the retro-ness, but it definitely has a modern twist.” Judging by this video, it seems that Reinhart has successfully achieved that melding of genres with “Free.”

Personally, I dig the song. (At least this acoustic version.) It’s a welcome reprieve from the bland, over-produced pop that singing-competition alums often serve up with their first singles (see: Katharine McPhee’s “Over It,” Cher Lloyd’s “Swagger Jagger,” Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment,” Committed’s “Break Free,” or, arguably, Pia Toscano’s “This Time”). The lovely, sloping melodies of the chorus show off Reinhart’s impressive range — she makes what could be a difficult song to sing sound effortlessly smooth.

What do you think of “Free”? Does it get you excited to hear the studio version? In a post-Adele industry, is this the right sort of song for Reinhart to release?

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