'American Idol': Scotty and Lauren's Journeys to the Finals
Scotty tells us to lock them doors (for the first time)
The sight — and, really, the sound — of this fresh-faced (then) 16-year-old singing Josh Turner's ''Your Man'' with a deep, deep baritone earned Scotty one of the most memorable first auditions in Idol history, if only because it provoked this colorful response from Steven Tyler: ''Well, hellfire, save matches, f--- a duck and see what hatches!''
A double dose of drama during Hollywood Week
At first, Scotty — with his old-school country sound and uncommonly low-pitched voice — couldn't find anyone who would accept him into their group. He finally found one with early standouts Clint Jun Gamboa and Jacee Badeaux. But then Scotty's group kicked poor Jacee out. When the judges asked them why the next day, a remorseful Scotty spoke up: ''I just want to go on the record and say for me personally, I apologize for not sticking up for him, because I love all y'all, but Jacee's the best kid in this whole competition.'' Awww.
We've got a friend in Scotty
The 17-year-old's performances in the Idoldome have been among the show's most consistent and uniform this season, from his sweetly low-key semifinal performance of John Michael Montgomery's ''Letters from Home'' to his lively take on Montgomery Gentry's ''Gone'': Not too many high highs, but no massive missteps, either. Ironically, his least countrified performance also remains arguably his best of the season: his soulful rendition of Carole King's ''You've Got a Friend.''
Scotty, meet Lady Gaga
Guest mentor Lady Gaga's advice to Scotty for Leiber & Stoller Week was hilariously blunt. In an attempt to get him to keep his mouth closer to the mic, she told him, ''That [mic] is your girlfriend, and she says to you, 'If you don't stick your tongue down my throat, we're through.''' Scotty took that in stride — ''Better have a good-lookin' microphone!'' — but his overall impression of Gaga left him kissing his cross and saying, ''Lord, this is not my doing.'' (His reaction could've been influenced by the phallic heels Gaga wore that day that were too risqué to be featured on broadcast TV.)
A hero's welcome home brings on the tears
Scotty's emotions have remained remarkably even-keeled throughout his Idol journey — until his trip back home to Garner, N.C. Looking out of his limo at the sea of people waiting alongside the road to cheer him on, Scotty dissolved into what Oprah would call the ugly cry. It was a bracing and refreshing reminder that though he remains the favorite to win, he's still just a teenage kid.
A little bit country, a little bit rock & roll
Auditioning in Nashville with Tim McGraw's ''Like We Never Loved at All,'' Lauren Alaina proved she had all the tools to become a front-runner: a perky attitude, a big voice, and a sob story (her cousin Holly had been diagnosed with, and survived, a brain tumor). But she was just getting started. After receiving her golden ticket, she quickly transformed into Idol's golden child following a duet with the series' resident rock star, Steven Tyler. Suddenly, teens countrywide were tied to their TV sets, not wanting to miss a thing from the country star in the making.
Turn up the TV
Anyone who suspected that Lauren's audition was a fluke was immediately silenced hearing her perform Reba McEntire's ''Turn on the Radio'' during the series' semifinal round. Armed with powerful vocals and impressive courage for a 16-year-old, Lauren knocked the country hit out of the park, and Randy even compared her to previous Idol winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. If ''Turn on the Radio'' didn't get you to turn up the TV, that sound bite certainly did.
A nice performance for the mean girls
Believe it or not, kids, the Internet is a mean place. At least, that's what Lauren learned immediately after Idol placed her in the spotlight. So Lauren got the best revenge she knew how: She rocked ''You Keep Me Hangin' On'' by the Supremes during the Top 11's Motown night. Said Lauren, ''I have people constantly saying things about me that aren't exactly nice. And at first I didn't deal with it well, but now I'm kinda at the point that I realized I am who I am.'' And who she is, a Top 2 finisher, ain't too bad.
'Climb'ing back on top
After two weeks of middling performances, Lauren roared back into front-runner status with a song that she claimed ''just screams Idol.'' Indeed, The Hannah Montana Movie hit was a smart choice. Not only did it show off Lauren's refined vocals but it also drove Jimmy Iovine to tell the contestant, ''You're a much, much stronger singer than Miley Cyrus.'' A great piece of feedback...
Stars in her eyes
...until Miley herself showed up the next week. But, surprisingly, the moment was hardly awkward. Instead, Miley simply told Lauren, ''I listen to your music all the time. You're awesome,'' and gave the Idol contestant advice on ignoring the negative chatter surrounding her. Miley must have helped Lauren spread her wings: The contestant followed up her run-in with the teen star with a stellar performance of Sara Evans? ''Born to Fly.''