Three determined singers vying for two spots in "American Idol's" finale made for one unpredictable competition Wednesday.
Rossville's Lauren Alaina Suddeth missed a key change in her second song. Haley Reinhart took a tumble onstage, but even that mishap couldn't break the momentum she'd built in her Led Zeppelin number. Jennifer Lopez made Scotty McCreery blush when she asked if he'd shave his head for the finale because she preferred his old style.
But everyone was "in it to win it" according to Judge Randy Jackson.
Each finalist sang three songs; one of their own choosing, one picked by record producer Jimmy Iovine and one chosen by the judges.
Judge Steven Tyler said Suddeth "got her freak on, which American hadn't seen" when she performed Faith Hill's "Wild One." Iovine's choice was "If I Die Young" by The Band Perry and her third song from the judges was Leann Womack's "I Hope You Dance."
Viewers tuning in for the highlights of Suddeth's homecoming Saturday only got a glimpse of a few snapshots in the opening montage and tape shot as Suddeth learned the judge's song choice during her appearance at the AT&T store on Gunbarrel Road. More highlights are expected tomorrow during the results show.
Talley Green, public relations director for Lake Winnepesaukah, predicts Suddeth and Reinhart will advance to next week's finals. Green said she's had a special interest in Suddeth's success since the teen won the amusement park's first talent show two years ago.
"I think it will be the two ladies in the championship. They just seem to have a great deal of poise and professionalism. They are very diverse in their talent," Green said.
Only once in "Idol" history have two females advanced to the finals. In Season 3, Diana DeGarmo, also 16 and from Georgia, lost to Fantasia Barrino, a North Carolinian like McCreery.
Trey Sartain, 17, picked Suddeth and McCreery to advance.
"My dad played music with Lauren's grandfather, and he got to know her dad,J.J. I met her when my dad was playing a benefit gig in Ringgold and she was singing with them. She was 13 or 14 then," said the Grace Academy student.
"I'm really proud of her. Anybody who ever saw her sing knew she'd be an instant success. She's already done fantastic, but I hope she wins," Sartain said.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...