CLINT COOPER - If Rossville's Lauren Alaina Suddeth has a shot at becoming the winner on television's "American Idol," the 16-year-old will have to pull together the maturity, confidence and talent she has shown at points during the season. Last week, some of those attributes were lacking when she sang a tame version of "Unchained Melody" - producer Jimmy Iovine accused her of pulling "back on the biggest note" - and then began weeping the next night when she was asked to join a group of contestants she had to assume were in the bottom two or three for the week. I believe Lauren has more talent than fellow female Haley Reinhart, but her tears didn't give voters outside Dixie the idea she is mature enough to win the crown. But staying on one more week (ahead of Reinhart, presumably her only competition for elimination next week) could reward her greatly, allowing her a return trip to the Chattanooga area for a hometown celebration and, perhaps, as the only woman left, earning a big bloc of voters.
KAREN NAZOR HILL - First, I hope Lauren is crowned American Idol. She's talented, sweet and a hometown girl. I'm a graduate of Lakeview High School (now Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School, where Lauren is a sophomore), so it would make me even a little more proud if she wins the title. Now, with that said, I was disappointed in her attitude Thursday night. She embarrassed herself. She started pouting as soon as she was sent to the opposite side of the stage from James Durbin. I think she started crying as soon as Jacob Lusk was sent to her side. I'm sure she insulted Jacob with her demeanor. The "American Idol" winner needs to be mature. Last week, Lauren did not not fit the bill.
I was surprised at producer Jimmy Iovine's candor when critiquing the five candidates. I haven't heard that kind of honest criticism this year. It was reminiscent of Simon Cowell, and I think it's what the candidates need to hear. I, too, was disappointed in Lauren's version of "Unchained Melody." The judges, and apparently America, want to hear the singers belt out the tunes. Can Lauren do it? My favorite performances last Wednesday night were from James and, for the first time this season, Haley Reinhart.
CLINT: So, handicapping the rest of the season, I'm going to say Lauren gets it together, has a wonderful week, wins her way into the top three and that Haley is voted off. Truly, I think Haley probably deserved to go about three weeks ago. At this point, I don't see Lauren making the top two, but I do think it's possible. Fans attached themselves to teen country star wannabe Scotty McCreery early and never let go. He's a shoo-in for the finals. I like James, and I think the producers are pushing him a little, but voters may be a little wary of him reminding them that he leaves it all on the stage each week. I think the final spot in the finals will go to either James or Lauren.
KAREN: I like James. I wasn't offended that he said he leaves it all on the stage each week because he does. I think the guy gives it all he's got each time he hits the stage. He puts his heart and soul behind each performance. I'd like to see James and Lauren in the top two. But I agree with you: Scotty has a huge fan base, and it's very possible he'll make it all the way to No. 1. What I'd like to see this week is for Lauren to belt out her songs, smile often and stop crying.
Contact Clint Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6497. Contact Karen Nazor Hill at email@example.com or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/karennazorhill.
American Idol officials have confirmed to Chattanooga city officials that should local contestant Lauren Alaina Suddeth make it through Wednesday night's voting, the 16-year-old Rossville, Ga., resident will travel to Chattanooga Friday and appear at Coolidge Park on Saturday afternoon.
Results of the voting will be announced on Thursday night's episode of "American Idol."
The exact schedule of Suddeth's visit and appearance will not be finalized until later in the week, according to Melissa Turner, communications director with the Department of Education, Arts & Culture.
The preliminary plan is that Suddeth will appear for a meet-and-greet at Coolidge Park at noon.
"She will sing," Turner said. She could also make another singing appearance at another public venue either Friday or Saturday night, she said.
Idol and Chattanooga officials are urging people to cast their votes Wednesday night from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. either by phone, text or online at www.americanidol.com. The show airs from 8-9:30 p.m. on the Fox network.
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6354.