American Idol: Lilly Scott delivers strong performance, Haeley Vaughn fails to make the climb

Update: And then there was one. The results are in, and as expected, Haeley Vaughn was just voted off American Idol, which leaves Lilly Scott as the only remaining contestant from Colorado.

Wow! We just got a chance to see Lilly Scott's American Idol performance from last night. Ballsy! That's all we've got to say about this girl. Last week she offered a serviceable rendition of "Fixing a Hole" by the Beatles, and this week, she tried her hand at Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" with surprising aplomb. Girlfriend is absolutely fearless. Scott is clearly comfortable treading on sacred ground, which makes us wonder what's on tap for next week, "What's Going On," perhaps, or "Into the Mystic"? Oh, yes, next week. Something tells us there is definitely going to be a next week, for Lilly Scott. Seems like a foregone conclusion at this point that she's quickly becoming the one to beat, just based on the judges' nearly unanimous reactions.

Take it away, Randy.

"Yo, you know what I really love about this season? It's kind of the season with the most unique contestants we've ever had. By that, what I mean: Bjork, Dylan, Lucinda Williams -- all these people are so unique and so their own -- that's what I love about you. I mean, even to take off what I said there. It's again, the thing we'll never say about you is that -- you're definitely unique and you do your thing. That song's one of the toughest songs in the world to sing, to me, because it's one of the greatest ever; Sam's one of the greatest ever. But, dude, you worked it out; you did your thing. My favorite performance so far tonight. I loved it.

Nice. So Ellen, what did you think?

"Yeah, you know, you hear people say, 'They've got it.' I don't know what it is, but you have got it. You have it. I forgot we were in a singing competition. I was just a fan in a seat watching an amazing performance. By far the most best performance of the night. By far."

Fair enough. Kara?

"You just had your first 'moment' in this competition. Moment, meaning, where I just ... I was riveted. I just couldn't wait to see what you were going to do next. And you are a mismatch for this competition. And thank God you tried out. That's all I can say, because you are going to change the game. People that really want to do their own thing in their own way are going to start to go, 'Yeah I like that American Idol thing, man. I might just try out, man."

What about you, Simon?

"This really makes the point when we were talking to some of the other contestants about how you become relevant, how you use the show as a showcase. Um, I thought it was good, I wasn't crazy about it like the others compared to last week. I thought you over sang the song in the middle a little bit. And I will compare you to Crystal [Bowersox] because you're similar artists, and I thought Krystal was stronger than you, personally. But it was stil great."

As for us, we tend to agree somewhat with Cowell regarding the midsection -- the modulation into the 'ooOh!' part, which drew applause from the crowd, and led into the "they'll be times that I thought I" line seemed a little less sure handed. Like Cowell, we weren't completely blown away, but it was an enjoyable performance overall. In terms of Crystal Bowersox edging her out with her version of "Long As I Can See The Light," well, that's debatable. Her vocals seemed slightly more assured, but the performance really didn't strike us as that much more affecting.

So we're pretty confident that Lilly Scott will be sticking around for another week. Wish we could say the same for Haeley Vaughn, whose performance was universally panned by each of the judges.

Once again, Randy's up first.

"Yo! So you always want me to keep it real with you, right? Forever and always, right? Right? Uh, it didn't work for me, man. Uh, it was tough for me. I mean, it was excruciating. Hey, listen, here's why it was excruciating: You can sing. I'm telling you, you're here because you can sing. You have talent. But it was so pitchy and so just not right for you. It was so ... you had no connection to the song at all, pitch wise, it was rough."

Ellen co-signs Randy's take, even if she's a little more delicate.

"Oh, I wish I ... first of all don't ever stop smiling and don't ever worry about that. You have such a great smile and you're adorable. But I was going to say, unfortunately, the same thing. I did not feel you connected to the song. That song has such a great powerful message, and you just didn't was like you memorized the song and you were singing it, and there was really no feeling there. And I was excited to hear that song from you, too, when I saw you were singing it. I just didn't feel like it worked out, but keep smiling."

Kara thinks this isn't her year, either.

"Haeley, you have kind of the Alex Lambert factor. You have that people rooting for you at home. I think there are a lot of people at home that really like you. And I think some contestants can learn something from you. When you're on that stage, you're open. We get a sense of who you are, you're real, you're smiling and you're a really good performer. Unfortunately, honey, you need about a year of really strengthening your instrument, 'cause you do have talent, but it's very inconsistent. It's like a muscle, and it needs to be worked. And there's pitch issues and things you really need to work out. And that's what I can say to you. But I do think that people are going to root for you, because you are such a great spirit on that stage."

Finally, Cowell weighs in as diplomatic a fashion as he's capable of -- which is to say that if he were a doctor, he'd have the bedside manner of that one lady sawbones from Grey's Anatomy a few seasons ago.

"Look, I agree, I don't want to make this any worse than it already is, because it was a complete and utter mess, to be honest. [crowd boos] Are we hearing the same thing? In theory, it should've worked. You know, you're a cute young girl, it's a cute young song. But you know, there's a certain irony for you singing a song about climbing when you actually fell off."

To which our host, Ryan Seacrest, wonders aloud, "How's that not make it any worse?"

Our thoughts exactly, Simon. Look, there were definitely some pitch issues with Vaughn's performance and her voice tends to strike us as a bit grating, but either we have a greater tolerance for that sort of thing or we simply subscribe to a completely different definition of "excruciating," because, seriously, "excruciating," in this case, seems like a slight exaggeration. Just the same, it was probably underwhelming enough to send Vaughn packing. Guess we'll see tonight when America's votes are revealed.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera