Things got pretty chippy and uncomfortable on “American Idol” on Wednesday night when Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez went off on Haley Reinhart. The judges were not feeling the bluesy singer’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” faulting her for not engaging the audience and for “just screaming at the end, over and over.”
In a breach of “Idol” etiquette, Reinhart did not hide her displeasure, talking back to the judges, making angry faces and generally looking very put out by the harsh put-downs. It was one of the rare moments of tension on this kinder, gentler year of “Idol,” where the judges have mostly tossed rays of sunshine and rainbows at the singers, except Haley, who Randy and Jennifer have dinged a few times.
According to E! Online, Reinhart was even angrier when the cameras stopped rolling, reportedly stalking off the stage and barely acknowledging the audience after the uncomfortable face-off with Jackson.
“Yeah I’m mad,” she said after the show, following a second, searing performance that redeemed the earlier one and earned her high marks and a standing ovation. “Everybody else gets good feedback, and they really let me have it. They don’t feel bad for me. Never have, never will. I got a little upset because that song is downright inspiring and emotional. No matter what, that hit me to the heart.”
The site reported that host Ryan Seacrest and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe ran over to Jackson during the break to talk to him about the tense scene and that Randy laughed, “threw up his hands and said, ’What am I supposed to do?’ ”
But even after nailing it with “I Who Have Nothing,” frequent bottom-three dweller Reinhart — who appears to be coming on strong down the stretch — said she’ll take the advice but is not going to hold her tongue. “I’m not gonna crack,” she said. “As much as they might want me to or try to, I’m not going to. And I think they know that I can be very strong and willed and everything else, and that’s why they give [the criticism] to me … I take that in stride, I realize it, [and] accept it.”
She had some girl-power support from Lauren Alaina, who comforted her pal during commercial breaks and said she too was bummed by the judge’s comments. “I wasn’t a happy camper about that,” she said. “That made me a little ill. I’m sorry, but Haley has the best voice on this show and she gets the most criticism. I deserve a lot more criticism than she does. I’m Haley’s #1 fan.”
That apparently wasn’t the only drama behind the scenes, either. While Lady Gaga surely provided a ratings boost and a visual treat for fans, she also clearly spooked some of the contestants. Scotty McCreery felt the need to kiss his cross after his encounter with Gaga, and Lauren was a bit uncomfortable with Mother Monster’s advice to embrace the “evil” line in her Elvis cover.
And James Durbin? Well, he was just a bit creeped out by Gaga forcibly twisting his hips. “To sum it up in one word, for me: awkward,” he told the site. “Unexpected and very uncomfortable. I didn’t like it.”
Thursday night’s elimination show will feature former “Idol” winner Jordin Sparks performing her new single “I Am Woman,” and a look at judge Steven Tyler’s first solo video, “(It) Feels So Good.”
Don’t miss “Idol Party Live” every Thursday at noon on MTV.com for analysis, celebrity guests and even some karaoke — get in the conversation by tweeting with the hashtag #idolparty! In the meantime, get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.