By the time you get down to four singers on “American Idol,” the fanbases for the remaining singers tend to be very fiercely divided. And after Wednesday night’s controversial showdown between judge Randy Jackson and singer Haley Reinhart , you can bet those fan clusters were even more at odds.
But when New York Times pop music critic Jon Caramanica dropped in to discuss Haleygate on Thursday’s (May 12) “Idol Party Live,” nobody expected the sparks to fly again when JC (no, not Scotty McCreery’s JC, but Caramanica) and the other JC (wow, that’s weird), “Party” host Jim Cantiello, and Reinhart’s Twitter brigade clashed over the harsh treatment the singer received from the Big Dog.
Anyone who’s been paying attention this season knows Cantiello is a huge Haley booster, and he was happy to read some tweets in favor of his girl. “We all unanimously voted her the winner,” read a tweet from season-eight contestant Casey Carlson, who was at a viewing party attended by fellow past “Idol” contestants Didi Benami and Allison Iraheta. “I hate it when contestants have attitude, but Haley’s was justified. I voted for the first time in a couple years,” read another tweet.
Cantiello said he’s never a fan of the backtalk from contestants, but he felt Reinhart’s pain and said he would make an exception in this case. (See who our “Idol” experts predicted would go home on Thursday night over on the Newsroom blog.)
That’s when Caramanica had to put his foot down. “I think people look at Haley Reinhart last night and they’re think, ‘Oh, she has attitude, she’s so indignant, she’s so mad.’ No, Haley Reinhart is like in prison in a foreign country and doesn’t speak the language,” he argued. “So she’s not understanding what’s happening. She doesn’t see it. They’re speaking to her, and she understands the tone is negative, but she doesn’t know what any of the words mean. She’s looking at them and trying to parcel it out. ‘I think it’s bad. I’m upset, but mostly I’m frustrated.’ ”
Other tweets took the judges to task for dinging Reinhart over her hoarse rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” pointing out that criticizing her inspirational pick made it seem personal. Cantiello agreed, but Caramanica, well, didn’t.
“That’s like the least inspirational inspirational song ever,” he argued. “Like, Michael Jackson’s mad about the environment, he’s mad about war, he’s mad about raised prices at McDonald’s. … The things he’s mad about in that song are so inane, and I think Haley just looked at the words and said, ‘This is positive.’ ”
Caramanica did have to give it up for Reinhart’s second performance, “I Who Have Nothing,” which he said was far and away the best of the night, if only because “Earth Song” was such a BP oil-spill level disaster. “I think J.Lo put it best early in the season,” he said. “Haley has really no sense of how to center her body behind the microphone, she has no sense of how to perform.”
And while Scotty’s weird sideways microphone technique comes off as an oddball aesthetic, Caramanica said Reinhart’s off-kilter tilting just makes it seem like she’s about to fall over.
“This is what I’ve been saying about Haley Reinhart since day one,” Cantiello shot back. “The judges loved when the boys were quirky and were doing weird tics onstage. Haley Reinhart gets up and does ‘Fallin’ ‘ and does similar stuff, and they call her out. Why was Paul McDonald allowed to be a teetering-over mess, and Haley’s not allowed to?”
What do you think about the Haley Reinhart discussion on “Idol Party Live”? Let us know in comments below.
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.