“American Idol” contestants took on Elton John‘s greatest hits last night — and Haley Reinhart, who’s been in the background of the competition heretofore — ruled the night with a cover of “Benny and the Jets” that rivaled the original.
The performance was the first real triumph for Reinhart on “Idol.” She’s been in the bottom three twice. Judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler have uniformly begged her to find her aesthetic and her voice.
But Reinhart has come into her own at the right time. She’s now perfectly poised to take advantage of the show’s late-bloomer effect.
See, where the “Idol” title once belonged to the crowning of the competition’s undisputed best voice — think Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Fantasia Barrino — the show has, in the past three seasons, crowned out-of-nowhere underdogs.
Remember David Archuleta, Adam Lambert and Crystal Bowersox? They were “Idol” phenoms — and unexpected runner-ups. The three, all pronounced championship locks, were beaten by singers who started the season slow and came from behind: David Cook, Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze.
The theory: viewers (and even the judges, sometimes) get bored with powerhouse singers who deliver from day one.
(Who’s still talking about Jacob Lusk? No one.) Late bloomers have momentum and an exciting narrative.
And when a late bloomer sings like this, her chances are multiplied a hundredfold.
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