After a season of blowing smoke and patting contestants on the head like they were the ninth place finishers in a eight-person third grade decathlon, things finally got really real on "American Idol" on Wednesday night.
When Randy Jackson went all-in on Haley Reinhart after her screechy, hoarse mess of a Michael Jackson cover, the singer hit back with withering stares and some backstage dissing of her own, cranking up the tension on an otherwise vanilla season.
Normally, that kind of sassy backtalk is a prescription for a one-way ticket to Iowa Cattle Fair 2012 Apple Dumpling Stage opening act-ville. But there's a part of me that thinks Haley's rants and eye-rolls might have earned her some support from a fanbase that is so used to seeing nothing but marshmallow kisses and unicorn hugs from the judges that they will be incensed at the slight tinge of negativity.
Don't get it twisted. She was awful, and while her second performance was much better, at this point that's like saying that "Attack of the Clones" was better than "The Phantom Menace," i.e. they both sucked, but one sucked just a bit less.
All that said, I don't think Haley will go home tonight. I think her fans will rally, and it will be Lauren Alaina who gets the boot. Why? She was fine, but her little girl at the prom in a puffy dress and cute smile shtick is so bland and old it might just have lulled her fans into complacency. Most of my expert panel agreed with me.