It was a night of ups and downs for Haley Reinhart on American Idol Wednesday.
The pretty Wheeling, Illinois native and the other three remaining contestants had to sing an inspirational song, followed by one from the catalog of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the iconic songwriters who penned most of Elvis Presley’s hits.
Reinhart, 20, caused a stir among the judges with her interpretation of Michael Jackson‘s Earth Song, as Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson panned it, while Steven Tyler thought it was solid.
Lopez said that Reinhart’s song selection was off-kilter, while Jackson said the performance “confused” him as to who she was as an artist. “I felt like you were just screaming at the end, the same note over and over,” Jackson said. “I didn’t like it.”
“What do you get from that — they’re both wrong!” Tyler told her, praising her onstage passion. “The audience heard it and America heard it — don’t believe them.”
The mixed messages from the panel confused even the show’s ever-sharp host Ryan Seacrest, who said, “What is she supposed to do with that concoction of feedback?”
Reinhart might have been down, but she wasn’t out, uniting all three music experts in a standing ovation with her second performance of the night, singing Ben E. King’s “I (Who Have Nothing).”
“You just Reinharted yourself into the middle of next week!” the Aerosmith singer told Reinhart.
Someone’s headed home when American Idol returns Thursday on Fox at 8/7c. This season’s champ will be announced on the show’s May 26 finale.