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Guest Blogger and 'American Idol' Alum Allison Iraheta: 'The Judges Owe Haley An Apology'

Season 8's fourth place finisher offers her advice for making it over the hump and into the Top 3: Have no fear.

allison iraheta red portrait 2010
19 Entertainment / Jive Records

Allison Iraheta knows what it's like to be the baby of the Top 13. During American Idol's season 8, she was the gritty version of Lauren Alaina, putting her all vocal might into rock week, where she delivered the unforgettable "Cry Baby" and a rousing duet of "Slow Ride" with Adam Lambert. Sadly, it also marked the week she went home.

Now, on the two-year anniversary of her own elimination, and with a stellar debut album, 2009's Just Like You, under her belt, the Los Angeles-bred rocker grabs hold of some perspective while breaking down season 10's last four standing. 

First of all, I think this season is great. It was genius to have Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler as judges and to bring some change to the show. And the contestants are awesome! They’re super-talented and you can tell they all get along -- they’re not just there to compete, they want to have fun, take it all in and learn from each other. It’s not all about the contest.

But the top four is also when everybody is super stressed out, and it’s hard to think about yourself as an artist because you’re also thinking about the fans, what the people want, what the judges are going to say, and you’re so close to the Top 3. 

James Durbin ("Don't Stop Believin'," Journey): With James, as far as song choice is concerned, it was hard for me to hear it because we had to sing “Don’t Stop Believin’” on the season 8 tour so many times – it was a group number. And to hear Adam Lambert sing that same song night after night… well, it’s hard not to compare the two. What I want to see out of James is something truly different -- what makes James, James? Because we have an Adam and he’s amazing. I’m a fan, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve seen this already.

Haley Reinhart ("Earth Song," Michael Jackson): I loved this performance. It was so Haley -- she wasn’t trying to be anyone else. I think it’s whack how hard the judges were on her. Like, were they looking for something current? If you do that, then they compare you to the original artist and you lose anyway. This song clearly meant a lot to her, and if that’s the case, you have to do what you feel. I don’t know if the judges aren’t getting who she is as an artist, but I loved Steven Tyler jumping in and defending Haley. He knows what it is to sing with feeling.

Scotty McCreery ("Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)," Alan Jackson): He’s in it to win it, dog. Obviously, the kind of country Scotty does is real country and he’s been doing that from the beginning. I’m sure there are people who would criticize Scotty for being a “one-trick pony,” but he is giving 100% of himself in his performances. He’s unique. You can hear his voice and instantly know it’s him -- I love that. This was a great performance.

Lauren Alaina ("Anyway," Martina McBride): First of all, Lauren looked beautiful. As for the voice? Her tone is crazy and her range is amazing. I think she just needs to get dirty and step outside of that box. Try something different every week and go for it. Something’s holding her back -- I see a very gorgeous girl singing beautiful notes but she needs to just let loose and be the girl she really is. The same thing happened to me during my season. I was so afraid and I held back a lot. I regret that. I wish I knew what I know now.

Haley Reinhart (“I (Who Have Nothing),” Ben E. King): Once again, Haley is doing what she does best: not trying. Her voice is amazing. And I think what Lady Gaga said about bringing the drama, worked. You have that opportunity to do crazy stuff on stage, just do it! And she looked comfortable and kept it real the whole time. Haley deserved the standing ovation and I think the judges owe her an apology. I think she’ll make it through. I hope she does. I’m such a huge fan.

Scotty McCreery (“Young Blood,” The Coasters): What Lauren is missing is what Scotty has. He looked like was having so much fun, and he was smart by picking a slow song for his first number and an uptempo number for the second -- it showed how comfortable he was on the big stage. The producers help with direction, but it’s up to the contestants to change it or follow it. I think Scotty is definitely going through -- he’s cute, he can sing, he’s never been in the bottom 3, girls love him -- he’s Scotty the Body.

Lauren Alaina ("Trouble," Elvis Presley): Lauren was more pageant than evil on her second song, but I think she just needs to be herself. She’s feisty and she has great vocals, but Lauren was a little rough on this song. She needs to know her range and what she’s capable of. I didn’t know back then, and thank god for Idol which helped me know who I was, but it was only in the last year that I figured it out. Lauren just needs to believe in her talent. I don’t think she knows how good she is.

James Durbin ("Love Potion No. 9," The Clovers): Maybe it’s just me, but I think James sounds nasally sometimes. Look, he’s dope, but I still want to see what makes him different. I want to just close my eyes and hear James.

Of course, the other star of the night was Lady Gaga, who is incredible. I think they are some lucky punks to be getting direction from Gaga. She came up being who she is as an artist and really set an example. And her advice was on the money – everything she told them, from Scotty getting his hand off of the mic to Haley with the drama. What a great opportunity to take in what the commercial music scene is all about. She is the perfect guide. Lady Gaga is f---ing amazing.  

I so want one of the girls to win, but after Pia Toscano was eliminated, who knows. I mean Pia? For real? She was amazing. Unfortunately, I think Lauren might be in trouble this week. Because people love Scotty, Haley just killed it and I doubt James will be in the bottom 2 because the girls are all about him. I just don’t think America sees how f---ing amazing Haley is, but hopefully she’ll be back next week for another round and they’ll be reminded again.

Twitter: @AllisonIraheta