Why Lauren Alaina Almost Lost Her Spot on the ‘American Idol’ Finale
These days, Lauren Alaina's becoming an increasingly dynamic multi-hyphenate, adding titles like Dancing With the Stars competitor, film actor, published author and — as of Saturday night (Dec. 18) — incoming Grand Ole Opry member to her resume. But in 2011, she was a young, promising finalist on American Idol, who almost lost her spot on the finale episode.
At the time, Idol was in its 10th season and had narrowed down the contestants to the then-16-year-old Alaina, as well as Haley Reinhart and Scotty McCreery. Reinhart was eliminated just before the finale, leaving the two country stars to battle it out for that season's top title. But Alaina was under the weather when it came time for the final performances. According to Entertainment Weekly, reports that Alaina was too sick to sing — and that Reinhart was rehearsing to step in and perform in her stead — began buzzing just an hour before the live broadcast.
According to the show's onsite physician, Alaina wasn't exactly ill, but had blown out one of her vocal cords during rehearsal and was unsure whether she'd be able to perform. Afterwards, Idol associate music director Michael Orland told EW that the doctor "gave her something to unswell her vocal cords," and that just in the nick of time — 45 minutes before the show — she was cleared to go onstage.
"I don't think she actually got to rehearse with the band," Orland said of just how touch-and-go the performance was.
Thankfully, Alaina pushed through it, and though she ultimately didn't take home the top honor that night, she went on to become a mainstay of the country genre. She released her debut album later in 2011, and her third studio album, Sitting Pretty on Top of the World, came out in 2021.
For more info about the details behind the 2011 Idol finale, including McCreery's big win, watch this:
Country's American Idol Contestants, Then + Now:
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