published Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Can "American Idol's" Lauren Alaina Suddeth turn tears to smiles?

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    Lauren Alaina performs Carrie Underwood's "Flat On The Floor" on "American Idol." (Michael Becker/Fox)

CLINT COOPER — If Rossville’s Lauren Alaina Suddeth has a shot at becoming the winner on television’s “American Idol,” the 16-year-old will have to pull together the maturity, confidence and talent she has shown at points during the season. Last week, some of those attributes were lacking when she sang a tame version of “Unchained Melody” — producer Jimmy Iovine accused her of pulling “back on the biggest note” — and then began weeping the next night when she was asked to join a group of contestants she had to assume were in the bottom two or three for the week. I believe Lauren has more talent than fellow female Haley Reinhart, but her tears didn’t give voters outside Dixie the idea she is mature enough to win the crown. But staying on one more week (ahead of Reinhart, presumably her only competition for elimination next week) could reward her greatly, allowing her a return trip to the Chattanooga area for a hometown celebration and, perhaps, as the only woman left, earning a big bloc of voters.

KAREN NAZOR HILL — First, I hope Lauren is crowned American Idol. She’s talented, sweet and a hometown girl. I’m a graduate of Lakeview High School (now Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School, where Lauren is a sophomore), so it would make me even a little more proud if she wins the title. Now, with that said, I was disappointed in her attitude Thursday night. She embarrassed herself. She started pouting as soon as she was sent to the opposite side of the stage from James Durbin. I think she started crying as soon as Jacob Lusk was sent to her side. I’m sure she insulted Jacob with her demeanor. The “American Idol” winner needs to be mature. Last week, Lauren did not not fit the bill.

I was surprised at producer Jimmy Iovine’s candor when critiquing the five candidates. I haven’t heard that kind of honest criticism this year. It was reminiscent of Simon Cowell, and I think it’s what the candidates need to hear. I, too, was disappointed in Lauren’s version of “Unchained Melody.” The judges, and apparently America, want to hear the singers belt out the tunes. Can Lauren do it? My favorite performances last Wednesday night were from James and, for the first time this season, Haley Reinhart.

CLINT: So, handicapping the rest of the season, I’m going to say Lauren gets it together, has a wonderful week, wins her way into the top three and that Haley is voted off. Truly, I think Haley probably deserved to go about three weeks ago. At this point, I don’t see Lauren making the top two, but I do think it’s possible. Fans attached themselves to teen country star wannabe Scotty McCreery early and never let go. He’s a shoo-in for the finals. I like James, and I think the producers are pushing him a little, but voters may be a little wary of him reminding them that he leaves it all on the stage each week. I think the final spot in the finals will go to either James or Lauren.

KAREN: I like James. I wasn’t offended that he said he leaves it all on the stage each week because he does. I think the guy gives it all he’s got each time he hits the stage. He puts his heart and soul behind each performance. I’d like to see James and Lauren in the top two. But I agree with you: Scotty has a huge fan base, and it’s very possible he’ll make it all the way to No. 1. What I’d like to see this week is for Lauren to belt out her songs, smile often and stop crying.

Contact Clint Cooper at or 423-757-6497. Contact Karen Nazor Hill at or 423-757-6396. Follow her on Twitter at

American Idol officials have confirmed to Chattanooga city officials that should local contestant Lauren Alaina Suddeth make it through Wednesday night’s voting, the 16-year-old Rossville, Ga., resident will travel to Chattanooga Friday and appear at Coolidge Park on Saturday afternoon.

Results of the voting will be announced on Thursday night’s episode of “American Idol.”

The exact schedule of Suddeth’s visit and appearance will not be finalized until later in the week, according to Melissa Turner, communications director with the Department of Education, Arts & Culture.

The preliminary plan is that Suddeth will appear for a meet-and-greet at Coolidge Park at noon.

“She will sing,” Turner said. She could also make another singing appearance at another public venue either Friday or Saturday night, she said.

Idol and Chattanooga officials are urging people to cast their votes Wednesday night from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. either by phone, text or online at The show airs from 8-9:30 p.m. on the Fox network.

Contact Barry Courter at or at 423-757-6354.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
markkellyhall said...

It would be nice, I guess, if "...maturity, confidence and talent..." were the only things that get votes (in talent contests or political ones), but research has proved this not to be the case. We don't even use those criteria to consider the candidates half the time (hence the number of people who think Donald Trump for President is a good idea). So it's anyone's guess at this point.

But I have to say any 16-yr.-old girl who can handle the kind of intensity that AI offers without her head exploding (literally, blowing up) has my admiration. And if she happens to drop by Good Dog on Frazier Ave. on Friday night (where I'll be performing with a couple of very talented friends) she can have my mic as well. For as long as she wants to use it. And she can cry the whole time, I don't care; that's what 16-yr.-old girls DO! Sixteen! What a future this girl has!

May 11, 2011 at 8:13 p.m.
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