Haley Reinhart has a message for Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez, the American Idol judges who have for two weeks running laid into her with more direct criticism than they have with any other contestant in weeks: “I’m not going to crack,” Haley told a group of reporters backstage after the Wednesday night performances. “As much as they might want me to, or try to [get me to], or whatever it is, I’m not going to. I think they know I can be very strong-willed and everything else, and that’s why they gave [the criticism] to me. I mean, they did tell me, ‘We know what’s in you so we do this to you because we [makes grunting noise] you can take it, and we want everything that’s inside of you come out.’ You know, I take that in stride. I realize it, accept it.”
When someone noted that Haley looked downright mad after Randy and Jennifer questioned her decision to sing Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song” as the song that inspires her, Haley didn’t hesitate to share her feelings.
“Yeah, man, I mean, come on, everybody else gets good feedback,” she said, clearly a bit exasperated. “They really let me have it. They don’t hold back with me, never have and never will. Yeah, I got a little upset because that song is just downright inspiring and emotional, and it’s beautiful. So, no matter what, that [criticism] hit me to the heart. Got me a little bit. Hey, it’s a show. We’re doing what we can, and I’m staying strong here.”
Haley wasn’t the only one who was less than thrilled with the judges’ criticisms, either. “I wasn’t a happy camper about that,” said Lauren Alaina, who was seated with Haley and fellow contestants Scotty McCreery and James Durbin. “That made me a little ill. Because Haley” – she turned to Scotty and James – “I’m sorry guys, but Haley has the best voice on this show, and she gets the most criticism. It’s just, like, I deserve a lot more criticism than she does.” At this point, Haley began to redden: “Oh wow. You’re very sweet.” Lauren wasn’t done, either. “I’m Haley’s number one fan,” she continued. “I listen to her iTunes songs over and over and over again.” Finally, Haley’d had enough, her face disappearing into her hands: “Stop! You’re making me blush! You are really cute, thank you. That was really, really, really sweet.”