Idoloonies: Haley Reinhart on Brutal Judging, 'Moanin' Duet, 'Bennie' Exit, Life Before Idol

Haley Reinhart may not have received a confetti shower at the end of her American Idol run, but the Season 10 third-place finisher says she got her “This is My Now” moment on Top 8 results night thanks to her “Moanin'” duet with Casey Abrams. In her long-awaited Idoloonies interview, Haley explains exactly how that performance came to be, reveals the movie-soundtrack hit she had planned to sing before switching to “Call Me,” and talks about the little coincidences that led to her legendary cover of “House of the Rising Sun.” Plus, Haley dishes the tough treatment she got in the latter half of the season from judges Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez, reveals a surprising wardrobe switcheroo she endured during Top 4 performance night, and (since Idol producers never bothered to tell us) shares what exactly she was up to before she auditioned for Season 10. Press play below on all five parts of the Haley Reinhart Idoloonies Experience, then hit the comments to share your thoughts. And for all my Idol and reality TV news, recaps, and interviews, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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  1. louis says:


  2. AlyssaG says:

    Thanks for this! You will have to keep us updated on her career! Praying there are some in the music industry who see what a unique talent she is. I would buy her record!

    For a future Idoloonies, I would love to know what Jimmy Iovine’s team of producers thought of each contestant/the overall experience. Though, I doubt they could speak openly about it.

    • EvaneSam says:

      Well Jimmy spoke a little about the contestants after some performances but those might have been influenced by the results.
      But yeah, I would have liked to hear them evaluate everyone.

    • TakenbytheWind says:

      well we do know that producer Jim Jonsin thinks Haley is “Bad-A$$” and it looks like she is the ONLY Idol contestant that he follows on Twitter! I believe he also tweeted about how great Haley was to work with.

    • seattlejohn says:

      in the future I would love more about the behind the scenes people like Frank(?) the guitarist who was on stage anonymously constantly…would love AI if they took more of a reality show approach and let us spend time with all the backstage talent plus showed more of them interacting off-stage with the performers…loved this interview with Haley but there was also alot unseen and unsaid that I would like to have been made available too

  3. Satchvai says:

    Que Sera, Sera. Gotta love this, thanks Michael for a great interview!
    I find it endearing in all her post-idol interviews that every time she hears one of her studios played back it is in a lot of cases the first time she has heard them. It kinda shoots down all the people saying she is “entitled” and stuck up/on herself because she shows that she actually is very humble and doesn’t focus on her past achievements but is always looking forward to the next big thing and is self-conscious about her own performances.
    Love this girl and this interview was 100000000x better than any edit she got from the supposed Pro’s at Idol.

  4. Carol says:

    Best.Idoloonies.of.Season.10. You conducted a fabulous intermivw Michael, but then you always do. Haley was also my favorite contestant of this season and I hope that she is able to go on to a career in the music business. It may not be at the level of Carrie, Chris, or Kelly, but Haley has the chops to find a niche where she is comfortable and appreciated.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Absolutely flawless! Thank you Slezak for conducting a great interview, and thank you Haley for single-handedly saving the season! :)

    • EvaneSam says:

      Exactly. I’m from Europe and I started watching American Idol last year and almost quit it the second Siobhan was eliminated.
      Then this season I thought .. well .. new judges, let’s see how this pans out. And I thought that the top 13 were awesome and diverse but the judges kept pissing me off and honest to God Haley and Idoloonies were the only things that kept me giving this season the boot. I NEVER got as invested in a contestant as I have with Haley and at the beginging I hated her. Now I’m addicted to evey word, every movment … she just blows me away with her talent and personality.

  6. jaime says:

    2 things i’m surprised you didn’t talk about- the “hardcore bangage” incident and her having to get ready for finale night, had Lauren not been able to perform. Great interview though, Michael! And she was cool to not totally bag on the judges!

  7. Lizzy says:

    Yeah Haley!!!

    Boo True Blood commercials!

  8. rickili says:

    great interview.
    she is not as charismatic or expressive as lauren but she is a very sweet and sensitive girl. I hope she does well.

    • B-scot says:

      Lauren is a 16y/o tomboy with 2 more years of school to go, so in 2 or 3yrs Lauren’s personality will change a lot and likely not be as open as now. Which is what happened with my cousin who is just a few year older and lives in Chattanooga, TN, just a few miles from Lauren.

      • S says:

        WHAT!!?? Beyonce and another mentor commented about Haley’s perosnality. They said she had that IT factor. Haley’s has a wonderful hippe chick/artist persona that I simply adore. I find her to be quite charming in an unpredictable kind of way.

    • Volcfom says:

      I think she couldn’t get a word in edgewise from all the praise Slezak was throwing her way. :-)

    • Mia says:

      In the words of the Great Slezak;

      “(states specific Haley praise) And anyone who’d like to say otherwise….is wrong.”

      Wonderful words, Slezak.

      And as far as opinion goes, just look at the screencaps of the 5-part videos and you can see Haley’s ingenious expressions that outdoes Lauren’s I-only-look-happy-or-surprised-during-interviews expressions. She has a charisma…..well, of a 16-year-old. I see that everywhere, nothing special there. Whereas Haley’s old soul and truthfulness… Captivating.

    • cancel says:

      she is more charismatic than wauren.

      • EvaneSam says:

        LOL. Ok, let’s not get into a pissing contest.

        They are both great and I wish them all the best. But as B-scot said, Lauren is 16, she’s like the average teenager, giggly and a little naive sometimes. She will mature and chane with time, that’s what happens in life. You can’t compare a 16 year old to a 20 year old. In kids years that’s a LOT.
        Haley on the other hand, probably because she grew up singing/touring with her parents and being mostly around adults she has an old soul. She’s more experienced and has seen more in life.

  9. TrulyRoxie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing these with us. She was my favorite and I’m happy to see more of her.

  10. HaleyHope94 says:

    ah, Haley is so awesome :)

  11. S says:

    Thank you so much for this, it was well worth the wait. Glad to see Haley is super delightful in person. She really saved this season.

  12. Lauren says:

    Thank you thank you thank you!! I have been refreshing TVline all week waiting for this, just randomly checked before bed (I’m in Australia) and there it was!!! I didn’t think it was possible to love Haley more, but I do. And thank you Slezak for introducing me to her, because if I hadn’t been bored and randomly reading TVline articles, I would have no idea who she was and not know her amazing, incredible talent. I’ve never watched an episode of American Idol (still haven’t) but I have watched all of her videos on YouTube and would buy any album she released. This interview was fantastic and combined my favourite singer at the moment and my favourite television series of all time. Thank you so much!

    • Lauren says:

      Oh, and I would have loved to hear her sing Hopelessly Devoted to You, even though I loved Call Me. I hope she does it on the tour! (Can all the others lose their voices the night I’m seeing the American Idol Tour and it become the Haley show?)

      • Higher and Higher says:

        I’d have loved to hear her sing that song too. I suspect they didn’t want wauren or shcotty to have anymore Haley competition by singing a country/folk rock song, so they pulled it.

        • Tusk says:

          I think actually, that song was written specifically for Olivia Newton John for Grease, was not originally in the play. ONJ started out doing some country music but she expanded her style from there.

  13. Ellen from Sacramento says:

    Loved it … especially the confetti shower! But WHY NOW do we have to suffer through seven repeats of a terrible commercial? Does TVLine have it in for Haley, too?

  14. PattiH says:

    Absolutely perfect, Michael! Worth the wait! Thank you for doing her justice!

  15. SajiNoKami says:

    Haley seems like a good quirky talented person. Hope she gets to do what she wants.

  16. whateverblah says:

    DAMN IT! I have to wait till I get home tonight to watch it!!

  17. Zach says:


  18. Jen says:

    SLEZAK! So worth the wait. *sniff sniff. I miss Haley on my TV. Now, I’m getting Haley on my lappy, thanks to you… this is the most awaited Idoloonies for this season, to most of us. Impeccable job, as always!

  19. HaleyHope94 says:

    Michael you a cool dude :p

    cant wait for next season<3!

  20. zara says:

    i really wanted her and james in the finale shes so cool

    • SajiNoKami says:

      Scotty, Haley, James: the final 3, I wanted, even tho a part of me really wanted james in the final, I would have excepted any combination of those 3 as the top 2. I have a feeling Scotty would have changed it up a bit more, if he was dealing with James or Haley.

  21. sara says:

    I’m sorry I have to go all Steven Tyler on you but that was beautiful.
    Thank you so much Michael and Jason, I knew the wait would be worth it! You guys are seriously one of the main reasons I still give a damn about that stupid show. (Which obviously is a good thing because it gave me the slayer. Yeah!!)

    Thanks again for an amazing season of Idoloonies, I’m throwing some telepathic confetti showers your way!

  22. Monee says:

    I am glad you gave Haley the chance to vent. Lord knows nobody else in the media will. She is a mellow girl who just rolled with the punches. The interview was nice, as always.

  23. Mia says:


    Now can some kind soul rip this and post it on Youtube for maximum satisfaction?!

    This loading pauses is just killing me here….

  24. whateverblah says:

    So Michael, how fun and satisfying was this interview for you??

  25. Michelle R says:

    Okay — awesome, loved it. She was clearly thrilled that you knew your stuff. Would have liked to hear her talk about Tony Bennett. Our girl also used the word “literally” a lot. :)

    Thank you for all you guys do!

  26. Vickie says:

    I thought I could not love Haley anymore, but I do now. She was so humble and endearing in her interview. I teared up about 4 times.

    It was so interesting to see her Idol “journey” too, and have her comment on what happened every step of the way.

  27. Sally in Chicago says:

    Why isn’t she/Haley on the TV talk shows like Ellen and Letterman? Where’s Leno? Sheryl Crowe made the suggestion that she do acappella, did she forget?

    • Volcfom says:

      The producers might have told Sheryl to say that on camera so it looked like her idea, and take the credit away from Haley. You never know!

    • Ben says:

      Or it was already Haley’s plan, and when it was suggested by Sheryl; Idol conveniently cut out the part when Haley goes: “Oh yeah, I’m already planning to do that…”

    • whynotcanada says:

      that’s the thing. editing is everything. i think they tried to make Haley look bad all season with their editing.

  28. sara says:

    Oh and needless to say, Haley effing rocks. She is the most awesome to ever awesome, but of course we knew that already. I’m glad she didn’t pretend that she hadn’t noticed the judges’ BS, although she kept it nice and diplomatic as always.
    Now I’m sad she didn’t get to sing “Hopelessly Devoted” though, I’m sure that would have been …ok running out of adjectives like amazing and awesome.

  29. Sally in Chicago says:

    love her, just wish somebody like Clive Davis would take her under his wings. he would make her a star. I’m suspect about Jimmy.

    • TakenbytheWind says:

      I disagree – I think Haley was Jimmy Iovine’s favorite and his support is key to her future success. He must have faith in her to have her sing Gaga and obviously he sees a “new” Stevie Nicks in Haley.

      I really hope she gets signed by Interscope soon! Something to look forward to now that we’ve got our Haleyloonies epic interview.

      • Yo says:

        I thought Iovine was trying to tank Haley with the Gaga song; I knew it was a mistake before she opened her mouth. I must be channeling Haley: I felt after “Moanin'” she had done what she needed to on Idol and was okay, if not delighted, with the idea of her leaving the show. She proved herself and she could show that tape any time to jump start her career.

        • B-scot says:

          Jimmy was focused more on her career after the show than winning.

        • TakenbytheWind says:

          Based on his comments during the results show, I don’t think Jimmy had any idea the judges were going to bash Haley for that song choice. He gave her a “10” on it and I get the feeling he thought it was great. Come on, we all did!

          B-scot’s right… Jimmy is focused more on her recording career – and I think he may have asked for help getting Haley to Top 3 for extra exposure. She deserved it.

        • Mark S says:

          I think at first like a lot of us Jimmy was not on Haley’s train (to use Haley’s words) but at some point I think he had clearly boarded and was pretty enthralled with her in a way that was more than just commercial interest.

      • EvaneSam says:

        Exactly. I think Jimmy wanted to show America/the World that Haley can deliver a song that has never been heard before.

        I mean when they produce an album it won’t be made up of cover songs, it will be full with new songs that no one has heard of.

        To me, in a way, it felt like Jimmy was sorta testing her to see how she does and I think he was very satisfied with the result. Now I hope they will sign Haley and make her HUGE!!!

        • EifionJ says:

          Jimmy did say, I suspect from knowledge, that Haley needed to be 10 out of 10 in every song or she would be out. I would like to believe that he did his best to get her those 10s, and wanted her to get them.

          • Tusk says:

            There’s that GaGa bit when GaGa turns to Jimmy after Haley sang for her and said something like, Amazing, and Jimmy grinningly agrees. I think over the process, I think she more than proved her worth to Jimmy.

        • Terry says:

          Maybe he felt guilty for questioning her work ethic on national television and was trying to make up for it.

      • JT says:

        I believe that at some point, about halfway thru the finals (maybe as early and Bennie and the Jets), Jimmy began to see Haley’s true potential. And then you saw him testing her with different song choices– that demonstrated her relevancy in currently recording marketplace. You also saw the mentors– and Jimmy himself– praise her profusely.

        It’s not out of the realm of possibilities (for those conspiracy theorists out there) that Jimmy helped engineer her Top 3 position– by the “bait and switch” in Top 5 and Top 4 weeks (with the Judges harsh treatment) to enrage her fans to vote her higher. The goal being to increase her exposure (more performance opportunities) and fan base. If Interscope signs her and then market’s the heck out of her then we’ll know that that theory is at least possible.

        • JT says:

          Another interesting observation is that Haley herself noticed (and feared) that the song choices others strongly suggested (or forced on her) resulted in the harshest Judges comment. Hmmmm. Could this mean the Jimmy/Producers were fighting with Nigel and Co??? The “You & I” song choice was perfect for Haley (and showed her viability as a recording artist), but was completely bashed by the Judges. Jimmy must have been fuming– unless he was part of the conspiracy to torpedo her. Not likely in my book. Jimmy has the most to gain from the “rock star” Beyonce called Haley.

          • EvaneSam says:

            Jimmy might have gotten a curse word from Haley once (and several from her fans) during AI but I do believe that at the end he became a big Haley fan himself. He knew what she’s capable of so he challenged her artistically (You and I, Rhiannon)

            I hope my faith in Jimmy Iovine won’t get shattered and he’ll sign Haley.

  30. Stanislava says:

    I can’t believe i forgot to thank Jason…THANK YOU,JASON!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You’re the unsung hero of Idoloonies!!!!!!!!!

  31. allona says:

    she’s freaky and she knows it! she’s freaky and i like it!
    go Hales! love you to pieces :-*
    p.s. thanks Michael))

  32. AJ says:

    I can’t believe Slezak is still gay after being in the same room with her.

    (I keed, I keed…)

  33. Sarah says:

    HALEY!!! Love it! Awesome Idoloonies. I can’t wait for her album!!

  34. ebayrae says:

    Wow!! Great interview. I wish the previews hadn’t been on there. They were long and obnoxious. She seems so cool about how everything went down and was even respectful enough not to totally bash the judges even though we all know that’s what they deserved.

  35. lilyx says:

    I didn’t listen yet, but I just have to say, She’s SO PRETTY and I’m SO Happy to hear from her!!!! Thank you Michael :)

    • Lily says:

      People don’t say it much over here, but a constant recurring thought in my head when I’m seeing her is just: “By God, this girl’s beautiful!”

      (No, I’m not gay, but man would I turn gay for her. XD)

  36. Yo says:

    Idoloonies is very special for these contestants; after they leave Idol, there is an interview where no one is waiting to catch them with their figurative pants down, ready to sell photos to the world.
    This is a welcoming, safe, place. Good job, Idoloonies!

    Haley is remarkably out of her own loop, which is charming! She is as focused and dedicated a performer as I have ever seen, so much older than her age. She can’t lose; she has a future because she made one for herself and because she is fully invested in her talent. She is the light of this season of Idol; a performer who absolutely knows who she is. Thank you, MS!

  37. Marianne says:

    <3 <3 <3 THIS AIN'T THE END OF THIS SHINDIG!!!! <3 <3 <3

    Thanks, Michael, for this bit of Haley-interview-PERFECTION!!

  38. Francesca says:

    Ok I haven’t even watched it yet (have to be alone to do so :P) but I can already tell you, I’ll love it. So THANKS Micheal for this and I’m so jealous u got to talk to her :) There, I said it :P
    Oh one more thing, I LOVE YOU HALEY!

  39. HaleyAndTheJets says:

    Please vote for Haley on faxo dot com. Go to ‘vote wall contest’ then ‘idol’. go to ‘I’m human’ box. and vote. Please. She’s in 4th place and she needs you help.

    Thanks Slezak. That was the BEST interview of Haley for all time! The absolute BEST!

  40. Cassandra says:

    I’m finally done watching it. I took so long because I went back and watched many parts. Well done on the interview; it was very insightful and fun. I love her cool, laid back attitude. Great job Slezak!

  41. Kellie says:

    So worth the wait! Thank you for your awesome work guys! :)

  42. MA says:

    Oh, man…I’m all teary and don’t even have much to say. I loved this. Love everything about her. Well, done, Michael. And thanks!!

  43. Amy says:

    I love the blantant love for Haley (and Buffy)! I love Haley too and watching back her performances, she has true musicality. What a wonderful interview. I hope she has a wonderful career. Thanks for all the Haley love!

  44. brandy says:

    I love her. I LOVE HERRRRR. Still so sad I didn’t get to see her perform 3 songs in the Nokia.

  45. dondiegodelavega says:

    Finally–the interview we’ve all been waiting for–fantastic job guys!!

  46. Haley'sGlory says:

    I’ll never get over how this was rigged. Tell me how many of the 300 million people in USA want to be fans of 2 country teens. I don’t think so. Country is NOT that popular no matter the meme and talking points. We have been punked. Jazz Rock and Blues Rock is VERY popular out West and across USA. I don’t buy the rumors, not for a minute.

    • B-scot says:

      Only 25M watch the show except for the finale and less than half even vote at all. About 300k of viewers generate about 75% of the votes thanks to the new iPhone apps, where 2k to 8k of votes per hours is possible now per phone but computers are limited to 50 votes.

  47. RaiMAN says:

    best interview EVER!, I would watch this if it went on for days, you guys are geat, and asked her some decent questions unlike other crappy interviewers and theres isnt much more to say about haley, shes just amazing simply amazing

  48. Cheryl says:

    AWESOME!!! I actually watched this at work cause I couldn’t wait till I got home!

  49. Pedro V says:

    Awesome interview. The best ever. Thanks for making us know Haley better

  50. Ronnie says:

    I have watched 10 seasons and had many favorites over the years. But I have never fallen so in love with a contestant as I have with Haley. Maybe its the voice, or the attitude, or the underdog status, or the growth, or the confidence, or the style … I suppose it’s the whole package.
    I cried during the entire last section, I didn’t want it to end.
    Weepies are worth it, thank you Haley for a great season and best wishes for the future. I will buy your album.
    and thanks Michael and Jason, Idoloonies is the best recap of any show anywhere, bar none.