Born: October 9, 1993
Musical Style: Country
Audition City: Milwaukee
Backstory: Scotty McCreery idolized Elvis Presley as a child, mimicing both his look and his sound whenever he had a chance.
Influences: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Hank Williams
Sometimes when an auditioner tries out, the judges want to hear a second song that shows another aspect of a singer's voice. While Travis Tritt's "Put Some Drive in Your Country" got Scotty McCreery a ticket to Hollywood, viewers will probably be more familiar with his first choice, "Your Man" by Josh Turner, which he performed both during his Milwaukee audition as well as during Hollywood week. Scotty McCreery is similar to Josh Turner in having a deeper voice that judge Randy Jackson referred to as a "throwback." "Your Man" marked two milestones in Josh Turner's career: his first Country number one and his first top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
Sometimes a great performance on American Idol comes down to simply singing a song the way it was written, and that is exactly what season 10 contestant Scotty McCreery did during his Top 24 performance of John Michael Montgomery’s 2004 Country hit “Letters From Home.” Perched on a stool, Scotty McCreery connected with the camera and the audience on a song that seemed tailor-made for his lower register and relaxed delivery, and he was rewarded with unanimous kudos from the judges. "Letters From Home" took John Michael Montgomery into the Country top 10 for the first time in four years, reaching #2 in 2004.
3. "The River" (Garth Brooks)
Scotty McCreery had a great Top 13 night singing the Garth Brooks classic "The River," which received unanimous praise from the judges for remaining true to his sound and delivering the song in a way that connected with the audience. As with Jacob Lusk, the only thing that may hold Scotty McCreery back from winning will be theme weeks, where Scotty may be asked to perform songs and musical styles he is not as familiar with. "The River" came at the height of success for Garth Brooks, becoming his ninth number one Country hit in 1992.
Scotty McCreery entered the auditions with a deep country voice that no one ever expected to come out of a young man of 16, but he used that voice to his advantage as he made his way through to the live rounds of American Idol season ten. While the judges had nothing but praise for his version of Travis Tritt's "Can I Trust You With My Heart" during Top 12 week, there was something missing in his voice, causing him to sound like several country singers that are already in the marketplace recording hits. "Can I Trust You With My Heart" became Travis Tritt's third of five number one country hits in 1993.
Country crooner Scotty McCreery was thought by many to face the biggest challenge in Motown week, but with his admiration of Elvis Presley, who blended country and R&B influences at several times in his career, those prognosticators should not have counted him out. While his take on "For Once In My Life" was not the strongest vocal among American Idol season 10's Motown week songs, Scotty McCreery held his own and survived a week that could have potentially hurt his streak of well-praised performances. Stevie Wonder's version of "For Once In My Life" charted at the same time Marvin Gaye released "I Hear It Through the Grapevine," causing "For Once In My Life" to stall at number two on both the pop and R&B charts.
Picking a country song for Scotty McCreery from Elton John's catalog probably wasn't too difficult, as some of Elton John's earlier music showed some American Country roots. "Country Comfort" was track three on Elton John's third album Tumbleweed Connection, which reached number five in the US despite never generating a Billboard Hot 100 single. When Scotty McCreery sang "Country Comfort" during Elton John week on American Idol season 10, he played guitar and made it sound like a song written just for him, and the judges rewarded him with high praise for the performance.
One person's country is another person's rock, and that became apparent during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame week on American Idol season 10. While the judges all said they were seeing a different side of Scotty McCreery during his rendition of Elvis Presley's "That's All Right," it seemed like just a more lively performance of another country-tinged song. Surprisingly, "That's All Right" was never a nationwide hit, although it was a regional hit in the South back in 1954, a year before Elvis Presley had his first pop hit with "Heartbreak Hotel."
Scotty McCreery was one of several contestants who changed their song during American Idol season 10's Songs from the Cinema week, much to the chagrin of mentor Jimmy Iovine. While Scotty McCreery's version of "Everybody's Talkin'" sounded like a great match for his voice, he changed his mind and went with a safer ballad instead. "I Cross My Heart" was the lead single from the Pure Country soundtrack in 1992, and spent two weeks at number one on the country chart for George Strait. The soundtrack, which consisted of all George Strait songs from the movie, became Strait's best-selling album with sales exceeding six million copies.
One of the interesting things about themes on singing competitions is seeing how far the contestants can stretch the boundaries in order to fit their comfort zone. Viewers got to see a prime example during Top 7 week of season ten when Scotty McCreery chose to sing the country classic "Swingin'" as his 21st century musical selection. While it's true that LeAnn Rimes recorded the song in 2010 and subsequently received a Grammy nomination for her rendition, the song rightfully belongs to John Anderson, who took it to number one on the Country chart in March of 1983. While Scotty McCreery did a good job with the song, the judges were all in agreement that there was nothing special about the performance.
Season 10 of American Idol had a lot of great performances, but no specific contestant had a performance that would rank with the top 10 greatest American Idol performances until Top 6 week. Scotty McCreery gave a stripped down performance of "You've Got a Friend" that showed a more tender side that may have surprised some viewers. While "You've Got a Friend" also appeared on Carole King's Tapestry, James Taylor also recorded the song and took it to number one in 1971.