One of the highlights of my stint in LA last year was being sent to review American Idol Live at the Staples Center. To be honest, I hadn't watched any of the series and spent the afternoon frantically watching clips on YouTube so I would have some idea about the acts I was about to watch. Most of the contestants left me cold but 21-year-old Haley Reinhart made an impression with her jazzy voice and unusual song choices. My instincts turned out to be spot on. The quirky diva really stood out during the live show and I've been patiently waiting for her debut single ever since.
It took a bit longer than expected but "Free" dropped last month and it's really quite exceptional. In fact, it's one of the best American Idol singles not released by Kelegend or Queen Carrie. I love that Haley had the guts to record a jazzy, mid-tempo ballad instead of hooking up with Dr Luke or RedOne for yet another generic club anthem. "Free" is so old-fashioned, it's positively revolutionary. There's something very '70s about this breezy examination of a failed couple that just can't cut the chord. The lyrics are surprisingly honest and her voice has so much character. Check out the atmospheric video below. It's simple but suits the song and Haley looks amazing. Your faves have been put on notice. Bring on the album!