'American Idol': Was Haley Reinhart out of line talking back?

haley-reinhart-idol-320.jpgThings got a little heated and uncomfortable on Wednesday night's "American Idol." Haley Reinhart was criticized for her choice of "Earth Song" during the Inspirational Song portion of the evening, with judges Randy Jackson and Jennifer Lopez coming down fairly hard on her.

Haley responded with hurt and angry looks and arguments about why she chose the song she did and why she sang it the way she did. There was then another tense moment when host Ryan Seacrest asked the judges to declare a "winner" of Round 1 and Randy and J.Lo basically said everybody but Haley, to which she audibly responded, "Oh, that's nice." Was she out of line?

I don't think so and here's why. The judges have been riding Haley hard all season long. After Haley's second performance on "I (Who Have Nothing)," J.Lo said they ride her so hard because they know how great she can be. But that's no excuse to mean or rude, and that's what last night crossed over into.

Haley's judges' comments after "Earth Song" were not mean, by themselves. But the judges have been harder on her than anyone else this season, which his particularly obvious and egregious when the panel has been all sunshine, rainbows and puppies to the other contestants.

Stefano Langone, Paul McDonald and sometimes even Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery have gotten praise for performances Simon Cowell would've called rubbish, ghastly, karaoke, cruise ship, theme park, whathaveyou. But Haley is the only one who has been repeatedly raked over the coals.

So if the "Earth Song" comments were an isolated incident, I don't think Haley would've had as much of a problem with them. But it's hard to watch everyone around you be praised week in and week out and have yourself continually beat down. Her frustration was evident and I think that is where her talking back came from.

But then.

To add insult to injury, Seacrest filled some of the down time with asking the judges to declare a winner of Round 1. And that's where things got mean. Instead of acting like they all did well or they could all improve or even, hell, picking one winner and saying the others collectively need to step up, Randy and Jennifer came right out and said that everyone did well except Haley. That was completely uncalled for. It visibly embarrassed and hurt Haley.

What is so maddening is that I've been saying all season the judges need to toughen up and be more critical. But not on just one person!

If you keep beating one person down, how can we at all be surprised when that person finally lashes out? I say good for Haley for sticking up for herself and boo to Randy and Jennifer for picking on her.

What do you say?
Photo/Video credit: FOX