- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Scotty McCreery’s popularity with the judges fell a bit when he sang his last song on the “American Idol” competition, but that’s unlikely to matter to supporters of the contestant from North Carolina.

On Tuesday night, the judges said 16-year-old Lauren Alaina of Rossville, Ga., performed her last song, “Like My Mother Does,” better than McCreery performed “I Love You This Big.” Both tunes were selected by “Idol” mentor Jimmy Iovine.

Judge Randy Jackson said McCreery, a 17-year-old Garner resident, had the edge before those songs and still might have it going into Wednesday night’s unveiling of the competition’s winner. Judges don’t decide the winner of the Fox talent show; viewers vote by phone, text and email.

The viewing party for McCreery will be held at the RBC Center in Raleigh. Previous viewing parties have been held at Garner High School, which McCreery attends. “Idol” is managing the final viewing party and covering its costs at the RBC Center, which seats about 20,000 people.

McCreery has never been among the show’s low vote-getters; Alaina once found herself at the bottom three weeks ago.

In addition to “I Love You This Big,” McCreery also reprised his version of Montgomery Gentry’s “Gone” and performed on his acoustic guitar as he sang George Strait’s “Check Yes or No.”

Alaina sang Carrie Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor” and Pam Tillis’ “Maybe It Was Memphis.”

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Martha Waggoner can be reached at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc

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