'American Idol:' 'Top 6 Take on Carole King' Recap

by Hilary Rothing, posted Apr 27th 2011 11:59PM
Bizarre, baffling and occasionally brilliant; three words that start with "b" and happen to describe tonight's Top 6 Carole King hit parade.

Most of us were left scratching our heads when Ryan Seacrest announced yet another random theme night in a season that was originally supposed to be free of such historically disastrous affairs.

Not that there's anything random about Carole King's impact on pop music, with 118 songs in the Billboard 100, according to would-be music trivia buff Ryan Seacrest. But how exactly was James Durbin going to go from Judas Priest to The Shirelles and what about the Barry White of country music, Scotty McCreery?

Bottom three repeat guest Jacob Lusk had first crack at King's songbook tonight, with 'Oh No, Not My Baby.' Jimmy Iovine was right in naming Jacob as the contestant in the most jeopardy tonight. And while I'm not sure his Fonzworth Bentley-inspired outfit won him any votes, Jacob did have fun with the song, "shaking his tail feathers," as Steven described it. Will it keep him around another week, though? Doubtful.

Next up, Lauren Alaina took on 'Where You Lead,' with much encouragement from Jimmy and guest mentor Babyface. Though she's made it to the Top 6, outlasted the more polished Pia Toscano and told she's a better singer than her idol, Miley Cyrus, Lauren continues to struggle with her self-confidence. As the youngest performer in the lot, there's really no helping that. Not even a visit from Miley, herself -- who told Lauren to shrug off the negativity -- can cure it.

The performance was another fun, cute, safe bout form Lauren. J.Lo applauded the teen for pushing herself and even letting her voice crack, but Randy found the number "boring and safe." She's 16 years old, her entire life is about being "boring" and "safe," staying away from drugs, alcohol and 19-year-old boys like the one she sang to on stage tonight. Ryan Seacrest was having none of that, yet he approves of a Scotty/Lauren romance? More on that in a moment.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, this season's The Captain & Tennille, Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart, kicked off the night's three duets with 'I Feel the Earth Move.' Rumor has it these two are an item and watching them perform together does nothing to downplay the possibility. In the pre-taped segment, the pair shared their love of "growling" together and then put it into practice on stage. The performance didn't have quite the same magic as 'Moanin' ' but these two definitely bring out the best in each other, and it's not the growling.

Scotty McCreery took things down a notch with a slightly-country-fied rendition of the James Taylor hit 'You've Got a Friend.' The best advice this week came from Jimmy and Babyface when they insisted Scotty stay out of his lower register at the beginning of the song. When he hits those higher notes, you can hear the potential in his voice, but Scotty still avoids showing off his clean, non-country vocals.

Randy applauded Scotty's "flawless, buttery tenor" but advised him against dropping off on high notes, while Steven said it was his best performance yet and J.Lo commended him for "reaching" after playing it safe last week.

Perhaps the night's most surprising performance came from James Durbin, who wisely chose to forgo marching bands and flaming pianos for a stripped down and rocked up version of 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?'

We all know James can scream with the best of 'em so it was refreshing to hear the rocker sing a cappella to open up the song. Whether or not the performance merited a hug from Randy and his proclamation that James could "win it" is debatable. In fact, Steven admitted he wasn't feeling the rock twist on The Shirelles classic; however J.Lo thought it was "totally magical."

Non-couple, Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina put their country charm to good use on The Drifter's 'Up on the Roof.' As much as Ryan Seacrest tried to suggest these two youngin's are rollin' in the hay, Scotty insisted they're like "brother and sister." They may not have the chemistry of Casey and Haley, but the duet was a nice moment for both. Especially Lauren, who J.Lo said "sang her brains out," making her best attempt to avoid a Steven Tyler moment.

In a performance that no 12 year old will vote for, Casey Abrams went back to his jazzy, big band roots with Blood, Sweat and Tears' 'Hi-De-Ho.' No one can accuse Casey of not knowing who he is or what he does right on stage, but how well it resonates with folks at home, at this late stage in the competition, is questionable. The judges loved it, including Steven, who said the performance made his scalp itch. Isn't that what all great music should do?

In the pimp spot was Haley Reinhart, who with a little help from Jimmy Iovine and Babyface really "got" Carole King's "beautiful." Haley has grown leaps and bounds in the past few weeks and this performance was a testament to that. Steven chimed in with another crackpot compliment, claiming to have seen God during the number, and J.Lo called it "amazing." Yet Randy still seems to have it out for Haley, saying he didn't like the beginning, but was pleased with the performance by the end. How his comments and her placement in the pimp spot will effect this bottom three regular tomorrow, should be interesting.

The night closed with the most random combination 'Idol' could possibly come up with: James Durbin, Jacob Lusk and Herman's Hermits. It was a massive understatement when Steven said this wasn't "an award-winning performance." In fact, it appears James and Jacob got the short end of the stick on this whole duet thing, designed to highlight Idol's two "couples."

So who's going home tomorrow night? Most likely Jacob with Haley and Casey rounding out the bottom three. What are you thoughts on Carole King night and the fate of the Top 6? Sound off in the comments and don't forget to vote in our poll!

'American Idol' airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8PM ET on Fox.

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Durbin is an inconsistent singer. Listen to some of his screechy pitchy performances. If he is the most consistent thing on Idol this year that is telling. The show is garbage compared to the Voice. At least on that show I can listen to all the singers from beginning to end without cringing every minute and then trying to convince myself it is all going to be ok.

April 28 2011 at 2:06 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

James knocked it out of the park again last night...perhaps my favorite performance so far.

April 28 2011 at 10:01 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I could listen to Casey and Haley all night long. Love James...Scotty and Lauren are great, but not a country music fan.
Jacob always sounds like he has something caught in his throat...and whoever picked out his clothes should be fired...or at least be made to wear them for a full week.

April 28 2011 at 8:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

James has the best voice, but Scotty seems to be a more seasoned performer. Lauren has the greatest potential to be a superstar.

April 28 2011 at 4:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BradJohnson's comment

I disagree about Scotty. He has a good enough voice but he seems awkward on stage.

April 28 2011 at 10:27 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

When I ask myself, "Who would I want to listen to for an entire concert" I end up with Scotty, James, Lauren." The others would be good special guests, but I couldn't handle two to three hours of them.

April 28 2011 at 4:36 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

will effect this => will affect this

April 28 2011 at 2:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dexter Morgan

James Durbin IS The American Idol if sanity ruled the voting ...but as long as half wits get unlimited votes.......the best doesn't always win......

That is the Am Idol curse .....but they bring it on themselves.

April 28 2011 at 12:53 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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