'American Idol' Recap: Some Great Solos and Some OK Duets from Carole King Week
'American Idol' Recap: Some Great Solos and Some OK Duets from Carole King Week
Tonight we lie on our beds and put this episode on repeat in a salute to Carole King. It's an interesting choice for American Idol, and I'm eager to see how this group pulls it off, but it could be a pleasant surprise like Burt Bacharach week turned out to be in the past. If you're less familiar with Carole King, you may find yourself wondering, "Who gets to sing 'I Feel the Earth Move'?" We shall see, as the American Idol Top 6 sing solos and duets (because God forbid an episode should be only an hour long) from the Carole King songbook.

The judges took on a new attitude last week, we'll see if they keep it up this week. Jacob is looking like a used car salesman again, and it looks like Lauren is doing that hair thing where part of it is blonde and the bottom part is black. Also, is there something wrong with Steven Tyler's legs or is that just the way he walks? Tonight is full of mystery.

Idol has been going on for so long that even Ryan Seacrest seems like he's feeling tired. "I need that energy!" he tells the audience, desperately. But on to Carole King, maybe SHE will re-energize the competition. I need that energy, too, Ryan. I wonder if the contestants will only be allowed to sing songs that Carole King has performed, or if they can sample from the songs she's written as well? Either way, you go, Carole King!

Tonight, Jimmy Iovine is joined by Babyface. Will.I.Am did not get an introduction like Babyface did.

Jacob Lusk is up first, and his confidence is shaken. He's singing "Oh No, My Baby," and my first impression is that he has sung it so many times he isn't thinking about the words anymore. Not like it matters because he is totally killing it. I like that Jacob is singing something up-tempo and having fun with it. He danced around and held some notes extra long, and I thought it was great. The judges also liked it, even though Jennifer Lopez (in her nude illusion top) pointed out a few parts where it wasn't perfect. I sense that the judges want Jacob to stay in the competition.

Jacobbuyacar.jpgHe IS a good singer. I'd buy a car from him. The Top 6 get two phone numbers each tonight, and I don't know what that's all about.

Lauren Alaina is singing "Where You Lead" tonight (for the first time, I predicted right!) and the mentors are pushing for those high notes, which she can totally obviously hit. Then Lauren's favorite, Miley Cyrus, came out to say hey to Lauren and tell her to "do it for yourself." Jimmy Iovine then must face the fact that he said Miley Cyrus is not a very good singer a few weeks ago. It got real.

Lauren is wearing a pretty dress with some dumpy old boots, but this is a singing competition, and she does the singing part well. She did seem nervous still, though. I like how she took that guy (Was he just some guy? Someone special?) up on stage and made him sit there while she walked around in her boots. WHO IS THAT GUY? We'll never know. At the end of the song, Lauren was a bit of a wreck, and the judges tried to encourage her while telling her it wasn't totally great.

StrangernamedBret.jpgThat guy's name is Bret. That's all we will ever know. Poor Bret. Chastised by Ryan Seacrest for getting a good free seat at American Idol.

The first duet goes to Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams. Ryan says it like there might be something going on with them. MMHMM! This is a good pairing, and they get to share "I Feel the Earth Move," as I (again) predicted! I'll say it again: this is Haley's week to shine. She started out strong, and once they got balanced, the duet was really working for both of them. Well, it worked for them individually, and in certain moments together. Haley is getting better every week, and is it possible that Casey is getting ... complacent? It got a little corny at the end, but I liked it because I think it will keep Haley here another week.
Steven called Casey out on being in love with Haley (uhhh, weird), and Ryan floated around eerily in the background. They ARE in love, though.

Up next, it's Scotty McCreery! He played it safe last week, so he's ready to go "full steam ahead" this week with "You've Got a Friend." Jimmy Iovine is ready to help Scotty mix it up, but he just can't help twangin'. There's something about Scotty, though, I just want him to succeed. Despite the way he sounds, he's just a kid. I love this performance. He was true to himself, but it was really soft and heartfelt. I'm glad he stayed seated on the stairs the whole time, too. The judges liked it, and Randy called it "flawless," after pointing out one flaw. Then the camera panned away from Randy, as he went off on one of his "SCOTTY'S IN IT TO WIN IT!" rants.

Scottygetsromantic.jpgI normally hate this kind of stuff, but my heart melted when Ryan was like, "It's always like you're singing to one specific person," and Scotty said, "Who is it? ... I don't know. I wish I knew!" How can someone be so cheesy and so sincere all at once?

Carole King week is going well, can James Durbin keep it going with "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"? This is an interesting choice for James, but someone had to sing it on this show, because it's kind of what the contestant experience is all about. Jimmy Iovine and Babyface just watched James in awe, so I think this one will go well. James is keeping it minimal this time, which shows off how spot-on his vocal control is. We got to sit back and just enjoy the whole thing. I'm usually looking for a reason not to like a James performance, but this one was pretty amazing. I think James just secured a spot in the finale!

Jameswillyouloveme.jpgJennifer said it was the performance of the night, and pointed out James's consistency. Randy thinks that James might just win the whole thing, and I agree except that I think James will come in second and Scotty will inexplicably take it.

Naturally, American Idol is going with what works. Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery are doing their third duet together. Ryan asks them if something is going on and come on, we all know that they have no interest in touching each other ever. Scotty was so cute asking Lauren if she would hold her microphone like a flute.

ScottyandLaurenfluting.jpgOn to their performance of "Up On the Roof," which is not my favorite Scotty/Lauren duet because the harmonies, like Haley and Casey's duet, are off. I think Lauren might be making a visit to the bottom three this week. It wasn't great, but I think we can just write all these duets off, right? When is this dress and mid-calf boot thing going to end?

Casey Abrams is getting jazzy again this week, and his rehearsal turned into a jam session. I really enjoy Casey, and while I think he was an early favorite to win, he's slowly falling out of the voters' favor. That doesn't change how musically hip this kid is, though, or that saxophone lady is back! Casey did his thing tonight, just growling and, for lack of a better word, "jamming." If I had to guess, I'd say that Casey is the band's favorite contestant to work with. The judges weren't totally excited, but seemed to like it.

saxophoneladyisback.jpgHaley Reinhart is next, singing "Beautiful." She wore her craziest headband to rehearsal. Haley and I have been on a long road together, but I'm really coming around on her. Her voice is so great for Carole King's songs, I've been most excited to see her this week. We're learning that she's a lot smarter than we originally thought. I really liked it, and thought it was one of her most exciting performances. The judges liked it, too. Jennifer said Haley is one of the best voices in the competition (but hasn't she said that to almost everyone?), and Randy didn't like the beginning but liked the end. Sometimes I don't get you, Randy.

Haleyscrazyheadband.jpgLast but not least, we have a duet from Jacob Lusk and James Durbin. Will they just yell at each other for two minutes? They seemed a little trepidatious about doing a duet together, and I was worried about listening to it. It was kind of goofy and fun, with their white pants and yelling. Not bad, not amazing. It happened. The duets, in general, seemed like a throwaway tonight.

But Carole King! Wow, right? I'm going to go download Tapestry.

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(Images courtesy of FOX)