'American Idol': James Durbin, Scotty McCreery Spring Forward on Carole King Night
"American Idol" claimed its relevancy last week with a "Songs from the 21st Century" theme, but tonight, the show decided to hop back in the Delorean and dig into the catalog of classic pop songwriter Carole King. Now, don't get me wrong -- I love Carole King's hits as much as the next person -- but the night's decidedly retro vibe didn't necessarily translate into a "wow" moment for any of the top six. There were some really, really good moments, though, courtesy of season 10's two frontrunners. I'm looking at you, James Durbin and Scotty McCreery, who are so far ahead of the pack at this point that we might as well give four people the boot tomorrow night and skip ahead to the finale. Alas, rules are rules. Here's how everyone fared tonight, both as soloists and duet partners.
1) James Durbin
Song: Carole King, "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"
Steven said: "I really liked the beginning of that… that's the first song I ever made out to a girl with. I was in a bowling alley, and no, Randy, I didn't strike out."
Jennifer said: "I thought from the beginning it was magical. Totally magical. And I have to say, you had me movin' up here for the first time all night."
Randy said: "Tonight, you weren't just a great rock singer. Tonight you proved that you're a great singer, and that's the most important thing… You know what I think, guys? This guy just might win the whole thing!"
We say: Consistency is key on "American Idol," and no one's been more consistent than James Durbin this season. His song choices are clever and strategic week after week, and this one was no different, as he flipped a simply beautiful pop ballad into a fuzzed-out, mournful rock tune. Only Jacob Lusk can match James' sheer audacity when it comes to tackling high notes, but it's James who always hits them, and he has far more commercial appeal. I'm still on Team Scotty, but if James ends up winning the whole shebang, I won't be surprised.
6) Casey Abrams
Song: Blood, Sweat & Tears, "Hi De Ho"
Steven said: "You've definitely found your niche... You made my scalp itch, it was so good."
Jennifer said: "You're definitely in your element with the musicians, and sitting there… I'd love to see you loosen up a little more, physically in your body."
Randy said: "I was like, 'Yo, this is the Casey show in revue.' I'm excited every time you're up there because I know I'm gonna see something different and entertaining, so I applaud you for that."
We say: "Different and entertaining" is not always good, and Casey's ironic jazzman persona just isn't cutting it for me. What's frustrating about watching Casey perform is that I actually think he has a great voice, and tonight he made a shrewd song choice that suited him very well. But when all eyes and cameras are on him, he seems to get gassed up, and oh, no, here come the growls and the camera stare-downs and the really uncomfortable flirtation with J.Lo. I may have been wishfully thinking when I picked him to go home a couple of weeks ago, but I'm certainly not picking him to win.
7) Haley Reinhart
Song: Carole King, "Beautiful"
Steven said: "Haley, you are as beautiful as all that song is. I just saw God. I heard God in your voice."
Jennifer said: "Beautiful. Just beautiful, you have one of the best voices in this competition."
Randy said: "I didn't love the beginning, but the end was great."
We say: This was the clunkiest song of the night, and Haley's lucky that she had a gorgeous dress and full backing band to make up for its total lack of momentum. On a different week, and without Jacob still in the running, it could have easily been the performance that sent her packing. But I'm pulling for Haley for the time being because, well, she's a girl, and she's grown by leaps and bounds this season.
8) Jacob Lusk
Song: Carole King, "Oh No, Not My Baby"
Steven said: "See, we all knew you could sing. It's just about time you shook your tailfeathers. I was wondering when you were gonna get around to it."
Jennifer said: "Here and there there was little spaces where it wasn't perfect, but…you bring in that performance, you bring everybody home at the end, and just killed it, really."
Randy said: "You sung. We like to hear you sing here. This boy can sing. The scatting was incredible."
We say: Where was Steven Tyler when Jacob Lusk awkwardly see-sawed his hips while singing "Man in the Mirror"? Tonight definitely wasn't the first time that Jacob has boogied badly on the "Idol" stage, and contrary to belief, it's still not doing him any favors. Nor did his outfit, which I can only conclude was chosen by Farnsworth Bentley. But worst of all, Jacob went with an uptempo number that obscured his best vocal qualities. That's three strikes, and you know what that means.
9) Jacob Lusk and James Durbin
Song: Herman's Hermits, "I'm Into Something Good"
Steven said: "I wasn't sure if that was the most award-winning performance, and it should've been, but I mean you guys were having fun…God knows you can both sing great. But man, where were you going with all that?"
We say: Not even Steven Tyler could justify this performance, which was bad in the same way that Danny Gokey and Kris Allen's most infamous duet, "Renegade," was bad. As in, why were these two ever paired together, and did they even practice beforehand or did they just think, 'To hell with it'?" Maybe James can get away with that attitude for a secondary performance, but Jacob pretty much sealed his fate.
Final verdict: With the worst two performances of the night by a mile, it's Jacob's time to go.
What do you think? Is Jacob headed home? And who do you think is this season's frontrunner, James or Scotty? Sound off in the comments.