James Durbin Goes Soft, Steven Tyler Hears God: Recap of American Idol, Top 6 Performances
Good news, y’all — “You’ve Got a Friend,” and his name is Scotty McCreery. Scotty decided to try and step outside of his box tonight, performing a very soft and sweet take on the classic song, then revving it up near the end. It was a nice change for our country boy, and we loved it. “I don’t think you ever sang better... you still had that country thing that Scotty’s so good at, but you took it somewhere else, and I loved it,” Steven said. “When we hear you sing a song like that, that’s why we couldn’t let you get away with what you did last week,” Jennifer said. “For me, the strength for you is always in the storytelling, and you told that story beautifully.”
Out of more than 125,000 people, we’re down to the Top 6, Ryan Seacrest reminded us in the dramatic intro to tonight’s show. The contestants took on the songs of Carole King, both in their usual solo performances and in duets, and for the most part, it was a pretty decent night.
Judge fashion check! Randy in a Hogwarts blazer with a giant “R” on it and really shiny burnished orange shoes, Jennifer in a sparkly beaded minidress with nude patches, and Steven all in silver.
Tonight, Jimmy Iovine brought along musician/writer/singer/producer Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds to help him out with mentoring the contestants. Which is cool, and dude certainly has tons of musical credentials, but we’d just like to know at what point he’ll feel a little awkward being known as Babyface. Because hey, he looks good — but soon enough that nickname is going to become ironic. Just saying!
Ginger Bear in the house! Casey chose to sing “Hi De Ho,” made popular by Blood, Sweat & Tears in the 1970s. The performance was total old school jazz club, kind of like something out of Chicago, complete with everyone in fedoras, and a hot blonde girl on saxophone who we totally remembered from Paul’s swan song. Casey sounded absolutely fantastic and the song could not have been more perfect for him. “Casey, Casey... every time, you always keep this show different and bring in a different thing... it’s like this song was written for you... it took me back to New Orleans... I’m excited every time you’re up there because I know I’m gonna see something different and entertaining,” Randy said. “It’s the best mother... lovin’ show I’ve seen... you made my scalp itch it was so good,” Steven said.
Casey’s duet partner Haley was up next, singing “Beautiful” off Carole King’s Tapestry. Haley looked gorgeous as usual in a blinged-out little dress, but the performance wasn’t her best. The more upbeat parts of the song were great, but the slower segments were kind of eh. Luckily for Haley, the judges liked it more than we did. “I just saw God, I heard God in your voice... you nailed it just now,” Steven said. “Beautiful, you have one of the best voices in the competition,” Jennifer said. “I didn’t love the beginning, but I loved the end,” Randy said.
Coketerview for The Durbz! James took the opportunity to talk about how great Scotty was and to inform us that his song choice, The Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” was requested by posters on the americanidol.com forums. The performance was outstanding — he started a cappella and proceeded to rock out, albeit much more gently than last week, and it totally worked. The judges loved it and so did we. “I really liked the beginning of that — you had me sold right from the beginning,” Steven said. “I thought from the beginning it was magical,” Jennifer said. “Tonight, you weren’t just a great rock singer, tonight you proved that you’re a great singer... this guy just might win the whole thing,” Randy said. And then Randy proceeded to run up on stage to give James a hug, which... okay! It was great but it didn’t cure cancer, you know?
In any event, first up this evening was Jacob Lusk, wearing an absolutely insane outfit — plaid blazer, bright yellow shirt, bright blue vest, purple and green striped bow tie... it was intense. He chose “Oh No Not My Baby” (which has been recorded by numerous artists, including Rod Stewart, Dusty Springfield, and Cher) and covered it with a thick layer of Lusky Stank. It was a lively, fun performance, and we mostly dug it. (Except for the outfit, which remained horrible.) “Jacob! See, we all knew you could sing — it’s about time you shook your tailfeathers! I was wondering when you were gonna get around to it. Beautiful, man,” Steven said. “You really brought yourself back, you had an energetic performance, and you sung [sic],” Randy said.
Lauren Alaina followed Jacob with “If You Lead (I Will Follow)” which — not to brag or anything — we totally picked for her! Lauren got a surprise visit from Miley Cyrus during her rehearsals, about which she was extremely psyched; it was pretty cute. The performance, on the other hand, was a little strange, with Lauren plucking a random(?) guy from the audience and cozying up to him on stage. “I’m so proud of you right now... I felt you pushing and those barriers are hard to break for performers,” Jennifer said. “Six of you left, somebody’s gotta win, it’s time to throw down the gauntlet every time you’re up there... Lauren, continue to go hard for it,” Randy said. Steven added something about manifesting light — we didn’t really get it, but Lauren looked teary-eyed, so we guess it made sense to her.
Next up were country kids Lauren and Scotty, performing a duet of The Drifters’ “Up on the Roof.” Scotty was back in Scotty Mode (eyebrows everywhere!) and they sounded very nice together, as usual, even if they couldn’t match the excitement Casey and Haley brought earlier in the evening. “Lauren, you sing your... brains off! It was beautiful... it’s a real talent to sing second voice behind somebody who’s singing like that, and you did a really good job too, Scotty,” Jennifer said.
The Durbz and the Lusky Stank closed out the night with “I’m Into Something Good.” Lots of hip action, lots of high notes, white pants for both guys, and an interlude in which they accosted Jennifer. It was... hilarious? Awful? Fantastic? We’re not really sure. “I wasn’t sure if it was the most award-winning performance that it should’ve been, but you guys were having fun and God knows you can both sing great,” Steven said.
After the commercial break came the night’s first duet, compliments ofHaley and Casey on “I Feel the Earth Move.” After a cute intro clip with Casey trying hard to talk about singing with Haley without sounding cheesy and/or creepy, the two of them came out and totally rocked it. Lots of growling and strutting and great vocals, and tons of chemistry between the two of them, which Steven Tyler couldn’t help but point out. “Hey Weird Beard! How much in love with Haley are you? Come on, it showed man, it showed. I don’t want to speak for everybody here, so I will... there wasn’t anything about that I didn’t like,” he said.
All in all, a night of pretty decent performances, which means it’ll inevitably be sad tomorrow when someone goes home, but whatever happens, we’ll be getting performances from Bruno Mars, Crystal Bowersox, and even our very own Jennifer Lopez. Our guess is that Jacob is toast — he’s been in jeopardy anyway, and his early performance slot could do him in. What do you think?