By our guest blogger, Catherine Fuentes
The Top 6 tackled songs from the immense Carole King songbook, which included some ubiquitous classics, and some hidden gems, and for the most part, all contestants showed – to borrow a phrase from Randy Jackson – that they were in it to win it.
I find it a bit odd that James Durbin’s fans allegedly requested that he sing “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” which was Carole King’s first big hit, written for the Shirelles, because it’s not a song I would’ve imagined him singing. I’m glad they did, because not only was it my favorite of the night, but it’s been my favorite James Durbin performances of the season, and likely one of my favorite performances of the season period. Last week I thought he was far too over the top, and I’ve been growing tired of the theatrics associated with a James Durban performance, so I was so impressed to see him start off a song singing a cappella. My one critique is that I preferred the beginning to the end, and wish that there was more tenderness throughout the song.
I also find it a bit odd that Scotty McCreery did so well on a night where he said he was going to step out of his comfort zone. Scotty is another contestant whose performances I’m getting sick of – not because they’re over the top, but because they’re predictably cheesy. He scrapped his deep country tone, and showed that he actually has more depth as a singer than I expected. I really enjoyed his performance of “You’ve Got a Friend” because it wasn’t country Scotty; it reminded me of just how awesome his voice is.
Haley Reinhart has somehow become one to beat in the competition, and I really liked her performance of “Beautiful,” even if it got off to an awkward start thanks to technical difficulties and lack of time. The song was the perfect opportunity to show off the power of her voice, and I really enjoyed her performance.
Last week the judges told Lauren Alaina that she is great, but she can be even greater if she pushes herself harder, so the producers brought in her idol Miley Cyrus for a little pep talk. Personally, if I hear Miley give one musical recommendation, I’d be inclined to do the opposite, but actually Miley’s advice was pretty spot on and excellent for Lauren: Do it for yourself. And Lauren did. She sang a fun, lively performance of “Where You Lead,” which I joked that every girl in my generation knows as the Gilmore Girls theme song, and even if it involved awkwardly bringing a guy on stage, I liked it. I really like Lauren Alaina, and like the judges, I want to see her do the huge things she’s capable of, and this was a step in the right direction.
I hate to say that I’m no longer sure what Casey Abrams is trying to do on this show. I’ve always liked Casey, but I’m finding that I’m liking him a bit less, and his performance of “Hi-De-Ho That Sweet Roll” performed by Blood, Sweat & Tears is the perfect example of that. Musically, there was nothing wrong with his performance. He knows who he is as an artist, he pushes himself to grow and experiment, and he sounded fantastic. What is beginning to bother me about Casey Abrams is that it’s seeming to be more gimmicky than genuine, which I know isn’t his intention, and that’s a problem. I feel that Casey is trying to be the contrarian of the Idol stage with week after week of out of left field performances, and I think he needs to dial it down. Casey should take a note from Scotty and James this week and do something simple and raw next week.
I think it is finally Jacob Lusk’s week to go home. He started the show off in a bright clown suit, and sang a choir-backed rendition of “Oh No Not My Baby,” which was fine, but not his best. Vocally, he sounded a bit all over the place, but not bad. Unfortunately, every other contestant gave memorably great performances, so it seems Jacob might be in some danger.
The duets were fine. Casey and Haley were great, though not as great as their duet from the other week. The two have such good chemistry and a similar growly quality to their voices, which make their duets such a treat. Lauren and Scotty were pretty good, though the song choice seemed a bit weird for the two of them. James and Jacob were also fine. On the whole, I felt the show could’ve done without these filler performances.
My bottom three predictions: Jacob, Casey, Haley (and undeservedly so).