American Idol - Top 6 - Carole King Night - April 27, 2011
Not a trainwreck performance in sight from our Top 6 Idol contestants of the post-Simon Cowell era.
1. Jacob Lusk - "Oh No Not My Baby" B+
This performance had a fun groove to it that I surprised myself by enjoying. One thing I did not enjoy was Jacob's bizarro suit and bow-tie combination. But oh wait, this show is supposedly about the singing, right? So anyway. It was nice to see a song where Jacob smiled and appeared to be enjoying himself, as opposed to the dramatic histrionics of oh, every other performance by Jacob. I am shocked to be writing these words but I think I will ACTUALLY download this performance by Jacob. There were a few notes here and there that didn't come off as good as they should have, but overall, it worked.
2. Lauren Alaina - "Where You Lead" B+
I am not sure there was much about this performance that was shockingly different from last week's plucky performance of "Born To Fly", despite the producers (oh Nigel there you go again) trying to convince us of some sort of upward trajectory story. I don't think like Randy said, she came out with a vengenance...her attitude and performance seemed pretty much the same to me from last week. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it overall. My best advice to Little Lauren would be to stop choosing midtempo numbers that all sort of blur together into one. Her performances of "I'm The Only One" and "Candle In The Wind" stood out because of her unique country twist on the songs.
DUET #1: Haley & Casey - "I Feel The Earth Move" A-
While not as good as their brilliant duet of "Moanin'", Casey and Haley had a playful chemistry during this duet. Haley clearly outsang Casey on this one, but what else is new? I loved the way the performance was choreographed and the way the two singers play off each other. And that last note was pretty awesome.
3. Scotty McCreery - "You've Got A Friend" A
It was incredibly refreshing to see Scotty dial back the cheesy facial expressions, side microphone holding, and sly eyebrow raises. He really focused on the lyrics this time and gave a song we've all heard a thousand times a nice new meaning. I loved the way he didn't prance around the stage but sat reflectively, bathed in reddish black light. Perhaps Scotty's best performance and certainly his most unique. This was the first time I thought Scotty truly meant what he was singing and it made all the difference in the world.
4. James Durbin - "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" A+
A TRUE IDOL MOMENT (TM) FROM JAMES DURBIN! One of the first of the season besides Haley's "Bennie and the Jets". James's vocal was heartbreakingly exquisite and reminded me of all the great Idol contestants who took an unexpected song and made it their own (David Cook, Kris Allen, Adam Lambert). I loved how he started completely acapella; I was instantly captivated. A performance I could listen to OVER AND OVER.
DUET #2: Lauren & Scotty - "Up On The Roof" A-
I hope that we are afforded the opportunity to hear Lauren and Scotty sing many more duets over the next few weeks. They seem to complement each other in a way that is both natural and refreshing. Lauren's voice always sounds more breathy and beautiful when she is singing a duet with Scotty - maybe she feels less nervous, who knows. But I really would buy a CD of them singing duets!
5. Casey Abrams - "Hi De Ho" B
Loved the beginning of his performance, which seemed like a return to the original Casey before all the growls and theatrical faces. I am sick of his vocal tics and growls though, which seem to be covering-up for something Casey is lacking. That said, this was a MUCH better performance than last week's "Harder To Breathe". There were moments of greatness in this and moments that made me wince slightly. Overall, it was solid, but I am still waiting to see more from Casey.
6. Haley Reinhart - "Beautiful" B-
Haley got off to a rough start right before she started to sing with some technical difficulties. While Haley sang the song in a solid and likeable way, I realized almost instantly that I just did not like the song. I really shocked myself when I say this for the first and last time: I liked Jacob's performance signficantly more than Haley's. This was sort of a boring midtempo which sounded very dated. I don't think this song let Haley's voice shine at all.
DUET #3: Jacob & James - "I'm Into Something Good" C+
This was just sort of all over the place. It was clear that these two singers were put together only because of the prior success of duet pairings with Haley/Casey and Lauren/Scotty. I am also troubled by the white pant/dark suit jacket combos that they were wearing...who let James wear an undershirt with the tightest white pants I have seen this side of 1989? It wasn't a disaster; it was actually sort of entertaining in the "oh fuck it, let's have fun with this" kind of attitude that the two were projecting.
Best of the night: James (by a mile)
Worst of the night: Haley