The (Carole) King and Them

Only six contestants left. However will the Idol powers-that-be fill the 90 minute time slot? Wait, what’s that?!?!?

 It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…Idol duets! And with one Ryan Seacrest who is a pro at stretching or scrimping on time depending on the circumstances, I think we’re in the clear.

Tonight’s special included “Idols under light”. It’s kind of like “pheasant under glass” but shinier. And more dramatic. The gold star has to go to poor Scotty, who was first to be spotlighted before the audience really had their applause act together. Get your head in the game, audience!

Before tonight, I knew Carole King as the music store owner that gave one Lane Kim (from Gilmore Girls. DUH!) and her band their start. After all, with no music store, Lane would have never felt the calling to be a drummer! Come to think of it, they never did really explain how Lane was able to purchase the drums without incoming cash flow…hmm. That’s a thought that’s going to fester. BUT. Returning to Carole King.

I’ve heard her name. I knew some of her songs (without really knowing that they were her songs). But watching that intro video was pretty impressive. She’s for real and stuff. And now, I’m outraged on her behalf. Why hasn’t American Idol given her a theme night before?? See? I can go from zero to ticked off in the time it takes for one intro video. Just a little talent that I have…I keep it tucked away and pull it out for parties and such.

Once I was suitably impressed with Ms. King’s gargantuan resume, Ryan was ready to start the real show with a “Divide the screens and let’s unveil your idols”.

Except it didn’t really have the punch that I’m sure the producers would have hoped for. What can they expect? The Idoloonies were just unveiled under spotlights 30 seconds ago! This just in. We remember what they look like. If they were going to unveil the Idols more than once, the least they could have done is given them a wardrobe change to give us something new to look at.

Then, Ryan intro’d our guest mentor for the week. You know, the Jimmy Iovine sidekick. No, not Will.I.Am. Kenny “Babyface” Edmond. Now, at the time, I just wanted to mock his name. Really? You’re sticking with “Babyface”? But I was about to be ed-ju-ma-cated.

Ryan: “Oh yeah, and he happens to have some very serious credentials.”

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there might be some bad blood between Ry-Ry and Babyface. There was a little attitude of mocking accompanying that statement. But, I could find no fault with said mentor…the guy has some pretty major accomplishments (performer, producer, song-writer) not the least of which is helping with a variety of musicians from Fall Out Boy to Eric Clapton. Seriously, the dude has some chops. Ryan, perhaps you should give credit where credit is due.  Plus, how else would have I have been introduced to my new favorite word, “Tunesmith”? My 2009 word-of-the-day calendar has long since been retired, so we all know I’m not gettin’ anything from that.

Still, Kenny doesn’t think “America” has captured the essence of any of the Idols yet. Really? I think we have a VAGUE sense of who they are. And…we’re off!

Jacob Lusk

“Oh, No Not My Baby” by Carole King

Okay, so that riffing part was kind of a funny montage. I think the collapsing on the floor part was a bit dramatic, but it wouldn’t be a Jacob segment without some drama from our resident diva, would it?

But you know what’s in jeopardy besides (hopefully) Jacob’s American Idol ranking? His stylist’s job, that’s what.

Purple plaid +bright yellow shirt+sky blue sweater vest with white piping + blue, purple, and white striped bow tie. Oh, boy. All he was missing was that little propeller hat! He was totally TWEEDLE DEE!

I think I know what happened and where things went amiss. After all, dude hasn’t really tried to pull anything off but a concierge-y suit week after week. The stylists were probably trying to make him look younger to appeal to a new audience. Unfortunately for them…toddlers can’t vote.

Jacob’s performance was pretty true to form, complete with sideways bobbing and weird bouncing.

(Tip: Jacob, don’t do body rolls. Trust me, I’m your best friend right now.)

But, those background singers were WAY too loud in the mix and with the other cacophony of band folks backing him up in combination with him swallowing the lyrics…well, let’s just say he didn’t really command the stage. The riffing turned out okay, I suppose, and he definitely had some fire to his performance. But I hope the ridiculousness of it all sends him home.

Plus, in his exit interview he totally resembled a wind-up toy. Somebody get that boy some cymbals! Wait. On second thought, I take that back.

Lauren Alaina

“Where You Lead” by Carole King

Lauren’s studio time: one part encouragement to reach for higher notes + one part encouragement to leave her nay-sayers in the dust. Oh, did I forget to mention that Miley Cyrus was the one delivering the second part of that equation?

But the first part went something like this.

Babyface: “Have you ever gone for [a high note] and not hit it?”

Lauren: “No.”

Babyface: “Duh.”

And then, when Lauren hit that higher note…well, I do believe that’s the first time I’ve ever seen Jimmy Iovine smile. I think she has a special part of his heart. Like the lower right quadrant.

Meeting Miley: Jimmy said that Lauren thought that big stars didn’t have the problems that she was having. If that’s true, Lauren might not be the sharpest stick in the stack. I’m just saying.

Her actual performance was a strong one. She powered through a song that could have easily been an arrangement bore. Plus, she made all the right moves for her voice to really shine through. And she did it with pizzazz.

But one question remains: who the heck was that random guy that she pulled on stage? Was it his birthday? Was he just sitting in a lucky seat? Does he have some prior affiliation with Lauren? Whoever he was, he was supportive and played along with it all. Usually, I’m able to get more information from Entertainment Weekly‘s “On the Scene” behind-the-scenes commentary. But even EW was stumped:

“The curious case of Brett: Midway through Lauren’s rendition of “Where You Lead,” the 16-year-old singer belted the line “I never thought I could get satisfaction from just one man” and then pulled a teenage boy onstage. She instructed him to sit on the steps, and he did so with the confidence of someone who knew exactly what was going to happen. Most audience members, if suddenly plopped onto the Idol stage, would nervously smile and fidget as they started thinking about how The Idoldome’s Capacity X 30,000 = The Number of People Watching On TV. But not Lauren’s handpicked prop, whose name we later learned was Brett. The guy even placed his arm around Lauren (twice!) and whispered what appeared to be the words “You’re pretty.” It was all quite awkward, especially since Seacrest tried ever so hard to make us believe that Brett was just some random cute guy in a snazzy blue-striped shirt that happened to complement the Idoldome’s lighting scheme.

But we know better than that. At the next commercial break, Brett exited the studio via the backstage elephant doors that no normal audience member is ever allowed to walk through. (Although he briefly returned for a few seconds so that Cory the Warmup Host could give him a Lauren bag, which Brett likely used to carry home his Idol appearance fee).” (- Written by EW’s John Young. Read the rest here.)

During the judges’ critique, watching Lauren dissolve into emotional tears had two effects:

1. The mascara expanded and we couldn’t see the majority of her eyeballs.

2. I dissolved into emotional tears. What can I say?? It was touching!

Randy earned the “What?! Huh?” award of the week with this fine quote: “Six of you left, somebody’s gotta win, it’s time to throw down the gauntlet every time you’re up there, right? Because each time could be the last time, right? Or it could be the next time.” Sometimes, Randy, it’s best to leave well enough alone.

And after watching Lauren’s performance, here’s a tip for the remaining contestants…a good way to win me over is to perform theme songs from my favorite TV shows. Lauren just took “Gilmore Girls” but never fear. I have three more!

Okay, who wants to take “The West Wing” theme? Anyone? Okaaay…

How ’bout “Friday Night Lights”? Speak up, now!

One last show. “The Office”. Any takers? Hellooo…is this thing on??

[Sidenote]

I love the Mayhem commercials! Especially this one…

Scotty McCreery

“You Got a Friend” by Carole King

Ryan, let’s retire the “Scotty the Body” nickname, mmmkay? I think it’s an important step to helping you not sound ridiculous.

Okay. I don’t know if I’ve ever noticed how much Jimmy Iovine blinks! That’s random. But true.

Jimmy: “So what [Scotty] has to do tonight is deliver that subtlety and that poignancy in a way that it moves those judges and moves the audience.” Okaaaay, but I’m not sure if Scotty’s eyebrows are what you would call “subtle”.

I liked the airy opening of the song. I felt like Scotty was so much older! He did a great job with his range, phrasing, connection to the audience, etc. The song to me was somewhat of a bore, but he poured emotion into it and that’s what saved the performance.

Now.

Let me go on record: Is there anything LESS necessary than Randy yelling over and over with hand gestures that “[insert contestant’s name] is in it to win it!” Duh, Randy. They are all there to win! And if you continue to yell, I might need to put in a request to the “tape” people (don’t try to tell me American Idol doesn’t have “tape” people. I saw the tape on SteTy’s mouth last week).

Ryan’s moment of brilliance: “Could you give us the look while I give out your numbers?” And Scotty DID! And then Ryan imitated him! And that’s what I love about Scotty. And Ryan.

James Durbin

“Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” by Carole King

Ryan cracks me up with his blatant promotions.

James: “I got some requests on AmericanIdol.com forums to sing this song.”

Ryan: “You can request anything at AmericanIdol.com. Brought to you by Coca-Cola!”

[Mini-rant begins] I cannot remain quiet any longer on this issue: James’ haircut is kind of a travesty. All it basically does is drive your glance to his ears, which I daresay are not his best facial attribute. [Mini-rant over]

His performance, especially the intro, was MASTERFULLY done. It completely gave me chills. I think I saw tears in his eyes even when he was supposed to be rocking out, which makes sense because the song was sung to his significant other.

Speaking of propeller hats…

Randy: “This guy just might win the whole thing!” Duh, Randy. He has a one in six chance!

James: “For Randy to make that kind of assumption really hits it here [points to heart] .That’s the whole reason I auditioned…to do my absolute best and see if I could be the next American Idol.”

Sigh. Stating the Obvious 101 must be a required class for all Idol-affiliated people.

Still, James completely stole the show tonight for me. If I had some way of reaching him, I’d probably send him a singing telegram. But come to think of it, he’d probably appreciate some spiked boots a little more…

Casey Abrams

“Hi-De-Ho That Old Sweet Roll”

Oh, Casey. Those white legs. I love that your little leprechaun self keeps it real.

And choosing a song that required 100% personality? I can’t think of a better performer to pull that off!

Casey started his performance near the piano and then leaned down to tickle a few ivories. Love it!

Then there was a little walk down “the sidewalk” stage interacting with his fellow musicians. I totally transported myself to a Nashville street with people jammin’ on the sidewalk in my head. Fun.

I think he killed it…the performance wasn’t too over the top and it wasn’t too reserved. He threw in some nice vocal turns to keep things interesting and really pulled the whole thing off.

[Sidenote] I bet Paul McDonald has been out on a date with the sax player by now!

Haley Reinhart

“Beautiful” by Carole King

Haley started out her performance with a few technical difficulties with the in-ear monitor. But I have to say, it didn’t fluster her one bit. When the technical elements were functioning again, she was off to the races and didn’t so much as throw a glance behind her.

I love Haley’s voice and she really has a lot of strength and control. Personally, this song choice wasn’t great for me. I didn’t like the flow-y parts…I think she had a harder time infusing herself and her tone into them, but the chorus was a lot better and she really came through on that. Still, the best thing of the night for her was probably…

Duet #1: Haley and Casey

“I Feel the Earth Move”

These guys have a little magic when they perform together. This was by far, my favorite duet of the night. And not just because their intro video was better than all the other intro videos in all the land.

Here’s what I don’t get…when they perform together, Haley always outshines Casey. I think Casey holds back on his personality a bit in order to accommodate Haley and Haley runs with it. Good for her, I suppose. And Casey still was great, but I wish he would “be the hero” sometimes.

It was clear that they were very comfortable with each other on stage and that really came across to the audience. It was fun, playful, and expertly sung. What more could you ask for?

SteTy: “How much in love with Haley are you? C’mon it showed, man, it showed.” Ignore the grammar. Focus on what he’s trying to say. I’M just sayin’.

Duet #2: Scotty and Lauren

“On the Roof” by Carole King

Before they took the stage, Ryan asked the captive contestants if there was anything going on between them.

Bless you, Ryan, for asking the questions that we all wish we could ask. And Lauren was willing to play along, calling Scotty “cute”, but Scotty was quick to squelch that with a “we’re like brother and sister”. Okay, then. Glad we got that cleared up.

Their individual moments were good, I thought. Lauren was a little off (I think it’s because the range was too high for her to sustain for those longer phrases) but when Scotty and Lauren came together the harmonies weren’t quite there. I think the ending turned out okay. And they are cuter than buttons. But I also think this was their weakest duet to date.

Duet #3 – James and Jacob

“I’m Into Something Good” by Carole King

Okay, that was a SUPER weirdslashtryingtobecool entrance with the two boys sliding in on the Staircase of Stardom. James, the star of the night, once again did an amazing job during his solos.

Whoa. Jennifer’s skirt is amazingly in its shortness.

Ryan, maybe you’re all hopped up on your moment of brilliance plugging AmericanIdol.com and Coke in the same breath, but was the vote for Jennifer’s legs quip really necessary?

So, that was the show. Now, here’s where things are about to get realllly interesting.

Three of our remaining six have been in the bottom three and three have never once had to swing their legs off of the silver stools of rejection. I’ll be very interested to see who occupies that third spot (unless they decide to do a bottom two). I think the writing is on the wall for Haley and Jacob to be in the bottom. And if my amazingslashevil plan succeeds, Jacob will be leaving. But logically, that third spot should be Casey…and I hope that’s not the case.

In closing…

Let’s just address “The Voice”, shall we? I’ve heard the show has great ratings. I have a few friends that love it. I haven’t tried it yet, but it seems inevitable doesn’t it? 🙂 I think you should all know that I’m kind of predisposed to hate it. I think the concept is interesting, but every time I’ve seen Adam Levine perform he’s juuuust under the pitch! And Christina Aguilera has been in the biz for a while now, but Cee Lo Green? His first solo album released in 2002 and since then he has only released 2 CDs. Plus, I’d never heard of him until Gweneth Paltrow sang a cover of his song on Glee. So, there’s that. Anyhoo. That’s enough for now. (*puts soap box away) More to come on this later. I could have to eat my words, but if I do, let it be with a chocolate chaser, okay?

Haddock out!

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