After several weeks of general themes, American Idol went back to their old ways and pigeon-holed each contestant into the narrow theme of Carole King songs. While King is a prolific songwriter, a night dedicated to her songs by young people was a huge miscalculation by the Idol producers. A season once filled with hope and promise is now limping towards the finish line. The momentum created by adding Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez is gone. In fact, Tyler’s comments are starting to become a bit strange, and he seems bored while delivering them.
To make matters worse, this lackluster show comes on the heels of the debut of “The Voice” (a fresh new approach to a singing competition). Thankfully, this season of American Idol is coming to an end in May. With Simon Cowell’s “X-Factor” on the way, Idol may once again need to try and reinvent itself next season if it wants to remain on top.
Here is this week’s breakdown (in reverse order):
 Scotty McCreery – The song that McCreery chose this week (“You’ve Got a Friend”) is one of Carole King’s best because of its ability to evoke emotions. While McCreery finally stepped out of his deep-voice comfort zone this week, his sleepy rendition of this classic song lacked emotion. The judges and America love him, so he will probably be safe, but his total lack of a “wow factor” may catch up with him and keep him out of the finale.
 Jacob Lusk – Some contestants strive to get noticed for their singing. Others for their stage show. This week, it seemed that Lusk was trying to use a crazy wardrobe to capture the attention of the Idol viewing audience. His performance of “Oh No Not My Baby” was better than his performances in previous weeks, but his singing was overshadowed by his extremely feminine dance moves. The judges liked him, but he’s been in the bottom three with regularity lately, so America might not share the enthusiasm of the judges.
 Casey Abrams – No one can argue that Abrams is a talented musician. And even though he can be very strange, there is something cool about him as well. His one-handed piano playing at the beginning of his performance of “Hi-De-Ho” was very impressive. His signature growl was acceptable in the song, but it is starting to feel like a crutch at times. He did a good job with this song, but more in a Broadway musical kind of way. The judges are so infatuated with him that they tend to forget to judge his singing at times. This was not his best performance of the season, but it also wasn’t his worst.
 Lauren Alaina – Once again, Alaina’s lack of confidence in her abilities was on display when they showed her session with Jimmy Iovine and Babyface. They pointed out that she never seems to disappoint, and urged her to push the envelope a bit. It seems that the mentors’ message was received this week. Alaina’s confidence on stage seemed to be higher than usual. She hit some big notes and showed good presence as she worked the crowd during her performance of “Where You Lead.” This was another solid showing for Alaina.
 Haley Reinhart – It took many weeks, but it seems like Reinhart is finally in a comfortable enough place to allow her natural talent to shine through. Her confidence and sex appeal seem to grow by the week. She showed some good power and range in her performance of “Beautiful” this week. Mixing in slow parts with up-tempo parts, Reinhart delivered her most dynamic performance to date. She is a regular in the bottom three, and Randy Jackson’s comments about the beginning of her song may very well land her there again, but she deserves to stay another week based on this week’s performance.
 James Durbin – Another week of average performances…another week of Durbin showing that there is no one who even comes close to him in this competition. This week there were no pyrotechnics. There was no surprise appearance by a legendary rock guitarist. In fact, there was barely any stage show, and yet Durbin still outshined his peers by a very large margin with his stripped-down version of “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” This song had a Bon Jovi-like quality to it. Like Bon Jovi, Durbin has the ability to take a very familiar song and make it into his own. Somehow he managed to tastefully bring his heavy metal influence to the song. There isn’t much that needs to be said about James. He is by far the most consistent performer this season, and is one of the best in the history of the show. He deserves to be named the next American Idol already. The rest of the competition will do nothing to change that fact.
THE BOTTOM THREE
At this point, half of the contestants will be in the bottom three, and it will most likely have more to do with their body of work than their weekly performance. For that reason, the bottom three will be…
WHO GOES HOME?
Even though Lusk had his best performance in several weeks, it seems like his fate has already been sealed by his regular presence in the bottom three. It’s possible that Reinhart could be the one to go, but if she is, it won’t be because of her performance this week.