‘American Idol’ Recap: But Will We Love James Durbin Tomorrow?

Remember when “American Idol” producers promised non-restrictive, decade-based theme weeks for Season 10?

Well, Wednesday night the top six sang from the Carole King songbook!
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As a way to fill 90 minutes an added bonus, the top six paired off for duets in which the girls sounded flawless and the boys sounded like constipated donkeys. But OMG, the boys are so cute! Brb, power-texting.

Between Constantine, Carole King(‘s daughter) and Brad Garrett, there were famous faces at every turn in the “Idol” crowd. But I can’t go another second without shouting out Penny Marshall in the front row, dressed like Ozzy Osbourne imitating Lady Gaga’s “Fame” album cover. Marshall was placed right behind Randy, who was obviously paying homage to Laverne’s initial-laden bowling shirt. (That Randy Jackson mensch loves his classic sitcoms.)

Before I go on a rant about showmances, let me quickly remind you to check out “Idol Party Live” at noon ET, streaming right here in this very blog. In addition to hanging with Yahoo’s “Idol” watcher Lyndsey Parker and MTV News rock editor James Montgomery, I scored a delightful exclusive chat with Kris Allen and “Glee” star Matthew Morrison that we’ll be rolling back. It’s bro-tacular.

Now on to the performances!

Tyler Perry Presents Jacob Lusk
Song: Maxine Brown’s “Oh No Not My Baby” (written by Gerry Goffin & Carole King)
Verdict: Did I Do Scat? (In Urkel Voice)

Kenneth “Babyface Even Though I’m 53″ Edmonds joined Jimmy Iovine in the “let’s mess with the amateurs” rehearsal sessions, and Jacob complained about having to sing the song “65 times.” Ugh to practice, am I right, lazy people?

No matter how many times he rehearsed it, Lusk’s attempt was as wrong as a Pat Boone metal album. The song suited him as well as his crooked bow tie and Steve Urkel dance moves. Also, I understand why “Idol” singers switch pronouns when a dude sings a lady’s song, but when that gender change alters a rhyme scheme, things get unwieldy and awkward. (“You’re not like those other guys girls / Who lead you on and tell you lies” sounds like terrible writing.)

The judges were happy he listened to them and spazzed out on stage, especially loving the “scat” session of the song. Ladies and gentleman, Season 10 is The Season Of Scatting. But I, for one, am not swallowing this crap.

Lauren Alaina
Song: Carole King’s “Where You Lead” (“Gilmore Girls” Theme Song!)
Verdict: Vote For Brett!

Lauren Alaina is either a baby in the womb who just discovered her hands or the very definition of false modesty. “Babyface, I just can’t sing these high notes. Laaaaaaaaaa. Oh, that sounded good? [Giggle.]”

Then, Lauren’s surprise lesson in avoiding cyberbullies from Professor Miley Cyrus gave her the confidence to yank a 19-year-old onto the stage and then leave him there as she sashayed around the judges. The poor guy sat there and thought, “Do I go back to my seat now? Should I wait here? Where’s Christina Aguilera? I thought this was a taping for ‘The Voice.’ ”

Lauren’s high note was less successful live, so obviously she was an emotional wreck afterwards. There was no reason for her to be upset, since the judges wagged their tongues at her mess-up, citing it as their favorite moment. (But she’s not the producer’s favorite, right?) Meanwhile, 19-year-old Brett was “Idol” ‘s 100,000th audience member so he received the ultimate grand prize: being fingered as a potential statutory rapist on national television. Watch your back, Chris Hansen. Seacrest has his eye on your gig.

Haley Reinhart and Casey Abrams
Song: Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move”
Verdict: When Haley Met Casey

The only noteworthy thing about Haley and Casey’s under-rehearsed but charming duet was how America collectively imagined these two doing filthy growly sex stuff to each other. Gross. Their chemistry was so obvious that even the sleeping judge, Steven Tyler, led his critique with, “Hey, weird beard! How much in love with Haley are you?” I don’t feel the Earth moving, but I do feel my stomach turning.

Scotty “The Body” McCreery
Song: Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” (made massive by James Taylor)
Verdict: Love Him Tender

Dry ice! Mood lighting! Singing while sitting! Ladies and gentleman, Scotty McCreery wants a moment! And you know what? He delivered! Scotty’s “You’ve Got a Friend” was as meaty and tender as a kobe filet. He pushed his vocals as high as they could go, he sang every word as if he believed it, and he even held the microphone like a big boy! See, judges? When you’re honest with the contestants, they’ll work harder and improve.

James Durbin
Song: Carole King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” (originally recorded by the Shirelles)
Verdict: I Liked It!

James Durbin has not had a good week. First, his massage partner Stefano Langone was sent back to Kent, Washington. Then, his new best friend Chris Jericho was booted off “Dancing With the Stars.” The moral of this story: If you’re on a competitive reality television show, do NOT befriend James Durbin. There’s some voodoo stuff happening there.

His luck changed Wednesday night because his take on the Shirelles’ hit made J.Lo shimmy in her chair and Penny Marshall raise the roof. Success!

Durbin’s song choice came from fans on AmericanIdol.com, where according to Seacrest, “you can request anything.” (Can I request Lauren Turner? Because I’m still mad that girl didn’t get a chance to be a Wild Card pick this season.) I was nervous because “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” happens to be one of my favorite songs ever written. But as soon as James’ soulful a cappella began, I relaxed. Durbin was playing this one dead straight.

Part of me wishes the Durbinator kept the bluesy vibe throughout the song. Like Steven Tyler (did I just type that?), I needed a moment to readjust my brain once the power pop guitars came in and James’ vulnerable yelp turned into a cocksure swagger. (It was like we went from the bedroom to the arena in two seconds flat.) By the end, I was won over. Hell, I even dug his aggro lyric tweak. “You better love me tomorrow?” You bettah werk!

Here’s where I get controversial. It was a killer moment, yes, but do I think he earned the ridiculous parade he received? I don’t know. Call me crazy, but a singing competition should have some A-plus vocals before a winner’s declared, and as much as I loved it, watching Randy Jackson give his first hug in 10 seasons for an occasionally flat vocal is enough to make Kelly Clarkson and Melinda Doolittle roll over in their eventual graves. (You know, in like 500 years, because “Idol” royalty lives longer than us mere mortals.)

Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery
Song: Carole King’s “Up on the Roof”
Verdict: Raze the Roof

Dear Nigel Lythgoe and Ryan Seacrest. It’s totally creepy how invested you are in underage teens’ sex lives. Please stop trying to make Lauren and Scott happen.

As far as Lauren and Scotty’s duet goes? Just…no.

Casey Abrams
Song: Carole King’s “Hi-De-Ho (That Old Sweet Role)” (originally recorded by Blood, Sweat & Tears)
Verdict: Jazz: The Broadway Musical!

A hat-tossing, high-fiving Casey made his way past pianos, trumpets, ladysaxes, trombones, harmonicas and background singers in a growly musical orgy that ended with all the band members following him in the middle of the stage. It looked like a 1930s pied piper joined Broken Social Scene.

What was a triumph in staging was a car wreck vocally. Casey’s blues voice avoided any kind of melody whatsoever in favor of fast-talking and shouting. Reminder: This is a singing show, not a blues club, so if you’re looking for the milk Casey’s selling, perhaps you best be visiting Randy Jackson’s “home state [sic]” of New Orleans instead.

My Girl Haley Reinhart
Song: Carole King’s “Beautiful”
Verdict: Ugly Headband, Pretty Vocals

Typically, the quirky-voiced ladies get swallowed up by the full band on “Idol.” While I wasn’t thrilled with this latest entry to the Great Reinhart Canon, I was happy to hear that My Girl’s pipes held their own in the midst of a dense arrangement, twisted to play up the song’s Beatles-y elements. She was working hard to keep the song from dying onstage. Is it just me, or does it seem like Haley’s taking her time on “Idol” more seriously?

But about that puffy flowers and olive headband Haley wore during rehearsals … Never return to that store, Haley. In fact, burn it down.

Nigel Lythgoe Presents James Durbin and Tyler Perry Presents Jacob Lusk
Song: Herman’s Hermits “I’m Into Something Good”
Verdict: Nothing Good

White pants. Elvis moves. Fake diva rivalry. Check, please.

What do you think of Wednesday’s performances? First Jacob, now Haley — why are producers’ least favorite “Idols” getting saddled with faulty in-ear monitors? (Scandal!) When Miley Cyrus appeared in Lauren Alaina’s rehearsal, did you chant, “Sing off! Sing off! Sing off!” like I did in my living room? Does Casey Abrams causing Steven Tyler’s scalp to itch make him the musical equivalent of dandruff? And for the love of all that’s holy, who was that little girl sitting on Steven Tyler’s lap?!!