There are only six left on American Idol.
Now is the time when the judges start to—maybe not in so many words—give up on certain contestants, saying things like, "I hope you get to stick around," "You deserve to be here" and other half-hearted words of encouragement.
Tonight, the reigning sextet took on classic tunes by Carole King. Who do you think the judges still believe in?
Barring a major upset, or a particularly bad Haley Reinhart performance, Jacob Lusk is going home tomorrow—and, sadly, we knew that before he sang. Our thoughts were confirmed afterward, when Randy Jackson told him, ahem, "Hopefully America will give you some votes and you'll stick around."
Jacob sounded pretty good on "Oh No, Not My Baby," but there were a few pitch problems, and the voters may just be done trying to connect with the emotive performer. Though, he did look adorably natty for the occasion in his plaid blazer and bow tie.
Then there was James Durbin, who had Randy saying, "This guy just might win the whole thing!"
James tried out some a cappella and then rocked out to "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"—an awesome choice. King has the soft-rock version, the Shirelles did the Motown version...Who knew what that song needed was electric guitar and an Axl wail?
"That's the first song I ever made out to a girl with," Steven Tyler noted (so you know he liked it). Jennifer Lopez called it "magical" and called James "the star of the night."
"He has not blown one week!" Jennifer also exclaimed, automatically making us wonder how James is going to blow it next week.
Not so great, in fact, was Jacob and James' duet on "I'm Into Something Good," but the producers made them do it.
Lauren Alaina didn't have her best all-around vocal performance on "Where You Lead" (you know, the Gilmore Girls theme!), but she did get the best special mentoring session.
None other than fellow teen Miley Cyrus showed up to give Lauren a few words of advice about steering one's ship through the inevitable storm of criticism that comes with being an artist. For instance, Miley is still buddies with Jimmy Iovine even after he told Lauren a couple weeks ago that she sang "The Climb" better than Miley.
Jimmy admitted that he took some heat for that comment from the teen queen's fans.
"Good, you deserved it!" Miley said. (But otherwise, she obviously turned the other cheek.)
A week after urging her to push herself further, the judges praised Lauren for so obviously coming out with a vengeance, even pulling some lucky 19-year-old named Brett onstage to sing to.
Steven Tyler told the 16-year-old that her song was most beautiful when her voice broke "because that shows the character." And Ryan Seacrest warned Brett, "We have rules."
Scotty McCreery, of all people, got downright wistful and romantic with "You've Got a Friend" and, in so doing, took himself to the next level—finally. (Seriously, it should have been called, "You've Got a More Than a Friend.")
This 17-year-old is such a finalist already. For his duet, he and fellow favorite Lauren joined forces on "Up on the Roof."
Randy Jackson thought he was "flawless," minus his short hold on the high notes, and Lopez loved that he told a story beautifully. (Whatever, it was just a very hot, mature performance.)
Whodathunkit, Casey Abrams went for "Hi-De-Ho (That Old Sweet Roll)," which allowed him lots of scatting opportunities and a chance to tickle the ivories—with only one hand, while the other held the mic, but still!
"This is like a Casey show and revue!" an excited Randy said. Jennifer would actually like to see him "loosen up [his] legs" a little bit, but other than that, she finds him pretty perfect.
Haley—who had earlier done a duet with rumored more-than-friend Casey on "I Feel the Earth Move"—closed the show with "Beautiful."
She had some technical difficulties before she took the stage, telling Ryan that her earpiece wasn't working at first, and that might have contributed to her timid start. But by the time she was growling out the closing notes, Haley had indeed showing the world all the love in her heart.
Steven may have exaggerated a bit when he said he "saw God" and "heard God" in Haley's voice, but she definitely did enough to keep herself safe for another week.
As always, someone will be leaving this pretty talented group tomorrow. All we really know is that Carole King (along with partner Gerry Goffin) sure has written a hell of a lot of songs.
(Originally published April 27, 2011, at 6:43 p.m. PT)