(CBS) This week, the "American Idol" six, soon to be five, had the pick of songs from the amazing catalog of pop queen Carole King. It was a tough night as the Idolers tried to rise above each other and the iconic original versions of the songs, but the three judges continued to critique with kindness.
Mega-producer Jimmy Lovine was assisted by songwriter-producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, winner of more than 50 BMI awards, in helping the "Idol" Six to achieve greatness, or at least a career beyond "American Idol."
The gifted Jacob Lusk, who was in the bottom three last week, started off the proceedings. He chose King's "Oh no, not my baby," and was asked to "soar" and "riff" by Jimmy. He definitely vocally and physically stepped up to the challenge, wearing a blue and yellow outfit, accented by a bow tie.
"It's about time you shook your tail feathers...that was beautiful," Aerosmith judge Steven Tyler said. "That character with the dancing and the voice is what we are looking for...that is the magic." Randy called it an "energetic performance," which wasn't the kind of praise that could keep him out of the bottom three this week.
Lauren Alaina selected "Where you lead," and gave it a strong country accent and strolled around the stage with some confidence, bringing a young man from the audience to the stage and cozying up to him while she finished the song.
JLo said she was proud of 16-year-old Lauren for pushing herself, and trying to overcome insecurities and various people whispering in her ear. Randy Jackson said he didn't love the song for her, but she came "up there with a vengeance." During rehearsals she had a surprise visit from Miley Cyrus, who told her to sing for herself -- Randy agreed.
Country-boy Scotty McCreedy chose "You've got a friend," which King, as well as James Taylor, made famous. It's the most romantic song Scotty has tried, Jimmy said. He sat on the stage during his performance, accompanied by the romantic sound of violins and cellos, but that didn't likely melt hearts.
Randy, however, said that he did a good job starting with a "tender moment buttery tenor," but advised him not to fall off the high notes. He then inexplicably said his performance was "flawless." Steven said the song was Scotty's best performance of the season. JLo said his strength was in the "storytelling."
Rocker James Durbin also showed a more romantic side, performing "Will you still love me tomorrow," made famous by The Shirelles in 1960. "Carole King and James Durbin were made to come together," Jimmy said.
Steven said the song was playing the first time he ever made out with a girl with in praising James' performance. JLo called it "magical," and said he was the star of the night, noting his consistency throughout the competition. Randy said James wasn't just a great rock singer, but a great singer. "This guy might just win the whole thing," Randy and gave him an RJ hug.
Casey Abrams worked up a bluesy version of "Hi Dee Ho," which was made popular by Blood, Sweat & Tears. Randy praised Casey for being different and entertaining. Steven said, "You made my scalp itch it was so good." JLo would love to see him physically loosen up his legs a little bit.
Haley chose King's brassy "Beautiful," and Steven said, "You are as beautiful as this song is." JLo agreed, and said she had one of the best voices in the competition.
The six contestants also sang duets to help fill out the 90-minute show and show off their talents. Haley and Casey sang King's classic "I feel the earth move," giving it a growly, bluesy spin.
Steven asked Casey, "How much are you in love with Haley," and then proceeded to praise their performance. Haley and Casey have been rumored to be an item.
Country cousins Scotty and Lauren the King (and Gerry Goffin) classic "Up on the roof," first performed by The Drifters in 1962. JLo praised Lauren, who carried the song, but gave Scotty props for being able to sing behind her.
Jacob and James combined for a rockin' "I'm into something good," with JLo as a prop. "Man, where were you going with all that," Steven said.
The live results show Thursday night, will include performance from "American Idol" season 9 finalist Crystal Bowersox and Grammy-winner Bruno Mars.