Friday, April 22, 2011

Predictions for Carole King Week on American Idol

I can't remember the last time I was this excited and apprehensive about a theme week on American Idol.  I am of a certain age where Carole King has been almost a constant musical companion.  Whether it was wearing out the grooves in Tapestry, or hearing her voice introduce seven seasons of the Gilmore Girls, I've seldom been separated from her music.   Now this talented musical genius is allowing the top six contestants on American Idol to tackle some of her creations.

UPDATE: The more I listen to Tapestry, the more I can see Jacob Lusk taking on Way Over Yonder.  So many opportunities for sustained notes, extremes of emoting, and bringing that gospel feel back to the Idol stage.  They'd have to bring out the Lee DeWyze spotlight and backing choir of heavenly angels, about four or five violins, and perhaps install a lift on stage to elevate Jacob as the song goes on so he's literally nudging God by the end of the song.  Shouldn't be a problem.

UPDATE: I can't believe I ignored Home Again in my first draft. Thanks to the anonymous comment suggesting it as good for either of our country crooners Scotty and Lauren. I'm a little concerned with giving such a lyrically weighty song to kids who probably still sleep with retainers on, but it's also a good test to see if they can sell a powerful message, not just sing words and notes.

I would caution them about singing a song that opens, "Sometimes I wonder if I'm ever going to make it home again."  It's always dicey choosing a song that is unintentionally asking for you to be voted off.  I supposed that there are two ways the audience can take the lyrics -- I want to go home, but only as a member of the Top 3 or I'm tired of LA, send me back to the sane people.   So if either of them do pick this song, let's hope the audience is going for the first interpretation.

Since someone already sang Natural Woman, I have to find another Diva-esque song for Jacob Lusk to manhandle.  One possibility is Up on the Roof.  The song is, after all, just one long build-up to the last glory note. 

Another possible choice for Jacob is Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? which has been covered by the likes of Cher, Elton John, Patti LaBelle and Smokey Robinson, among others, which seems to put it firmly in his comfort zone.  Fun fact from Wiki: At Carole King's home, in West Orange, her doorbell rang the eight bar hook of the song.

Seriously, if anyone tries So Far Away, I'll cut a bitch.  No, really.  This is the most achingly beautiful song.  One more song about moving along the highway....

On the other hand, I'd love to see Lauren Alaina sing this -- Beautiful.  I think it's a great anthem for people of any age about having a positive attitude, but also good message message for young girls today with the pressures they face. It is such a hopeful, optimistic song and, though you probably can't tell from this blog, I'm actually someone with a fairly sunny disposition.  Really.  Just don't tick me off.  

But maybe a better choice for Haley Reinhart would be It's Too Late.  It has a little jazzy, bluesy feel that she could have fun with.  She could even bring back the Haley purr.

When I suggested what I thought what Casey Abrams, our band camp nerd cum ladies' man, might take on, I thought it would be I Feel the Earth Move as it seemed to have more than its share of growling opportunities.

How I could have missed the more obvious choice, Jazzman, is beyond me!  But one of my Twitter friends reminded me of this, one of the few Carole King songs that I don't like.  Which, of course, would make it a perfect choice for one of the remaining contestants whose antics I don't like.

I will bet the farm that Scotty will sing You've Got a Friend.  It's been covered by a bunch of country artists, it's sweet and will make the tweens all giddy thinking that future president George Bush will be there to brighten their darkest night.

So what song for our resident rocker, James Durbin?  I wouldn't put it past him to slow it way down again, like he did with Maybe I'm Amazed and While My Guitar Gently Weeps.  I could actually seem him try and tackle the untouchable So Far Away.  But an interesting choice for him might be Child of Mine which he can dedicate to his young son.  It's a lesser-known song, but might be something he can really connect with.

John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats had an interesting interpretation of the otherwise perky, sing-songy Carole King ditty, One Fine Day.  As I was watching his menacing, stalkerish take on the song, I finally realized that this is what Casey Abrams has been doing all along.  Channeling the Mountain Goats!!  John Darnielle can't sing, and he make strange faces and odd sounds.  Yet many -- including me I must confess -- consider him a genius.  It's all becoming clear to me now.  Only an indie wannabe music geek would even know about TMGs!  So watch this and tell me if you see a little Casey in there:

So what have we all learned here today?  Carole King is more talented than the rest of us and we should all just jump off a bridge.  Wait, that's not it.  Instead, let's just appreciate how ridiculously gifted she is and marvel on how her songs hold up almost half a century since they were written.  Yeah, let's do that.


  1. Shari, bet Casey will do "You've Gotta Friend". I'll be back for the farm!! hehe

  2. Sorry! "You've Got A Friend"

  3. I had my picks for Haley and Casey the opposite of yours. I thought Haley could do well on I Feel the Earth Move and do her drunken sex kitten act strutting around stage in too-high heels. For Casey, It's Too Late could give him the opportunity to break out the stand up bass again, and "wow" everyone. Jacob might consider Way Over Yonder since there are a lot of sustained notes there for him to squeeze in his obnoxious melisma. But, Up on The Roof is a decent choice as well. I'm not a huge fan of that song so if he butchers it, there's no danger of my gouging out my eardrums. Beautiful is good for Lauren theme-wise but I'd rather hear her do something soft and pretty. The trouble with that is that the Carole King songs I know are all way too mature for her, so I guess Beautiful it is. For James, I really don't know. He could have "a moment" this week because I can't think of any song that would allow him to do his trademark shrieking. And for Scotty, I like You've Got a Friend. Take the mic out of his hands and replace it with a guitar and I might remember why I liked him in the first place.

  4. Shari, I have no idea who will sing what but I have really enjoyed reading your blog and listening to Carol's songs. It has been some time since I heard them. Thanks for posting them. And my entertainment for the night was watching "The Mountain Goats" I agree that there is a certain similarity there and I just about fell out of my chair laughing...just loved it....:)

  5. scotty sings Loving You Forever or Home again or Now and Forever. scotty play guitar and sing with someone else play piano.

  6. lauren also can sing "Home Again" and Scotty too can sing "Home Again" "Loving You Forever" " Now and Forever" perfect song for scotty's voice with playing guitar by scotty and piano play by someone else with this song perfect

  7. For James why not Locomotion - he seems to be the heavy metal guy and the song was covered by that great heavy metal band Grand Funk Railroad.

    My favorite is Lauren and I hope she picks something other than I Feel the Earth Move which I feel would be too cliche - a better choice would be Will You Love me Tomorrow.

  8. why Carol King?she's ok for her time but hasn't done anything in 30yrs.I can remember about 2 of her songs from the 70's.maybe songs for the 2 girls but the guys?they can't come up with someone just a little more current?

  9. "I've seldom been separated from her music" Have you seen the recent episode of American Masters that focuses on Carole, James, and the whole Troubadour club scene? Filmed in 2007, it was heart-warming to watch that remarkable duo get along so well after so many years; we get to see them talking back and forth, performing, and reminiscing, all inside The Troubadour itself. The 90-minute documentary is called "Troubadours" and you can view it uninterrupted for free here: . Let me know if it dredges up any pleasant memories. There's also 14 minutes of extra/deleted scenes to watch in the following 5 segments ... (Steve Martin) ... (Kris Kristofferson) ... (Bonnie Raitt) ... (Cheech & Chong) ... (the director).

    "So Far Away is the most achingly beautiful song." Sigh. That's my favorite song, at least when she performs it.

    "A better choice for Haley Reinhart would be It's Too Late." That would be a lousy song title to have as your final song, along with "Home Again", which is a shame, because they're both songs I really enjoy hearing.

    "Tell me if you see a little Casey in there" I've never heard of John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. I love the way he controls the YEAH at the end. Okay, I'm definitely gonna get some of his stuff. I'm watching it again. Wow. Now, John Darnitall is an actor. He's feeling things right in front of us, and feeling them loudly enough for us to hear. Darnmysocks The Goatmounter brings syringes of drama straight out of past traumas, while innocent KCA Brums must fake his angst. It's too bad that Ol' Bassbeard seems to want everyone to get along; he's afraid to be 100% raw so as to eclipse his sunny disposition. Blame it on his friendly and stable upbringing, which doesn't seem to be possessed by Goat Fountains In The Darn John. Another difference would be Casey's jazzy background, also easily setting him apart from all other AI contestants, save Haley (which can't happen now). But otherwise - yes - they are oddly similar, especially considering how both men are known for their uniqueness.

  10. Ah, RAR, love this line: "they are oddly similar, especially considering how both men are known for their uniqueness." You also have an amazing perception about John Darnielle ("straight out of past traumas").

    Off to rewatch the Troubadour video! And you should check out more Mountain Goats:

  11. This might be the night I sort socks and alphabetize my Mark Twain quotes. Seriously, an hour of folks in their 20's slogging through Carole King tunes? What gives here? Did Nigel back over someone in the parking lot and Carole was the only witness? What dastardly act could merit a hush payoff of one full night of career revival?


  12. I have predicted on message boards that James would sing Child of Mine tonight. I really hope he does. There will not be a dry eye in the house if he does. He is such an amazing story teller when he sings and this song really speaks to him and to his son.

    I think Haley would do well with Over Yonder. I can hear her bluesy voice doing it.

    I agree with your pick on Casey and Scotty.

    Jacob, I think, would do well with Someone Who Believes in You.

  13. Well, Shari you keep the farm! Scotty did just what you said! You go girl!