CLINT COOPER: The "American Idol" six, minus the departed Stefano Langone, tackle the songs of Carole King this week. That challenge should be especially interesting for rocker James Durbin and country crooner Scotty McCreery but could fit in well with Rossville's Lauren Alaina Suddeth, Haley Reinhart, Casey Abrams and Jacob Lusk.
King, a four-time Grammy Award winner, not only has had a solo career but wrote songs with which other people had hits such as "I'm Into Something Good" (Herman's Hermits), "Up on the Roof" (The Drifters), "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (The Monkees), "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" (The Shirelles and many others) and "One Fine Day" (The Chiffons and many others). There are plenty from which to choose.
MARK KENNEDY: I'm not a big Carole King fan, so I was a little let down by this week's musical theme. She was a hit maker in the 1960s, no doubt, but does anyone under 50 really want to hear a Carole King songfest? I'm trying to imagine any of the "Idol" top six bringing a modern audience to its feet with any of the above soft-pop tunes. James Taylor would have been a better choice if "Idol" wanted to feature a classic singer/songwriter.
Suddeth, by most accounts, needs to have a big week to create some momentum for the final push. The judges aren't going to be satisfied until she either screeches or channels LeAnn Rimes. I think until she appears at least once in the bottom three, though, Suddeth may continue to make safe song choices.
CLINT: Mark, if I'm handicapping the rest of the competition (as if I had musical talent), I'd say Reinhart will go this week, followed by Lusk and Abrams. Reinhart may last a little longer since she is one of only two women left but should be gone within the next two weeks. If I had my druthers, I'd have McCreery be the first of the final three to go (a career in Nashville no doubt secured), but his strong following will likely sail him into the finale.
That could come against Durbin, who gives his all - and then some - every week, or Suddeth, who as you say needs a push to release all the talent she no doubt has. If she doesn't find a way to do that - and she clearly had more to give with her Sara Evans song last week - she could find herself the odd man, er, woman, out in the finale in late May.
MARK: I've thought all along that McCreery has the competition in the bag. Dialidol.com, the website that tracks phone traffic on voting nights, has consistently had him with twice the call volume of the next leading vote getters. The website has made some bad calls this year, but its methodology would have to be seriously flawed to make a mistake of this magnitude.
I predict an all-country McCreery-Suddeth finale, with Scotty winning it all. Not only that, I'll go out on a limb and predict that one day the two teen "Idols" will share the stage at the Country Music Association Awards to pick up the award for vocal duo of the year.