When is your American Idol Top 10 not a top 10? In season 10, that happened when the judges saved early favorite Casey Abrams, who had the lowest number of votes the previous week. So eleven contestants will be on the 2011 American Idol tour and eleven contestants performed songs originally recorded by Elton John during what would have been Top 10 week. Read on for a breakdown of all eleven songs from Elton John week on American Idol season 10.
Picking a country song for Scotty McCreery from Elton John's catalog probably wasn't too difficult, as some of Elton John's earlier music showed some American Country roots. "Country Comfort" was track three on Elton John's third album Tumbleweed Connection, which reached number five in the US despite never generating a Billboard Hot 100 single. When Scotty McCreery sang "Country Comfort" during Elton John week on American Idol season 10, he played guitar and made it sound like a song written just for him, and the judges rewarded him with high praise for the performance.
Some of the most memorable performances on American Idol have been when contestants completely reinvented songs. For example, who could forget Blake Lewis's definining moment when he gave Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name" the beatbox treatment? Naima Adedapo tried for that same type of innovation when she brought a reggae feel to "I'm Still Standing" on American Idol season 10's Elton John night. While the performance was solid, the judges weren't too thrilled with the reggae twist, even though plenty of pop songs have been reworked in a reggae style over the years. "I'm Still Standing" was one of three hits from Elton John's Too Low For Zero CD in 1983, along with "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues and "Kiss the Bride."
Paul McDonald has done a great job of conveying what musical style he would embrace as a recording artist week after week on American Idol, but his musical choices haven't always connected with the audience. After Elton John week, that may not be as much of an issue, as Paul McDonald scored a big connection with his selection of "Rocket Man," although the judges weren't as sure about his giving 100%. "Rocket Man" was the first Top 10 single from Elton John's 1972 Honky Chateau album.
For people who watch international talent shows, they sometimes get to see similarities between how things are staged from show to show. In the case of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," the group of backup singers who emerged from the wings to accompany American Idol season 10 contestant Pia Toscano was similar to X Factor series seven winner Matt Cardle's performance of "You've Got the Love" during that show's semi-finals (minus the hand-clapping). Pia Toscano shined singing another ballad, although the wish for more upbeat material from Randy Jackson still lingered. "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" has been a hit twice for Elton John in the US: first, as a solo #2 pop record in 1974; then as a #1 duet with George Michael in 1991.
In previous weeks, Stefano Langone has been cited by the judges for not fully connecting with the audience when he performed, even though vocally his performances were spot on. However, all three judges gave Stefano Langone high marks for his version of "Tiny Dancer" during Elton John week on American Idol season 10. Judge Steven Tyler mentioned that Stefano Langone has something in his voice that reminds him of Broadway, but besides that, all of the feedback was positive. "Tiny Dancer" just missed being a Top 40 hit in 1972 by peaking at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100.
It is one thing to turn in a great performance on American Idol, but in a season that drags out over five months, those great performances also have to be memorable. While season 10 contestant Lauren Alaina did a solid job with singing "Candle in the Wind," it might not have been as memorable of an appearance on American Idol as she may have hoped. Just like "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," "Candle in the Wind" has charted twice in the United States. While it was never charted in the US during its initial release in 1974, a live version of the song reached number six on the pop charts in 1987, and 1997 remake released after the death of Princess Diana debuted at number one and became the top-selling single ever in the US.
There are tough decisions to be made when a contestant is picking which song to sing on American Idol, but occasionally there are options so obvious that contestants would be crazy to pass them up. Such was the case with James Durbin, who rocked out to "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" on Elton John week of season 10. All three judges enjoyed the performance, but James Durbin got into a little bit of trouble by alluding to Michael Jackson's accidental burn while taping a Pepsi commercial back in the 80s. "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" broke Elton John's string of top 10 hits back in 1973 by only reaching number 12.
There is no denying that Thia Megia has a quality voice that can string notes together in a way that sounds beautiful. The challenge that Thia Megia has had on American Idol season 10 is that she has had a hard time connecting with the audience via the delivery of those notes, which may explain why she ended up in the bottom three during the first Top 11 week. Thia Megia's rendition of "Daniel" was nice, but in a season stacked with stellar singers, it may not have been enough for Thia to advance past Elton John week. "Daniel" reached number two in 1973 and helped to cement Elton John's position in the US as a bonafide hit maker.
Casey Abrams may not have had the most technically amazing voice on the tenth season of American Idol, but when he is on point, there is no one else in season 10 who can connect with the audience the way he does. After a few weeks of falling short, Casey Abrams delivered in a big way with his cover of "Your Song" on Elton John night by taming his growl and showing that he also has control and finesse in his vocal arsenal. While most people talked about Haley Reinhart at the end of the show, Casey Abrams deserved credit for launching himself back into contention. "Your Song" was Elton John's first top 10 single in America, reaching nubmer eight back in 1970.
If anyone watching American Idol season 10 was wanting drama and feeling in their contestants, they didn't have to look any further than Jacob Lusk, who brought the musical pain and passion week after week. During Elton John week, Jacob Lusk took the contemplative "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" and turned it into a power R&B ballad that showcased both the control and the power he has at his disposal. "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" only went to number six in the US in 1976, but it went to number one in England in 1976 in its original version, and in 2002 as a duet with UK boy band Blue.
The biggest raves of Elton John week on American Idol season 10 went to Haley Reinhart, who finally pulled all of the feedback and constructive criticism together and pulled out the stops for a sexy version of "Benny and the Jets." While the arrangement wasn't exactly contemporary, Haley Reinhart's solid performance went a long way toward reminding viewers why she made it into the Top 13. "Benny and the Jets" was the second number one hit for Elton John in the US, reaching its peak in 1974.