Here we go again “American Idol” fans; a new week, a new set of songs. This week the top 11 perform to living legend Elton John, who has a distinctive flavor that usually only he can produce. I’m worried the the contestants might not be able to even come close to matching that, or worse yet, choose to sing “Circle of Life.” Don’t get me wrong, I love “The Lion King,” but even I would have to admit that if anyone even attempted it, it would go beyond the dreaded Karaoke label. So how did everyone do? Read on to find out.
Scotty – Country Comfort
Scotty picking a song with “Country” in the title? I would have never guessed. Sarcasm aside, it really fit his voice well, and I agree with Jimmy; he may be a one trick pony, but it’s one hell of a trick. The low note, however, did not work for me this time around. Stephen loved everything about his voice, while Jennifer said he has amazing instincts. Randy was impressed that Scotty became seasoned so fast, and felt as if he was a concert for him.
Naima – I’m Still Standing
I love this anthem, and when I heard that it was going to be a reggae version, I was filled with hope and fear. Naima is brave, but I just am not feeling this choice. She’s a great performer, but it might not be enough to save her this time around. Jennifer loved the reggae swag, but did not think it did not work for the song. Randy thought it came off kind of corny, and Steven praised her for picking a song that fit her.
Paul – Rocket Man
This is the second Elton John song Paul has done, and the first one really didn’t go over so well. This time he took the quiet, restrained route, which worked for the most part, but his voice doesn’t seem to handle some of the notes the song requires. Jennifer and Randy both thought he was kind of pitchy in places, and that he seems to be holding back. Steven liked that his voice sometimes hits the notes and sometimes doesn’t.
Pia – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
Yes, another ballad, but man, did she sing the heck out of it. I know some people might get tired of her taking the safe route, but you have to admit that when the right song is picked, she shines like no other. Steven thought she nailed the song, and that this was as good as it gets. Jennifer feels her trying to break down the barrier, and told her to keep at it. Randy thought she was great, and that she always slays the ballads. They do however, still want to be surprised.
Stefano – Tiny Dancer
Before the break, Ryan said that Stefano was going to perform an anthem that would have us singing along. I wasn’t quite there this time, but you could really tell he took the judges criticism to heart this week. He kept his eyes open most of the song, made googley eyes at the camera, and moved to the audience. He even played with the judges, with some surprising results. I liked this one, and give him an “A” for effort. Jennifer felt he moved the crowd, and Randy thought he finally started connecting with the audience. Steven saw the connection and thought he nailed it.
Lauren – Candles in the Wind
Lauren took on the the best selling single in Billboard history, and she knocked it out of the park. Randy thought it was one of her best performances, while Steven that it was perfect. He also thought with the right song, Lauren could afford the rest of her dress. Jennifer believed that America finally saw what they have all along.
James – Saturday Night All Right
James wanted to start off in the audience, which could have been a big risk because it could have been easy to get stuck there. But James, the ultimate performer, makes it work, and and even adds a flaming piano. He also totally killed the song at the end, in a very good way. Steven loved his voice and thought James brought the heat, while Jennifer said when he performs, she forgets she is watching a competition. Randy loved that James seems to enjoy himself up there.
Thia – Daniel
I like this Thia; the stripped down, heartfelt Thia with real emotion. You could tell she was feeling ever word in that song, and packed it with more emotion than she has shown so far. This was my favorite of the night. Jennifer thought it was a beautiful moment for her, and Rand like the relaxed side of her performance. Steven told her that she sang a great Elton John song well.
Casey – Your Song
Yet another slow ballad, but like Thia’s, this one is also stripped down to get to the real emotion. Casey really connects this with some quiet power, and needs to really show that he belongs to be here. Randy thought it was brilliant, nice and tender. Steven loved that he sings different every time, and Jennifer admitted she did not lose sleep over her decision to keep him around.
Jacob – Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word
Keeping with the ballads, Jacob also starts very soft, but crescendos just when he needs. I think this is my favorite one from him so far. Steven was slayed by the song, while Jennifer thought he made the song his own. Randy thought the first half was brilliant, but he needed to pick one spot where he could really shine. I thought the ending did that, but I can see what Randy meant.
Haley – Bennie and the Jets
Haley puts her growl into it, but I wasn’t feeling it in the beginning since this is such a distinctive Elton John song. She is giving it her all, and it really does pick up in the end. Jennifer thought it was a great way to end the show, and Randy declared it the best performance of the night. Steven loves that she sings sexy.
Aside from James and Naima, mostly everyone went for the soft ballad, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I actually enjoyed most of the performances, but if I had to choose, my vote would probably go to Naima to go home tomorrow night. I really can’t pick a second person based on tonight, but I wonder if Casey and Stefano did enough to save themselves. Remember, the judges can no longer save anyone, so you know it’s going to be a dramatic night. See ya’ll tomorrow.
Which was your favorite performance?
“American Idol” airs on Fox.
Article first published on Examiner.com