Tonight, Idol had its Top 11 Redux performance show, and the theme was the catchy and melodic catalog of Sir Elton John, a theme that produced some atrocious performances in Season 3, namely poor Camille Velasco with her hilariously out-of-tune cover of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” But it also gave us Jennifer Hudson’s powerhouse rendition of “Circle of Life,” so I was very curious about which extreme Season 10’s finalists would veer closer to.
I’m happy to report that for the second week running, no contestant massacred a classic song beyond recognition. (Well, Naima tried her darnedest, but we’ll get there.) Because I have an exam in the morning (curse you, grad school!), I’ll leave you, my faithful blog readers, with Twitter-style reviews of tonight’s tribute to the Rocket Man himself. The links in the song title will take you to a video of the performance, and this week, the contestants are organized not in the order they performed, but rather from my least favorite performance to my most favorite. We have to create suspense somewhere, right?
#11: “I’m Still Standing,” Naima Adedapo: While I actually liked the arrangement, Naima’s faux reggae accent threw me. Toss in her rocky pitch, and call it the weakest of the night.
#10: “Daniel,” Thia Megia: She still smells of wasted potential. Her cover was competent, but she can do better, and I don’t think she knows how. Weakish head voice.
#9: “Tiny Dancer,” Stefano Langone: Probably the most difficult song of the night. Stefano’s light, thin voice couldn’t cut it. Was also a touch boring, though not like Thia.
#8: “Country Comfort,” Scotty McCreery: Happy about the guitar playing/no awkward mike-holding, but I wanted to see him take a risk. He was just playing it so safe. Last note = rough.
#7: “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” James Durbin: The whole thing intensely overwrought, what with the flaming piano and laser light show. Vocals were good, except the ad libs at the end.
#6: “Candle In The Wind,” Lauren Alaina: Quality vocal, and I like her song choice. I also appreciated the little twang she infused into the vocal line. But: no more backup singers!
#5: “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word,” Jacob Lusk: Yes, it was overdramatic and overwrought, but dudeson sings from deep in his soul. First half was better than second; I loved the arrangement.
#4: “Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time),” Paul McDonald: I like how Paul doesn’t seem to put a lot of cerebral thought into his covers; rather, they just pour out of him. Love the lack of polish.
#3: “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” Pia Toscano: She knows her voice in and out, and is so smart with her riffs and switches from head voice to chest voice. Another brilliant, powerful ballad.
#2: “Your Song,” Casey Abrams: Ah, back to the old Casey. Rich tone, unique timbre, and most importantly, no tuneless growls and crazy faces. Beautifully restrained vocal.
#1: “Bennie And The Jets,” Haley Reinhart: LOVED IT. Loved the jazzy intro, loved her ad libs on “Bennie” at the end, and yes, I liked the growls. Not one note was out of tune. Great.
Yes, you read that right. My least favorite contestant, Ms. Haley “Don’t Ya Like My Growls?” Reinhart took home my prize for best performance of the night. It honestly surprised even me. But there was just something about the marriage of her sassy vocal with that great jazzy arrangement that I found stellar.
My predictions for the bottom three are as follows: Stefano, Thia and Naima should occupy the Silver Stools of Doom, and if America gets it right, Naima and Thia should be sent packing. Naima has just outworn her welcome, especially after her reggae pastiche tonight, and I just think Thia is too boring to stand up to contestants like Casey, James and Jacob. Although, America made a huge goof last week sending Casey home, so who knows who will kissing the Idol stage goodbye tomorrow night? For once, I’m pulling for Haley. As long as she uses that voice wisely, it may turn out to be an instrument of good, not the instrument of evil I previously thought it was.