There is no bigger showman on Earth than Elton John, so we were expecting a big show this week. The drama began right away with a recap of Casey Abrams’ save last week. Would he prove worthy of the judge’s faith? Well, let’s see.
First up was Scotty McCreery with “Country Comfort”, not well known as an Elton John song but perfect for Scotty. The performance was right on the money and it was great to see Scotty break out his guitar. His mid-song shout-out to his grandma was just adorable, too! The judges loved it. “You have amazing instincts about performing and about what’s right for you,” Jennifer said. “You have seasoned so fast on this show, I felt that I was like watching at your show, at your concert,” Randy added. And I can’t wait to be at Scotty’s first concert!
Next up, Naima Adedapo gave us a sexy reggae version of “I’m Still Standing.” I liked it, and at least Naima made the song hers, but the judges were unsure. Randy thought it was “corny” and Steven’s only real praise was “good for you for picking a song that fits you.”
Then it was time to see if Paul MacDonald would get an advantage from having sung Elton John before. It was a little worrying to hear that his band had covered “Rocket Man” years ago and it was “a disaster.” But this time, Paul and his guitar were tender and sweet. He really seemed to connect with the lyrics. “Quiet comfort”, Randy called it. Jennifer told him his voice is better than he realizes.
Pia Toscano gave us just what we don’t need to hear from her: another ballad! Jimmy Iovine advised Pia to take “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” somewhere between Fergie and Axl Rose. But Pia pitched her version somewhere between Celine and Sheer Boredom. Steven said she “nailed it” and Randy wondered if he was wrong to advise against another ballad since she “slayed them every time…” Don’t back down, Randy. She does need to “switch [her] gears a little bit.”
Stefano Langone sounded pretty good on “Tiny Dancer”, but oh the cheese! He won praise for his connection with the audience, though. “You really moved the crowd today,” Jennifer said. Randy added that Stefano was “right on” with those high notes.
Lauren Alaina had a tough job to do on the best-selling Billboard single of all time, “Candle in the Wind” and she showed she was more than capable. She put in her best performance to date. The country spin didn’t take away from the tenderness and Randy called it “very hot”. Steven agreed it was “just perfect”, after an awkward moment when the 64-year-old talked about the 16-year-old being able to afford the rest of her dress!
James Durbin put on a great performance, starting in the audience and moving to on top of the piano, but I felt his vocals suffered as a result. He brought nothing new to “Saturday Night’s Alright (for Fighting)”. Jennifer called this a “full performance of a great song by a great artist” but it seemed more like style over substance to me. I agree with Steven that James has a “very good rock voice” so can they let him sing next week, please, rather than race around like this season’s crazy boy!
Thia Megia dedicated “Daniel” to her older brother. Ryan reminded us that Thia is the youngest contestant and once again, she looked it. She’s beautiful and would fit right in to a Teen Pageant anywhere she chose, but although she performed better than last week, I, like the judges, was unenthused. Steven summed up the judges’ polite comments: “I think you sang a great Elton John song well”.
Woohooo! Check out newly saved and newly shaven Casey Abrams! His sweet and tender rendition of “Your Song” gave the judges’ all the justification they needed for saving him last week, even showing us that he has an awesome falsetto right at the end there. This was a huge improvement on last week and as Steven said, “the last two notes, if those were the only ones you sang, would’ve earned you a standing ovation.”
Jacob Lusk practically gave us opera with “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”. If that’s your thing, Jacob was great. If it’s not, well, he was a little over-emotional this week. Last week’s restraint was gone and we were back to high drama. But the judges loved it. “The first half of that song just blew me away — the second half was equal for me,” Steven said (which of course make no sense, but, it’s Steven talking, so whatever). “That last note — you don’t see that every day,” Jennifer added. (Or hear it?)
Haley Reinhart surprised me with “Bennie and the Jets.” It was pretty good, actually, mixing sexy vocals with a stage presence she has not displayed before. Maybe she’s a contender after all. The judges all loved Haley’s performance this week. “Amazing, amazing,” said Jennifer. “Best performance of the night,” said Randy added. “You sing sexy,” Steven concluded.
Don’t forget that tonight will be a DOUBLE elimination because of Casey’s save last week. So who do you think should stay and who should go tonight, based on this week’s performances?