‘American Idol’ Does Elton John

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Theme nights on “American Idol” can be awesome for the singers or it can be terrible. Wednesday night’s episode of “Idol,” where the contestants sang Elton John songs, seemed to make most of the hopefuls shine.

First up was Country star, Scotty McCreery. Everyone always wonders what he will pick due to him being so country and even I must admit I was skeptical with Elton John night arriving. McCrerry definitely pulled it out though. He sang “Country Comfort,” an obvious pick but a darn good job that even included a shout out to his Granny, who was in the audience.

“Nothin’ I could say to you that an old-fashioned pair of high-heeled cowboy boots wouldn’t fix,” Steven Tyler gushed cryptically, adding that he (still) loves everything about the teen crooner. Once again, Jennifer Lopez gave the most sage advice, encouraging Scotty not to get too in his head and doubt himself. Randy Jackson marveled at how fast Scotty has matured on the program and said he felt like he was at a headlining show by the “Idol” finalist, according to MTV.

Dreadlocked rude girl Naima Adedapo also has a signature style like Scotty. She found a way to put her reggae flair on “I’m Still Standing.” It was not my favorite. She struggles with pitch and tune every week and she’s still here. I think she needs to go. She’s in MY bottom three. Sorry!

Next Paul McDonald started mellow like the “loose dude in a cool mood” that he is, but he never really picked up the pace. Jimmy Iovine suggested he play like it was an encore in front of 20,000 screaming fans. Though I’m not sure if he blew off that advice or not, it sure seems that way.

Randy called it “quiet comfort” and said, despite being pitchy, Paul’s soft, gentle voice was once again infectious, and Jennifer suggested he was holding back and needed to let loose.

“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” was Pia Toscano’s pick of the week. Ignoring the advice to break away from ballad after ballad proved to be a good choice, at least this time.

“Pia, you’ve done it again,” Tyler said, gently needling Randy’s suggestion that Pia switch it up. “That’s what you are and you sang it, you nailed it. And you know how I know a good song? It makes me cry inside … that’s just about as good as it gets.” Lopez said the notes Pia chooses take the audience to “an otherworldly place” and that Toscano seems poised to break through to another level.

Stefano Langone was in the bottom three for the first time last week so he was probably hoping his rendition of “Tiny Dnacer” was enough to pull him out of the rut. All three judges liked it but I disagree. It was somewhat cheesy and I don’t think it’s going to save him.

Teeny bopper Lauren Alaina went with “Candle in the Wind” and this seemed to be just the song for her. Randy said it was one of Lauren’s best performances as J.Lo agreed by saying it was simply “it.”

“Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” was perfect for rocker James Durbin. He not only sang the song but looked like a seasoned vet as he put on a show starting in the crowd and making his way to the stage, then hopping on to the piano and swinging his mic around.

Coming from someone who knows, Tyler told James he had a “really good rock voice,” but warned him not to wear out his welcome by overusing his rocksetto upper range. “You’ll wind up like me,” he joked. Lopez said she forgot it was a reality competition, calling it a great performance by a great artist, and Jackson applauded the fact that James just seems to be having fun when he’s onstage.

I didn’t like Thia Megia version of “Daniel.” Maybe she has some stage fright? Maybe she’s holding back all that she’s got? It was lack luster until the very last note where she let a little something loose but then it was over.

Casey Abrams was out to prove himself after the judges saved him last week. Boy, he did just that with “Your Song” as he belted it out and really let his voice come through. He wasn’t screachy or screamy and that made it really nice. The new clean-cut look of Abrams did him some good, too as he sat on a stool and was accompanied by only piano.

Randy reiterated that saving Casey was the best decision he and his fellow judges ever made on the show and said Abrams’ tender yet still personality-plus performance was “absolutely brilliant.”

Mary J. Blige’s cover of “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” was the version that Jacob Lusk has heard. So what a coincidence it was that Mary shows up as Lusk is rehearsing. Lusk gave a solemn, nearly funereal reading of the song, appearing on the verge of tears as he leaned heavily on his quavering, throaty falsetto and ignored Iovine’s advice to not be overly theatrical.

The version simply slayed Tyler, who loved everything about it, with Lopez giving props to producer “Tricky” Stewart for tailoring the song to Lusk’s voice and including a last, longing note. Randy praised his restraint, but told Lusk to pick that one special “Jacob spot” where he mashes his foot down on the gas.

Wow Idol, you really saved the best for last. I keep saving to people that I don’t care for Haley Reinhart. Well, she changed my mind last night. I think she may have changed America’s mind too. She was great with her rendition of “Bennie and the Jets.” She posed atop the piano and made a stompy, bluesy lounge growler out of the tune. It was odd at times but fitting for the frequent visitor of the bottom three.

Jennifer yelled, “That was it, Haley! That’s what we’ve been talking about,” saying that, as Iovine suggested, she pulled the voice, the moves and confidence together to finally form a winning package. In fact, Randy barked that it the night’s best performance as Tyler snarled about how sexy it was.

What did you think of American Idol last night? What TWO contestants do you think will be eliminated tonight?

Hear New Music First – HP

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