Casey Abrams may have needed the judges’ save to stay on “American Idol” last week, but he proved he was worth the honor on Wednesday night, redeeming himself with a tender and original version of Elton John’s “Your Song.”
The remaining 11 contestants on “Idol” tackled songs by Sir Elton (who was not present nor did he serve as a mentor) and Casey churned out his own rendition of “Your Song,” touching the judges.
“I think it’s one of the greatest saves we’ve ever had on the show — saving you — and that performance, hearing you sing, but not lose all of who… Casey is, that makes you different,” judge Randy Jackson raved. “[That] was absolutely brilliant. That was so nice and so tender, dude.”
Jennifer Lopez, who has been emotional all season as contestant after contestant departed the show, was also won over by the bearded hopeful.
“We’ve had to make some hard decisions, [send] some really, really great people home, and I’ve lost sleep over that. The one decision I didn’t lose one ounce of sleep over was saving you. I slept like a baby. And you proved why tonight — with the character in your voice, with the choices that you made in that song,” she said. “It was just very Casey.”
Not to be outdone, Jacob Lusk, who followed Casey, tackled Elton’s “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” on a stripped down stage, delivering another one of his hearty and impassioned performances.
“Once again, you slayed me,” judge Steven Tyler said.
Brunette beauty Pia Toscano whipped out a ballad yet again – something Randy and Jennifer had counseled her not to do last week – but Pia’s version of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” managed to impress them anyway.
“That’s just about as good as it gets,” Steven said, noting his fellow judges got it wrong last week suggesting she steer clear of the big, emotional numbers.
“We just want to help her get to that next thing,” Jennifer said, backtracking over her week-old remarks.
Teenager Lauren Aliana also found praise from the judges, despite what sounded like some off-color notes at the start of “Candle In The Wind.”
“That’s one of the greatest Lauren Alaina performances on this stage,” Randy boldly suggested.
It was another one of the women, however, who received the biggest compliments – Haley Reinhart – who took on Elton fave “Benny and the Jets” with her old-fashioned pipes and kooky stage stomp.
“Best performance of the night, right there,” Randy raved, as Steven added, “You sing sexy!”
Here’s how the rest of the pack did:
Scottie McCreery opened the show with “Country Comfort,” giving a shout out to his audience-sitting grandmother during his performance. “I love everything about your voice and the fact that you tip your hat to grandma is the best,” Steven said.
Naima Adedapo may have earned a ticket home after her reggae rendition of “I’m Still Standing,” complete with a faux-Jamaican accent. “It kind of came off kind of corny,” Randy noted.
Paul McDonald, in his trademark flower patterned western suit, tried out “Rocket Man” and Randy called some of his moments “pitchy,” but overall he was praised.
Stefano Langone who last week was in the bottom three, opted for “Tiny Dancer” and Steven suggested he “connected with the audience” and “nailed it.”
Rocker James Durbin took a chance, starting his song out in the middle of the crowd, and he brought an intensity to his performance of “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” “You can go where no man can go,” Steven said of his voice.
Thia Megia, the “America’s Got Talent” alum, sang the Elton favorite “Daniel,” another performance that came off as shaky. “There were a couple little pitch issues here and there…The other thing for me I didn’t like was it was still very safe,” Randy said.
Following Casey’s save last week, two contestants are expected to be sent home on Thursday.