One of the few non-fist-flying, hair-pulling, face-spitting moments I can remember having with my brother when we were kids was the time we spent choreographing and practicing a dance routine to Elton John's "Bennie and the Jets" in anticipation of presenting it to our parents and neighbors on Sunday afternoon. I even used up a whole bottle of Elmer's Glue to coat my go-go boots with green glitter and my brother likewise outlined a pair of my mother's YSL sunglasses with gold sequins.
We were so over the moon for Elton John, my parents even agreed to allow us to join his fan club, which used to send us these monthly newsletters outlining all the goings-on in Elton's life in that hyper-exclamatory manner so particular to fan mag writing of the time: "Elton says the best way for a girl to catch his eye is not to be too fake!" "Elton can eat wherever he wants in the world but still says his mom's meat pies are his favorite!'"
To this day, if one of his songs comes on the radio—even "Candle in the Wind" and "I'm Still Standing"—I'll listen. Some still have the power to slay me completely, most notably "Daniel," "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," and "Yellow Brick Road." Elton even followed me into adulthood, when S.B. revealed during the early days of our courtship that one of the things that got him through three stints in a Nigerian compound was John's Tumbleweed Connection on his Walkman because there's a song on there that reminds him of me.
So I couldn't help but cringe when I heard that the Idolators were doing Elton songs last night. Seriously? Because of all the pop songs out there, Elton's are to my mind at least some of the toughest to cover. What makes Elton John great is not only his lyrics and piano-driven melodies, but also his voice, one of the most distinctive in all pop music, capable of phrasing things in ways that no mere mortal, regardless of technical ability, can match.
And you know what? They still can't. The thing about Elton, too, is that so many of his songs are so personal. And these kiddies seemed not to grok to the meaning of the lyrics at all, especially Pia, who for all her technical proficiency just comes off to me as cold and un-engaging. The praise heaped on that Cruise Ship performance made me wince.
You know who I did like, though? Durbin. It was a little manic, but his voice was awesome and he brought an energy and a power to his performance that was almost Elton-esque. Oh, and Pauls' suit? I want that suit. I'd wear that suit. That suit rocks.