James Durbin has one of those big, overpowering voices that can be difficult to rein in. But on Wednesday’s (March 9) episode of “American Idol,” he was able to keep it in check, and turned in one of the evening’s standout performances.
After tearing through Judas Priest’s heavy metal classic “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ ” on last week’s show, one may have expected Durbin to go back to the metal playbook this week, when contestants were asked to sing a song by one of their personal idols. Instead, Durbin threw a curveball and opted to sing Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which was recorded by Wings in 1976 (and may be familiar to fans of “The O.C.” as the song played at Julie Cooper’s wedding in the season-one finale). Durbin said he admired McCartney for his versatility and for being one of the best musicians, writers and singers in rock history, and said he one day also hopes to be remembered in those terms.
In the studio, Durbin teamed up with producer Jim Jonsin (Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop,” T.I.’s “Whatever You Like”) to work on the song’s arrangement, and Jonsin pumped up the song with a bit of a hip-hop backbeat. Interscope Records head honcho Jimmy Iovine praised Durbin’s mighty pipes, saying “Idol” is a perfect vehicle for a voice like Durbin ’s to be discovered. “You don’t hear many voices like that,” he said. “I didn’t even know kids were out there singin’ like that!”
On the “Idol” stage, Durbin — flaunting a fresh haircut, a clean-shaven face and without the scarf “tail” he wore last week — did justice to “Amazed,” and didn’t drive it over a cliff with his over-the-top vocal wails. Instead, he held back and showed a more reserved side of himself, and displayed a range, both vocally and emotionally, that proved he was more than the one-trick-pony/ Adam Lambert clone as his detractors had him pegged.
The judges dug the way he changed things up and managed to “slay” it, in Randy Jackson’s words.
“I was like, ’Yo, this dude can do anything, man!” the Dawg told him. “James Durbin is dangerous, America. This guy can sing!” Steven Tyler followed suit, saying Durbin took everything he ever felt and “kicked it into the middle of next week” — apparently that’s a good thing — and Jennifer Lopez complimented his vocal skills. “The truth is you have what the greatest rock singers have, which is a melodic quality to your voice,” she said.
And it appears as though we’re going to hear plenty more of that voice in the weeks to come.
What did you think of James Durbin’s performance? Let us know in the comments!
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