And all the vocal pyrotechnics kicked off with James Durbin's rousing, arena-ready take on 30 Seconds to Mars' "Closer to the Edge," which earned him high praise from judge Steven Tyler (a guy who knows a thing or two about filling arenas), who told him, point blank, "I think you kicked that song's ass."
Of course, while Durbin was powering through their song, 30 Seconds to Mars were somewhere between Montreal and Toronto on their never-ending Closer to the Edge Tour. And it turns out they had no idea the presumed "Idol" front-runner had decided to cover their song. Though, as frontman Jared Leto told MTV News hours after Durbin's performance, they're thrilled that he did. Because even if they've never actually seen "American Idol" themselves, they know about the amount of people who have.
"Wow, we didn't know that this was going to happen — we are probably the last few people on the planet who have never seen the show — but we are excited to have been able to share our song with so many people," Leto wrote in an e-mail. " 'Closer' has become more successful than we could have ever dreamed! [We're] very grateful."
Will Durbin's version of "Closer" — and his emotional take on the Harry Nilsson hit "Without You" — be enough to carry him on to the next round? We'll find out Thursday night (May 5), when the "American Idol" voting results are revealed. Who knows? Maybe 30 Seconds to Mars will even tune in.
Don't miss "Idol Party Live" every Thursday at noon on MTV.com for analysis, celebrity guests and even some karaoke — get in the conversation by tweeting with the hashtag #idolparty! In the meantime, get your "Idol" fix on MTV News' "American Idol" page, where you'll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.