Wednesday, May 25, 2011

American Idol's James Durbin & Haley Reinhart together make up 13 of the Top 25 most popular iTunes singles this year.

"We’re getting down to the wire, so this is about the time when we all start to speculate on how successful our beloved contestants will be when they are done with the show. The first step to achieving success, at least for most, is fairing well in the recording studio.

The great part about Idol is we get a glimpse into what these kids’ recordings will sound like, as each week, the contestants release full-studio versions of their live performances.

So, without further ado, here are American Idol Season 10’s most popular studio recordings on iTunes:

(NOTE: Rankings are based on the number of iTunes song ratings (as well as their star ratings) and the number of file-sharers to account for total popularity)

1. “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals — Haley Reinhart (Top 5)

What an awesome song! Just like her live version, the song starts out a capella and builds from there. She also belts out a few more big notes than in the live version (since she was forced to cut some parts out), and I honestly believe those are the best parts of the studio bit. The Animals’ version is pretty epic, but Haley somehow tops it 46 years later.

2. “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John — Haley Reinhart (Top 11 Redux)

Haley haters: you should really check out her studio recordings. She growls a lot less! Just so you know: she doesn’t have to growl, she just does it because it adds so much character to her voice. I happen to love the growl, and even though it’s almost non-existent in this version, it’s still extremely catchy. As well as Haley sang this one live, her studio version might even be better. Her vocals are perfect and everything about it sounds really modern. It’s also quicker than Elton John’s.

3. “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele — Haley Reinhart (Top 7)

It sure does bode well for Haley that she can take the #1 song in the country, put her own twist on it, and make it sound at least as good as the original. I liked that there is a lot more variety here than in Adele’s. Her phrasing is gorgeous (she seems to be the best at that), and the liberties she takes with the runs are quite impressive. If the radio has destroyed Adele’s song for you, give this one a go!

4. “The River” by Garth Brooks — Scotty McCreery (Top 13)

This is Scotty’s first studio recording, which explains why it is so high in the rankings. The first time you hear his studio voice, you can’t help but bop your head up and down with the song. Even if you don’t like country music, he has a much deeper, richer tone than any of the current pop-country stars we have today. His lower register is showcased brilliantly in this song.

5. “Uprising” by Muse — James Durbin (Top 7)

James was a bit clumsy with the notes in his live performance of this song, and those screams actually turned screechy. I enjoy a good on-key scream, but it was a bit much. In his studio version, his notes are obviously spot-on, and there is no overcooked scream at the end. Also, his lower register sounds infinitely better in the studio than it does on the stage, which really helped make this one sound superb. He left the song virtually unchanged from the Muse version, but I still like it a lot.

6. “Maybe I’m Amazed” by Paul McCartney and Wings — James Durbin (Top 13)

The lower parts of the song sound really nice, but when he goes into his upper register, his voice sounds strikingly thin for a studio version. This song’s ranking is a bit inflated because of James’ “shock boot”. He sang this one for his swan song, so a lot of people came back and downloaded it.

7. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by Carole King/The Shirelles – James Durbin (Top 6)

For the most part, James’ voice sounds excellent in the studio. He has showcased some weaknesses live, such as a thin lower register, wobbly notes, and screechiness, but you should definitely check out his recorded stuff. Since he doesn’t have to belt it out as much in-studio, his voice has a much crisper tone, and his lower register sounds really strong. There’s a lot more substance in his recording voice, which could help him land a good contract. One thing he has to do is lose the excessive screaming in his recordings, as that’s built more for live performances, not for my iPod’s ear buds.

8. “All By Myself” by Eric Carmen/Celine Dion— Pia Toscano (Top 13)

Oh. My. God. This is just unreal. Everyone knows that Pia has an amazing live voice, but she is just as good here. There’s a pureness about it that is so pleasing. Her high notes in this bit are incredible. The power notes are, of course, spectacular, but her soft highs are even more enjoyable. Great build up to the finish. I can see why it cracked the Top 10. Celine Dion has a new rival.

9. “Can I Trust You With My Heart” by Travis Tritt — Scotty McCreery (Top 12)

Meh. This one puts me to sleep. It feels like he is singing the same three notes over and over again. That’s the thing about Scotty – he has such a limited range. The first couple of times you hear him, he sounds outstanding, but that fondness wears out rather quickly. How else do you explain that after his FIRST TWO studio recordings, none of his songs appear on this list until #24? And that #24 song is “Gone” – way out of the box for Scotty. Even though he can stay in his comfort zone right now without risk of penalty, he can’t do that if he wants to be a post-Idol success. He needs to keep things fresh; hopefully he realizes that.

10. “Blue” written for Patsy Cline; by LeAnn Rimes — Haley Reinhart (Top 13)

This is going to fluster the Scotty/Lauren fans, but some may argue that Haley Reinhart owns the best Country performance on the American Idol stage this year, with this LeAnn Rimes song. The recorded version isn’t quite as strong as her live performance, but it’s still great. Some people don’t appreciate the yodel, but it’s very difficult to do. You’re moving in and out of falsetto with each note, so making smooth transitions and staying on pitch can be a nightmare. But this was done perfectly. Believe it or not, this is the first recorded song I downloaded this season, and apparently I wasn’t the only one.

11. “With a Little Help From My Friends” by The Beatles — Casey Abrams (Top 13)

12. “Your Song” by Elton John; in the movie Moulin Rouge — Casey Abrams (Top 11 Redux)

13. “I (Who Have Nothing)” by Ben E. King/Tom Jones/Shirley Bassey — Haley Reinhart (Top 4)

14. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by The Beatles — James Durbin (Top 9)

15. “I’ll Be There For You” by Bon Jovi — James Durbin (Top 12)

16. “River Deep, Mountain High” by Ike and Tina Turner — Pia Toscano (Top 9)

17. “Living For the City” by Stevie Wonder — James Durbin (Top 11)

18. “Harder to Breathe” by Maroon 5 — Casey Abrams (Top 7)

19. “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus — Lauren Alaina (Top 8

20. “Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams — Paul McDonald (Top 13)

21. “Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin — Haley Reinhart (Top 9)

22. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival — Casey Abrams (Top 9)

23. “You and I” by Lady Gaga — Haley Reinhart (Top 5)

24. “Gone” by Montgomery Gentry — Scotty McCreery (Top 5)

25. “Candle in the Wind” by Elton John — Lauren Alaina (Top 11 Redux)

Studio Versions of all American Idol Season 10 songs from the Top 13 performances through the Top 3 are available! Save money by getting the entire album for each week, or click the Idols name for a list of all their performances. Click below to go to iTunes:

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