Monday, May 9, 2011

American Idol's James Durbin Performs “Without You” on the Top 5 Show

American Idol Season 10's James 'Bring Back Metal' Durbin gives an emotionally charged performance of “Without You” by Badfinger as his second song on the Top 5 'Now & Then' Show. (Hmmm, I thought the 'Then' songs were supposed to be from the 60's, right? Song bio after video) "Something in those lyrics moved him," said producer Jimmy Iovine after James broke down during rehearsals. "Why I'm out here is to make a better life for my family. Every time Heidi and Hunter come to visit, and they leave, I have to let them go," said James, explaining why the lyrics meant so much to him.

James performs the entire song standing at a microphone, and draws the audience to him. Even without the theatrics of a burning piano, fireworks or a drum corps, James still lights the house on fire! His voice is so strong, so pure, that even without strutting around the stage, he still commands the whole stage and moves the audience. (We've seen plenty of eliminees sing a ballad at the mic and completely fail to draw the audience in. I guess that's why they were eliminated!) James ends the song in tears, and as the camera panned the audience, you see several others crying as well. The crowd loved it, and so did all three judges...the standing ovation went on and on. Randy Jackson praised, "James, this is a mark of a truly great performer. I could feel your emotion when you started that, thinking about your family and the journey you are on here. For you to give a vocal like you gave, no it wasn’t perfect, but it was emotionally perfect. The notes, some of them were flat, choppy, but it was emotionally perfect, and that's what the audience feels. This competition is yours to lose." Steven Tyler said, "You know, James, when you sing as good as you do, and you can let a song get the best of you, that's crazy time. That's a beautiful thing. When your emotions and a song meet together somewhere, that was just as beautiful as it gets. I loved that. Pitchy a little bit, in a strange kinda James Durbin kinda way. Your emotions were incredible." Jennifer Lopez raved, "Everybody knows you can sing, but you're not just a guy who can wail up into the stratosphere, some Rocker who just sings these high notes and screams. That's not who you are. You have the heart and soul to back it up. You are a true, true artist. And you are serious about winning this thing. It takes a lot to control your emotions and deliver what you just delivered. He is amazing."

"Without You" is a song written by musicians Pete Ham and Tom Evans of British rock group Badfinger. According to ASCAP, the ballad has been recorded by more than 180 artists and has made many appearances on the Billboard Hot 100, including the number one position. Beatle Paul McCartney once described the ballad as "...the killer song of all time." Ham and Evans did not consider the song to have much potential at the time Badfinger recorded it, and the track was slotted to close Side A of their 1970 "No Dice" album.

Harry Nilsson, at the time best known for his hit "Everybody's Talkin'" and for composing such hits as Three Dog Night's "One", heard Badfinger's recording of "Without You" at a party, and mistook it for a Beatles' song. After realizing it was not, he decided to cover the song for his album "Nilsson Schmilsson" in 1971; it stayed at #1 on the U.S. pop chart for four weeks in 1972. The song also spent five weeks atop the U.S. Adult Contemporary Chart. In the U.K., the song spent five weeks at #1 on the British Pop Chart, and sold almost 800,000 copies.

Mariah Carey's version was released as the third single of "Music Box" in 1994, and in the United States it was released just over a week after Harry Nilsson had died following a heart attack on January 15, 1994. In the U.S. it was promoted as a double A-side with "Never Forget You". In the song Carey dips into her lower register and is accompanied by backup singers (including herself) magnified to sound like a mighty gospel chorus. Carey said that she decided to cover the song when she heard it in a restaurant (although when performing the song in Tokyo, she said she listened to it when she was a little girl). Her version has been considered very popular on talent shows. "Without You" was later included on some non-U.S. pressings of her compilation album #1's (1998).

Mariah Carey's "Without You" reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining in the Top 40 for twenty-one weeks and on the chart for twenty-three. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay and #3 on the Hot 100 Singles Sales. Both radio airplay and sales were strong, and it was certified gold by the RIAA. It was ranked 16 on the Hot 100 1994 year-end charts.

"Without You" remains Carey's biggest hit outside the U.S., being largely successful across Europe. It became her first UK #1 single, and still remains her only #1 there as a solo artist. It debuted at #1 on the chart and stayed there for four weeks. It was also her first chart-topper in Italy, but was most successful in Switzerland (with ten non-consecutive weeks at #1) and the Netherlands (twelve weeks). It also topped the singles chart in Germany for four weeks and Austria for eight weeks, where Carey's success had previously been limited. It also topped the Swedish Singles Chart for eight weeks, was #1 in Ireland for five weeks and in New Zealand for one week. It was able to make the Top 3 in Canada, France, Norway and Australia. It was certified Platinum in Australia and in Germany and Austria. It was also certified Gold in New Zealand and in France.

The song is one of only two Mariah Carey singles certified Gold in the UK with sales of 445,000 copies.

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