This week the American Idol Top 11 are performing the songs of Elton John, and you might be surprised to find out that John’s hits aren’t exactly all over the history of this show.

Back in season 3 the show did its first and only Elton John theme week, but outside of that, American Idol performances of Elton John songs are few and far between. However, there are some valuable lessons from that history.

Lesson #1: “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” Will Take You Far

If I were in the Top 11, I’d be begging to sing this song. Why? Well, let’s look at a list of singers who’ve performed it on American Idol: Justin Guarini, Clay Aiken, Bo Bice and David Archuleta. In other words, singing it means you’re guaranteed to make the finale (except for Jorge Nunez, who sang it during the semifinals of season 8 and Jasmine Trias, who finished third after singing it in season 3).

Lesson #2: “Levon” and “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” Are Winners

Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks performed “Levon” in the finale while Fantasia sang “Something About the Way You Look Tonight” on her way to a season 3 victory. So either song has a good pedigree.

Lesson #3: Avoid “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

Not only does the song’s title suggest that the singer is leaving, but it’s also the song Camille Velasco sang on the first Elton John theme week that got her eliminated.

Lesson #4: If You Sing “Rocket Man,” Do It Shat-Style

I suspect Casey Abrams is the likeliest contestant we have who may dare try to do a William Shatner-esque version of “Rocket Man,” and while it might get him sent home since the judges saved him and urged him to sing from the heart and not be so quirky, I don’t see how anyone could resist the opportunity to do a surreal spoken word version of this classic.

Lesson #5: Songs from The Lion King Are OK

In season 3, Jennifer Hudson sang “Circle of Life,” and while she was eventually eliminated, she did go on to win an Oscar. I strongly urge any contestant to consider singing a different Lion King song, and while “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” is the obvious choice, how about something more awesome, like “Be Prepared”? That would rule.

The most important lesson, however, is to do something that voters will remember, because with two singers going home this week, everyone really needs to step it up because not being the worst is no longer good enough.

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(Image courtesy of FOX)

John Kubicek

Senior Writer, BuddyTV

John watches nearly every show on TV, but he specializes in sci-fi/fantasy like The Vampire DiariesSupernatural and True Blood. However, he can also be found writing about everything from Survivor and Glee to One Tree Hill and Smallville.