Sometimes when a song is performed on one of the singing competition shows, it might not be covered again for weeks or even months either on the same show or a different one. Or, in the case of a certain Elvis ballad, it was performed on both American Idol and The Voice within a couple weeks of each other — and you can’t help but compare the two.
“Can’t Help Falling in Love” is a beautiful love song that hit the top of the charts in the ’60s. So when a singer covers it, we all hope that they can do it justice.
American Idol vs. The X Factor: Who Sang “Say Something” Better? >>>
Before we get to the two covers from this month, let’s take a look back at previous renditions on American Idol and America’s Got Talent. First up is Idol season 5 runner-up, Katharine McPhee, who took on the Elvis tune on none other than Elvis week during the Top 4.
Overall, Kat sounded great. She had been criticized before for oversinging. But here, she didn’t have a problem with that and instead had really good control. I’ve always been a fan of the tone in her voice. She sounded a tad off towards the end, though.
By the way, this was the week that Chris Daughtry was sent home in one of the most shocking eliminations ever. Katharine joined him in the Bottom 2.
Elvis week was again at the center of Idol during the Top 9 of season 9, and Tim Urban, considered one of the weakest singers that year, performed “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
Tim will never be able to live up to the talent level that the other singers featured in this article have. But for the low expectations we put on him back in season 9, he did well. However, he didn’t really listen to guest mentor Adam Lambert’s advice about ending with some high notes. And his vocal limits came through at times. What I did like was the intimate feel that he brought to the performance, just him and the guitar.
The level of talent featured in the finals during last summer’s America’s Got Talent was exceptional. But before that, singer Cami Bradley also took on the Elvis ballad during the semifinals of season 8.
And after Tim’s performance, we’re getting back on track. Like with Katharine, the tone in Cami’s voice is beautiful. And while there was no drastic changes to the arrangement, there were a couple moments where she made subtle changes in the way she sang it that was great to hear. It wasn’t perfect, but I’ll take this over Tim’s version any day.
But can anyone top her or the previous covers? Of course! This brings us to the current season of American Idol. Top 4 week was all about love songs. And the standout of the night (it wasn’t even close) went to Jena Irene performing Elvis.
Depending on the way it is performed, this song can be a little bit boring (which was somewhat the case with Tim). But that fortunately didn’t happen with Jena, who not only delivered the best of the night and her best of the season, but the best performance of season 13. This will go down as one of the top performances in the history of American Idol.
Jena was behind the piano, which as we know is her strong suit. And honestly, I got chills listening to her voice. She was beyond brilliant. And Jennifer Lopez thought it was so good that she mouthed the F-word during the song.
Just 12 days later came the finals of The Voice season 6. Christina Grimmie chose “Can’t Help Falling in Love” for her final song before America decided the winner.
She’s been known for taking on unexpected song choices and killing it on stage. Here, she decided to go with a ballad instead — but it was still very powerful.
Christina started off a cappella, which was exquisite in and of itself. Then when the band started in softly for a while, I found myself drawn in and hanging on to every note. In the latter half of the song, the band really went full force, and she lost a bit of momentum. But then they scaled back for her final lines and she was back on top again. That big note at the end on the word ‘help’ gave me chills.
To decide the winner, it’s easy to narrow it down to the top two. Katharine, Tim and Cami are out of the running because none of their versions could match Jena or Christina.
Now, if Jena had not performed this song, then Christina would be the clear winner. But she did and created a moment on American Idol that is the new standard for “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Jena is clearly the winner of this music battle.
What are your thoughts? Is Jena the clear winner? Do you prefer Christina’s performance? Or do you think either Katharine, Tim or Cami had the best version? Vote in the poll below and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
The Voice season 6 finale airs Tuesday at 9pm on NBC, and the American Idol season 13 finale airs Wednesday at 8pm on FOX. America’s Got Talent returns for season 9 on Tuesday, May 27 at 8pm on NBC.
(Images and videos courtesy of FOX and NBC)