James Durbin Songs - American Idol Season 10

A Profile of American Idol Contestant James Durbin with a Song Recap

Born: January 6, 1989

Musical Style: Rock

Audition City: San Francisco

Backstory: James Durbin has lived the life of a struggling musician, having been in several bands. Much of the show's focus on James has been about him suffering from both Asperger's and Tourette's Syndromes.

Influences: Steven Tyler, Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant, Ronnie James Dio

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"You Shook Me" (Muddy Waters)

Singer James Durbin on stage at Autism Speaks' 3rd Annual 'Blue Jean Ball'
Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

James Durbin's San Francisco audition was hyped throughout the show as "the one," and his delivery of "You Shook Me" did not disappoint, although it was very reminiscent of Adam Lambert's vocal style. Making the performance even more compelling was the revelation prior to James Durbin singing was that James suffers from both Tourette syndrome and Asbergers syndrome. Selecting a Muddy Waters song might sound obscure, but "You Shook Me" has also been recorded by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Jeff Beck and B.B. King. 

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"You’ve Got Another Thing Comin" (Judas Priest)

When James Durbin went through the audition process in season 10 of American Idol, his performances were marked by some amazing vocal acrobatics that blew the judges away. His performance of Judas Priest's "You've Got Another Thing Comin'" during the Top 24 week showed both the judges and the audience that he could control that power, giving an all-around solid performance that only hit those heights when it really mattered. This performance marked the first time a song by Judas Priest was used on American Idol.

Throughout the early episodes of American Idol season ten, there was no question that James Durbin could sing, because he showed off his powerhouse vocal ability every chance he got. The big question was could he restrain those vocals enough to become a viable recording artist, but James Durbin laid all concerns to rest with his star-making performance of "Maybe I'm Amazed" during Top 13 week. Jennifer Lopez nailed it when she said James Durbin has "what the greatest rock singers have, and that's a melodic quality" to his voice. Paul McCartney originally included "Maybe I'm Amazed" on his 1970 solo debut, but it never charted in the United States until 1977, when a live version of the song reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

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"I’ll Be There For You" (Bon Jovi)

James Durbin mentioned in the introduction to his version of Bon Jovi's "I'll Be There For You" that the band was "killin' it on the charts" in 1989. While James Durbin didn't have his best performance of the season during Top 12 week, his consistently solid appearances appear to solidify his standing as a favorite to make it to the finals. In fact, Steven Tyler agreed to perform with James Durbin should he make it to the finals. "I'll Be There For You" hit number one in 1989 at the height of Bon Jovi's popularity, and is regarded as one of the best songs of their career.

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One of the factors that explains Stevie Wonder's enduring popularity is that his music appeals to a wide range of music lovers from soul to pop, and hip-hop to rock. Some of his 70s musical output resonated with rockers, even leading to songs like "Superstition" and "Higher Ground" to be covered by rock acts over the past 30 years. So it makes sense that James Durbin took on "Living for the City" during Motown week with its heavy bassline and futuristic synths. James Durbin gave a solid if not stellar performance, but he owned the stage as he performed. "Living for the City" was a number one R&B and number eight pop hit upon its release in 1973.

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There are tough decisions to be made when a contestant is picking which song to sing on American Idol, but occasionally there are options so obvious that contestants would be crazy to pass them up. Such was the case with James Durbin, who rocked out to "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" on Elton John week of season 10. All three judges enjoyed the performance, but James Durbin got into a little bit of trouble by alluding to Michael Jackson's accidental burn while taping a Pepsi commercial back in the 80s. "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" broke Elton John's string of top 10 hits back in 1973 by only reaching number 12.

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"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (The Beatles)

A common theme of American Idol season 10 has been the judges praising performances while wishing that contestants would show another side and stretch their comfort zones. James Durbin did that during Top 9 week, perching himself on a stool to sing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Whether it was the restraint or the emotional connection to the song, something seemed a bit off with the delivery, leading to a lackluster performance. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was never released as a single, but is widely recognized as one of the best songs the Beatles ever recorded, as well as one of the best songs George Harrison ever wrote.

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Personalities play a big part of how contestants are perceived on a reality show like American Idol, and season 10 finalist James Durbin may or may not have run into a personality issue when he clashed with mentor Jimmy Iovine during Top 8 week over song choice. No matter if he came off as arrogant or confident, James Durbin's choice of "Heavy Metal" from the movie of the same name was widely regarded as a solid performance, further cementing Durbin's reputation as "the rock guy." Heavy Metal was an animated adult science fiction movie released in 1981 based on the magazine of the same name.

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Fully embracing the 21st century theme was James Durbin, who brought along his own drum section as he took the stage during Top 7 week to perform a rousing and solid version of "Uprising." Of all the remaining contestants, viewers probably have the best idea of what a James Durbin concert will look like, as well as what a James Durbin album will sound like. The only thing that could be faulted in James Durbin's performance was his disjointed use of high falsetto vocals in the middle of the chorus that seemed more showboating than quality vocals. "Uprising" hit number 37 on theBillboard Hot 100 in 2009, as well as topping the Rock and Alternative charts.

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One performance that may rise above most American Idol performances when season 10's Top 6 week is remembered may be James Durbin's stadium-ready rendition of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow." The way James Durbin owned the audience with just a guitar and a spotlight was reminiscent of Bo Bice's version of "In a Dream" in season four, leading Jimmy Iovine to declare that he could win the title. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" was recorded by the Shirelles in 1960, and they took the song all the way to number one on the pop charts. The song helped them become the first all-female group to have a pop number one in the history of Billboard magazine.

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The final spot of the night on American Idol is normally reserved for one of the best performances of the night, but during Top 6 week that did not occur. Jacob Lusk and James Durbin paired up to sing Herman's Hermits' classic "I'm Into Something Good," and it was as close to a trainwreck as viewers had seen all season. Herman's Hermits released "I'm Into Something Good" as their debut single in 1964, and the song went to number one in their native England as well as number 13 in the United States.

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The first half of Top 5 week during season 10 of American Idol was contemporary songs chosen by each contestant. James Durbin couldn't pick anything more contemporary than "Closer to the Edge," which was climbing the Pop charts even as he performed the song. Judge Randy Jackson rightfully cited James Durbin for finding a song that matched his vocal style while making him relevant in the current pop landscape, but while all three judges focused on his performance, none mentioned that his vocal delivery was weak in spots and lost in the arrangement. "Closer to the Edge" appears on 30 Seconds to Mars' third album This Is War.

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The most emotional performance of Top 5 week on American Idol season 10 hands down went to James Durbin, who sang "Without You" for his wife and child that he was missing while in the competition. While his connection to the song was palpable, James Durbin had a hard time singing the song, which became a rare mediocre vocal for the dynamic rock singer. "Without You" was originally written and recorded by the band Badfinger in 1970, but it is most often credited to Harry Nillson, who took it to number one in 1972, and Mariah Carey, who peaked at number three with her remake in 1994.

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James Durbin had a rough Top 5 week on American Idol season 10, so it was imperative that he make a big splash in Top 4 week to ensure he stayed in the hunt for the finals. In choosing "Don't Stop Believin'" as his inspirational song, James Durbin picked a song that would cause families all over America to sing along with his respectable but not amazing rendition. Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was originally released in 1981, but the song has found new life in the 21st century courtesy of the TV show Glee. Because of its Glee exposure, "Don't Stop Believin'" has become one of the top 20 digital downloads of all time.

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James Durbin wrapped up American Idol season 10's Top 4 week with a modern take on the pop classic "Love Potion #9" that felt contemporary while remaining true to the original version. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote "Love Potion #9" for the Coasters back in 1959, and that song peaked at number 23 on the Pop charts. However, the song saw its biggest success four years later for the Searchers, who took the song all the way to number three.

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Other Songs

"Oh! Darling" - The Beatles (First Hollywood Week Solo)

"Somebody to Love" - Queen (Hollywood Groups)

"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" - Aerosmith (Final Hollywood Week Solo)

"Get Back" - Beatles Week

"A Change Is Gonna Come" - Sam Cooke (Top 40)