Kirstin At Idol: Watch Out, Pia Toscano! After Elton John Night, Haley Reinhart Is 'Jetting' To The Top!

Thu, March 31, 2011 5:12am EST by 15 Comments

I’m not usually her biggest fan, but Haley Reinhart had the performance of a life time on American Idol March 30. I bet even Elton John would love her version of “Benny and the Jets!”

Elton John night on American Idol always makes me nervous because I don’t think anyone other than him can do those songs justice. However, in keeping with the magical, mystical Season 10, the majority of the Top 11 contestants held their ground — and a new front-runner even emerged from the pack.

Throughout the last several weeks, I’ve enjoyed the recordings of Haley Reinhart‘s singles, but her actual live performances have been inconsistent — and far from the strongest in the group. That said, the 20-year-old Illinois-native WAILED on her rendition of “Benny and the Jets” and had even the biggest cynics (yes, I’m talking to you, Mom) tapping their toes. It was no wonder producers used Haley’s performance as the grand finale — it was one of the only songs when I wasn’t wishing I was hearing Elton sing instead.

Backstage in the green room after the show, Haley explained to all of us reporters why she felt drawn to singing that particular hit:

“I was telling my folks about it and as I was telling all of them in Chicago, the song came on and I was like, ‘Okay.’ And then I was telling another friend out here about it and I caught the end of the song and I was like, ‘Okay.’ I just believe in different parallels and things like that,” she said.

She added, “It felt like I could do different things with the song. I started it off my own way, I took it a little slower, a little jazzier. And then I switched it up and made it a little rockier. I like to show a lot in one thing, so I’m glad I stuck with it.”

Meanwhile, Pia — the long-running fan favorite — sat across the room from Haley, slightly isolated from the group because she’s fighting a cold. Although she didn’t speak too much during the group interview, the 22-year-old beauty brought her A-game once again to the stage for yet another power ballad. Her rendition of “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” had the audience on its feet and made the judges rave.

Although I highly doubt Pia is in any danger of being one of the two contestants eliminated tomorrow, I’m confident she’s acquired a new top competitor in Haley. That girl is in it to win it. Don’t you think?

Haley Reinhart:

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Pia Toscano:

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And just for fun…Scotty McCreery:

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Last but not least, Lauren Alaina:

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Actually, I lied. Do YOU think Casey Abrams redeemed himself?

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Who do YOU think will be leaving us tomorrow? How did you feel about Naima’s risky reggae performance? Now the judges have no remaining saves, so let’s hope America voted wisely!