The song “Bennie and the Jets” was originally recorded in 1973 and is one of my favorite Elton John classics. It features a seriously catchy piano hook, intensely singable lyrics (by Elton and his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin), and a great screeching falsetto. It’s a really good example of his many talents.
Rap artist Biz Markie gives a totally over the top performance of the song on The Chris Rock Show. It’s funny, it’s wtf?, and crazy as hell, but it’s totally sincere, and I can’t fault him for it. I think it helps that the backup band is really, really good, though. And it’s kind of nice hearing classic music being acknowledged by artists who came after.
I think he fares much better on this than on the live version he did with the Beastie Boys. Honestly, in some parts, it sounds as if he’s drunk and/or has no clue as to what the words are, or he’s just half-assing it.
American Idol contestant Haley Reinhart brought something slightly different to this. She did it with kind of a torchy vibe. Her studio version is nice, but doing it live you can see how engaging she is. She showcases more power – her voice goes from a growl to a hiss to a scream to a whisper. It’s all unique and it’s all pretty great.
This woman is a trip and a half. Check out the interviewer’s face.