Chris Martin didn't quite know what to think of Arthur Gunn's rendition of "In My Place" during Sunday's Coldplay-themed night of American Idol, but last season's runner-up decided to stick to his guns when it came to a controversial choice regarding his cover — even if it meant going home at the end of the night. Gunn got a second chance at an Idol victory with last week's Comeback twist, but his decision to change not only the melody but some of the words of the song turned out to baffle the original artist, who served as a mentor to the competitors before they took to the stage.
Martin was a good sport when it came to hearing the unrecognizable version of his song, quipping to Gunn, "Funny enough, I always thought the melody was the best bit, and that's the bit you've thrown away." When Gunn decided not to heed his warning and move forward with his original version of the song, Martin attempted to give him a few tips: "Some people are very protective of the original. And I feel like, no, the nature of music is that it's an ongoing conversation," he explained. "It's water moving. I think what you're doing is brave, and I'm all in."
Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie echoed Martin's feelings after Gunn's performance. "To sit there and stick to your guns and change the melody to the song is pretty amazing. What is so cool about you is you walk to the beat of your own drum and you do things your own way," he shared, as Richie added, “Oh my God, Arthur, you are a cherished soul in my book, because anyone who can stand before the writer and say, 'Eh, I'll change the melody, and a few words too, and make it mine,' it's called an artist. And you're dead on in your artistry."
However, judge Katy Perry called out the performance as not her favorite cover. "One thing to know about artists, we're very stubborn. I think Chris was saying it kindly — like, the best part of that song is the melody," she explained. "But of course, you are Arthur Gunn, and you do it your way. … But sometimes it is about playing along just a little bit. Because I did want to sing along with you, Arthur, but I didn't know that melody."
At the end of the night, Gunn was voted off the show alongside competitor Hunter Metts, whose version of "Everglow" had Martin comparing the singer to a "young lion coming through" to threaten the old guard of music. The judges were also impressed, giving his Mother's Day tribute of an original song titled "The River" high marks. American Idol airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.