So “Idol” this week is resurrecting a theme from last year, “Songs of Then and Now”. Each contestant will perform a song from the 2000s … and each will perform a “soul song” from a prior decade.
Color me cautiously optimistic that this will be season eleven’s finest hour. And I think it’s already delivered some epic hours and performances to this point. (In the interest of full disclosure, the only season I’ve liked better at this point was season six – it’s the only other season in which you could argue any of the last six standing deserved to win. If you toss out Hollie (who’s going home Thursday, barring a miracle only LaKisha Jones has pulled off), the same applies to season eleven).
Since nobody asked, and nobody cares, here’s what I’d pick if I was each of these tremendously talented performers*.
(*: even Hollie has more talent than anyone in last year’s field, save for Lauren. Sorry Scotty, I know you won … but you sang the same damned song for 12 straight weeks to win. Color me thoroughly unimpressed.)
Phil: I think he’s the odds on favorite to win right now. The Dave Matthews wanna-be (and to be fair, not a half bad effort of replicating DMB most weeks), my only real complaint is that, like Scotty last year, he’s gambling that doing the same thing 12 weeks in a row is going to work. So far? It has.
This week? I hate to say this … but on the current century song choice, I’d double down on the DMB vibe, by taking from the man himself and do “The Best of What’s Around”. He’d absolutely nail that to (reggie jackson voice) “second f*cking base”. For the soul song from a prior decade … to be honest, this would be my second choice for him, because I’m saving what I think his BEST decision would be, for this site’s rubber chicken in the competition. (Trust me, if you watch this show, and know the song, Colton will create an “Idol” moment with it.) So instead, I’m going to suggest “Don’t Give Up On Me” by Solomon Burke for Phil’s soul song choice. I would love to see a DMB-style version of that bad boy.
Josh: my least favorite remaining contestant … and I’d still pay $25 to watch him play a show at Starlight, that’s how sick the talent level is this year. For the modern era song, I’d suggest “Mad” by Ne-Yo. Yes, Stefano crapped out last year at least six weeks too soon covering Ne-Yo … but “Closer” is a tough song to navigate. Josh on “Mad”, a slower ballad? Would kill it. With the candlestick. In the toilet, or the loo, or the water closet. And Professor Plum looks awfully shifty right now.
For the soul song from the prior century, good Lord, if this song choice goes wrong, Josh has no one to blame but himself, this had to have been chosen with him (and The Sanchize) in mind. I’d like to see him cover “Lately” by Stevie Wonder (and covered brilliantly by Jodeci). I’m telling you, this night has sick potential. Sick.
Skylar: God I am digging this chick at this point, to where I’m openly rooting for Skylar, Phil, and Colton to get homecomings, and Skylar and Colton to be the finale. You have to figure she’s going country for her 2000s hit, and if Jordin Sparks can go from after-thought to front runner in 120 seconds covering this song, Skylar can go from “solid contender” to “possible favorite” by doing it – “Broken Wing” by Martina McBride. I am honestly drooling just thinking about her covering that song.
For her second song … dammit, no Colton / Skylar pairing for a third straight week of awesomeness! A soul song for a country singer? Again, I’m suggesting a song “perfectly covered” on this show in season six, and I hope she tackles “This Ain’t a Love Song” by Bon Jovi. This performance ranked fourth on my all time favorites “Idol” performances I posted last summer, and in the interest of full disclosure, NOBODY hated LaKisha Jones more than me, that’s how epic her effort was. Skylar can top it.
Hollie: I honestly don’t think it matters what she does … but I thought the same thing of LaKisha entering the double-elimination Bon Jovi Night five years ago, and she survived an almost certain booting. (Ditto Diana DiGarmo on my second favorite “Idol” performance from top three night eight years ago.) Hollie needs to loosen up. She needs to have FUN up there on the stage. She needs to approach this week with a “when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose” no-holding-back attitude. Go big, or go home. For the modern song, I’d go with a stunner – “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning) by Alan Jackson. No matter HOW she performed it, it would be memorable, a diva type singer tackling the most subdued, humbled, hushed-tone hit I can think of. (Plus it might draw in a few votes, given that the song is about 9/11).
For the soul song, this is easy – “I Don’t Wanna Cry” by Mariah Carey. Girl would nail it eight ways from Sunday.
The Sanchize: and come on, stop with the emails and texts and tweets about how “that is so lame”. I know its lame. I just can’t help calling anyone named Sanchez “The Sanchize”. What would you prefer, “Dirty Sanchez”? (stevo thinking …) I can’t do that to a sixteen year old, that’s just wrong on so many levels.
It’s a safe bet she’s going diva on both songs. And that would be a colossal mistake. Girl just earned the judges save, there’s nothing left to rescue her with. So be bold, be creative, and pick a song that a female with vocals like The Sanchize could at least knock back to the edge of the infield – “Falling Slowly”, your 2008 Oscar winner for best original song. (I’d be lying if I said I knew who performed it). But Kris Allen jump-started his run to a championship by nailing this song, and it’s right up Jessica’s wheelhouse. (Also, Mr. Allen is performing Thursday night on the results show, so it’s a safe bet something he covered on “Idol” will get redone on Wednesday).
For the soul song, I’m asking her to take a leap of faith (no, not the song by Bruce Springsteen … although that’s an interesting idea). Cover the one song on the “Footloose” songtrack not completely redone in 2011’s movie (it might be on the soundtrack, but they used the original in the remade movie) – “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” by Deneece Williams. Or, if you want something else, consider her cover (and Bill Withers’ original) of “Lean on Me”. Either one would work just fine.
(Random trivia note: Deneece Williams plays the musical teacher in “Lean on Me” who rewrote the school song that got poor Thomas Sands in so much trouble. She also KILLS “Lean on Me” in the scene where the student body assembles on test day. And yes, it was with the rope, in the lounge, and Miss White looks paler than ever.)
Elise: the dark horse, the sleeper, the “wait, she’s still here?!?!” of this season, joining such gifted alumni as Tamyra Gray (season one), Kimberley Locke (my rubber chicken from season two), Jasmine Trias (the worst top three contestant ever), and Syesha Mercado (from season seven, and I’m still irate that she didn’t reach the final over Asshat Archuleta.)
For the modern track, why not “So What” by Pink? You think that wouldn’t go over well? I think it would. For the soul song track, I’ve got a rock solid option for her – “If I Ever Fall in Love” by Shai. A huge smash hit in the early 1990s, it’s a slow tempo song (it was sung acapella actually), and the compare / contrast with such a subdued, slow song to Pink’s anthem would be a great vocal showcase.
Colton: the modern song I have to think about for a minute, but the soul song is so obvious it’s ridiculous, and his only excuse for not choosing it would be if Josh got first dibs. “Overjoyed” by Stevie Wonder. As great as “Piano Man” was, as epic as “Love the Way You Lie” was, THIS? THIS would be his moment – Colton at a piano, a slow soulful song that builds to a ridiculously pleasurable ending (dusty voice: “like a night with you? stevo voice: shaddup! (rimshot!)) that he’d definitely reach second base with, if not the pitchers mound.
Now, the modern song … oy, I’m torn. I agree actually with Melinda Doolittle on “Idology” at TVLine – I think Colton and Phil are an either / or proposition. They’re going to cancel each other out come top four, top three. (I personally think Skylar is reaching the final, along with Colton, but we’ll see). And like Elise, I find myself suggesting he do polar opposite covers. The slow soul song … and “Beautiful Day” by U2 as the modern era song.
I gotta give Colton credit, as Slezak did on this week’s “Idology” – he is playing this show PERFECTLY. Blake Lewis showed how the underdog can win – you change it up every week, you cover songs no one expect you to do well on, you completely re-invent well-known, beloved classics … and do it so well, people think the original is inferior. Blaker was the first one to really “get it”, and reached the final. David Cook won it the next year by copying Blake. Both Kris and Adam Lambert got to the final by imitating Blake. Ditto Crystal in season nine. And Haley came within 1% of reaching the final last year.
I love this theme night idea for this week. I’m really looking forward to how it plays out. Oh, and “Idol”s? If you want an idea of what to do, well, I just laid it out for you …