As we move into the Top 7 of American Idol, the producers have given the cast a theme that is the musical equivalent of tofu for most of them -- "Songs From the 21st Century." With a theme that broad (somewhat narrower than the moon, but broader than the Pacific Ocean) makes predicting exactly what the Top 7 will sing a virtual impossibility. But we've come up with some ideas about the types of songs they should sing, based upon what they need to show voters this week.
It's really not too important to show the judges anything new, because those three buffoons have proven that they'll cheer on virtually anything, especially if it's sung by a guy. Scotty and James could sing their next tunes through their sphincters and Randy, J-Lo and Steven would say it was musical genius. We hope that they'll strive for actual genius, so in that regard, song choice is important.
For a few of the Idols, every decision is critical. Haley is the "girl most likely to go home." Jacob and his catalogue of depression are nearing their end on the show. Stefano has the worst odds of winning and has tempted the Bottom Three far too much. And Casey now leads our pre-show "Odds to Go," as his buzz is quickly fading and he's trending sharply downward.
Following are our song choices for the Idols this week, as well as our pre-show "Odds to Win/ Odds to Go." Our song choices largely assume that the Idols should stick to well-known commodities, but not songs that were released within the last year. (That would risk far too easy, and far too unfair comparisons.) In only a couple of cases do we recommend veering from that course. Please let us know what you think of these selections, and be sure to check back tonight for our live blog of the performance show.
Casey Abrams (Win: 17-2; Go: 5-2). "Everything" by Michael Buble. Casey is hard to peg this week. On the one hand, he could take a very current song and turn it inside-out in a jazzy style. That would be my first preference. But short of that, he should probably stick to the jazziest pop artist around, Michael Buble. Michael's best-known number is "Home," but we strongly recommend steering clear of anything that makes statements like, "I wanna go home." The voters might just decide to take him up on that. A more voter-friendly choice would be "Everything."
Haley Reinhart (Win: 21-2; Go: 13-2). "Please Don't Leave Me" by P!nk. We'd really like to see Haley stay jazzy after last week's tour de force duet with Casey. Unfortunately, that really won't work with this week's theme, so the best bet for Haley will be to stay with an artist that somewhat similar to what Haley could be on the chart. Our pick is P!nk, and the song that we'd most like to see her sing is "Please Don't Leave Me," particularly because it gives Haley a chance to be a bit seductive with the audience.
Jacob Lusk (Win: 23-2; Go: 11-2): "Dance With My Father" by Luther Vandross. Jacob's choice is difficult because he's unlike most artists on the scene today. Honestly, he's vocally most like Luther Vandross, which poses some problems because it means another pained ballad by Idols' King of Pain. The late Mr. Vandross had a Grammy-winning hit with "Dance With My Father," and Jacob could probably score big with that tune.
James Durbin (Win: 3-1; Go: 17-1). "Gotta Be Somebody" by Nickleback. James also presents some issues because the style we've seen from him primarily agrees with a style of hair band rock that no longer exists (unless he goes with a gimmicky song like "I Believe In a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness.) Otherwise, he should take on a strong rock song like "Gotta Be Somebody" and put a spin on it that allows him to stretch out his own vocal twists.
Lauren Alaina (Win: 5-1; Go: 14-1). "Stuck Like Glue" by Sugarland. The 19E brass might force Lauren into a pop corner, but she's really showing herself to be best suited for country. This week, we'd like Lauren to go back to being a fun kid while reclaiming the vocal excellence she showed us in her initial audition. For that, we can't imagine a song any better than Sugarland's "Stuck Like Glue."
Scotty McCreery (Win: 11-4; Go: 16-1). "Then" by Brad Paisley. Scotty is the official front-runner on Idol, so he can afford to take some risks. We'd like to see him do something original, like taking a pop or rock hit and retooling it for a country vibe. Sadly, that's probably never going to happen. Instead, we'd expect to see Scotty stay in his country "lane." If that's the case, we'd suggest avoiding another turn with someone like Josh Turner and instead opt for a different country style, perhaps a singer like Brad Paisley who has match artistry with fun. "Then" is a bit slower and more romantic, but that would allow Scotty to serenade his diverse female following.
Stefano Langone (Win: 18-1; Go: 13-4): "With You" by Chris Brown. Every week that Stefano's on the show, he'll be the number one pick of most people to go home. That's why every week Stefano needs to come out "loaded for bear." "With You" was performed only one time on the show, in Season 7 by David Archuleta. It was probably his worst performance on the show, so there's room for Stefano to make an improvement. Whatever he does has to be memorable because he has the longest odds for winning, and close to the worst odds of staying one morenight.
Again, please remember to come back tonight for a live blog of the performance show!