Thursday, March 25, 2010

Armchair Quarterbacking American Idol

My students are testing today (we just finished reading Of Mice and Men), so it leaves me with a little downtime -- the perfect opportunity to do a little surfing as spring break gets closer and closer. Having exhausted local car dealership websites as I debate whether now is the time to get rid of my Sebring before it needs any more costly repairs, I moved to American Idol and stumbled across this, a list of the songs from which the Idols will chose for next week's R&B themed performances.


As I looked through the list, I found myself thinking, "Oh! I hope Crystal tries that one. Oh, Lord, please let Katie Stevens keep her hands off that!"

So I decided to do a little armchair quarterbacking to list what songs I THINK the Idols should do next week. Feel free to agree or disagree . . . not that I think anyone is actually reading these Idol ramblings of mine.

Crystal Bowersox
"Let's Stay Together" (Al Green), "Chain of Fools" (Aretha Franklin), "Midnight Train to Georgia" (Gladys Knight and the Pips), "Dancing in the Streets" (Martha and the Vandellas), "People Get Ready" (The Impressions).
Crystal intimated to the judges that she had a "surprise" planned for Tuesday. My suspicion is that she's going for something a little more upbeat. "Dancing in the Streets" would be a good, upbeat number that would lend itself to her happy hippy vibe. (Check out the Grateful Dead doing that song.) Many of the others I've listed would also allow her to let loose a little more. I'd LOVE to hear her do Gladys Knight. Since Crystal is stalking me, I wouldn't be surprised to hear her tackle "Midnight Train." When this theme was announced last night, I worried for Crystal, but seeing this list makes me think that she'll be just fine.

Siobhan Magnus
"I Can't Stand the Rain" (Tina Turner), "Tell Me Something Good" (Chaka Khan and Rufus)
While Siobhan has tackled some classic R&B tunes before ("Think", "Superstition"), it is her rock performances that tend to stand out more. Siobhan is at her best when she goes dark, and either of these songs will let her go there. I think "Tell Me Something Good" is probably her best choice in that it's got a great groove that she can dirty up a little.

Didi Bemani
"Rainy Night in Georgia" (Brook Benton), "Georgia on My Mind" (Ray Charles), "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted" (Jimmy Ruffin), "Mercy Mercy Me" (Marvin Gaye), "Just My Imagination" (The Temptations)
I think Didi is going to be in trouble next week. For starters, the theme doesn't necessarily suit her voice or style all that well. For another, am I the only one who found her a bit petulant and maybe even rude last night when she called the judges on the carpet for their contradictory advice? My sis is a firm believer that contestants who talk back to the judges (particularly Simon) are dooming themselves to bottom three territory at the very least if not outright elimination. It happened to the beloved Justin Guarini. He got a little sassy in season one and boom! He was in the bottom three. (His curls saved him from elimination, I suspect.) Kevin Covais got snippy with Simon. Boom! Gone the next week. I think Didi would do well to stay within her wheelhouse and tackle one of these soulful tunes that might lend themselves better to her note bending voice rather than come out and try to be a total diva. Her delicacy may save her. Or not.

Katie Stevens
"Umbrella" (Rihanna), "We Belong Together" (Mariah Carey), "The Boy Is Mine" (Brandy), "No One" (Alicia Keys)
Even though her Fergie cover landed her in the bottom three last night, Katie needs to stay contemporary and young to save herself from elimination. She claimed last night that she wanted to be a pop/R&B artist, so here's her chance. Granted, there's not a ton of contemporary stuff on the list (at least not that's well-suited for a 17-year-old girl), but any of these songs could be good for her. Also, they are a bit more upbeat, which may help breathe a little life in Katie who can seem a bit wooden onstage. "We Belong Together" would be my choice although I worry it's out of Katie's range. The kid needs to take some risks, though, if she wants to stick around for another week.

Mike Lynche
"I'll Make Love to You" (Boyz II Men), "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" (Marvin Gaye), "I Wish" (Stevie Wonder), "This Old Heart of Mine" (The Isley Brothers)
The big mystery of next week will be wondering who is going to show up -- the Big Mike capable of tearing our hearts out (ala "This Woman's Work") or the Big Mike who's pointing and cheesing it up and shucking and jiving his way around the stage (ala "Miss You"). My hope is that Mike takes the heart tearing route and chooses a slightly uptempo ballad. Yes, I recognize that any of these songs (particularly "I'll Make Love to You") have a lot of cheese potential, but done right (which I think Mike is capable of), they can be really moving.

Casey James
"Mustang Sally" (Wilson Pickett), "In the Midnight Hour" (Wilson Pickett), "Easy" (The Commodores)
I'm going to be really surprised if Casey doesn't do "Mustang Sally." Seriously, the guy is just a good ol' bar band dude, and is there a good ol' bar band out there that doesn't have "Mustang Sally" in its repetoire? Come on!

Tim Urban
"Don't Be Cruel" (Bobby Brown), "I Want You Back" (Jackson 5), "I Second That Emotion" (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles)
We have to think that Tim is probably in the most danger this week based on two consecutive weeks in the bottom three. At some point, his cuteness will no longer be enough to keep the votes coming in (and come on, we all know the reason Tim is still around is the fact that he's so damn cute!). I think he could probably do any of these songs justice . . . well, okay, maybe that's stretching things. He wouldn't totally suck at these songs. Well, okay . . . maybe . . . Fine! These are my suggestions.

Andrew Garcia
"Dock of the Bay" (Otis Redding), "Who's Loving You?" (Jackson 5), "Human Nature" (Michael Jackson)
I'm really at a bit of a loss for Andrew. We know he's going to go acoustic. There aren't a ton of songs that lend themselves to the acoustic treatment or even to an Andrew-style reinvention ala "The Song I Refuse to Mention from Hollywood Week." I think he could do a really lovely "Dock of the Bay." But at this point with Andrew, who knows?

Aaron Kelly
"Never Can Say Goodbye" (Jackson 5), "Higher and Higher" (Jackie Wilson)
Aaron is another tough one. He's had some good performances the past few weeks with ballads, but I think Aaron needs to youth-enize himself, too, to begin proving he could be the new Justin Bieber or the country Bieber I think he should try to be. He might be better off with some Chris Brown or Ne-Yo, but I'm not overly familiar with their work, so I'm going with these two more uptempo numbers with the caveat that Chris Brown or Ne-Yo might be a better option. How's that for playing it safe?

Lee Dewyze
"Rainy Night in Georgia" (Brook Benton), "I've Been Loving You Too Long" (Otis Redding), "Living for the City" (Stevie Wonder)
Poor Lee. I have to admit I keep forgetting that he's even on this show! Again, I imagine this week may be a struggle for him. I am reluctant to put "Living for the City" on this list since Taylor Hicks did such a memorable cover of that back in season five, but it's a song that could be well suited to Lee's gravelly tone.

Thoughts? (No hate mail when NONE of my predictions come true)


Danielle Mari said...

I don't know because I still have yet to watch American Idol all the way through since season 1 and not at all this season. (I did watch when you and my mom told me to watch the chick with the arms... totally worth it.) But I wanted you to know that I read your blog religiously and love it. Can't wait to see if you're right!

I know what you mean, though. I don't know if many people read me either....

Mel said...

Oh, Danielle, you would LOVE Bowersox!!!