It’s the finals of American Idol, which means it’s once again time for me to remember this blog exists, spend a few weeks deeply engrossed in it and then forget about it again long before the season has even wrapped up. But who cares about all that! All that matters is right now I’m super excited for Idol and actually like a lot of the top ten. (Though, pound for pound I do not like it quite as much as I enjoyed last year’s. Last year had Skylar and Hollie though, so it’s hardly a fair fight.)
And we’re starting off with a new theme! And a kind of interesting theme too, though I assume most of its potential will be wasted and we’ll be blessed with our nine-hundredth rendition of “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” and a misguided “I Believe.” (Please, for the love of everything holy, Amber Holcomb, do not pick “I Believe”.) Anyway, off to my picks for everyone.
Lazaro Arbos: I mean, personally I think Lazaro should sing something uptempo. But, that’s more because I want Lazaro to go home than because I think it would sound good. If he’s going to get votes, he needs to stick with awful sappy ballads. Like. I don’t know, Carrie’s “Jesus Take The Wheel” or “Bless The Broken Road” (Rascal Flatts, covered by Carrie)? I mean, I don’t know that either will end particularly well, but it’s surprisingly hard to find truly terrible songs from this week’s theme. Most of the winners have, perhaps not coincidentally, strong dreck-free catalogs.
Janelle Arthur: Honestly, she just needs to sing something really well. And by that I mean, she needs to sing “Something” (The Beatles, covered by Taylor Hicks) really well. It’s nice with a simple melody and that’s all that even matters for Janelle at this point. She’s got no real competition in her Idol voting demographic, so avoiding trainwrecks is her #1 priority. (She would also be wise to avoid the more well known portions of Carrie Underwood’s discography to avoid what would certainly be an unflattering comparison.)
Curtis Finch Jr.: So I’ve skipped most of Curtis’s performances because I feel like I don’t particularly need to hear the same thing for the hundredth time. But, should he choose to, he can actual wield his voice for the powers of good and not evil. “Don’t Play That Song” (Ben E. King covered by Kelly Clarkson) would allow for his ridiculous vocal acrobatics without actively ruining the integrity of the song. Because asking Curtis to rein it in would be an exercise in futility, the next best step is to find a song that can hope to contain it.
Candice Glover: Candice is about to be in the unenviable position of being so good that she will no longer be able to surprise anyone. But she’s not there yet, so she doesn’t need to pull out a crazy song choice yet. (And shouldn’t, she’s in no danger this week. Save the whackadoo choices for later.) Fantasia’s “Bittersweet” is the right contemporary urban vibe that Candice needs to be going for and has more than enough room for all of Candice’s insane vocal adlibs.
Kree Harrison: Kree can pretty much do no wrong at this point. She’s done a good job picking songs and staying fresh/interesting in the context of American Idol. She’s the one person who I think can and should go for a deep(er) cut. The people voting for her will not be put off by an unfamiliar song the way many other fanbases might be. Kelly Clarkson’s “You Can’t Win” is appropriately rocking and fun and has plenty of room for Kree’s voice to impress. And unlike some of the field, I have faith in Kree’s ability to sing an uptempo.
Amber Holcomb: I love Amber. I love her a lot. And I’m super afraid she’s going to pick some horrifyingly old ballad (and sing the hell out of it) and people are going to be bored of her and she’ll go home first and I can’t have that happen (again… and again and again). She needs to pick something young and fun, but still be able to show that she can sing circles around every single guy in this competition. You know, maybe a song like Jordin Sparks’ “Battlefield” where her incredibly luscious tone would shine. Plus the song has a little bit of room for some attitude and that’d help Amber distinguish herself immensely at this point.
Paul Jolley: To be honest, I think Paul’s efforts currently would be best spent learning six or seven guitar chords really well and then picking songs that fit those chords. But (somewhat) less cynically, I think he could also just sit down and sing a soft ballad and work on not cheesing it up to the max and be fine. “To Make You Feel My Love” (Bob Dylan, covered by Kris Allen) is all those things and coloring inside Garth Brooks’ lines lets Paul soak up more and more of the country vote, which he’s going to need to start courting pretty quickly.
Angela Miller: “Dare You To Move” (Switchfoot, covered by David Cook) because cutting out the middleman is so much more to the point.
Burnell Taylor: I can’t say I have any real handle on Burnell yet, but I do love his voice. For some reason I hear him doing a really good cover of Fantasia’s Free Yourself and it’s mostly due to the opportunity for runs in his lower register during the verses. But it’s also just a song I happen to love that I’ve mostly forgotten about. And so hearing it again would be nice. It’s also got a little more oomph than some of the (lovely) ballads he’s been doing.
Devin Velez: I don’t know how well Devin can handle songs with any amount of tempo, but he’s going to need to at least try sometime soon. He’s also probably best sticking with his upper register for as long as humanly possible. So doing a more straight-up cover of “Always Be My Baby” (Mariah Carey, covered by David Cook) than Cook did might be a smart choice. Mariah seems to be particularly kind to people who sing her stuff, so that’s already a free pass from one judge. (… Okay, so Mariah is kind of a free pass regardless.) Anyway, Cook’s version of the song was so totally different than the original that it’d be easy to avoid that comparison, at least.