Top 13 Song Choices: Stevie Wonder & Whitney Houston

This week the guys are singing Stevie Wonder songs and the girls are singing Whitney Houston songs. I appreciate the theme because it’s specific and not a cop out theme like “Songs From An Artist You Can Name” or “Songs With A Preposition In The Title” or “Love Songs, Party Songs, and Songs About Life.” That said, it’s an awful theme for way more reasons than it’s a good one. The gender divide is stupid. Let the girls sing Stevie and let the guys sing Whitney. They’re singing the same night, you can’t restrict them to different songbooks. That makes no sense. And means I won’t get Skylar Laine spazzing out on “Superstition.” Also, Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston are the 1st and 3rd most covered artists on Idol, respectively (thanks WhatNotToSing). This week’s theme could’ve been “Innovative, Relevant Song Choices” and we still would’ve gotten 4 girls singing Whitney Ballads and 3 guys butchering Stevie.

But enough of my bitching about the theme. On to my always intelligible, never confusing song suggestions for our Top 13!

Elise Testone should sing “Queen Of The Night” from The Bodyguard soundtrack. Elise already gave us a heart-on-the-floor performance last week. Now I’d like to see something fun and dancey and upbeat. (In fact, I’d like all the girls to do something fun and dancey and upbeat but that’s not going to happen.) If Elise can master the cadence of the song, she’s got the vocal firepower necessary to dig into the rest of it.

Shannon Magrane should sing “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” from Whitney. Firstly, “Dance” is an amazing song and someone needs to sing it. The problem is that the song has a bit of a history of eliminating singers. So, since I don’t really care if we lose Shannon and because Shannon has teased that she has a fun side, it’s the perfect pairing! Either way, it’ll be more fun than her performance last week and the worst that happens is that she gets the boot. So win/win.

Skylar Laine should sing “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” from My Love Is Your Love. Skylar is all about her personality and attitude, and there’s enough sass and bite in this song for her to really shine through. The original is pretty heavily entrenched in R&B roots, but I think a bit of creative updating could make it a perfectly fine country song. And really the chorus of this song was tailor made for Skylar to stomp around stage and belt out ridiculous adlibs.

Jessica Sanchez should sing “I’m Your Baby Tonight” from I’m Your Baby Tonight. “I’m Your Baby Tonight” is the kind of Whitney Houston song I think Jennifer Hudson would be kill vocally. And Jessica Sanchez is pretty much just a little Filipina Jennifer Hudson in my mind. Jessica’s voice would just destroy the bridge of the song and her confidence would really shine through. Plus, it can only invite good comparisons from Haley Reinhart’s tipsy, lipstick-debauched rendition last year.

Hollie Cavanagh should sing “How Will I Know” from Whitney Houston. Hollie is my favorite contestant (typing this out means I have officially doomed her chances of longevity this season) and this is my favorite Whitney song. So they go together, naturally. Hollie needs to do something that’s not just stand-and-belt to win over some more fans and “How Will I Know” actually shares a lot of similarities with “Please Mr. Postman” which she nailed in Vegas. Basically, I’m ready to start stanning Hollie and this could totally do it.

Erika Van Pelt should sing “Run To You” from The Bodyguard soundtrack. Okay, so while I’m not jazzed about the idea of the girls singing Whitney ballads, I think Erika is the girl who is in most desperate need of a showstopper. And because the Idol nation is a little bit anti-rocker chick and loves its ballads, I think Erika sort of needs a big, emotional ballad to stay in the game. She’s got a big enough and interesting enough voice to turn “Run To You” into some sort of a moment and lord knows the song is big enough to create one. Bonus points because the song isn’t “I Will Always Love You” or “I Have Nothing” and the only Idol comparisons to be made are from Angela Peel (whose version was actually pleasant) and Jasmine Trias (who could’ve been better).

Deandre Brackensick should sing “Boogie On Reggae Woman” from Fulfillingness’ First Finale. Deandre needs a song with a little bit of groove in it to stay interesting. He also needs a song that’ll let him sing anywhere but his falsetto. I think this song accomplishes both of those tasks, for the most part (unless he attempts to mimic the sax with his falsetto).

Jermaine Jones should sing “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” from Talking Book. So I really like this song. But I couldn’t think of any guy that would sound good on it. And I really do not remember what Jermaine sounds like at all or anything about him. So I ended up here. There’s clearly a gigantic disparity in my excitement for the girls vs. my excitement for the guys.

Colton Dixon should sing “Superstition” from Talking Book. Alright, so Colton’s best quality so far is that he seems unafraid to be totally ridiculous on stage. Pretty sure “Superstition” is the song in Stevie’s catalog that best lends itself to stage performed eccentricity. He can do it while wearing a cape or while swinging from the rafters. I’m not so good at the idea stage of crafting insanity, but I can totally appreciate it and I trust that Colton knows how to deliver.

Joshua Ledet should sing “Sir Duke” from Songs In The Key Of Life. It’s a ridiculously happy and fun song that would be a little different from Josh’s last performance but still has room for him to tastefully take it to church. How has no one done this song on Idol yet, though? Criminal.

Phillip Phillips should sing “I Wish” from Songs In The Key Of Life. Stevie’s voice already has a bit of grit in it on this song, so maybe I wouldn’t find Phillip’s sandpaper bulldozing of everything he sings as offensive as I normally do. As long as he doesn’t give it too much of a Nickelback treatment, I think it might sound not horrible. No promises though. I’m not yet convinced Phillip can sing anything and have it sound not horrible.

Heejun Han and Jeremy Rosado should sing anything other than “Isn’t She Lovely”, “My Cherie Amour” or “Overjoyed” but they won’t. I’m already over them crooning sweet ballads softly until they prove they can actually sing something else and make it interesting. Spoiler alert: neither of them can.


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