No more guessing now! The Top 13 has been officially formed on American Idol thanks to your votes, whether you like the end result or not. Let’s take a moment of silence for Creighton Fraker and Hallie Day, two performers who were robbed a spot in the Top 13 by Heejun Han and Erika Van Pelt, and silently wish them luck in all future musical endeavors. In all seriousness, this is a very strong Top 13, and while it’s not as fully satisfying as last season’s perfect lineup, I think we have a real competition about to ensue over the course of the next two months. I look forward to covering it with my Idol partner-in-crime, Editor Clayton Davis.
This week the Top 13 Idols will be covering two of the most legendary singers of all time: Stevie Wonder and the recently departed Whitney Houston. The boys will be covering Stevie’s classic tunes while the girls will take the plunge into tackling one of the greatest voices ever. It’s certainly going to be a must-see show, even if train wrecks are an almost guarantee with such difficult standards to meet. To help prepare the Idol’s for this difficult week, I have decided to give some advice to each Idol by suggesting the songs that would most appropriately suit them on Wednesday’s show. Whether they listen or not remains to be seen, but that’s not stopping me anyway. Don’t say I didn’t warn them! Check out my Song Suggestions for the Top 13 for Stevie Wonder/Whitney Houston Week after the jump!
Boys (Singing Stevie):
1. Colton Dixon (“Light My Fire”) — Going in alphabetical order, I begin first with this season’s punk-rocker. I don’t suggest Colton stray away from his edgy-rock comfort zone just yet — the serious stuff can come later on — so I am going with one of Stevie’s famous rock covers of The Door’s “Light My Fire.” Call it predictable, but I say let Colton be Colton and stand out from the rest by really lighting up the Idol stage with a jolt of electroshock therapy that makes us shake in pleasure, not pain. Look, Colton and soul go together about as well as cereal and soy milk (you try it), so being true to himself as an artist while still delivering solid entertainment is never going to hurt his chances. I’m waiting for someone to finally do justice to this classic rock song on the big Idol stage.
Let’s take a trip, no pun intended, back to the 1960s:
2. DeAndre Brackensick (“How Come, How Long”) — DeAndre, AKA Tree of Life, is having a very difficult time appealing to America with his falsetto voice and odd phrasings whenever he tackles a song. Randy called him commercial last week, but if he really wants to certify that label, he needs to start singing songs that people can connect with. If he chooses “How Come, How Long,” a collaboration piece between Stevie Wonder and Babyface, he may finally break through. The song can showcase DeAndre’s unique vocals while at the same time allow him to tell a story instead of hiding behind tiresome runs that do absolutely nothing for viewers watching at home. DeAndre may be an old soul, but it could be this ironic choice of one of Stevie’s more recent hits that helps him overcome his bottom-rung status.
Groove to one of Stevie’s newer hits:
3. Heejun Han (“Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day”) — Enough with the serious ballads that only amp up Heejun’s facade as a romantic soul. I want to really challenge Heejun this week with one of Stevie’s most difficult songs, “Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day,” to see if he can prove why he deserves a spot in the Top 13. This song was made for Heejun — it has plenty of personality but also moments where his voice can be allowed to shine and explode. If Heejun nails this track, he may just make all of us rightful doubters eat our words for the rest of the season. I dare Heejun to tackle this song. I’m predicting another sappy ballad from Season 11′s “heartthrob” (*gag*), but I hope Heejun will be smart enough to show us a different side that will put his money where his big mouth is.
Can Heejun tackle this difficult Stevie track?:
4. Jeremy Rosado (“We Can Work It Out”) — With two love ballads under Jeremy’s belt, it’s beginning to look like the Greatest Hits of Celine Dion. I don’t want this relevant pop vocalist to get lost in that route, and so I’m hoping he can change things around with a unique arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s Beatles’ cover of “We Can Work It Out.” This song has such a simple melody that you can literally do anything with it to give it a unique flavor and sound. I hope Jeremy takes advantage of this, because I would hate to see him pigeonholed as one type of singer. If he wants to be a legitimate threat to his comparable artists on the charts, Taio Cruz and Bruno Mars, he’s going to have to get his groove back on.
Have a listen to Stevie’s version of a Beatles Classic:
5. Jermaine Jones (“Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer”) — Unlike some other contestants, I am not going to suggest Jermaine Jones sing an uptempo song, because I can only imagine what kind of horrific sounds would ensue with his baritone timbre. So while he remains in the competition, which is probably two weeks tops, I’ll give him another emotionally-stirring ballad with “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer.” It’s an inoffensive, beautiful song that no previous Idol has ever attempted to sing during these past eleven seasons. Jermaine will make moms and grannies cry across the nation with his rendition of this Stevie tune, but don’t expect the rest of us to stay awake. This song will carry him to the following week, potentially even out of the bottom three, but it’s really only an extender to Jermaine’s short shelf life.
Try not to cry while listening:
6. Joshua Ledet (“So What the Fuss”) — Okay, we know Joshua can slay a Jennifer Hudson gospel number, but can he also show us he’s capable of moving away from a standing mic? People are really going to get tired of Joshua if all he does is wail gospel glory notes the entire season, so I want to edge him up a bit with one of Stevie’s sassier songs, “So What the Fuss,” that contains real personality on top of some impressive vocals. If ever there was a song to strip away Joshua’s predictability, this Stevie tune is it! Again, it’s another challenge, but if Joshua is as good as the judges claim him to be, this should be a walk in the park.
Stevie’s sassy song is yours for the listening:
7. Phillip Phillips, “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” — Hearing this tune, I can already see Phillip Phillips rocking it out with his growling tone and angst-driven voice. There’s a lot of anger and rasp in this song that suits Phillip Phillip’s performance style like a glove. When this theme was first announced, I really worried Phillip would have the most difficult time choosing a song, but with this summer hit from Stevie Wonder, Phillip could once again show off his diverse talents. I’m crossing my fingers he picks “Master Blaster (Jammin’)”. His worst vocal to date was his cover of Wonder’s “Superstition” at the Savannah Auditions, so let’s hope choosing Stevie won’t result in another screechy performance.
Hear one of the greatest Songs of the Summer:
Girls (Singing Whitney):
8. Elise Testone (“Why Does It Hurt So Bad”) — Elise has one of the most powerful voices this season, which is why I chose her to sing a relatively underrated Whitney ballad where Elise can continue to show her own individual strength as an artist. It’s a beautiful song where Whitney utilizes her lower register more than her other popular hits, which is great considering Elise’s tone is in that same repertoire. If any “Idol” moment is happening next week, it could be with this Whitney track if Elise makes this bold choice. I know Elise wants to redeem her shaky ending on that Adele song last week, and choosing “Why Does It Hurt So Bad” may be more than just redemption; it’ll possibly be certification of her contender status.
Listen to a Whitney ballad not often heard:
9. Erika Van Pelt (“Queen of the Night”) — I’m predicting Erika Van Pelt will be saying goodbye to us this week, so why not go all out with rock guns blazing? I mean, we know Erika would never be able to pull off a Whitney ballad with her gravelly tone, so I’m giving her Whitney’s pop anthem, “Queen of the Night,” that can be a launching point for which Erika can stretch herself out even further. This isn’t regarded as one of Whitney’s best vocals, so it’s perfect for Erika, who could sound incredibly well by comparison. Yes, this song brought down Stacy Francis on X-Factor, but Stacy isn’t a rock singer, which is why Erika can light this song on fire. It may not be a groundbreaking performance, but it’ll certainly be a rip-roaring last stand for Season 11′s female rocker.
Can Erika Rock This Out?:
10. Hollie Cavanagh (“Saving All My Love For You”) — Hollie Cavanagh is my favorite contestant this season, so choosing a song for her puts a great deal of pressure on myself. I don’t want to trap her in the ballad bracket which spelled the end for Pia Toscano last season, but I also don’t want to inhibit that soaring voice of Hollie’s either. This is why I’m choosing a Whitney ballad that has a bit more personality and flexibility. Hollie doesn’t need to stand in one spot during this performance. She can move around, let her hair down, and sink into the emotion of the song with abandon. There are fragments of this song that jump levels of vocal degree, which is great for Hollie to prove her voice can muster through such difficult trajectories. I’m hoping that if Hollie chooses this song, she’ll serve it justice.
Listen to Whitney save all her love for her fans:
11. Jessica Sanchez (“I Will Always Love You”) — I’ll keep this short and simple. The producers are going to be pushing someone to sing this song, so why not the one girl who we absolutely know can take this to the moon and back? Jessica, this is yours for the taking. Make us cry.
Hear Whitney’s most popular love song of all time:
12. Shannon Magrane (“So Emotional”) — Shannon has said in interviews she is going to surprise us this week. She’s probably gotten wind that many Idol pundits see her akin to a Miss Teen USA contestant, and I know she is dying to shake off that false image. What better way to do so than tackling Whitney’s most popular dance hit, where Shannon can let loose but still let her jazz growls overwhelm the song in splendor? I’m kind of excited to see what Shannon could do with this song. It’ll certainly shed away the pageant persona that people associate with this little Haley Reinhart in the making.
Let loose with Whitney’s Famous Dance Classic:
13. Skylar Laine (“I Learned From the Best”) — Now that Skylar has shown she can run across the stage like an Olympic marathoner, it’s time to settle down a bit and give us some blissful music to our ears. What I need is for Skylar to prove she has the vocal chops to go deep in Season 11, and Whitney’s “I Learned From the Best” is a chance for Skylar to show us her skills while still maintaining her spitfire persona. The song has a lighthearted attitude that will only play into Skylar’s honky-tonk fanbase. It’s a fun tune that Skylar can stretch her abilities with and impress the judges. I sure hope she chooses it.
Have a listen to Whitney’s spunky track:
And that’s a wrap for my song suggestions, everyone! Tune in this Wednesday to see if these guys listen to me. A few did last year, and so I’m crossing my fingers for a season repeat. List your song choices and state whether you agree or disagree with my picks. Sound off in the comments section below!
Tags: american idol, American Idol Season 11, american idol top 13, american idol whitney houston stevie wonder theme week, american idol whitney houston theme week, Colton Dixon, Deandre Brackensick, elise testone, Erika Van Pelt, fox, fox network, Heejun Han, Hollie Cavanagh, Jennifer Lopez, Jeremy Rosado, Jermaine Jones, Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips, Randy Jackson, reality tv, Ryan Seacrest, Shannon Magrane, singing competition shows, skylar laine, Steven Tyler, stevie wonder, Whitney Houston