This coming week, the American Idol top six will be covering songs from the amazing 70′s/80′s glam rock band, the one…the only…Queen! It’s kind of disappointing that Colton will not be available to perform these songs this week, seeing as how his emo-punk style fits right in line with Freddie Mercury’s flair for the dramatic rock fashionista. Formed in 1971, Queen reinvented what it meant to be a “rock n’ roll” band, adding a texture of opera to their music and championing themselves as pioneers of the “glam rock” genre in the process. Their songs will forever be ingrained in music history, and I personally cannot wait to see what these talented Top Six Idols will do with such legendary tracks. As always, I’m offering some advice for each of the remaining contestants in the hopes that they’ll use my suggestions as a means of moving on to the next week without a trip to the Bottom Three. Without further ado, let’s take a look at what I have in store for the Top Six…
1. Elise Testone, “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites the Dust” — I cannot think of two Queen songs that scream “Elise” more than “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites the Dust.” For the former pick, it’ll get the fans of Elise to vote for her just as much as when she sang an equally amazing rock track, “Whole Lotta Love.” I could see Elise bring down the house with this performance, but she needs to be careful not to keep this track too stagnant. Some argue the song doesn’t particularly go anywhere outside of its centralized anthem, and this is where Elise needs to come in and prove her ability to show all colors of a song with the power of her dynamic vocal instrument. For “Another One Bites the Dust,” I just find it to be an appropriately humorous choice. Elise has been in the bottom so many times, it’s become a kind of joke that so many people have gone before her while Elise keeps on chugging on. I personally love the rock edge and grit contained in the song’s structure, and if Elise can give it a self-deprecating twist while still unleashing her inner rock goddess, we will be in a for a great one-two punch show from Ms. Testone.
This is a perfect theme for Elise. Fingers crossed she makes the most of it:
2. Hollie Cavanagh, “We Are the Champions” and “Who Wants to Live Forever” — At this stage of the competition, with the show coming to its final legs, it’s high time the Idols focus on their strengths. Being at the bottom of the votes three times now, I wouldn’t suggest Hollie take a big risk this week. She needs to stick to what she’s amazing at in order to move onward in the competition. No one can belt out notes quite as clear and booming as Little Miss Big Voice, Hollie Cavanagh. These two songs are perfect for Hollie to demonstrate her supremacy as Season 11′s strongest vocalist. The way Hollie’s notes soar for such length of time, and with such power underneath, is truly God-like. I want my Holliepops to shine with both of these Queen hits, which require incredible vocals and stamina to pull off. I’m giving the big ballads to our Queen of the Ballads, because I know she can execute such tracks to a perfect tee.
No more shenanigans. It’s time for Hollie to prove she is the best singer of Season 11:
3. Jessica Sanchez, “Somebody to Love” and “It’s A Hard Life” — I chose one song for Jessica to vocally shine and another to improve her storytelling skills. I know Jessica will slay “Somebody to Love,” and deliver a performance that many at home will probably cry for, but it’s the lesser known Queen song that Jessica needs prioritize her focus. The judges have been asking Jessica to connect to the lyrics she sings, because even though her voice is terrific, her delivery is sometimes robotic and uninviting. “It’s a Hard Life” will challenge Jessica, hopefully teaching her how to effectively narrate a song’s story. If Jessica can do for music what Phillip Phillips does with his honest interpretations, expect a neck and neck competition between the two frontrunners. I expect the pair to go head-to-head in the finale, but Jessica needs to demonstrate her well-rounded artistry if she wants even a shot at defeating P2.
One song to soar, one song to grow. Let’s hope Jessica matures:
4. Joshua Ledet, “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “No One But You (Only the Good Die Young)” — I admit, it took me a little while to come up with song suggestions for Joshua Ledet. His gospel/soul vibe doesn’t exactly translate to the edge and theatricality of a Queen song. However, I was able to find two songs that I believe fit Joshua well. The first, “Don’t Stop Me Now,” will hopefully provide an Idol moment for Joshua. If Joshua start off A capella on that powerful intro verse before diving into that uptempo chorus, it’ll be musical bliss to America’s ears. It’s a great song that can showcase every facet of Joshua’s voice, and it also won’t prevent Joshua from dancing to his heart’s content on stage. We all love a bit of that funky Mantasia dancing now and again, even if half the time we’re left cringing. For the second song, I chose a very intimate tune that doesn’t have a lot of operatic flair or drama — it simply strips down a song to pure ballad form, which is great for Joshua. He needs one upbeat number and one slow, emotionally churning ballad to give himself at least one more week on Idol. I predict he could be in serious trouble this week, but with the right songs, who knows, maybe Joshua will dominate Queen night.
Here’s hoping Joshua doesn’t turn into a caricature of Freddie Mercury. He just needs to keep singing well:
5. Phillip Phillips, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Under Pressure” — Phillip is not going anywhere, so it doesn’t really matter what he chooses to sing. At this point, Phillip can take a crap on stage and the teenage girls will still vote him through. I enjoyed P2 last week, and I hope he continues his upsurge in performance quality. What I want is for Phillip to continue rearranging the structure of classic songs. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” doesn’t need to be changed a whole lot — sticking to the melody while adding his signature growls will make this performance an exciting and digestible one. “Under Pressure” is an incredibly difficult song to perform, much less sing. I challenge Phillip to twist this song into a heartfelt ballad. We have yet to hear Phillip go soft and serious without a band to back him up, and this week could be amazing if he strips down this Queen track without musical accompaniment. Phillip’s storytelling abilities are second to none on this year, but he’ll become a more authentic artist if he lays his soul on the stage for everyone to witness.
Good songs that could be hits or misses for P2. I’m confident he can handle the “pressure”:
6. Skylar Laine, “Hammer to Fall” and “Play the Game” — Like Joshua, coming up with two Queen songs for Skylar Laine is an extremely difficult task. These may not be the most identifiable tracks from Queen’s songbook, but each could have a positive effect on Skylar if played right. For “Hammer to Fall,” I think the song could allow Skylar the ability to rock out even further than she has shown. If anything, the songs closed structure will force Skylar to focus on controlling her pitch, which has faltered noticeably when she tries to tackle edgy rock tracks. If Skylar can turn this little known Queen song into a country hit, there’s no stopping this girl from reaching the finale. As for “Play the Game,” I imagine Skylar’s improved vocals will serve this pseudo-ballad justice. I don’t want her to inject Mercury’s theatrical tone over this song, otherwise it would sound inauthentic and fraudulent. Skylar needs to just let the song build to its soaring chorus, where her pipes can do all the acrobatics to win the gold medal for the evening. The phrasing is key to this rendition, and I believe Skylar is creatively competent enough to master such a tricky song.
Skylar and Queen don’t really jive. That is why lesser known tracks can hold her head above water:
And that is wrap, everyone! Did you notice I left off Queen’s mega-hit, “Bohemian Rhapsody?” I believe anyone who tackles such a daunting song will commit Idol suicide. Agree? Below, I ask you all share some of your song suggestions, and feel free to discuss your thoughts on my own personal choices. Once again, the comment section is yours for the taking. Let your opinions run rampant!
Tags: american idol, American Idol Season 11, american idol top 6, elise testone, Hollie Cavanagh, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, skylar laine, Steven Tyler