Holy cow, can you believe we are down to just five contestants on American Idol? This may not be my favorite top five in Idol history (that award goes to Season Five), but I believe all the remaining contestants will continue to wow us with some astute song choices and powerful performances. It’s no surprise that I’ve been on a Holliepops high, but I have no shame in supporting this little underdog, especially now that she gets to tackle a theme that hits close to her former home overseas — British Week! That’s right; the Top Five will be covering songs from any British singer across all musical decades. To me, the greatest band of all time was from ye olde England — The Beatles — so I fully applaud any song that comes from any and all spectacular British talents. Bombs away, folks! Here we go with some song suggestions…
1. Hollie Cavanagh, “Across the Universe” (The Beatles) & “Runaway” (The Corrs) — As much as the selfish viewer in me wants to see Hollie slay another Adele song, the strategist in me always wins in the end and prefers not to see Hollie get shunned as an Adele one-trick pony. Therefore, I’ve given Hollie two amazing songs that I know she can obliterate on any given night. The first is “Across the Universe,” which Michael Johns and Siobhan Magnus both tackled in their respective seasons to middling results (okay, Siobhan’s was rather pretty despite the sleepy rendition). I believe Hollie’s voice is stronger than the two, and she’ll certainly project this magnificent melody across the universe. I challenge her to have a Bo Bice “In a Dream” moment with one of the Beatles’ final hits before they split apart. By singing entirely in a cappella, she can not only prove her dominance as a vocalist, but also show that she has the courage to let her voice, not any other pizzazz, become the focus and center of the performance. For Hollie’s second song, I think The Corrs’ “Runaway” is an appropriate song for Hollie, both in terms of the lyrical message and its powerful chorus. The Celtic acoustics that could be included in the performance would just liven up Hollie’s showmanship a bit. Both of these tracks offer different sides to Hollie, but combined together they demonstrate “Little Miss Big Voice” at her absolute best.
With these two songs, there is no way Hollie can go home:
2. Jessica Sanchez, “Bleeding Love” (Leona Lewis) & “Domino” (Jessie J) — I’m not sure that British singers of the past would suit Jessica’s style, so instead I gave her two contemporary artists that can show off two different sides of her talent: Leona for the bombastic diva and Jessie J for the urban pop performer. “Bleeding Love” is a tremendously difficult song to sing because of Leona’s dynamic tones and inflections, especially on those falsetto runs. Jessica knows how to highlight the nuances in her voice, so this shouldn’t be as much of a problem for her as it could be for lesser trained singers. As for “Domino,” maybe this song could loosen Jessica up a bit by showing more of her personality that some viewers (specifically, yours truly) say is lacking from Sanchez. I proposed this song selection once before, and don’t see the problem with a repeat suggestion. No more pity votes, no more BeBe Chez — just sing like the amazing Jessica Sanchez I know is in there.
One part diva and one part pop = Jessica’s future recording career:
3. Joshua Ledet, “Dancing With Myself” (Billy Idol) & “Let it Be” (The Beatles) — Yeah, I’m still stuck on this Billy Idol song for Joshua, more so now because he’s had the “boring” adjective floating over his head for the past few weeks. We get that Joshua loves to slow things down and take it to church, but a little fun now and again wouldn’t hurt anyone. His rock performances have sometimes teetered on manic, so here’s to hoping that Billy Idol can tame Mantasia and let him get his funky groove on like he did with Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.” For the second choice, Joshua certainly has to stick to at least one ballad this week if he hopes to make it to the next round, and I dare you to find a more appropriate British song for this vocal dynamite than “Let it Be.” Katie Stevens had somewhat of a moment (it was Season Nine — nobody had real moments) with this track during Lennon/McCarthy Songbook week, but I know Joshua will give a more vocally respectable interpretation. I’m looking forward to that opening verse, When I find myself in times of trouble/Mother Mary comes to me/Speaking words of wisdom, let it be (let it be), so I can cry my eyes out when Joshua sings it. I’m a softie when it comes to The Beatles. There is no greater band that ever was or ever will be, according to this music enthusiast. Joshua, do me proud sir, and you will be worthy of making it into that all-important final four.
Groove a little, and then make us weep:
4. Phillip Phillips, “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2″ (Pink Floyd) & “Tears in Heaven” (Eric Clapton) — Phillip has Pink Floyd and Eric Clapton to sing; how can you go wrong with that? The tricky part is that he has to nail these songs, sell them so the audience can believe he is channeling these famous rock legends, and sing well enough to still be considered a contender for the Idol crown. The first song is simply a crowd-pleaser, made even more special by the fact that no one has performed this song in the history of American Idol. The second song will hopefully remind viewers — who aren’t cougar moms or teenage girls — that Phillip does have a soul behind his soulful voice. We want to see Phillip deliver some honest, genuine emotion on that stage, and this tender Clapton ballad should do the trick.
Two awesome songs, but Phillip better do them justice:
5. Skylar Laine, “Mercy” (Duffy) & “Wild Horses” (The Rolling Stones) — A spunky British pop song and a Rolling Stones tune that sounds like it was hand-plucked for a country artist? Those seem like the perfect song ingredients for a potentially amazing Skylar Laine night! Duffy’s nasally, throwback tone does kind of match Skylar’s voice more than you’d imagine, and I definitely see Skylar “countrifying” this massive hit. I just know I’ll probably be pumping my fists up in the air when Skylar sings the “You got me beggin,’ you got me beggin’!” part. Try as I may to forget Skylar is still in the competition, she has delivered week after fantastic week, with last show’s “The Show Must Go On” her most triumphant moment to date. I know she’ll do fine covering Duffy, but lest we forget this girl is more than sass n’ frass, she’ll kill it even harder with The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses.” You know those “out-of-nowhere” power notes Skylar hits will be doing cartwheels and back-flips on this song. I cannot wait to see it all go down (hopefully).
Mississippi meets The United Kingdom? Best union ever:
Whew, well those are my suggestions! What does everyone think? Are you happy I left out Adele and Coldplay, even though it’s a foregone conclusion that someone in the Top Five will foolishly be pushed to sing either of these popular British acts? As always, leave your own song suggestions for the Top Five below. Last week’s participation was great, and I encourage everyone to come up with an inventive and appropriate song list for British Week on American Idol. Comment away!
Tags: american idol, American Idol Season 11, american idol top 5, Hollie Cavanagh, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, skylar laine, Steven Tyler