‘American Idol’ “Songs From Their Idols” Theme Week: Song Suggestions

This week on American Idol, the top nine finalists will be choosing songs from their own personal idols to sing for America. I want to apologize in advance to all nine contestants if I come across like a stalker with my knowledge of their personal idols. I had to scour the American Idol website and read the Q&A interviews about who each of their favorite artists are, otherwise this article would have been impossible to write up. Again, this is the last time I will stalk investigate the Idols unless it’s pertinent to these types of articles — I promise! Below is my song suggestion list for our Top Nine!

1. Colton Dixon (Personal Idol: Chris Daughtry) “Over You” — We don’t need another piano session from Colton, but we do need a continuous stream of rocker angst from this talented musician. I am giving him Daughtry’s grittiest song containing vocal runs that are extremely difficult to master unless your voice is up to par. I believe Colton can handle it. The song is about heartache, anger, regret, and pain — pretty much every ingredient necessary for the perfect rock track. Colton has already performed Daughtry’s “What About Now”  during Hollywood Week, but now he needs to stretch his abilities by moving away from the piano and proving to naysayers that he can rock out with the best of them. This song, which I consider to be Daughtry’s finest, should do the trick.

Will this song give Colton the rock edge he needs? I bet it will:

2. DeAndre Brackensick (Personal Idol: Eric Benét) “Sometimes I Cry” — If DeAndre doesn’t sing this song from his personal idol, it’ll be a blunder of epic proportions. No single song is as vocally matched to DeAndre’s falsetto voice than Benét’s Grammy nominated classic. DeAndre is struggling to find his place and value in the competition, but he may finally have a genuine moment with this track. I have a very good feeling about this song suggestion and DeAndre’s probability of selecting it, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Want to hear falsetto bliss? Listen to this:

3. Elise Testone (Personal Idol: Bonnie Raitt) “I Can’t Make You Love Me” — I’m normally averse to most songs that have been performed to death on Idol, but I’m making an exception because I know Elise can blow this out of the water. I’ve been wanting Elise to stay at the piano and just sing with her husky tone over a moving ballad, and finally this week could be her chance. Idols typically treat this Bonnie Raitt song like its a pop tune, covering it with high-pitched wails on both the verses and chorus, forgetting it’s in fact a gritty soul ballad. Thank god for Elise’s presence, as she’ll be able to deliver as close to Bonnie’s originally intended version without failing to inject that sass and frass we’ve come to love about Elise’s voice. I am sensing imminent goosebumps, and cannot wait!

Sleepy or Soulful? Elise will guarantee the latter, and then some:

4. Heejun Han (Personal Idol: Michael McDonald) “What A Fool Believes” — Couldn’t have picked a better song title for Heejun, right? In all honestly, Heejun’s personal idol is said to be Stevie Wonder (although his answer for it sounds very faux politician) but since that theme has passed, I doubt the producers will let him rehash a Stevie track. Therefore, I researched singers who influenced Heejun’s style, and top of the list was Michael McDonald. If Heejun wants to go the uptempo route to switch things up, this song actually could do him some credible service. It’s a fun tune with some legit vocals that rise above your typical karaoke drivel. Heejun may, and I stress may, make it through this week if he can nail this song’s upbeat flair while managing to control his voice, which McDonald could do with aplomb.

Hopefully Heejun can hit it home with this Happy Meal from Mr. McDonald:

5. Hollie Cavanagh (Personal Idol: Mariah Carey) “We Belong Together” — I was tempted to choose Mariah’s more upbeat “Always Be My Baby,” but David Cook cooked that song to a sirloin steak level that any other rendition would just result in a platter of unpleasant spam. Therefore, I gave Hollie a song that is still very modern, has R&B flavor that lifts up the tempo and can amp up Hollie’s “cool” factor, and is very much in her ballad wheelhouse. The song is a mix of genres, and will be one that could finally define Hollie as a contemporary songstress, where big voices shouldn’t be feared but instead embraced. The song meshes groove and depth impressively, and is easily one of Mariah’s strongest singles. Hollie should take full advantage of what this song could do for her Idol run.

Can Hollie play it cool this week? This song should spice up her ballad blandness:

6. Jessica Sanchez (Personal Idol: Beyonce) “Halo” — Ugh, if Melanie Amaro and Rachel Crowe didn’t perform outstanding versions of “Listen” and “If I Were a Boy,” these would be one of the two songs I’d be advocating for Jessica. However, the public already places both X-Factor performances on such a pedestal that Jessica would never be able to rise above either rendition if she tackled them. “Halo” is Beyonce’s next great song that is as deep as it is technically difficult. It’s one of those songs that stands on the edge of hokey and emotionally stirring, and Jessica has to find herself on the right side when covering this beloved Beyonce track. It’s a challenge to be sure, but Jessica must show growth and maturity by tackling these type of caliber tracks. I’m very concerned this could turn into a train wreck, but I’m putting a lot of faith in Jessica’s talent with this choice.

Can we crown Jessica “Master Chief” if she pulls off “Halo”?

7. Joshua Ledet (Personal Idol: Michael Jackson) “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” — Most every Michael Jackson song has been performed on the Idol stage except this tender ballad. If Joshua doesn’t connect with Michael’s lyrics on this song, the performance may come across cheesy or disingenuous.  Fans are waiting for Joshua to have another Idol moment, and this Jackson track could very well do it. Joshua needs a song that can redeem himself as an artist who has a firm grasp of the words they are singing. Last week didn’t show that one iota, but here’s to hoping this Michael Jackson classic will reposition Joshua in the top echelon of Season 11 contestants.

Can the King of Idol Gospel channel the King of Pop? We shall see:

8. Phillip Phillips (Personal Idol: Jonny Lang) “Breakin’ Me” — This underground guitar musician stylistically reminds me of Phillip, so I can see why P2 holds him in such high regard. What I don’t want happening to Phillip is to have each song sound exactly the same, because that would just limit his artistry. With “Breakin’ Me” there is a vulnerability that could be evoked from Lang’s lyrics that we haven’t seen Phillip showcase before on stage. We know Phillip can rock out and produce mad soul, but can he also show off that sensitive side we’ve all thought maybe wasn’t really his thing? If Phillip can wear his emotions on his sleeve in an honest and open way for America to see, that finale will have a spot held for him no matter what. I’m really counting on P2 to unleash some raw emotion next week, and I truly believe this Jonny Lang track could bring such feeling to fruition.

Does Phillip have what it takes to make America cry? With this song, America better get their surplus of Kleenex:

9. Skylar Laine (Personal Idol: Miranda Lambert) “The House That Built Me” — If you’re going to go for Miranda Lambert, you might as well go for the juggernaut. This is Miranda’s biggest hit to date, and would be the most strategic song for Skylar to choose to get a widespread response. Not being a country fan, this song is actually pretty amazing. I love the simplicity and the message despite it’s somber vibe. Yeah, it would be ideal if Skylar Laine went back to her enthusiastic upbeat numbers, but it seems like such a waste to choose a personal idol like Miranda Lambert and not sing her most recognizable hit. No one has done a Miranda Lambert song on Idol‘s live rounds, giving Skylar the chance to make this track a piece of Idol history.

Skylar and Miranda Lambert seem like a great musical match-up:

And that’s a wrap for my Top 9 Song Suggestions. What do you all think? Am I off-base, or is my set-list for the Idols solid? Better yet, what songs do you suggest the Top 9 Sing for “Songs From Their Idols” week? Provide your own suggestions below in the comments section!