‘American Idol’ “Songs From This Decade” Theme Week: Song Suggestions

America’s votes have been decided, forming our official Top 7 on American Idol as a result. This week, the remaining seven contestants will be singing songs from this decade: 2010, 2011, and 2012. I have to admit, I’m slightly worried. Besides a few select records, are there enough great songs out there for our Idols to choose from that would have as powerful a punch on the big Idol stage without the magical force that is auto-tune? On the flip side, we’ve heard enough Adele renditions to last us a lifetime on Idol, so fingers crossed the mentors chuck Adele’s name out the window if some brazen contestants throw her name into the suggestion pile. I love Adele as much as anyone, but we can’t tarnish her special individuality as an artist by letting every contestant turn her into one smelly recycling bin. Mentors, please let the Adele recycling bin odor dissipate for at least a year until it smells brand new. With that piece of advice behind us, let’s jump right into my song suggestions for Idol‘s Top 7!

1. Colton Dixon, “Not Over You” (Gavin DeGraw, 2011) — I’m not sure Idol producers would allow Colton to sing a song from an artist who is currently competing on Idol‘s biggest reality television competitor, Dancing With the Stars, but who cares? It’s the type of song I could see Colton having a hit with on the charts. The track fits right in line with Colton’s high (some may say whiny) vocals, but it doesn’t contain the annoying punk-rocker angst that so many fans find troublesome with his performances. Gavin DeGraw is a great songwriter, singer, and musician, who loves bringing it back to an old-school level by sticking closely to the piano. One piece of advice for Colton: I suggest if he doesn’t want to have a sound-alike rendition, he strip away the tempo of the beginning verses, slowing it down so that the lyric’s emotion can be evoked while singing in A capella. If structured right, this could be Colton’s next Idol moment after his sensational “Piano Man” from Billy Joel week.

Can Colton show glimpses of his post-Idol career with this Gavin DeGraw hit? We shall see:

2. Elise Testone, “Bad Romance” (Lady Gaga, 2010) — Okay, so maybe this Gaga track actually hit the charts in late 2009, but it didn’t become a huge force until 2010, and even then Elise could probably choose it since cover versions of the song were performed later that same year. Since the very beginning, Elise has been compared to Gaga, looks and voice-wise, and what better song to merge these two comparative artists than Gaga’s most renowned hit? If Elise infuses even half of that rock edge she brought to “Whole Lotta Love,” but still stays true to the twisted nature of Gaga’s song, I’m expecting incredible results from this potential cover. After last week’s horrendous showing, I’m praying that Elise gets her act together, picks up that rock goddess persona off the dusty floor, and once again blows our freaking minds!

Gaga meets Elise: A recipe for disaster or success? I’m betting the latter:

3. Hollie Cavanagh, “I Got You” (Leona Lewis, 2010) — I wanted to give Hollie a song that was in her ballad wheelhouse, but also had somewhat of an uptempo chorus to let her do something with her body instead of just remaining stationary on stage. Those who’ve heard Leona Lewis sing know that her voice is one of the greatest in today’s music industry. Currently, I’m not sure I can name an artist who can reach so many different areas, even the most miniscule of alcoves, with their voice other than Leona Lewis. Anyone who attempts one of her songs better be prepared to give it a vocal tour de force, and thus my confidence lies in Hollie’s trademark voice, which is best used when soaring on those high notes. “I Got You” is actually a tender pop song, which Hollie can utilize as a bridge between her boring ballad comfort zone and the more poppy, urban sound that permeates today’s charts. The main concern I have is the song’s chorus, because Lewis’ voice employs falsetto throughout it, but maybe Hollie can change it up a bit and adjust the chorus to match her vocal abilities. If Hollie can rework this song to fit her voice, I imagine she’ll have a very good week indeed.

A fun pop song with some difficult vocals to master. I believe Hollie can conquer this song:

4. Jessica Sanchez, “Domino” (Jessie J, 2012) — I know Jessica will be tempted to sing Beyonce, but I caution her to avoid her favorite artist. If Jessica keeps recycling songs from her idols, nobody is going to take her seriously or see her as an original. I gave Jessica “Domino” because it is playful enough for Jessica to light up the Idol stage, yet still can be reformatted to sound like the diva songstress Jessica is blooming into. Adding some inflections of Jessica’s trademark deep rasp would only spice up the fairly boring pop flavor of this current chart-topper. Most importantly, I want to hear Jessica’s voice on something that she doesn’t normally cover (Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce, etc.) in order to diversify herself as an artist. At this point, I find her to be a fairly generic singer with a great voice. I’m now looking for Jessica to prove to me that she’s capable of selling records after Idol ends.

Can a surprising song choice make Jessica less predictable? I believe so:

5. Joshua Ledet, “Forget You” (Cee Lo Green, 2010) — I wish I could have come up with a less obvious choice, but Joshua’s voice does feel right at home with Cee Lo Green’s throwback sound on “Forget You”. I’m not sure Joshua himself will be sold by the track, but it is a song that forces Joshua to give a more boisterous performance, which we’ve been missing from him for the past four weeks. “I Wish” was great, and I hope Joshua mirrors that performance in style, as he is sure to bring down the house with soul and vocal gusto.

Too obvious, or just right? Ledet doesn’t quite fit the contemporary music mold:

6. Phillip Phillips, “Misery” (Maroon 5, 2010) — This song would sound fantastic with Phillip’s voice covering it. He could do a variety of things to make this Maroon 5 song even cooler than it already is. Utilizing his trusty guitar, Phillip can give it a more laid-back rock feel, or he could even turn it totally around and change it into a slow moving, heartfelt ballad. The possibilities are truly endless. I hope Phillip chooses a song that doesn’t completely scream his name from the get-go, but one that can be molded to fit his niche style. I think P2 has what it takes to make serious creative reinventions aside from simply laying his unique voice over a track that doesn’t normally jive with his musical preferences. Phillip, I hate to say, is starting to get a little lazy and exuding too much attitude. If he wants a shot at winning the show and beating Jessica Sanchez, he needs to start surprising people.

Can Phillip outdo this Maroon 5 hit? With a bit of work, P2 may surprise us for the better:

7. Skylar Laine, “The House That Built Me” (Miranda Lambert, 2010) — Guess who has another chance to perform this track?! Skylar Laine! After leaving us all stunned with last week’s “Wind Beneath My Wings,” it’s important Skylar continue showing her vocal chops with each song continuing forward. I remarked earlier on “Personal Idols” week that Skylar bombed by skipping out on choosing her idol’s biggest hit. Now that the song is once again within reach, why not take advantage of it’s emotional country power? Here is what I said before in regards to this song choice: 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.

Will Skylar waste another opportunity by letting this song slip through her fingers again? I hope not:

And that is all, folks! Just letting you know, I read each one of your song suggestions that you post in the comments section. All are great, and I implore everyone to continue sharing your selections. Trust me when I say, you get the most elated feeling when the Idol‘s actually do select your picks. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts concerning my song choices for the Top 7 Idols as well. Sound off below, loyal readers!