‘American Idol’ “California Dreamin'” Week: Song Suggestions

There are two more weeks left until Phillip Phillips the winner of American Idol is crowned! Time is of the essence, and song choice has never been as important. That is why yours truly is here to hopefully give some of our Idols the right songs that will guarantee them a spot in the all-important Final Three. Yes, I do realize the Idols select their songs before the present week’s result show, but that does not stop me from using my telepathic powers to send a wave of advice across time and space, back to that moment where Jimmy Iovine and the guest mentor are prepping up the contestants for their weekly run-through. Who is that little voice inside every Idol’s mind as they come to a decision about what song to sing for the week? Why, that’s me everybody! Sometimes they listen (Thank you Hollie, Colton, DeAndre, and Jessica) and sometimes they don’t (Why, Elise, why?!), but regardless I’m heard loud and clear…at least I’d like to think so. This week our Top 4 are tackling songs from artists whose native land mirrors my own: CAL-I-FOR-NI-A! The second theme (cue the groaning) is “Songs I Wish I Had Written.” How is this any different from “My Idols” week? It isn’t folks, so I’m recycling the original song suggestions I had posted during Top 9 for tonight’s show. As for the new picks for “California Dreamin'” week, take the plunge below to see what I have in store for our Final 4…

1. Hollie Cavanagh, “Whataya Want From Me” (Adam Lambert) — Okay, so technically the Idol Season 8 runner-up was born in Indiana, but he was raised in California and began his music career in the golden state as well, so I’m willing to allow this exception. Lambert’s penchant for the shocking, dark, and glamorous all but reeks of California (state pride, so don’t hate!), but it is his contrasting melodic tone that really drew the attention of fans across the nation. The value of opposing forces coming together is why I believe this song would perfectly suit Hollie Cavanagh. Hollie can turn this darker-themed ballad into a story about her Idol journey. She’s been thrown to the wolves by the judges, has survived numerous trips in the bottom two, and still has yet to receive the proper credit she deserves. Personally, I’ve always wanted to see Hollie get a little dark and angry. If Hollie can pull this off, America’s response to her song title will be, “We want YOU in the finale!”

A very bizarre choice of song at first glance, but I’m convinced it could do wonders for Hollie:

For “Songs I Wish I Had Written” (Same as Top 9 Song Suggestion/”We Belong Together”):

2. Jessica Sanchez, “Finally” (Fergie) — I’m sorry, but this song was not meant to be sung by a singer with such a limited range like Madame Fergie. It’s as if this song had been waiting for Jessica Sanchez to snatch it up for the past four years since its release. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh toward the Black Eyed Peas front-woman, but I truly believe with the right gifted vocalist, this song could be legendary. Jessica has got to sing it; it is right in her wheelhouse, with big power notes that soar and verses that melt into your heart. I hope Jessica interprets the song’s message as a reflection of her Idol journey and sees how far she’s grown as a singer, performer, and person. Jessica could take this song straight to the top of the charts if she so daringly chooses it — I’m that convinced.

Jessica could make this her future single. I can already envision the platinum digital sales:

For “Songs I Wish I Had Written” (Same as Top 9 Song Suggestion/”Halo”):

3. Joshua Ledet, “Don’t Speak” (No Doubt) — If Joshua sings one more boring ballad with soulful undertones, you can guarantee he will be taking the long road home come Thursday evening. In order for Joshua to make the Idol Top 3, he’s going to need to show some modern flair. While “Don’t Speak” may be a fairly old song (sorry if I just aged my fellow twenty-somethings considerably), Gwen Stefani’s poppy tone stills settles in well with the 21st century music scene. Better yet, the song would allow Joshua to show off his cool factor, which I hate to say has been all but invisible thus far. By reinterpreting a popular pop tune from a singer who isn’t known for the power of her voice, Joshua will demonstrate three things: his modern relevancy, his creative skills, and his incomparable vocal abilities that can easily overshadow even the most legendary of artists. Joshua needs a song like “Don’t Speak” badly — he’s the next to go if he doesn’t start matching his technique with entertainment value.

Joshua has the least buzz of any contestant remaining. This No Doubt track should reverse that:

For “Songs I Wish I Had Written” (Same as Top 9 Song Suggestion/”I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”):

4. Phillip Phillips, “Under the Bridge” (Red Hot Chili Peppers) — The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dani California” and The Eagles’ “Hotel California” would be the obvious choices for P2 this week, but his predictability is part of his problem. We easily anticipate the types of songs he’ll sing each show, and any measure of surprise has all but left when it comes to Phillip (although that Usher song did raise a few eyebrows). That is why I chose a song that Phillip’s limited vocal range should have no problems handling. P2’s biggest strength is his storytelling ability, so why not exploit that asset by selecting a song such as “Under the Bridge,” with a slowed down tempo that could easily be transformed into a stirring ballad? Phillip has to start showing versatility otherwise he’s doomed to be the most reviled Idol contestant since Danny Gokey. Say what you will about Lee DeWyze or Scotty McCreery (and trust me, I’ve said plenty), but at least those two eventual winners didn’t cause such polarization on the internet. Phillip can win, but he’ll need the support of the naysayers to fully solidify those crucial votes. I believe this song can do just that.

One of my favorite songs ever could be the Idol moment that Phillip so desperately needs:

For “Songs I Wish I Had Written” (Same as Top 9 Song Suggestion/”Breakin’ Me”):

That wraps up my song suggestions for the week. Next week, I suspect the Top 3 will be singing a Jimmy Iovine choice, a judge’s choice, and a contestant’s choice. I will be providing what I’d like to call “Joseph’s Choice” (Sorry Meryl Streep, somebody else gets a say around here). Simply put, it will be replacing the contestant’s choice. I will scour the internet and my memory banks for one song in the entire history of music that each contestant MUST sing in order to become the next American Idol. I may have to do it again for Finale Week, but I imagine that week I’ll be focusing on which of the “Greatest ‘Idol’ Hits” the final two should sing once more. As always, please post your song suggestions and ideas below! Who knows, maybe the Top 4 will actually sing a song you felt was right for them (it’s a surreal experience when this happens, I must admit). Comment away, Idol lovers!