"American Idol" has ditched its planned Teen Idol theme week in favor of a more wide-ranging, age-neutral category for Tuesday's (March 23) live show: Billboard #1 Hits. But the youngsters will be represented in the form of newly announced mentor [artist id="2408193"]Miley Cyrus[/artist]. What will this switcheroo mean for this week's airing, beyond the potential for some seriously awkward TV when the 17-year-old Cyrus might be disseminating advice to new father Michael "Big Mike" Lynche about something like Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On"?
We'll have to wait and see what happens. We don't yet know what season nine's top 11 men and women will sing, nor do we know if Cyrus will try to teach any of them her pole-dancing moves. But we do have some suggestions for the likes of Crystal Bowersox, Siobhan Magnus and the rest of their crooning cohorts. Here's what we'd like to hear from these "Idol" hopefuls.
Crystal Bowersox: We loved hearing Crystal go the classic-rock route with Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Long as I Can See the Light," and we loved when she brought out both the guitar and the harmonica for Alanis Morissette's "Hand in My Pocket." Now Sox should combine both those performance with a goosebump-raising rendition of Neil Young's 1972 hit "Heart of Gold."
Siobhan Magnus: A few weeks into the live shows, it feels like Magnus' wheelhouse lies in territory that mixes quirkily glam theatrics with songs that allow her to soar into her upper register. Yet there's also something about Magnus that endearingly screams, "I'm just a girl singing in my bedroom ... except I'm doing it way better than you ever did!" That's why we're going out on a limb — an awesome limb, mind you — and suggesting that Siobhan follow in the footsteps of '80s teen-queen Tiffany. A dark, slow, stripped-down version of "I Think We're Alone Now" would be pure magic. And she'd been in good company: Carrie Underwood busted out Tiffany's "Could've Been" on her way to the "Idol" title in 2005.
Didi Benami: Didi's finest live show performance came when she picked up the acoustic guitar for a folky take on Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon." We'd like to see her haul out the ax again and stick with old-school rock tunes rather than more contemporary material (she stumbled with "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson). Let's see how she does bringing a bit of her Adele-esque vocals to a Beatles tune like, "Hey, Jude," "Let It Be" or a super-slowed-down version of "Help!"
Paige Miles: Oddly enough, her best performance of the season came with the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Woman." So, as strange as this is to say, we suggest that Miles stick with the classic rock — something fun that will have everyone at home singing along. Peter, Paul and Mary's version of "Leaving on a Jet Plane"? The Beatles' "Penny Lane"? This might be Miles' last week, so she should make it a good one.
Katie Stevens: When it comes to Stevens, we feel like a #1 record worn out after a few too many spins on the turntable: Why does she insist on presenting herself as the oldest teenager this world has ever seen? Katie's mandate this week is simple: Pick a tune that's topped the charts within the last two years. Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You" would work.
Casey James: He's gone electric the last few weeks, but we still argue that James' best minutes onstage came when he was strumming the acoustic guitar during Bryan Adams' "Heaven." We encourage the "Idol" hopeful to hop back up on a stool and deliver a searing take on Extreme's 1991 tune, "More Than Words."
Lee Dewyze: We keep waiting for Lee to bury his singer-songwriter instincts and bring out some serious rock and roll. Hasn't happened yet, and we're getting a bit tired of his rhythm-heavy variations on the Stones, Owl City and Snow Patrol. Now is his chance to try something new, something along the lines of what David Cook and Chris Daughtry delivered a few seasons back: straightforward rock. What could be a better choice than Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child o' Mine"? If instead Dewyze goes with "Hey There Delilah" by the Plain White T's, we're going to be pissed.
Michael Lynche: Before last week's Stones misfire, Big Mike had been riding an impressive "Idol" winning streak with a string of R&B-infused performances. We want to hear more of the same. If he could ever get clearance — highly unlikely, but we're talking wish list here — we'd have Lynche channeling Michael Jackson from his Bad days: "The Way You Make Me Feel" or "Man in the Mirror."
Andrew Garcia: Garcia is treading water at this point, veering between styles and genres because nothing seems to be working since his Hollywood Week take on of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up." The singer should quit trying to do new things and admit what's he good at — honestly the only thing he's good at: reworking the poppiest of pop tunes. That's why he should go for something like the Spice Girls' "Wannabe" or Hanson's "MMMBop."
Aaron Kelly: Kelly's tender, slightly cheesy performance of "Angie" last week was the 16-year-old's strongest to date. His voice sounds most at ease in the upper register, while his musical sensibility resides with tunes you'd hear on adult-contemporary radio. Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" fits the bill.
Tim Urban: His attempt to bring some island flavor to the Stones crashed and burned. But that didn't seem to matter, as Urban once again was voted through to the next week — presumably on the power of his dimples, not his vocals. The 19-year-old hasn't staked out a strong identity as an artist, so he needs to pick a song that he can coo in the direction of the people (girls?) who have been consistently voting for the guy. Our pick? Hall & Oates' 1980 hit "Kiss on My List." It's just silly enough to work.
Which #1 songs would you like to see the "Idol" hopefuls perform tonight? Let us know in the comments below!
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