“American Idol” resurrected its seventh-season Lennon/McCartney theme for last week’s broadcast. On Tuesday (April 13), “Idol” is bringing back the musical stylings of Elvis Presley for the first time since season five. Back in 2006, eventual champ Taylor Hicks busted out “Jailhouse Rock,” runner-up Katharine McPhee’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” landed her in the bottom two and Chris Daughtry’s “Suspicious Minds” got him voted off the show.
This time around, will recent judges’ save Michael Lynche calm the “Suspicious Minds” of voters? Will Tim Urban stand up and tell the judges, “Don’t Be Cruel”? Which “Idol” hopeful is headed straight for “Heartbreak Hotel”? Let’s take a look at which tunes we’d like the contestants to sing on Tuesday’s show.
Is there any way to integrate a theremin into an arrangement of an Elvis tune? No doubt there is, but let’s hope MamaSox — and, for that matter, Lee Dewyze — leaves the oddball instruments backstage this week and gives her vocals top billing instead. To that end, we want to see Crystal go minimalist, returning to her gal-with-a-guitar roots — ’cause those are beautiful roots! Before the King turned “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine” into a jaunty hit, Patti Page delivered a sultry version of the tune. Using her version as inspiration, and replacing horns with her acoustic strumming, Bowersox would knock ’em dead after two straight so-so performances.
Dewyze’s finest performance of the live shows was his R&B Week take on Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose’s “Treat Her Like a Lady”: a full-throated rock version that had us finally seeing why the judges were so enamored of the guy. We want to see more of the same. Dewyze should take Elvis’ swinging “A Mess of Blues,” tamp down on the rhythm-and-blues verve, electrify the whole thing and ask every single member of the “Idol” house band to pitch in with the effort. Just don’t invite the dude with the bagpipes back, OK?
Two words: “Hound Dog.” Seriously. Magnus is at her best when she’s making out-of-nowhere choices and presenting them in unexpected ways. The 20-year-old Cape Cod, Massachusetts, native should grind this tune to a near halt, focus on its bluesy center, and deliver a dark, smoky take on this 50-plus-year-old classic.
Big Mike is going to have to bust out a scorcher after facing elimination last week before the judges saved him. Lynche possesses one of the season’s most powerful, expressive instruments, and we suggest he put it to good use with “Heartbreak Hotel.” Mind you, Presley’s 1956 #1 hit comes with its share of pitfalls, including the possibility of having Simon Cowell compare you to a soused karaoke crooner. To avoid that fate, Big Mike should go for a more flowing arrangement over which his vocals can rise and fall.
The easy pick here would be “Jailhouse Rock,” but that’s what Hicks performed in ’06, and even though he won the season, James should really not follow any example set by the captain of the Soul Patrol. Rather, we see an upbeat, electric-guitar-heavy take on “A Big Hunk o’ Love” or “Mystery Train” as the perfect fit. After the slow-burning “Jealous Guy” last week, it’s time for some straightforward rock from Goldilocks.
Last week’s “Let It Be” pulled Stevens out of the bottom three after two straight trips to that dreaded territory. How to build on that success? Stay with an ultra-recognizable ballad: “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” The worry here is that the judges won’t view the 17-year-old’s rendition as believable. But if she sings with even half the emotion she did last week, that shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
After weeks of sleepy ballads leading up to last week’s bottom-three-inducing “The Long and Winding Road,” Kelly would be wise to skip something like “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and go in for a lively tune on Tuesday. Not too lively, of course, which is why “Suspicious Minds” would work well. Pay no mind to the fate of Daughtry. The song’s kind of corny, but everyone loves it nonetheless. Kind of like Kelly himself, come to think of it.
Garcia is the most confounding contestant of the season. Were we wrong to think he was a contender? It hardly matters at this point. He’ll be gone from the “Idol” stage soon enough, and until then, we’ll keep encouraging him to select the poppiest tune possible for each week’s theme, hoping to catch a little of the magic we heard back during Hollywood Week. Presley’s “All Shook Up” is a fun, high-energy ditty, and if Garcia isn’t going to wow us anymore, the least he can do is take us for an enjoyable minute-and-a-half ride.
The dimpled wonderboy finally escaped the bottom three last week on the strength of his not-completely-awful “All My Loving.” We suggest more of the same: the King’s 1956 hit “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You.” The slow tempo won’t ask too much of Urban and the lyrics can be directed right at those teen girls voting for him every week: He wants them, he needs them, he loves them.
What do you think the singers should perform for Elvis Week? Share your suggestions in the comments below!
Get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.