‘American Idol’ Top Three: What Should They Sing?

The judges' picks for the finalists have been revealed, but we have a few suggestions for their choices.

Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze and Casey James are back in Los Angeles after jetting off to their hometowns last week. Come Tuesday night (May 18), though, it will be time to shut out those memories of parades and concerts and instead concentrate on the task at hand: convincing America they deserve the chance to transition from famous names to successful recording artists.

It’s a task for which the “Idol” top three and the judges will be sharing responsibility, as each crooner is set to perform two tunes: one selected by the judges and one picked by the contestants themselves. We already know what Simon Cowell and his pals have decided on; what we don’t know is what the contestants, freed from any theme-week requirements, have lined up. Here’s what we’d like to hear from the finalists.

Crystal Bowersox
The first thing MamaSox should do is thank Ellen DeGeneres for choosing Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” a tune that could be all sorts of awesome when shot through with a bit of Crystal’s bluesy soul. We have visions of a performance akin to what we heard earlier this season during “Long as I Can See the Light” and “Me and Bobby McGee.”

So what should Bowersox choose for herself? After covering McCartney’s classic-rock territory, we encourage the singer to go gonzo and pick something contemporary to show she’s not just an oldies singer. A stripped-down, acoustic-guitar-driven take on Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” would simply be amazing. Another killer choice would be Madonna’s “Music,” taken in a funky, country-fied direction.

Lee DeWyze
The 24-year-old singer’s sweet spot all season has been slow tunes that allow him to concentrate on nailing (or attempting to nail) his vocals. When it really works — as during “The Boxer” — we begin to see why DeWyze has made it this far in the season-nine competition. Leave it to Cowell to understand Lee’s strengths and weaknesses, as the Brit judge has picked “Hallelujah” for the singer. The Leonard Cohen song has been covered countless times and with diverse arrangements — including Jason Castro’s take on Jeff Buckley’s version in season seven and Tim Urban’s version earlier this season. That arrangement seems like the best fit for DeWyze.

For his second song, DeWyze might be thinking that he should delve into a hard-charging rock song. That’d be a mistake. The original version of his melodious new single, “Princess (Reprise),” however, gives us hint of another style that works well for him. The original song reminds us a lot of Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You Into the Dark.” And that’s exactly what we want to hear from DeWyze on Tuesday.

Casey James
The most predictable and least interesting of the judges’ picks comes by way of Kara DioGuardi and Randy Jackson, who selected “Daughters” for Casey. Among the many problems with this tune, we fear, is that James will be accused of doing very little by way of rearrangement. And when it comes to a straight-up comparison between James and John Mayer, the “Idol” contestant is not going to come off on the winning end.

Thus, the 27-year-old singer is faced with the biggest challenge on Tuesday. His best bet is to return to terrain he plumbed so successfully with John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.” James essentially turned that song into a Bob Seger tune, and it worked. This time around, he should just go all the way and bust out Seger’s “Night Moves.”

What do you think the contestants should sing? Share your suggestions in the comments!

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