‘American Idol’ Enters ‘This Decade’: What Should They Sing?

Gil Kaufman and James Montgomery face off on what 'Songs From This Decade' the top seven should tackle.

For weeks, it’s felt like we’ve been screaming into the void. We keep begging “American Idol” to get with the program and borrow a page from rivals like “The Voice” and “X Factor” by having the finalists sing songs that were released in the decades since Randy Jackson played bass for Carlos Santana.

It’s a novel concept, we know. Seriously, enough with the Billy Joel and Michael Jackson theme nights! Not another collection of Elton John, disco or Frank Sinatra songs, please! Give us something contemporary, dudes — or at least something that may give our aunt in Virginia pause.

Finally, “Idol” producers seem to have heard our pleas and given the top seven a shot at sounding halfway relevant this week with “Songs From This Decade” night. Now, the reality singing gods giveth and they taketh away, so while we’re in mortal fear of hearing Jason Mraz and Train songs, we’re also a bit torn about what is likely to turn into an Adele-valanche. Be careful what you wish for.

But we’ll take it. So here’s what songs MTV News’ resident “Idol” experts think the remaining contestants should tackle. They failed to take our advice on last week’s ’80-themed show , and look how that one turned out … DeAndre . Read on for our picks!

Joshua Ledet
Josh smashed it last week and is once again at the top of his game. But here’s the thing: The guy remains an R&B tabula rasa, personality-wise. It’s hard to see him headlining an arena tour or filming an iconic video. Since we hear he’s way more confident off-camera than on, L-Deezy needs to get a little grimy, and what better way to do that than with Usher’s “OMG”? Or, if he must, I offer a one-time-only Adele dispensation for “Someone Like You.” — Kaufman

I see him going one of two ways tonight: Either he embraces his brassy, sassy side and does Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” — which he’d kill, à la “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” last week — or he guns for a repeat of his maudlin, massive “Without You” and takes on Adele’s “Someone Like You,” like Gil suggested. Either way, he’ll be good. — Montgomery

Colton Dixon
At this point, it kind of doesn’t matter what CD does as long as he wears those skinny jeans and a cute scarf: Ladies Love Cool Dix. He has, however, pretty smarmy taste in music, which is an unforgivable sin in my musical bible. I could see him going the soft (and vaguely religious) route with Owl City’s “Fireflies” or — and this is my fear — he might go down Hot Chelle Rae avenue with “Tonight Tonight.” — Kaufman

Perhaps I’m finally coming around on Colton: Last week, his take on “Time After Time” didn’t make me want to punch him in the throat. Not too long ago, when the contestants were singing songs from their idols, I suggested he do Fun.’s “We Are Young.” Of course, he did Lifehouse instead, but this week, with the theme being “Songs From This decade” (or whatever), well, I’m gonna suggest he do it again. There’s a reason it’s the #1 song in the country, after all. — Montgomery

Hollie Cavanagh
I’m rooting for Hollie, but it just feels like she’s visited the bottom three so often that she’s living on borrowed time. If she can find a way to both sing and find her onstage persona, then La Roux’s “Bulletproof” could be her ticket out of purgatory. It breaks her out of the ballad rut, is a power song and has plenty of room for those big notes “Idol” watchers demand. She could really turn the tables, though, with Rihanna’s “(Only Girl) In the World.” — Kaufman

What will she do for her final performance? Well, after a few weeks of trying to step outside the bland balladeer box — and becoming a constant presence in the bottom three as a result — I figure she’s just gonna go down swinging: Get ready for her stirring, somnambulant version of Katy Perry’s “Firework,” y’all! — Montgomery

Phillip Phillips
Philly Phil is gonna do what Philly Phil is gonna do. The razor-hating, plaid-loving, meat-and-potatoes rocker has proven that he’s nobody’s pawn. You know who else does whatever they damn want? Kings of Leon. “Use Somebody,” case closed. — Kaufman

Imagine if this was the week he shocked the world and did something like Rihanna’s “We Found Love”? That won’t happen, of course, so I’m left searching my memory banks for any memorable rock tune from this decade that he could grout all over (growl/shout, BTW). When did that last DMB album come out? Damn, 2009. OK, uh … Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know”? The Black Keys’ “Tighten Up”? Whatever, I don’t care. More of the same on this dude’s inevitable march to the finals. — Montgomery

Jessica Sanchez
We get it, kid, you can blow. At this point, the teen queen just needs to not fall down in her glittery stripper heels. She made the rookie mistake of peaking early, but if she can remind voters and the judges why she’s made it this far with a blowout performance of Katy Perry’s “Firework” (this is all hers, Hollie), she may just coast to the finale. — Kaufman

Hey, speaking of the finals, four weeks ago, Sanchez seemed a mortal-friggin’-lock to be one of the last three standing, but after flaunting her alter ego (the nefarious BeBe Chez) and basically ignoring any and all advice from the mentors/judges, she’s let the field catch back up to her. Will this be the week that she goes back to just belting the bejesus out of a tune? I’m gonna say yes, and while it would certainly be, uh, interesting to hear her try Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over,” she’s definitely doing Beyoncé. Or Adele. Pick a song. Then again, if she decides to channel BeBe Chez, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her do Jessie J’s “Price Tag.” — Montgomery

Skylar Laine
Skylar has all the elements of a dark-horse “Idol” champ: She’s a good country girl who clings to her guns and four-wheelers, she’s personable, and she can sing the crap out of just about anything. This one’s pretty easy: Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” or Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” Git ‘er done, girl. — Kaufman

Skylar served notice that she’s in it to win it after last week’s powerful take on Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and she’ll look to build on that momentum with another big ballad this week. I’d like to hear her try something like Beyoncé’s “Halo,” but given her country roots, I’m gonna say she does something like Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.” — Montgomery

Elise Testone
I’m going to keep suggesting that Elise sing a Pink song until she listens to me. She’s got the rasp, the tough-girl attitude and the moxie. Yeah, I said “moxie.” So “Raise Your Glass,” Elise, and show them you belong. If that doesn’t float your boat, there’s always Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory.” — Kaufman

Inexplicably avoided elimination last week and is desperately searching to regain her mojo, so I don’t think there’s anywhere else Testone should turn than a brash, boozy Lady Gaga tune. She’d do “Yoü and I” or “The Edge of Glory,” as Gil said, particularly well, though she could also channel former “Idol” champ Kelly Clarkson and go big with “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” — Montgomery

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