Every year, there’s one “American Idol” theme week that proves to be the equalizer. Sometimes it’s disco night, or performance episodes dedicated to Frank Sinatra, Gloria Estefan, big band or Bon Jovi.
Wednesday night’s (April 25) Queen motif could be the one that trips up some of this year’s most promising contenders. What a time to be missing the show’s resident glamo (that’s glam and emo smushed together) rocker, Colton Dixon !
Though both of us are huge fans of the pioneering British stadium rockers, is there any band whose music feels less relevant at this cultural moment? In other words, six seasons after Simon and the gang first took us on a trip down “Fat Bottom Girls” lane, it’s the obvious choice for “Idol” as the show steams — or limps — toward next month’s finale.
All snark aside, Wednesday night could belong to Elise Testone, since she’s the only one left who understands the intricate velvety folds of late singer Freddie Mercury’s bombastic voice. Also, if it was up to us, someone would have to do a song from the hugely underrated 1981 soundtrack to “Flash Gordon” (AAAH-AAAH!) but that’s for another time.
Of course, as is seemingly required by law, there’s also going to be a second hour of “Idol,” in which the top six will sing a song of their choice (like, it could be anything), so in anticipation of some “Killer Queen” and whatever comes after, MTV News’ resident “Idol” know-it-alls, Gil Kaufman and James Montgomery, are back with their carefully considered song suggestions for the remaining “Idol” hopefuls:
Let’s get it right out of the way: Bottom-three squatter Hollie continues to live on borrowed time. Queen’s music is all about emotion and showy delivery, and the British cowgirl has proven time and again that those qualities are a taller order than, well, her. That said, she could soar with one of the band’s many rich ballads, such as “You’re My Best Friend” or “Somebody to Love.” For her song choice: Mariah Carey ’s “Hero,” just because. — Kaufman
It would be fitting if she did “Another One Bites the Dust,” since she’s probably toast this week. Instead, she’ll do one of Queen’s excellent power ballads, like “Spread Your Wings” or “Save Me” (even though America won’t). As for her other song? I don’t even know where to begin. When she auditioned in season 10, she did a couple of Miley Cyrus tunes, so I’ll just say she does “The Climb” again. Hollie really inspires enthusiasm, if you couldn’t tell. — Montgomery
Josh has pretty much been able to sing anything thrown his way so far, but Queen could be a serious roadblock. Though their songs have plenty of flavor, it’s not necessarily the gospel-y kind he favors. He should probably take the safe route and put some of his soul on a big ballad like “I Want to Break Free.” If the Queen thing falls flat, he can redeem himself with something young, sexy and firmly in his lane like Chris Brown’s “Beautiful People.” — Kaufman
He’s got the pipes — and the burgeoning ego — to take on the entirety of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but he’d be better served channeling all those vocal histrionics (and craziness) into three-and-a-half minutes of “Don’t Stop Me Now.” And then we could call him Mr. Fahrenheit instead of Mantasia. For his second song, dude, I don’t know. He should just do a Fantasia song again. Any of them. — Montgomery
It’s been an up-and-down ride for the once-infallible Sanchez, but she should cruise this week, and I’m going to suggest she go rogue and sing the 1981 David Bowie/Queen collabo “Under Pressure,” which has a dynamic range that could let her show off those pipes. And she has to do Beyoncé again, so “Halo” it is. — Kaufman
Could see her dominating “Play the Game,” which has both scope and swagger, or “Body Language,” which is insane enough for BeBe Chez to take a bite out of. For song #2, well, like Kaufman, I’ve been wanting more Beyoncé for weeks now, and what better way for her to reclaim her mojo — and throw some shade at her presumptive finals foe Phillip Phillips — than doing “If I Were a Boy”? — Montgomery
The Mississippi queen has all the tools necessary to kill a rock song, but this might be the week she needs to give up trying to chicken-fry every performance. She might be able to get away with a twangy “These Are the Days of Our Lives,” or else she could go for broke and cowboy-up “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” She almost has to go with Gretchen Wilson’s “Redneck Woman” just to remind us why we love her so much. — Kaufman
Did Gil already pick “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”? Dang, he did. OK, well, what if she put a countrified spin on “Fat Bottom Girls”? Or how about “I Want to Break Free”? As for her personal pick, I’ll say she does Carrie Underwood. “Jesus, Take the Wheel” anyone? — Montgomery
No one has ever really tried to figure out what a Dave Matthews cover of Queen would sound like — until now. The boy can’t help it, so Phil Squared will almost certainly grout his way through “Another One Bites the Dust.” As for his own pick, does it really matter? I’ll say something by Zac Brown Band, like “Chicken Fried.” — Kaufman
As the lone remaining (sorta) rocker, Phillips could score this week with any number of Queen stompers: “Now I’m Here,” “Tie Your Mother Down,” “We Will Rock You” — any of them would work. If he were smart, he’d fulfill manifest destiny (and play to his fervent female fanbase) by doing the Dave Matthews Band’s “Crash Into Me” for his second song. It’d be right in his wheelhouse, and it would kill. — Montgomery
Like we said, for one week only, it’s hers to lose. If there’s any way for the perennial cellar-dweller to scrape herself up from the floor, it’s a titanic tumble through one of Queen’s stadium rockers. She could go obvious with “We Are the Champions” or go for broke with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which might actually be a bit too tricky for her if she’s just looking to hang on. Then again, she can really blow it out if she thinks it’s her last chance, so why not go all-in with Soundgarden’s bombastic “Black Hole Sun”? — Kaufman
For whatever reason, I have a sneaking suspicion she’s doing “Killer Queen”; maybe it has something to do with her penchant for the dramatic? “Radio Ga Ga” would also be a good fit, as would “I Want to Break Free.” For her second song, does she live up to her raspy potential and do something like Taylor Dane’s epic “Love Will Lead You Back”? Given that she could choose anything, well, your guess is as good as mine. — Montgomery
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