One week after featuring the songs of Queen, “American Idol” producers are shaking things up on Wednesday night’s (May 2) show, by, uh … showcasing British music. Never mind. But that’s not all: The top five will also be singing a song from the 1960s too, which makes us wish Elise Testone would’ve stuck around for another week.
Still, with so many great songs to choose from, chances are someone’s gonna have a breakout night. Can Jessica Sanchez reclaim her past glories? Will Josh Ledet burn the house down? And what tune will Hollie Cavanagh sleepwalk through this week?
For the answers to those questions and more, we turn to MTV News’ resident “American Idol” experts — Gil Kaufman and James Montgomery — who give us their picks on what songs the top five should tackle. And they’d better choose wisely. Like the Beatles once sang, “It’s getting very near the end.”
Gosh, with Elise Testone already scooping up that hot Jimi Hendrix track “Bold as Love,” what is left for Phil? Since it’s gravel he likes in his voice, the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” is his penny lane this week. If he wants to mix it up for the Brit pick, you can’t miss with Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” He’s cute, but with the competition heating up, Phil-Squared needs to kick it up a notch to make sure he doesn’t get Daughtry’d. — Kaufman
No idea if they’re gonna be able to clear a Beatles song for the show, but if Nigel Lythgoe can work his magic, it would be great to see PP continue his infatuation with hefty women (who among us can forget his version of “Fat Bottomed Girls”?) this week and do the Fab Four’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” As an alternate, I’m recommending the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black,” which is angsty enough for him to get his grout on, yet sultry enough to appeal to his female fanbase. For his ’60s song? I’ll say he does the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun” or Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman.” They’re both definitely in his, uh, range. — Montgomery
Skylar has proven adept at taking songs that may not have started out as country and bending them to her will. She could flip the script by taking on the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses,” then putting her Down South stamp on Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind.” She’s in the driver’s seat, so it’s just a matter of not getting knocked off her game for two more weeks at this point. — Kaufman
Wait, did somebody already do Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man”? [Checks notes.] Damn you, Hollie — you ruin everything! OK, well, despite that, Skylar seems predestined to do Dusty this week, so maybe she’ll take on her version of “Wishin’ and Hopin’.” Of course, there’s some part of me that keeps thinking she’ll do the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” so don’t count that one out either. For her trip back to the 1960s, she’ll play it safe and do Loretta Lynn; I’m thinking “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” or “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which was technically released in 1970, but, hey, who’s counting? — Montgomery
Dude can’t miss, which is why he might as well go for broke with the Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” giving it a bit of a foot-stomping gospel soul. To switch it up, he might also consider Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.” Like I said last week, though, unless he gets a cicada lodged in his throat and can’t perform, Josh is on a freeway of love right to the finale. — Kaufman
With so much sumptuous ’60s soul to choose from, how can he go wrong this week? He already killed Sam Cooke, so maybe he does Aretha’s “Think” or Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose” (or how awesome would it be to see him try to one-up Crystal Bowersox’s amazing “People Get Ready” ?) If there’s been a knock on Ledet, it’s that he seems to be almost too retro-leaning, which is why, for his British pick, I see him going current: Jessie J’s “Price Tag” for the win! — Montgomery
She’s been tested and flirted with elimination, so Sanchez has to bring the diva good this week. Why not take a cue from a former reality singing winner, Leona Lewis, and blow out “Bleeding Love”? To bring it down a bit, how can she not resort to the go-to big “Idol” moment and be the umpteenth contestant to bellow Etta James’ “At Last”? Jessica is a solid contestant with a chance, but she needs a real “moment” to rise above. — Kaufman
Enjoy the J.Sanch Express for the next two weeks, folks, ’cause this train is officially running out of steam. I think she’s gotta go huge tonight, so for her ’60s tune, why not take on Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” or Martha & the Vandellas’ “Heat Wave”? Brit-wise, she should take on the late Amy Winehouse, say “Back to Black” or “Tears Dry on Their Own.” Still, I can’t help but wonder where it all went wrong. I blame BeBe Chez. — Montgomery
If Hollie wants to punch a ticket to the top four, she could go left and avoid the Adele trap by singing Duffy’s “Rockferry.” Or she could just do the obvious and sing Adele, in which case I’d go with an older track like “Chasing Pavements.” For a ’60s song, Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” has the requisite heft and plenty of space for her to pour it on. She’s miraculously hung on this long, but Hollie seems like the next one to go. — Kaufman
“Idol” producers seemingly stacked the deck in Hollie’s favor this week. After all, she’s British (right?) and she’s got the charisma of one of those 1960s small-town mayors who tried to ban dancing. Let’s start with the Brit pick: She’s already done Adele, and I see Gil suggested Duffy, so, uh, is there a third-tier Anglo diva she could do? How about Natasha Bedingfield’s “Love Like This”? Her ’60s song? Petula Clark’s “Downtown.” I officially cannot pretend to even care anymore. — Montgomery
Get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page, where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.