If it’s top eight week, then it must be time to dip into a traditional “American Idol” theme show: Detroit: The Music of Motor City.
How will such leading contenders as Candice Glover, Kree Harrison, Angie Miller and Burnell Taylor step up to the D Town challenge? Will it be “No Fun” (the Stooges), or will they find that there “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)?
MTV News has taken a deep dive into the city’s magical musical mountain and here are our picks for what the top eight should sing.
Little Ange should just sidestep the predictable and go with one of Motown’s all-time gems: Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.” It has the sweeping drama she’s perfected and a chance to break out of the ballad box without requiring the kind of dance moves we fear would just be embarrassing. Kaufman
Does she take a risk and sit down behind the piano for a version of the White Stripes’ “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground?” Given that the theme of season 12 seems to be “Play it safe,” I’m guessing not. Instead, she’ll probably go for something like the Marvelette’s “Please Mr. Postman,” which will certainly allow her to smile a lot. Montgomery
We know Amber can belt the slow stuff, but she needs to show us that she can handle something uptempo as well. Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street” is just the trick to prove her versatility. Kaufman
I suspect she wins a backstage coin toss, gets to sing the Supremes this week (sorry Candice). But which tune will she tackle? “Baby Love”? “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”? Nah, I’m thinking she goes for an over-the-top rendition of “Stop! In The Name Of Love,” which will not only show off her range, but her burgeoning confidence, too. Montgomery
Someone needs to do Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On” and after a few weeks of strong vocals with very little passion, Taylor can start making some sweet, sweet camera love to America with a bit of bedroom passion courtesy of the late master. Kaufman
I keep waiting for him to live up to the Frank Ocean-esque potential I think he possesses, so it would be rad to see him put a down-tempo spin on Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” That won’t happen, of course, as Taylor seems determined to prove he’s a sentimental crooner and nothing more. My pick? Smokey and the Miracles’ “The Tracks of My Tears” or “My Girl.” Montgomery
Unlike the rest of the pack, Glover has shown us her versatility, and all she needs to do now is keep bringing the thunder. How about “Live to Tell” by Detroit-ish Madonna? It’s in her wheelhouse and it’s totally unexpected, which is what this competition sorely needs. Kaufman
Sure, she could do Diana, or the Supremes, but I can’t shake the suspicion the prodigiously talented Glover tackles Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” which is not only the perfect choice for her, but will once again prove why she’s the best singer in the competition. Montgomery
We know that Mariah Carey loves it when DV goes bilingual. But that trick doesn’t work every time. What he needs to do this week is show his pop idol side. He’s got to go uptempo and though it’s predictable, Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” is his ace in the hole. Kaufman
Given his range and penchant for buttery blustering — seriously, with the entire Beatles’ songbook to choose from last week, he picked “The Long and Winding Road”?!? — I think the perfect pick for him would be the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There.” But can he find a way to work some Spanish into the mix? Montgomery
It’s hard to understand how LA is still in this competition given his weak vocals and lack of stage presence. But if he hopes to stay in the mix, he’s going to need to seriously up his game. This will never happen, but if he insists on week-upon-week of slow dances, I’m gonna say throw caution to the wind and do a slow-burn cover of Eminem’s inspirational “Lose Yourself.” Why not? Kaufman
Inspirational story aside, he’s basically laid bricks since making the top 10 and continues to prove that he’s incapable of being a contemporary star. This week, expect more schmaltz, as he bleeds all the emotion out of Jimmy Ruffin’s epic “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.” But at least his bowtie will look good. Montgomery
Speaking of unexpected, Arthur also needs to push the envelope a bit. She could keep it country, but sharp with a twangy version of Gaye’s “You’re All I Need to Get By.” Kaufman
Wouldn’t it be incredible if she put a country spin on Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street?” or “Heat Wave?” Who knows where she’ll turn this week … I’ll go with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” only because she might have thought it was a country tune based on title alone. Montgomery
Like Eminem, Kid Rock isn’t, technically from Detroit, but we can fudge it in this case. “Picture” is the one for Harrison. It’s already a bit country and it allows her to do a ballad without feeling old fashioned. Kaufman
Love her. I think there are no shortage of shocking Motor City rock songs she could choose from (please do the MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams!”) But I suspect she’ll deliver a smoldering take on something like the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” or Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine,” which, come to think of it, might work splendidly. Montgomery
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