So, first round of American Idol live shows tonight – starting with the boys! In anticipation, here is what I’d like to see on American Idol. Granted, it’s a bit girl-biased, but guys can still find something useful.
I already mentioned that I get pretty tired of hearing the same songs performed over and over on American Idol, whereas the entire genres seem to never make it to the live shows. Yes, those songs are classic (at least for Americans; being a Russian, I sometimes hear songs that are 50 years old for the first time on American Idol) and mostly beautiful, but come on, let’s see some diversity! I’m not advocating for performing songs that, while beautiful, would be a disaster for a contestant singing-wise, like, for example, most Pink Floyd songs. But here are some artists whose songs could be easily performed on the show with great results. Idol contestants, be different already!
1. Lara Fabian. Such an obvious choice, I’m honestly surprised I haven’t heard one Lara Fabian song in a couple of years I’ve been watching Idol. Yes, she’s Belgian/Canadian rather than American, but she is well-known, and nobody seems to mind singing U2 or Celine Dion songs. Almost every song would do, as long as it is performed by a contestant with a really big voice, thus showcasing the voice (like Pia Toscano!).
2. Something in the metal department, like songs by Metallica or Manowar – you can laugh, but some of Manowar ballads (like Mountains) provide plenty of room for showcasing one’s vocals. Too bad there are no rockers left in Season 10 already, just maybe James Durbin.
3. Regina Spector – perfect for female contestants who want to showcase their indie style and big voice. They have used Regina’s songs for background sound in the early audition rounds – time to take her music center-stage.
4. Bjork. Not the most obvious choice, but her Human Behavior and especially Play Dead from her first album, Debut, are great to demonstrate outstanding vocals and to show that you are an independent artist. Would be great for Haley Reinhart.
5. Papa Roach‘s Carry Me from their 2009 album Metamorphosis. It’s a pretty ballad that would sound pretty good and appropriate on Idol if sung by someone like Season 9’s Allison Iraheta – or really anybody with big voice and rocker appeal. Carry Me is not the only Papa Roach song that would make a good Idol performance: other ballads, like My Heart Is a Fist or Reckless, both from 2006 The Paramour Sessions, would do as well.
6. Something by Tori Amos. Starting from Crucify and Cornflake Girl to almost anything from her 2009 album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin, she has lots and lots of original songs that are great for showcasing the voice and standing out in the crowd.
7. Blackmore’s Night. The combination of Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar and Candice Night’s folksy vocals provides the opportunity to show a contestant’s individuality as a folk artist.
8. Something by British songstresses, like Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen. The judges often complain about contestants’ inability to make songs sound current – well, maybe that’s because the lion’s share of songs performed on Idol is so not current, they’re not even on the radio anymore. Here’s a chance to perform something that is current, original, but that also requires a good voice and some bravery to make their songs your own.
9. Roxette. Another case of non-American band (in this case, Swedish) that is relatively well-known all over the world (their Must Have Been Love was made popular by its appearance in Pretty Woman). They are veterans enough to make them legitimate and appropriate for Idol, yet not as ancient as another Swedish band, ABBA.
10. Jamiroquai‘s King for a Day from their album Synkronized – seriously beautiful and highly appropriate for Idol, especially for less-mainstream contestants.
UPD on March 11, 2011.
11. (This should have been much higher on the list, like #8 instead of Amy Winehouse/Lilly Allen, but I didn’t have all my musical thoughts in order when I first wrote this post.) Everlast – many of his songs, like Friend or Stay, would be great even for a country singer like Scotty McCreery, who could use them to showcase a different side of his country singing.