The season’s first “American Idol” eliminations are in the books, and now Tyler Grady, Janell Wheeler, Ashley Rodriguez and Joe Munoz will have to pursue their dreams of pop stardom on their own. All of the eliminations seemed to make sense (though Tim Urban was arguably worse than Grady) and each one was accompanied by an “Idol” tradition: The exit song.
This season, Will Young’s “Leave Right Now” is the tune that will send fallen “Idol” contestants back to the real world. Considering the title and the fact that Young is a former “Pop Idol” winner in the U.K., it’s a logical fit (even though it was big on the British charts all the way back in 2003). However, when played over the exit montages last night, it sounded simultaneously harsh and dour, especially considering the chorus: “I think I better leave right now/ Before I fall any deeper/ I think I better leave right now/ Feeling weaker and weaker.”
Why such a bummer, “Idol” producers? The exit song has always had a bit of hope and uplift behind it, which “Leave Right Now” most certainly does not. When Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” became the first exit song in 2005, it not only became a chart smash but also set a certain tone for future entries, like Reuben Studdard’s cover of “Celebrate Me Home,” Carrie Underwood’s take on Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home” and Daughtry’s “Home.” The idea was that even though these people had failed, at least they were returning to their families, loved ones and normal lives out of the spotlight. “Bad Day” was especially effective because the lyrics passively wrote off every contestant’s elimination as an anomaly. They were still great singers — they just had a bad day.
It seems very possible the the use of Young’s “Leave Right Now” is a bid to get his career going again, as he has done little since his initial breakthrough and has yet to make an impact in America. But if the producers of “American Idol” really wanted to harsh the contestants as they walked out the door, they should have gone whole hog and used one of the songs below.
Mötley Crüe, “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)”
They’ve already used one Crüe song in the past (Underwood’s cover of the Theatre of Pain ballad “Home Sweet Home”), so why not go back to the well? This classic Dr. Feelgood anthem would express what everybody was thinking, especially in the early stages of the eliminations: You’ve got nothing to cry about, and we no longer want to hear you sing.
Arctic Monkeys, “Leave Before the Lights Come On”
Because the theater needs to be cleaned up, and we can’t have you hanging around. Also, turn in your security badge on the way out.
Dixie Chicks, “Goodbye Earl”
Note: For this one to work, all the contestants would have to be named “Earl,” which would probably be difficult (especially for the women). Perhaps that’s a vocal tic that Seacrest could pick up. “I’m Ryan Seacrest, and I call everybody Earl!”
Paul Simon, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”
Just slip out the back, Jack.
Jeff Buckley, “Last Goodbye”
If people are going to keep covering Buckley’s “Hallelujah,” you might as well bring another tune into the fold. This is only relevant if you want to go the morose route (though to be honest, we’ll never hear from Joe Munoz again).
Oingo Boingo, “Goodbye Goodbye”
If it worked for “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” it can work for “American Idol.”
What do you think? Is “Leave Right Now” a good “American Idol” exit song? What would you have picked? Leave your thoughts in the comments!