Tuesday night’s (March 23) episode of “American Idol” deeply depressed MTV News’ Jim Cantiello, mostly because of the parade of sub-par performances. But not only were the performances themselves problematic, but the song selection was some of the weirdest and most random in the history of the show.
This week’s theme was supposed to be “Teen Idols” (which would have made sense considering this week’s mentor was Miley Cyrus), but for some reason it was changed at the last minute to “Chart-Topping Hits.” All of the songs performed on Tuesday night reached the apex of the Billboard Hot 100, which only illustrated how bizarre (and occasionally awful) the taste of the American populist is.
But the strangeness of the history of top songs on Billboard really could have worked in the favor of a lot of the contestants. So here are the Billboard chart-toppers that we should have heard last night (provided that clearance issues didn’t exist).
Song Performed: “The Letter” by the Box Tops
Should Have Performed: “How Do You Talk to An Angel?” by the Heights
Dewyze’s Alex Chilton tribute would have been better had anybody actually uttered Chilton’s name during the broadcast, but since that didn’t happen, it was sort of a waste. It’s hard to tell exactly what the best type of song would be for Dewyze, so why not just sing something with a big chorus?
Song Performed: “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)” by Phil Collins
Should Have Performed: “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” by Meat Loaf
Collins has been done to death on “Idol,” but nobody indulges in Meat Loaf. It’s a shame, because his songs are epic, theatrical pieces with complicated vocal parts that would sound great on the “Idol” stage. It would be a challenge for Miles, but the histrionic nature of the vocal would have automatically taken her out of her shell.
Song Performed: “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen
Should Have Performed: “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” by John Parr
The appropriate answer here is actually “anything else,” because Queen songs should really only be performed by Queen. If he insists on shouting along to an anthem, he should have jumped all over the theme song from the Brat Pack classic “St. Elmo’s Fire.”
Song Performed: “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith
Should Have Performed: “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees
Though he was suffering from tonsillitis, Kelly still insisted on screeching his way through the worst of all the Aerosmith singles. He should have given himself a break with a little Monkees, which probably would have come across as witty and charming.
Song Performed: “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin
Should Have Performed: “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin
Somebody had to get it right, and why wouldn’t it be Bowersox? Tuesday night drove home the fact that this is her season to lose.
Song Performed: “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge
Should Have Performed: “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” by Jim Croce
Sure, Big Mike’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” let him show off his pipes and kept his soul-crooner persona alive, but any song that has been covered by Michael Bolton should automatically be disqualified. “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” isn’t as showy and dynamic as “When a Man Loves a Woman,” but it could have proved that Lynche could handle a more narrative tune (as well as one that was more upbeat). As an aside: Isn’t it wacky that this was the most popular song in the country for a few weeks in 1973?
Song Performed: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” most famously by Marvin Gaye
Should Have Performed: “Night Fever” by the Bee Gees
Does Andrew Garcia have a falsetto? Don’t you want to find out?
Song Performed: “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie
Should Have Performed: “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha
The judges wanted Stevens to be more contemporary, so why not take on a song that topped the charts just a few weeks ago? For even more impact, she should have just tackled Rihanna’s “Rude Boy,” the current Billboard Hot 100 champ.
Song Performed: “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News
Should Have Performed: “One Week” by Barenaked Ladies
Just to see if Kara DioGuardi would have still gone crazy for him. Also: Can you believe “One Week” was actually the top song in the country in 1998?
Song Performed: “You’re No Good” by Linda Ronstadt
Should Have Performed: “Black Velvet” by Alannah Miles
Miles’ shuffling, bluesy tune with a huge chorus would have let Benami embrace her odd side just as well as she did on “You’re No Good,” and the chorus of “Black Velvet” would allow for even more stylistic add-ons.
Song Performed: “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
Should Have Performed: “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Prince, covered by Sinead O’Connor
Magnus’ approach to songs (and now her hair) reminds everybody of O’Connor anyway, so why not close the show with a truly devastating performance like this?
What songs would you have wanted the “Idol” contestants to sing? What’s the weirdest tune to ever hit the top of the Hot 100? Let us know in the comments!