American Idol Exclusive: Top 7 Redux Theme Is 'Now & Then'

idol season 11 top 7Looks like American Idol Top 7 Redux Week will have a little something for everyone.

TVLine has learned exclusively that Wednesday night’s theme will be “Now & Then” — with each contestant tackling two songs: A Billboard No. 1 hit from 2000 to 2012, and a “soul” song from a previous decade.

Excited for this theme? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Deb says:

    Sounds manipulative. They’re playing to particular contestants’ strengths and against other’s weaknesses. When does Skylar get a country week that would put everyone else in her playground? She not my favorite but even I understand that, unlike last year with Scotty & Lauren, the producers have ignored her strengths when planning a theme week.

    • noa says:

      why can’t she do country song for the 2000-2012 part of the show?

    • ds says:

      There wasn’t a “country week” last year either. All of the themes are geared towards giving contestants a wide range of songs to choose from to fit their genres- by either using decades/years of music, or selecting musical artists that have a wide range of song types.

      I don’t see how it’s “playing favorites” when every contestant gets to sing a current song in whatever genre they want as well as an older style song that they are free to change up (should they want to).

    • blazeme says:

      i wanna see jessica sing song from titanic by celine dion

      • Jenay says:

        Oh my God, please no! I would have to throw something at my TV.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Are you trying to get her sent home again?

        • Miscellaneopolan says:

          I’m no great fan of the song, but considering that Jessica got sent home after singing an obscure soul song I’d guess that singing that entirely too recognizable Celine number would actually help her.
          But they can’t do it, since Titanic came out in 90s, right? Please tell me there’s not a 3D-edition loophole.

        • Bobbi says:

          I agree. Even I would send her home! :D

      • che@83 says:

        Yes I agree to that. I also imagine her singing that. Will really fit her singing prowess like a glove.

      • sam says:

        that’s 1997 song my dear……sorry I do not like that song for her in this very critical moment of her

    • Yo' says:

      I think it does play to particular strengths, although Joshua will need to watch the vocal embellishments in this genre that often pick him off. Jessica sounds way too much like Beyonce to do Beyonce. Skylar will, I think, do very well: it is easy not to give her credit for changing a song, but she can. Elise could have a moment, Hollie is dead meat, and PeePee is gonna have a rough time. Colton can pull it off. Heck, he has probably been practicing soul for a year.

    • AIJ says:

      Not manipulative. Skylar can sing a country song practically every week. They’re keeping the themes pretty wide open which is smart. And that actually works to her advantage because her performances will be popular with country fans while everyone else is singing another genre.

      Plus I for one would not want to sit through a show where all of them had to sing a country song. That would be a trainwreck.

      • My Alter Ego says:

        Probably in most ways it works to her advantage (to sing country), but if she’s trying to draw in non-country lovers, venturing outside of the country zone can be to her advantage. While “Stay with Me” was full of energy (albeit, to me, the energy was frenetic, and, thus not enjoyable), she blew me away with her rendition of “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” — and has lost me every week since.

    • Joseph says:

      I understand what Michael and Melinda want ,
      They should not be shocked if final 3 will be

    • Neo says:

      watch out for Jessica she will take us on a ride

    • why says:

      What are you talking about Deb? There are many country songs from the past and present. She sucks though, so she might get eliminated. Great entertainer, but boring voice.

    • LEM says:

      Why does she need a “country week”… despite the theme, she always manages to sing country. Whereas the others have gone all over the place w/ their choices and shows their range. Skylar is old news and no disrespect to country lovers out there, but I’ve heard enough.

  2. Well if Jessica and Joshua don’t kill it this week with soul then I don’t know when they will. I think Jessica did great last week, but she can do really well with this theme. I’m curious to how Skylar will approach Soul and Phillip for that matter. Should be interesting.

  3. mitch says:

    I think that after 10 years, producers are finally setting these contestants up for success with their themes.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      And that’s why they are called, “producers”, but I do miss Big Band Week. The intricate melodies of the 40s would separate the men from the boys, so to speak. That’s when people realized Kelly Clarkson was a star. A good song is a good song, period.

      • Idolhead Ed says:

        We have 5 more weeks for that. It usually happens around top 5.

      • marie says:

        Yes, but as the years go by, fewer and fewer of these young contestants know, care about, or can relate to the standards. The exceptions – like Hayley last year – truly stand out, but many, if not most, of these kids are lost with such a theme. Let them sing the new songs they like: I’ll go listen to my Frank Sinatra recordings if I want the standards.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      You know, you just never know what a theme might bring. I can remember when they announced “Rolling Stones Week” in season 9 and I thought, Oh, NO! As it turned out it was one of the better weeks, and my husband and I still talk about Tim Urban’s reggae take on “Under My Thumb”. he got clobbered for that rendition, but these two old people found it to be interesting and original! He “made it his own”!

  4. Alan says:

    A soul song?… Seems like they’re kicking the Jessica/Joshua pimping into gear then!

  5. brandy says:

    Way to be creative, Nigel. (Not saying this shouln’t make for an interesting show, I just miss the days of “rock week” and “big band week” and “country week”. In my opinion, the contestants learn they can do things they never thought possible before, whether by stretching themselves or flipping a song to fit their style. (Not to mention a way to garner new fans for themselves).

  6. rascalete says:

    I would love to see these contestant expand their ability and have to actually sing a different song from different genre each week instead of the same melody with different words Like they had to do in Season 7

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I agree. I think themes like “Big Band Week” and “Disco Week” force them to expand their horizons. Plus, we get to see how creative they are. Some have already referenced Kris Allen’s “She Works Hard for the Money”.

  7. Kayla says:

    I want to see Skylar do something from the mid-2000s by a male country artist like Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, or Rascal Flatts. Keep it in her style, but change it up, do something different. I would love to see Colton do Kings of Leon “Use Somebody.” It seems the most logical after looking at the number-one charts for alternative and rock songs. I have no clue what either of them are going to do for soul songs.

  8. Idol Fan says:

    This theme will fit each contestant well. I’d like to see Colton pull off a soul song, if he can. The rest of them will have no problem (looking forward to hearing Elise’s choice as she’s done full James Brown’s cover shows).

    • Miscellaneopolan says:

      Oh, yeah. There’s a video of Elise covering Pappa’s Gotta Brand New Bag on YouTube. And she’s awesome. She does that and she’ll have the “Then” part of the theme covered.

      • marie says:

        Wow, sounds great – I’ll have to check that out. Whatever she chooses, Elise has the potential to knock ’em dead. I just hope she does.

        • Bobbi says:

          I liked her Al Green cover on you tube! Now a very recognizable song to all ages due to recent POTUS coverage.

  9. idolmama says:

    Wait… deja vu didn’t we JUST finish with songs from this decade 2011-2012 with the top seven. Granted a few more years have been added in but I can see it now. People complaining that there just weren’t any good songs in this decade. Or we will hear the same old same old. And OH MY GOSH what do you want to bet we will hear ANOTHER Beyonce and Celine Dion? When did Titanic come out? Do you think we will be treated to My Heart Will Go On (Read a LOT of sarcasm). Think the soul selections could make for some very good and interesting perfomances. And yes I kind of miss the theme weeks. I liked seeing the contestants perform outside their genre.

    • noa says:

      don’t worry. titanic was in 1998. and NOW. crap.

    • Bobbi says:

      AI needs to increase their ratings and really stay relevant. Articles are appearing in major papers pitting the Voice with Ai and how younger viewers are heading to the Voice. As much as some here enjoyed the Big Band theme, that’s probably giving the Voice lots of ammo to promote how much more relevant they are.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Maybe that’s my problem with “The voice”. I’m too old, LOL. I just find it painful to watch most nights.

      • marie says:

        I’m very glad Idol has decided to showcase a greater proportion of newer music – it’s what their contestants know and can relate to, after all. Unfortunately, The Voice is nowhere near as enjoyable this season as last, though; I’m really enjoying Idol this year and have given up on Voice for now.

  10. noa says:

    well, all we hear is how much Phillip is like Dave Matthews. usually i would say that he shouldn’t cover and DMB songs because of that. but i don’t think anyone EVER sang a DMB song on Idol, and it could be a (i hate myself for this) “moment” for him. I LOVE big whiskey and the groogrux king, and there are a few songs that would be great for him. either “You and Me” or “Why I Am” could be good. plus- will see if he even comes close to being as good as Dave. I’m guessing no, but i want to make sure. i’m banking on Elise being great this time (the underdog drive should be back!), and changing Michael and Melinda’s minds about the best top 3 scenario.

    • TheBeach says:

      Wow, with lots of people, even Iovine, mentioning the DMB and P2 connection, that would be really risky for him. On the other hand, it would be kinda deliciously in-your-face ballsy.

      • Marsaili says:

        I’d love it—especially since his voice is really nothing like Dave Matthews, I’d like to see how he interprets the songs with his voice!

  11. Joe says:

    I think everyone on the show should be forced to cover “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen twice or until our TV sets explode from an overdose of tween squee.

    • Alan says:

      That’d be both brilliant and awful at the same time!… I was utterly shocked when I found out that CRJ was 26 though. I assumed that she was about 15! :P

    • TheBeach says:

      Yikes, what a horror. Reminds me of when SYTYCD had every contestant dance to that song with this primal scream at the end. By the end of the show, I was the one doing the primal screaming!

  12. YowzaPowza says:

    That weird egg yolk think you’re sitting next to grosses me out. Get a different decoration for the coming weeks to sit next to. Thanks.

  13. J. May says:

    Definitely want to see Joshua sing Try a Little Tenderness. Would that count as soul?

    • idolmama says:

      Interesting, Try a Little Tenderness was composed in 1932 and originally recorded with an orchestral backround. A number of soul singers have recorded it also; Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, Etta James, Aretha to name a few. So maybe AI would let it be considered a “soul” song. However, it has also been recorded by Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Jimmy Durante so it could be considered a song from the “great American Songbook” big band type genre.

      • J. May says:

        Never would have pegged TALT as a Big Band kind of song. Otis Redding’s version is the definitive one for me.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          No kidding – I also think of Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness”. I would love to hear Joshua sing any number of songs – “Love Man”, “Get Up Offa That Thing”, “Mustang Sally”, “Midnight Hour”, or anything by Sam Cooke EXCEPT “A Change is Gonna Come”.

          • Marsaili says:

            Ohh, Midnight Hour—I think Phillip should do that one, that would be perfect! I could easily see Joshua doing Mustang Sally or Try a Little Tenderness—oh my, what he could do with that song!

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            Now that you mention it I think P2 could also sing just about any of those songs as well, but “Midnight Hour” would be really great.

          • CMC says:

            how about “People Get Ready” for Josh?? that would be another amazing performance

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            People, Get Ready is definitely a good choice for Josh and oddly, possibly Colton.

        • idolmama says:

          Well calling it a big band song was not a great description on my part. But what catagory would you put Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble and Mel Torme. I guess jazz vocals would be good. Anyhow listen to Frank’s version. It is totally different Otis Redding’s

    • HairLikeATeddyBear says:

      Yes! The first time I heard Joshua sing When a Man Loves a Woman, I thought it would amazing if he can do Try A Little Tenderness, one of my favs Otis tunes. It could be tricky to build up and fit into a 2min version… cos it’s all about the build-up, I think. And Elise should try Dusty, and P2… yep, Smooth has him written all over it. Where does it say the Then has to be soul?

  14. Realist says:

    Bless their tiny little hearts, the producers are sticking with manipulation, even though it backfired on them last week.

    • ejones says:

      Last week they gave the contestants two and a half minutes per song, time enough to develop the song properly. With 2 songs each this week that time is going to come down, probably too less than two minutes. That will be an advantage to some e.g. Skylar/P2 as the longer they sing the more boring they become, and a disadvantage to others like Elise.

    • Bobbi says:

      If producers don’t manipulate they are not producers.

  15. gailer says:

    Would only be excited if DeAndre was still on the show. He was the best at R&B

    • sara says:

      I was looking through the list of Billboard No. 1 hits and was getting really disappointed about DeAndre not being around anymore. “Let me love you” by Mario, “My love” by Justin Timberlake, “U remind me” by Usher, etc etc… so many perfect songs for him.

    • ThemApples says:

      Ah DeAndre…*sigh.* I miss him. Sometimes I cry…..

  16. ck says:

    Way to get the scoop Michael! I like this theme plus the fact we’ll get 2 songs from each of them. BTW, I’m loving you and Melinda on Idology.

  17. country soul says:

    I’m thinking “Smooth” from Santana or “Seven Nation Army” from White Stripes for P2.

    For the “then, soul” part, Skylar should pull out some country soul, like wynona from the 90s.

  18. I think choosing no. 1 songs will at least force the contestants to choose actual hits and not pick obscure songs that could be detrimental to strong contestants. The Bottom 3 last week did pick unfamiliar songs from established artists like Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga but just the same, we actually don’t know the songs. Now, bloggers cannot anymore say that contestants picked boring songs since these are actual hits. Hehe.

    Overall, I think all contestants will do well especially picking a billboard no. 1 hit. Hollie could surprise us by choosing Avril Lavigne or Katy Perry. Jessica should do something from Leona Lewis, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige. Elise could sing something from Amy Winehouse. Skylar might as well choose something from Martina McBride, Colton could do Lifehouse, Joshua could sing something from John Legend, and P2 could do something from Usher.

    I was wondering if any contestant would actually pick no. 1 songs such as Carrie’s Inside Your Heaven, Kelly’s A Moment Like This, Taylor’s Do I Make You Proud and Fantasia’s I Believe… Haha…

  19. Karrah says:

    For “then” I would LOVE to hear Skylar do “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones. It’s not a “soul” song but oh well.

  20. Pat says:

    I’m good with this. I like fairly open themes. And this was Haley’s best week last year.

  21. Sam M says:

    Please tell I’m not the only one that NEEDS to hear Elise sing some Amy Winehouse….

  22. paisley says:

    Could be fun—-I like when they can cover newer songs…. I really hope Jessica picks songs where she can really connect with us…I don’t want her to leave!

  23. C says:

    I would LOVE to hear Colton do “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. I think it’s perfect for his voice.

  24. Templar says:

    I’d like for Joshua to do “Hey Soul Sister” [Train] for his now song. And James Ingram’s “Find 100 Ways” for his then song. Or James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing”.

  25. Lo says:

    Here’s my list for the newer songs:
    Colton- Hey Ya! (Outkast, but the Obadiah Parker version)
    Elise- Lady Marmalade (Christina Aguilera version)
    Hollie- Take a Bow (Rihanna)
    Jessica- My Boo (Usher/Alicia Keys)
    Joshua- Irreplaceable (Beyonce)
    Phillip- Smooth (Santana ft. Rob Thomas)
    Skylar- How You Remind Me (Nickelback) — weird suggestion but I think it could work!

  26. Neo says:

    Jessica will totally kill her song this week… (actually she kill the song every week).. i thought she’s not in the competition when she sing (a guest star in the show)

  27. darcy's evil twin says:

    Music by Hall and Oates could also be considered “Soul”. Some of their music is wonderful.

  28. Lala3 says:

    Idol Chatter said it best “Colton Dixon sings like Kris Allen, but performs like Adam Lambert”

    That is why I like Coltin, he knows how to bring emotional connection to the song he is singing, while giving us performance, fashion and drama.

    • Cip says:

      Colton?? Fashion?? I look at him and think Howard Jones circa 1985…and I’d hardly call him dramatic. what Colton cool-aid is everyone drinking? He’s so meh compared to the likes of Joshua and Elise

    • bebe says:

      Colton is great but not as good as Adam. Adam’s voice is spectacular.

  29. odahughmareneedy. says:

    Colton – Sexy and I know it
    Elise – Sex on fire (Kings of Leon)
    Hollie – My hump, my hump, my hump.
    Jessica – On the floor (Ya, suck it, J-Ho!)
    Joshua- Single ladies (Beyonce, with the video’s look & moves!)
    Phillip – Toxic (Brit Brit)
    Skylar – I kissed a girl. Nuff said.

    • Miscellaneopolan says:

      So I’m sure that most of these choices are sarcastic, but I think a few of them are a really good fit. I think Phillip would do a great job on Toxic, and if it were at all appropriate Skylar would probably kill I Kissed a Girl.
      I crack up involuntarily whenever I picture Hollie singing My Humps, so thanks for that.

  30. kcostell says:

    Attention all Idol Contestants:

    See that “Ain’t No Sunshine” looking there all soulful and tempting on the cleared songs list. Stay AWAY from that song.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      LOL. I agree.

    • MA says:

      Aw, really? I love this song and have been wishing for Elise to do it since the beginning. Just her and guitar on a dark stage? Maybe some strings come in later. That could be awesome.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Awesome indeed, but I fear it might not be enough to keep her around.

        • MA says:

          Mmmm…yeah, maybe not. She may need two big songs this week, huh? Maybe some James Brown and Amy WInehouse like people are saying above? Those would probably be her best shots. But I saw a youtube video of her playing a blues song (I think she wrote it) at a singer/songwriter showcase. It’s just her and a guitar. Holy smokes. It’s fantastic, and much as I love pretty much everything she’s done on this show, I think it’s better than any of her Idol performances. But it’s totally stripped down and not flashy at all, so you may have a point there.

  31. Alex says:

    I think it’d be awesome if Jessica sang Try A Little Tenderness and Skylar did Travellin Band by CCR.

  32. darcy's evil twin says:

    Here are some of my soul picks – and NO ONE should sing “My Girl”. thank you Mr. Slezak!

    Elise – Tracy Nelson’s “Down So Low” (most popular cover was Linda Ronstadt’s)
    Joshua – James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing”.
    Jessica – “I Need Your Lovin'” by Teena Marie
    P2 – Wilson Pickett’s “Midnight Hour” or Otis Redding’s “Love Man”
    Hollie – Beyonce’s “To the Left”
    Colton – Hall and Oates’ “She’s Gone”.
    Skylar – Aretha Franklin’s “Freeway of Love”.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      And, to TPTB at “Idol” – resist the temptation to bring in the gospel choir on “Down So Low” at all costs.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      And Elise – stay at the piano. Do NOT stand up and let them bring in the gospel choir!

      • MA says:

        She needs to break out the guitar. Elise is fantastic on guitar! Piano is really pretty, but it’s subdued, though I agree wholeheartedly with the “forget the gospel choir” sentiment. Good lord.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          The song was originally performed with piano but hey, guitar would be different and interesting!
          I like it! and maybe it would keep the gospel choir at bay.

    • idolmama says:

      I spent my teen years in the 70’s and listened to Hall and Oates. I do not believe their music would qualify as soul.. Their music was a fusion of rock and roll with R&B. They called it rock and soul. When I hear a catagory is soul music I immediately think of the great Motown hits not soft rock from Hall and Oates. If they include Hall and Oates then why not the Righteous Brothers who called their music Blue Eyed Soul.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        Hall and Oates played The Apollo Theatre. ‘Nuff said.
        Like The Righteous Brothers they are “blue eyed soul” and even covered “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” if my memory serves me correctly.
        And if you’ve never heard Darryl Hall sing “Me and Mrs. Jones”…oh, my. You are missing something. That would be a good song for Joshua!
        My argument has always been “soul” is not defined by the race of the singer. It’s the song and the feeling. Like porn – can’t describe it but I know it when I hear it.
        I don’t really think Beyonce’s “To the Left” is “soul”. I’d call it “pop” but still picked it for Holly.

        • idolmama says:

          You are right. The more I thought about it, I realized it is the style of music not the singer. I stand corrected. Never heard D&H do Me & Mrs. Jones. Will go listen to it now.

  33. MA says:

    I think this is a great theme. It’s broad enough to let everyone choose something good. That said, Elise is bound to kill this (yikes…scary famous last words). If “soul” doesn’t play to her strengths, I don’t know what does. Joshua and Skylar will be pretty fun too, I bet.

  34. Karen says:

    The final 3 should at the very least contain Elise and Phillip

  35. Edna Z. says:



    1. Breathe – Breathe, Faith Hill 2000
    1. Hanging By a Moment, Lifehouse 2001
    1. How You Remind Me, Nickelback 2002
    1. Crazy In Love, Beyoncé Knowles featuring Jay-Z 2003
    1. The Reason, Hoobastank 2004
    1. We Belong Together, Mariah Carey 2005
    1. Bad Day, Daniel Powter 2006
    1. Irreplaceable, Beyonce 2007
    1. Low, Flo Rida Featuring T-Pain 2008
    1. Boom Boom Pow, The Black Eyed Peas 2009
    1. Tik Tok, Ke$ha 2010
    1. Rolling in the Deep, Adele 2011


  36. marie says:

    I’m very enthusiastic about this week’s theme. Two songs per contestant: great! Unfortunately, I guess that means no time for those terrific duets, though.

  37. marygrace says:

    love it. not on the Jessica bandwagon. power singers not my favorite. I love Elise.

  38. Ray says:

    Those of us who like Elise need to vote for her. She, in my opinion, is the one who needs
    more votes to survive. Jessica will probably get more votes this week, just because the judges made such a fuss over her with the lowest vote last week. With the save gone anyone could wind up in the bottom this week or next week.

    • Bobbi says:

      Jessica will get more votes but not because of the judges. They did the opposite. Jessica will get more votes because her lazy fans got a wake up call.

  39. Bob L. says:

    I would love to hear Joshua do a Robert Cray song for his “oldie.” I have been thinking all season that he would be perfect for Cray, and this seems like a great week for it. “I Wonder” would qualify as a soul song, wouldn’t it?

  40. Layla says:

    Wishing Jessica the best on her performance after hearing what happened tonight. Kinda explains why she may have seemed distant or not bubbly enough for the cameras to some. May also shed a light on her song choices. Condolences girl.

  41. Jojo A says:

    Fair compromise. I read an article somewhere that the average age of American Idol viewers (not voters, entirely different thing) is 48 (pretty old yup?). So obviously, they need to go after the younger people while not losing the older folks. So , presto … a show that caters to both.

  42. odahughmareneedy says:

    Wishlist for the oldies portion

    Colton – Across the universe
    Elise – First time ever I saw your face
    Hollie – One Day I’ll Fly Away.
    Jessica – Purple Rain
    Joshua – Try a little tenderness
    Phillip – In the ghetto
    Skylar – I can’t make you love me .

  43. TC says:

    I think a great song choice for Josh for the newer songs is “Crazy” by Gnarles Barkley or “Amazing” by One Eskimo. “People Get Ready” is a great older one for him but not sure if it’s considered “soul” or “R&B”. I’m just hoping no matter what he does, he kills it since he clearly didn’t deserve to be in the bottom 3 last week

  44. HairLikeATeddyBear says:

    Purely based on what he’s wearing, Joshua is probably going to do a James Brown number!! Can’t wait!

  45. HairLikeATeddyBear says:

    Oh god – the THEN list looks amazing! Sam Cooke (Joshua!) , Dusty (Elise), Otis (Oh Joshua again! hahahaha) , Marvin!! Can Joshua just do it all!?