American Idol: What Should the Top 7 Sing for 'Classic Rock, No Ballads' Week?

american-idol-classic-rock-no-balladsNo, this is not an April Fool’s Day joke: American Idol has cooked up a fun, fresh theme for next Wednesday’s Top 7 performance episode.

Yeah, I kinda wish Nigel Lythgoe & Co. hadn’t added the “Classic” modifier to “Classic Rock, No Ballads” night — why not let the kids go current, if they’re so inclined? — but still, we won’t get seven consecutive ballads. (What-what?) And as long as Nigel isn’t maniacally offering a meager list of 15 or 20 pre-approved songs, it’s a pretty broad theme, too, with plenty of opportunities for brilliance and/or catastrophe.

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Because I already spend half my day daydreaming about The House That Kelly Clarkson Built, here’s my dream set list for the episode. (And yeah, I’m not sure if some of those ’80s ditties qualify as “classic,” but they’re mostly older than Idol‘s desired screaming-teen demo, so I figured “why not?!”)

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Burnell Taylor: Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime” or Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman

Janelle Arthur: Three Dog Night’s “One (Is the Loneliest Number)” or Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City

Lazaro Arbos: Bruce Springsteen’s “Tunnel of Love” or INXS’ “Need You Tonight

Amber Holcomb: John Mellencamp’s “Paper in Fire” or Prince’s “When Doves Cry

Angie Miller: Pat Benatar’s “All Fired Up” or Yes’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart

Candice Glover: The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” or Fleetwood Mac’s “Gold Dust Woman

Kree Harrison: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Don’t Do Me Like That” or Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry

What do you think of my picks for “Classic Rock, No Ballads” night? Genius? Deranged? Worthy of a crisp slap? Sound off in the comments, then sound off with your the fruits of your own brainstorm! And for all my Idol news, interviews, recaps and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

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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175 Comments
  1. Karrah says:

    Michael, I LOVE “Dirty Laundry” for Kree!

  2. Guitar Blue says:

    They will probably have only about a 20 song list that the band will know, and the show has licensed to use.

    Sometimes in the past, I have heard contestants say that they had to go to their 3rd choice because their choices were taken by another contestant -or they had been gracious enough to let another use it.. Song choice will be crucial this week, as some of these 7 will have a better “Rock Gear” than others. Even though the live audience may get excited over a performance of rock – the audience at home may see it differently; as in Pia, Michael Johns, etc..

    It will be good to see Carrie Underwood and Casey James on Thursday night.

  3. rhamuel says:

    Wanna see good memorable songs :

    Kree: crying /Aerosmith or alone/heart

    Amber: summertime/ Joplin or dream on /aerosmith

    Candice: mans world /james brown or black velvet / allana miles

    Jenelle:house of the rising sun /joplin or love is a batheship/ pat benatar

    Lazaro: I love rock and roll / rolling stones or bohemian rhapsody /queen or ill be wacthing you /the police

    Angie: songbirds/ fleecwood mac or try a little tenderness /otis redding

    Burnell: I would do anything for love/ meatloaf or purple rain /prince

    • LynnYK says:

      So, you’re saying mostly ballads or something close.

    • My Alter Ego says:

      Oh, I don’t think “Dream On” would be a good choice for Amber. The memory of Amanda Brown’s delivery of it (on The Voice last fall) would still be in the collective memory of too many and, would draw comparison — likely unfavorable.
      **
      Please don’t get me wrong — I’m in awe of Amber’s voice — but I suspect this week is going to be a tough one for her. To deliver rock well, there needs to be an edge/attitude that I don’t think we’ve seen in Amber, and, in fact, may not exist.

  4. Trouty Mouth says:

    $10 says that Lazaro will sing “Don’t Stop Believing”. I’m calling it.

  5. Lois Benton says:

    I don’t like any of your suggestions, Michael. Gimme Shelter is a wildly interesting song, but are you trying to get my Candice thrown off? Have you forgotten that Central and MountainTime people vote in vast numbers? They don’t really know Gimme Shelter and that song does seem vaguely disreputable. I don’t care enough about the theme to offer any counter suggestions, mainly because it’s quite clear that any terrific ideas would not be cleared anyway. All I can hope for is that I hear a terrific song I never heard before on Idol and maybe even never heard before on a singing competition show. Not likely. And yet there is hope. Based on what I’ve experienced so far this season, I can reasonably expect that Candice, no matter what nonsense she may sing, will closely resemble a genius child of Aretha Franklin who is more talented than her mother and who brings clarity and joy to her performance; that Amber will deliver a suspiciously masterful performance (That’s really Shirley Bassey, right? Not a teenager? And the beautiful Amber is actually a result of special effects motion capture, right?); and Burnell will be strange and wonderful.

  6. houster says:

    I truly believe that if the contestants followed your advice, Michael, next week’s episode would be the biggest trainwreck in the history of Reality TV. Burnell singing Mungo Jerry? Maybe Lazaro should sing “One Toke Over The Line” by Brewer and Shipley.

    My suggestions:

    Lazaro: “MMM MMM MMM MMM”, Crash Test Dummies

    Amber: “Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Pat Benatar

    Candice: “Somebody To Love”, Jefferson Airplane

    Angie: “Head Over Heels”, The Go-Gos

    Burnell: “Are You Goin’ My Way”, Lenny Kravitz

    Kree: “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”, Elton John

    Janelle: “Because The Night”, Patti Smith/10,000 Maniacs
    (i’ll bet a buck that Angie sings it).

    Nicki Minaj: “Cruel To Be Kind”, Nick Lowe

    • ThatBob says:

      After Burnell’s performance of My Cherie Adormmmm I’d think Crash Test Dummies would be better for him.

  7. Atticus1 says:

    Candice — “Immigrant Song” – Led Zeppelin ( I also just heard an Ann Wilson version of this. She could totally rock it)
    Kree — “Chelsea Morning” – Joni Mitchell
    Jenelle — “Peace Train” – Cat Stevens, with her guitar (10,000 Maniacs also did it.)
    Amber — “Somebody to Love” – Queen
    Angie — “Border Song” – Elton John, at the piano (If this isn’t considered a ballad)
    Burnell — I agree with the poster who suggested “Are You Gonna Go My Way” – Lennie Kravitz
    Lazaro — I have no idea.

  8. Brandon says:

    I don’t know any of these choices except for maybe two of them.

    How many Heart songs should we expect?

  9. Angel says:

    Even though they’re doing Classic Rock songs ‘no ballads’ will we really end up with no ballad interpretation of Classic Rock? Some how I doubt all the songs will be upbeat. For some singers their wheel house is in the slower or calm version of songs regardless of how the original sang it. Also I doubt that any of your suggestions Michael will be on Evil Uncle Nigel’s approved list and great as these contestants are none of them seem pushy enough to request a song not listed and introducing never heard before versions of a song. The producers of this show seem to love to shoot themselves in the foot with these older genre’s even if it is amazing classic music.

    • soxfan says:

      The problem is that these contestants are singing only ballads to show their soaring voices – I highly doubt that they are going to cut an entire album of songs doing that. In MY opinion, any one of the contestants who sings a song & changes it up to a ballad, should be voted off. That’s just me – enough of the sappy songs – they are lulling me to SLEEP!!! It’s one dreary song after another. I fully agree with Brenda above – NO BALLADS, NONE – NONE – NONE!!! They SHOULD be able to follow the rules at the ages that they are – when Nigel says NO BALLADS, I really do think he MEANS NO BALLADS. Randy Jackson has said this a few times now. Pick up the tempo!!!!

      • houster says:

        Well, someone could sing Nirvana’s “Sappy (Verse Chorus Verse)”, the chorus of which includes the lyric, “You’re in a laundry room.” Despite that, its my favorite Nirvana song.

  10. Mark says:

    Candice – Radar Love (Golden Earring)
    Angie – Love Hurts (Nazareth)
    Janelle – Life in the Fast Lane (Eagles)
    Amber – Love is the Drug (Roxy Music – Sucker Punch soundtrack cover)
    Kree – Feel Like Making Love (Bad Company)
    Burnell – All the Young Dudes (Mott the Hoople)
    Lazaro – Lust for Life – (Iggy Pop)
    Group numbers:
    Angie and Amber – Under Pressure (Queen & David Bowie)
    Burnell and Candice – One (Mary J. Blige cover of U2)
    Kree and Janelle – Long Cool Woman (The Hollies)
    Nothing for Lazaro. One song per week is his maximum.

    • soxfan says:

      Oh I really like the idea of Long Cool Woman – SUCH A GREAT, GREAT SONG!!!! NOW we’re talking ….. keep the ideas coming people!!! :-)

  11. syb says:

    OMG if Candice sang “Gimme Shelter” I’d petition to name her the American Idol right now.

    That would be SO good.
    (Not crazy about the rest of your choices Michael, but you get a trophy for that one.)

  12. Adam Fachry says:

    You know, you can call me heartless for saying this, but I can’t help it, I’ve gotta let it out: imagine Lazaro singing Bennie and the Jets. Would the b-b-b-b part be looped?

  13. dani n. says:

    EW Michael some of your choices. BURNELL- ought to do some Creedence or Janis or Allm an Bros. KREE- ought to do FRIDAY ON MY MIND by The Easybeats or FUNK 49-JAMES GANG. CANDICE – ought to do GIMMEE SHELTER-The Stones or FAME – DAVID BOWIE. AMBER ought to do GIMEE SOME LOVIN – SPENCER DAVIS TRIO or SO GLAD YOU MADE IT or I FEEL GOOD- James Brown. ANGIE ought to do CALL ME- Blondie or 25 or 6 to 4-Chicago. LAZARO- something of Billy Joel’s. JENELLE-KODACHROME – Paul Simon or GOOD LOVIN – The Young Rascald

  14. Woodmeister says:

    I don’t know if it would qualify as classic rock but it would be interesting to see one of the girls sing “You Don’t Own Me” – Leslie Gore. Janelle could probably slay this song.

    Lazaro might be able to handle something by the Doobie Brothers – say “Black Water” or China Grove. Or for something really different “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper. He’ll probably ending doing something by The Monkees- “Daydream Believer” or “Sleepy Jean”

    Candice would probably do well with “River Deep, Mountain High” by Tina Turner or “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane.

    Burnell – “Bus Stop” – The Hollies. “Spinning Wheel”-David Clayton Thomas

    Kree – “For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield or “Working Class Hero” – the Maryanne Faithful version.

    Angie – something by Sheryl Crow if that can be considered classic rock. Or “I Love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett.

    Amber – “Sweet Dreams (are made of this) – The Eurythmics

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      “River Deep, Mountain High” got Pia Toscano sent home and it’s not classic rock. It’s from the catalog of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound.
      I do like the suggestion of “I Love Rock and Roll” for Angie.
      Some of these songs are a bit sleepy for “no ballads” week.
      I suggested “Blackwater” for Janelle. Interesting.

  15. Woodmeister says:

    Janelle – Nashville Cats by the Lovin spoonful

  16. Guitar Blue says:

    If anyone sings Dream On – it is a sure elimination.

  17. Fernando says:

    Lazaro — “La Bamba” — Ritchie Valens

    Candice — “I Put a Spell on You” — Creedence (She MUST sing this)

    Burnell — “Cry Like a Baby” — the Boxtops OR “Spooky” by Atlanta Rhythm Section (and Dusty Springfield and the Classics IV)

    Janell –“Silver Threads and Golden Needles” — Linda Ronstadt OR “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” — The Band (Joan Baez) OR “Lodi,” — Creedence. “Dixie” and “Lodi” should be with her guitar. She could also do “The City of New Orleans” — Arlo Guthrie, but speed it up a bit.

    Angie — “Honky Cat” — Elton John (at the piano)

    Kree — “White Rabbit” or “Somebody to Love” — Jefferson Airplane

    Amber — “Shaky Gound”– the Temptations (and Phoebe Snow)

  18. darcy's evil twin says:

    I swear TPTB at Idol read these message boards!
    .
    This has got to be my favorite category EVER! So, here are my suggestions and my songs really ARE “Classic Rock”, IMO, unlike suggestions like songs by Donovan (??????). Gee, do The Cowsills count as classic rock as well? Some of you folks don’t seem to have a grasp on “Classic Rock”. “Current” and “Classic Rock” do not belong on the same planet, let alone in the same sentence, people!!!!!!
    .
    Candice – “Jukebox Hero” (Foreigner)
    Kree – “Fire and Ice” – Pat Benatar. In fact, let’s have Pat Benatar week!
    Amber – “Acid Queen” (the Who/Tina Turner)
    Janelle – “Blackwater” (The Doobie Brothers)
    Burnell – “Keep your Hands to Yourself” (Georgia Satellites)
    Lazaro – “Joy to the World” (Three Dog Night)
    Angie – “Questions 67 and 68″ or “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” (Chicago)

    • Scott says:

      Oh, yes to Fire and Ice. That would be awesome.
      How about Burnell sings The Boys are Back in Town by Tin Lizzie?

  19. darcy's evil twin says:

    I absolutely agree with everyone’s idea of Candice singing “Gimme Shelter”, probably the best rock song ever written. I just tried to come up with something different.

  20. whatshouldbe says:

    I think Candice spoiled that her song is “Love Song” by The Cure.

  21. Erin C says:

    I would love to hear someone do The Band!

  22. rtolz says:

    I’m looking forward to this. Just this morning, I was listening to Stairway to Heaven and wondering if anybody on Idol could pull that off. Don’t think so. Then this afternoon I discovered the theme for this week’s show.

    For what it’s worth, I was a disc jockey at a college radio station (Cornell) from 1969 to 1972. I had the Friday midnight show. We didn’t call it “Classic Rock” back then. That would have been pretty arrogant, wouldn’t it? Instead, we referred to it as “Progressive Rock.” Now, I have two 20-something sons who keep telling me how good “our” music was back then compared to the dearth of good music today.

    Without further ado, here’s my list of suggestions, chosen not just for what I think they can do but also for what I’d love to hear.

    Burnell – Lively Up Yourself by Bob Marley (his voice is suitable for this)
    Janelle – You’re No Good by Linda Ronstadt (in Janelle’s wheelhouse)
    Lazaro – Babe I’m Gonna Leave You by Led Zeppelin (think about it – he might pull it off)
    Candice – Unchain my heart by Joe Cocker (earlier by Ray Charles)
    Amber – Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull (her voice could mirror Ian Anderson’s ominous-ness)
    Angie – Those Shoes by The Eagles (I can imagine her wearing “those shoes”)
    Kree – Hole Hearted by Extreme (Pretty sure that’s an 80’s pick, but I’ll be eclectic)

  23. idolscaintsing says:

    locomotive breath? now that’s the most remote funniest one I’ve heard!

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