American Idol: What Should the Top 6 Sing for Bacharach-David/'Free' Choice Week?

American-Idol-Season-12-Top-6We asked for fresh, modern music on Season 12 of American Idol, and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe has responded with…the Burt Bacharach/ Hal David Songbook!

[Insert Sound of Crickets Here]

Ah well, at least the second theme for Top 6 Week — during which the contestants will each cover two songs apiece — is “The Song I Wish I’d Written.” That should yield some recent, not-done-to-death, edgy and/or unexpected material, as long as there’s not some heinous fine print that turns it into “The Song I Wish I’d Written (From the List of 11 Songs That Uncle Nigel Bothered to Clear).”

RELATED | American Idol‘s Ratings Woes: 8 Common-Sense Ways to Salvage Season 12

Below, my picks for the week’s dual themes — though it’s worth noting that a revised press release from Fox that hit my inbox overnight deleted mention of the previously announced Bacharach/David theme. No official word from the network on the reason for this retraction, but it’s cause for a sliver of hope, no? Anyhoo…

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The Song You Wish You Wrote
Janelle Arthur: Hayden Panettiere’s “Telescope” (from Nashville)
Candice Glover: Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge
Kree Harrison: Jack White’s “Love Interruption
Amber Holcomb: Amerie’s “Gotta Work
Angie Miller: Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights
Lazaro Arbo: Glen Medeiros’ “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You

RELATED | American Idol Top 7 Results Recap: The Rock Week Horror Picture Show

Burt Bacharach/ Hal David Songbook
Janelle Arthur: Bobbie Gentry’s version of “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again
Candice Glover: A Sybil-esque take on “Don’t Make Me Over
Kree Harrison: Shelby Lynne’s version of “Anyone Who Had a Heart
Amber Holcomb: Naked Eyes’ version of “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me
Angie Miller: Dionne Warwick’s “Wishin’ and Hopin’
Lazaro Arbos: Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat?

Your turn. If you ran the world, or at least Fox, what would the Top 6 sing next week? Sound off in the comments, and for all my Idol recaps, interviews, videos 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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  1. Chris says:

    I think Lazaro should sing “Ain’t No Sunshine” for The Song You Wish You Wrote.
    At least he won’t forget the lyrics for the killer part “I know…I know…”

  2. JOEL says:

    I think Lazaro should sing “TURKEY LURKEY” from Promises, Promises!!!!!!!!

  3. Molly says:

    How about a theme night of “Wordiest Non-Rap Songs”? Throw “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and “Celebration of the Lizard” at Lazaro. Maybe we can force him to quit.
    Do I sound cruel? Maybe, but as ye sow, so shall ye reap. The ethical thing at this point would be for Lazaro to quit…. not stand up there whining about how little time he had to learn the songs. I was actually happy when he made the Top 10 Guys, I appreciated all he had gone through and overcome. But he has long outlasted his talent and I truly find it abhorrent that he is still there as more talented people are cast aside.

    • Sleep comes like a drug in God's country says:

      Molls next week you’re in for a shocker as Mr. Arbos will no longer exhibit his much maligned speech impediment. See the producers began his treatment waaay back at the start of the season and they’re waiting for the most opportune time to unleash his oral fluency on the unsuspecting voting public just when everyone expects him to be be voted off….it’s all about the ratings, baby….

    • Leticia Prado says:

      Yeah… REM’s “It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)” could be added to your list.

  4. David4 says:

    If someone sings “What’s New Pussy Cat” I will watch Idol for the first time since Amam Lambert was on.

    • My Alter Ego says:

      Well, David4, welcome back — because what else would Laz sing? (Mind you, you may not like it — but that’s a completely different story!)

  5. Mark says:

    It appears that they are going ahead with the show despite my urgent pleas to stick a fork in it and go straight to the finals. As a result, here are my requests for “songs you wish you had written”:

    Janelle – Not Ready to Make Nice (Dixie Chicks)
    Kree – Constant Craving (K D Lang)
    Angie – Zombie (Cranberries, cos she claims to be “edgy”)
    Candice – One (Mary J. Blige version)
    Amber – I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Since she’s going to do something by Whitney Houston anway)
    Lazaro – Sauvemente (Elvis Crespo)

    • Jasmine says:

      Actually, for Angela, that song wouldn’t be a bad choice at all. She can easily turn that into a piano-based song and slay those vocals. Dolores O’Riordan has the uncanny ability to tell the whole story and make you feel something in the pit of your stomach, her voice is…beautiful, so emotion-based. Angela can kill this song…and in a good way. It’s a pretty good song, but I wouldn’t consider it to be edgy, just more alternative. I love Angela. She can sing Joss Stone, Alanis Morissette, Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple (Never is A Promise), mmmmmhhhhh….I can just picture her singing so many good things. Ooohhh, it’s exciting, but we all know songs from the artists I just mentioned probably won’t be sung on American Idol. They’d probably fare better on the Voice. Angela FTW! Wooh!

  6. love4lazaro says:

    Lazzaro needs to sing “Stuttering” (Jazmine Sullivan)…

  7. Colin Sean says:

    Watch Lazaro sing Hallelujah for “The Song I Wish I Wrote” and since the laws of reality competition dictate that the judges and audience overreact with praise every time someone sings that song, he’ll sail through for a few more weeks.

  8. idle ideas says:

    Angie should do a piano only version of Mirrors by Justin Timberlake; it’d be a Kris Allen – Heartless moment.

    • SlezakFan says:

      I second that… there’s a version by Matt Beilis on YouTube like that

    • Jasmine says:

      Oooh, snap! That would be fresh! If she pulled it off, a lot more people would definitely vote for her! (sighs) so many great songs angela could sing. she should not be allowed to pick her own songs. her fans, like me, should. I think we have a better understanding of what she can do and what she can sing. Nice one to choose this JT song!

    • Sammy says:

      this would rock, hopefully jimmy or nigel or angie read this

  9. Jules says:

    I love the idea of Amerie for Amber! It’s about time she does something remotely current and I really can’t wait for her to do a real uptempo. Stop playing it safe Holcomb! You’ve got the goods!

  10. Adam Fachry says:

    My personal new list for ‘Free Choice’ based on the cleared songs list of season 11:

    Canidce Glover – Talking Heads’ Burning Down The House
    Angie Miller – Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence (It’s on the list can anybody please cover it!?)
    Kree Harrison – Okkervil River’s Lost Coastlines (OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS SONG GOT CLEARED?! I can’t believe any WGWG from past seasons hasn’t overed it! This is where it’s at!)
    Amber Holcomb – Anita Baker’s Caught Up In The Rapture (I know y’all want some uptempo from her, but Anita Baker is criminally overlooked on Idol and she’s one of the best female r&b singers of all time. I believe the only song of hers that has appeared on this show was Sweet Love done unfortunately by Tim Urban, which was obviously a nightmare. I always want Amber to do some slo jam r&b and this could be er chance)
    Janelle Arthur – Loretta Lynn’s You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)
    Lazaro Arbos – Miley Cyrus’ Party In The USA (Let’s give him something lowbrow)

    • deedee says:

      I am totally with you on Anita Baker. I wore her album out back in the day (along with Terrence Trent D’arby’s). Still love Amber, but can she be sultry enough for “Caught Up In The Rapture”? I haven’t seen that side of her really come out. If anything, I’d say Candice is the one who can pull off the right vibe for that song.

      • Adam Fachry says:

        I was torn when deciding which of these two contestants (Amber and Candice) can handle Caught Up In The Rapture. About the sultry thing, Maybe you’re right Candice would be a much suited choice. She’s done some songs with genuine -adult’-related content and performed it like an adult as well (Ordinary People, Natural Woman, and her youtube cover of Pretty Wings).

  11. houster says:

    Nice going, Nigel. Hal David is dead, and Burt Bacharach is 84 years old. Maybe they’re trying to get the dead at Forest Lawn to watch.

    Anyway, my picks for Bacharach/David songs:

    Angie: “I Say A Little Prayer For You”, Dionne Warwick (check out the video clip from the movie “My Best Friend’s Wedding”)


    “Baby It’s You” — cover by either Adele, or A Group Called Smith — that version was used in the Quentin Tarantino movie “Death Proof.”

    Candice: “Don’t Make Me Over”, Dionne Warwick

    Amber: “One Less Bell To Answer”, The Fifth Dimension

    Kree: “Wishin’ And Hopin'”, Dusty Springfield

    Janelle: “Only Love Can Break A Heart”, Gene Pitney

    Lazaro: “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”, B.J. Thomas, from the movie “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid”, or “I Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”, cover by The White Stripes (originally recorded by Dusty Springfield). However, I expect Lazaro to sing Herb Alpert’s “This Guy’s In Love With You”, because it requires little range and will appeal to a large part of his fanbase.

    Free Choice songs, but only if I was a cruel puppetmaster:

    Angie: “More, More, More”, Andrea True Connection

    Candice: “The Weight”, The Band

    Amber: “One For All”, Cast of High School Musical 2

    Kree: “Clean Up Woman”, Betty Wright

    Janelle: “Thank G-d I’m A Country Boy [Girl]”, John Denver

    Lazaro: “Macho Man”, The Village People; Honorable Mention: “My Ding-A-Ling”, Chuck Berry

    Group Performance: “Macarena”, Los Del Rio

  12. marie says:

    Just re-read the column and it finally sunk in: Slezak says the revised Fox press release does not mention the Bacharach theme for this week. I think it’s unlikely that’s unintentional or a mistake: looks like the theme has been scrapped. I am divided about that. I love that repertoire, think those are some of the best songs of the last century, but as a number of us have been saying, the contestants well might be able to relate better to material from this century.

    I guess it depends on what they’ve come up with as a theme on its place: dare we hope the contestants might be free to actually sing TWO contemporary songs?

    Again, I swear, the producers must keep abreast of what viewers address saying, via Twitter, in columns like this one, and elsewhere – why else the abrupt cancellation of a theme that did not seem to inspire much viewer enthusiasm?

    • marie says:

      (Sigh. May I offer a blanket apology for all the stupid auto-correct errors that result from typing on my phone that I don’t catch? A mixed blessing, these smart phones, that can sometimes make the user look pretty stupid.)

    • My Alter Ego says:

      Good catch, marie. Now that so many have invested so much thought/time/effort/speculation on the Bacharach/David songbook, I wonder what the reaction will be. My best guess would be relief. The remaining contestants might be feeling that as well.

    • deedee says:

      They do keep abreast of what fans are saying, but Nigel HAD to know that Bacharach/David would not go over well, given how many YEARS the fans have been screaming for newer material. Makes no sense that a couple of days of fan-kvetching after an announcement would make a difference.
      Well, it will be interesting to see what theme has taken its place. The contestants generally get 2 weeks advance notice for themes so they have time to go through songs and pick something (at least, that’s been my understanding), so it’s kind of weird to abruptly change themes on them in a week when they have to learn 2 songs.

      • marie says:

        All valid points. I guess we’ll see Wednesday.

      • Jasmine says:

        But really, it shouldn’t take that long to learn one song, and they won’t even have to learn the whole thing. Gosh, it should take a hour or less to learn a song. I know it does for me, less than 30 minutes. However, 30 minutes would be impossible for Lazaro considering he can’t even remember the lyrics to a song he’s been singing for 5 days. But let me stop being mean…no I’m not…I’m telling the truth. Laz needs to go! Kree needs to be in second place and Angela needs to win! If these things come true, I’ll be one happy camper…or maybe Amber should be in second place, because Angela would for sure win over Amber…anyway…im done ramblin’

  13. Danny says:

    Lazaro should sing “Wipeout” as the song he wishes he’d written. I think he could remember the words to that one.

    • houster says:

      I think it would be better if he sang the theme from the “Batman” TV series. The song does involve singing, and Lazaro would only have to remember the one word that is in the lyrics: “Batman.”

      Also, an alternative “Free Choice” parody song for Janelle would be “Cowboy” by Kid Rock.

      • deedee says:

        Speaking of superhero theme songs, I’ve always wanted someone to cover Spiderman (Michael Buble version). It’s so old school hip and so much fun. Whoever sings it would score major points with the audience.

    • Tahoe Mike says:

      How about “Tequila?”

  14. Woodmeister says:

    My two cents worth ….or since Canada did away with the penny, I guess it’s a nickel now.

    For Bacharch/David
    Janelle – Story of My Life – a natural with her twang
    Amber – Promises, Promises or What the World Needs Now
    Kree – Only Love Can Break A Heart or Wishin and Hopin
    Candace-she has the power in her voice to kill What’s New Pussycat
    Angie – Close to You or Blue on Blue
    Lazaro – who cares but maybe Magic Moments

    Free choice

    Janelle – Motherless Children – Chrystal Gayle version
    Kree – Perfect by Pink
    Angie- Insensitive by Jann Arden
    Candace- Mr. Know-It-All by Kelly Clarkson
    Amber-no idea maybe something by Celine Dion
    Lazaro – don’t know or care but maybe Short people by Warren Zevon

    • deedee says:

      I love Jan Arden. Is she even known outside of Canada? As much as I love her, though, I’m not sure her understated songs would play well on Idol. However — as much as I don’t enjoy Angie, I suppose she could have a singer-songwriter “moment” with a Jan Arden song. Janelle could, too.

    • Meghan says:

      “Insensitive” could be a real moment for Angie! I can hear how her voice would sound to this song and I think it would be really pretty – and different!

    • Jasmine says:

      Yeah, that song would work for Angela, she could just drag out those notes…mmmmm….heaven she would sound like! I’m just in love with Angela Miller. I still call her Angela, that nickname Angie has got to go! Yeah, Insensitive would work. But you have to keep in mind, is this what these teenyboppers want to hear, since they are the main ones voting? Maybe…maybe not. There’s no doubt though that she would slay this song!

  15. Woodmeister says:

    A Spider-Man cover would be cool. A Gilligan’s Island cover would also be vey cool.

  16. My Alter Ego says:

    Hey all, don’t waste any more time with the Bacharach/David suggestions: per marie’s post (posted this morning at 9:28), it appears that the B/D theme got pulled. (I know, I know – you’re all deeply heartbroken about this development. ;-) )
    But it seems that many have not quite grasped that subtle post of marie’s, so I thought it was worth repeating.

  17. Shel says:

    When I read Bacharach/David, I immediately also heard crickets. Then I saw the list of Michael’s choices and thought, wow really great songs. And I think it is good for them to be exposed to all types of composers they otherwise wouldnt be. The only choice I disagree with is Wishin’ & Hopin’ for Angie…really dont like that song.

    I dont have any thoughts on the other group of songs except to say that the originalsongs from Nashville are GREAT!

    • deedee says:

      I agree. It’s good for these contestants (and everyone) to get to know some of the classic pop songs of days gone by. Burnell not knowing “Let It Be” made me realize that so many great, great tunes are just not being heard anymore. I love Idol for being stubborn about featuring the past masters. I know, I know: really unpopular opinion.
      Everybody wants to hear current songs. I say, WHY? They’re on the radio 1,000 times a day – do we really need an inferior version of something we’re already bombarded with incessantly? The only complaint I have is not with the themes, but rather with the song lists. Keep Motown, change Motown songs! Mix it up with some current music if you must, but keeps the flame burning for the classics. *commence pelting with rocks and garbage.*

      • marie says:

        LOL, I won’t pelt you with garbage. I myself am delighted to discover that occasional younger person who appreciates the great old music and is interested in keeping it alive (see one of my favorite contemporary musicians, Jamie Cullum). But I’ve accepted that most of the time, time marches on, and sooner or later, old music dies. No one listens to Al Jolson any more.

        • My Alter Ego says:

          marie, while time does march on, deedee’s correct. I realize that most who visit this site are not likely to listen to classical music, but I do so can speak to the reality that really “good music” tends to live on.

          While I suspect your point has to do with a realization I had about thirty years ago, which is that each age group keeps/makes the music it grew up with last (for the duration that age group lasts), there are also indications that some popular music lasts beyond it’s Billboard life. As deedee pointed out, people still listen to the Rat Pack — and others (Michael Buble come to mind) are throwbacks who seem to try to resurrect that era.

          How successful those efforts will be, I won’t predict But neither overestimate nor underestimate what might happen there.

          • marie says:

            I actually agree with you. I think it’s a matter of the scale of time, though. I think sooner or later, everything disappears. In 150 years, it’s entirely possible that very few people – or no one – will listen to Frank Sinatra or The Beatles (and I’m glad I won’t be around to know that), just like today, no one listens to Rudy Vallee or Jeanette McDonald & Nelson Eddy, and those folks were huge stars in their time. I myself listen to Sinatra and the old Dionne Warwick recordings of Burt Bacharach songs, but it’s likely that someday, however far in the future, that music will effectively die out.

          • Eolra says:

            Marie – music doesn’t have to die out – we still listen to composers from hundreds of years ago all the time – Baroque, Gregorian, and all kinds of other Classical music. Great composers can last over centuries!

  18. deedee says:

    Haha, Al Jolson, no. But people still listen to the Rat Pack, and they manage to stay timeless and cool. So must The Beatles, and Bacharach/David, Motown, etc ..

    • marie says:

      Basically, all in saying in terms of theme nights for AI is that if three kids competing get a chance to sing songs they really like, already know, and can relate to, instead of music from 50 years ago that, however good it might be, they’re just not very interested in, I think that’s a good thing in terms of one, putting an entertaining episode on the air, and two, offering the contestants an experience they themselves can enjoy and find fulfilling.
      I think the music of an 84-year-old (albeit brilliant) songwriter is not the way to accomplish this with twentysomething kids.

      • marie says:

        THE kids, not THREE kids. Phooey.

      • deedee says:

        Oh, I know. The kids would probably enjoy singing Rhianna more than Dionne Warwick. But still, I’m happy to report that apparently Bacharach/David night is still on (according to mjsbigblog and Candice Glover’s twitter). :)

        • marie says:

          Well, then we’re going to hear some great songs after all – let’s hope they’re great performances to match.

  19. JP says:

    LAZARO – “This Guy’s In Love With You” Herb Alperts version OR “There’s Always Something There to Remind Me” Nake Eyes version

    CANDICE – “I’ll Say A Little Prayer for You” Aretha Franklin’s version OR “One Last Bell To Answer” The 5th Dimension’s version

    AMBER – “Alfie” Cilla Black’s version OR “Don’t Make Me Over” Brenda & The Tabulations version

    JANELLE – “Wishing and Hoping” Dusty Springfield’s version OR “Paper Mache” Dionne Warwick’s version

    ANGIE – “Walk On By” Sybil’s versions OR “You’ll Never Get to Heaven If You Break My Heart” The Stylistics version played on the piano

    KREE – “What the World Needs Now” Jackie DeShannon’s version OR “Walk On By” Kelly Clarkson’s version Or “They Long to Be Close to You” The Carpenter’s version

  20. J. May says:

    I honestly LOL’d when I read what Nigel had chosen for this week’s theme. I’m not hating on Burt B but…DAMN!! Bacharach is 4 times as old as the oldest contestant on this show and Hal David is freaking dead for God’s sake!!

  21. marie says:

    (…sniff…Where’s Idology? I can’t wait to hear Slezak and Melinda rip apart that ridiculous results show…)

    • AlyB says:

      I hope it’s nice and long and the verbal lashing that the show principals deserve. I can’t imagine why it’s taking this long to post. I hope they’re not reshooting their comments to tone it down. Everyone was spitting fire after last week. I’ve been waiting all weekend for this! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaa I want my idology fix LOL

    • Bonnie A. says:

      Really, I’ve been checking all day. Can’t wait to hear their comments and see Jason’s edit!

  22. Jasmine says:

    Well, I don’t really care for anyone else but Angela! She’s my absolute faaaaaaavorite! I would love to see her sing a Joss Stone song. Some great songs of Joss’s are Right to Be Wrong, Security, Killing Time (my favorite), Lady, and Girlfriend on Demand. I bet any one of these songs Angela would slay. She more than has the vocal ability, she has that tone, that sass, her voice sounds can sound jazzy at times. I think she would blow any of Joss Stone’s songs out the water! Angela needs to get it together. She’s slipping and I don’t want that because I want her to win. Love this girl! Go Angela!

  23. Beefy says:

    Angie should sing “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles. It’s tailor made for her.

  24. Mafs95 says:

    Yeaah! I know one of the songs Candice is going to sing on Wednesday. I won’t say it because most people don’t like spoilers but is quite a cool song and it hasn’t been performed yet on American Idol :)

  25. Lulu says:

    First of all, get rid of Nigel. Really, these songs are just so out of date….. Please give us something like a Beyonce, Justin Bebe, etc week. Why do they have to get suck with the old crows?

    Lazaro. When he sings, I feel his emotion and even if he sings really bad, it is the emotions I feel that stick with me. Then there is this constance bullying from Jimmy and the rest of the “music-world”. You are not the ones buying the CD’s or voting. Stop telling America how to vote and start paying attention to what the voters see.

  26. Todd Bremer says:

    Where did you get your ideas for songs that they have written? They are all teribble songs. Kudos on getting Candice & Janelle correct. Candice best of the night.