American Idol: Advice and Dream Set Lists for the Season 13 Top 8 Contestants

The American Idol Top 8 continue the battle for Candice Glover’s crown tonight (8/7c on Fox), and since it seems like the latest crop of contestants aren’t getting a ton of mentoring from Randy Jackson, the job now falls to the Idoloonie Nation. (Or at least that’s how I see it.)

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I’ve gotten the ball rolling in the gallery below with assessments of the singers’ strengths and weaknesses — and some offbeat song suggestions that could push the boundaries of their artistry while still fitting their vocal ranges and personalities. (Hey, anything to make sure “Against All Odds” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” don’t rear their tired heads, right?)

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So click through the photos below for my unsolicited advice, then hit the comments with your own tips and dream set lists for the contestants! And for all my Idol news, interviews, videos and recaps, 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. Gailer says:

    Is it bad that I can’t picture Sam singing anything?…….and I like him and his voice!

    • Bob schneider says:

      Caleb, you have to sing god bless this child by blood sweat and tears (David Clayton Thomas), the judges want you to sing something with greater dynamics, David Clayton Thomas is the right example, go for it brother!

    • mark says:

      caleb should give a go with Bostons ;
      ” More Than a Feeling”

  2. Max says:

    I just wanted to say that Float On is absolutely one of the best songs I have ever heard in my entire life, I would love to hear it on Idol (as long as it is performed to perfection), and that I love Float On (Oops… I said it again)

  3. deedee says:

    “State of Shock” for Malaya? Michael, you’ve gone too far. But I love your Terence Trent D’Arby suggestion for CJ.

    My picks:

    *Caleb – “Creep”, Radiohead
    *Malaya – “I’m Coming Out” Dianna Ross
    *CJ – I’ll go with your pick “Sign Your Name”, TTD
    *Sam – “Beautiful Soul”, Jesse McCartney
    *Jessica – “Party in the USA”, Miley Cyrus
    *Alex – “Kiss”, Prince
    *Jena – “Magic Man”, Heart
    *Dexter – “I Hope You Dance”, Lee Ann Womak (lol, yeah, I know.)

  4. Stormy says:

    I’d like:
    Malaya – S&G’s “59th st. Bridge” [Feelin Groovy]
    Caleb – Bob Seger’s “Still The Same”
    Jessica – Bobbie Gentry’s version of “Little Green Apples”
    Dexter – Michael Martin Murphy’s “What’s Forever For”
    Jena – Connie Francis’ “Where The Boys Are”
    Sam – Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party”
    Alex – Beatles’ “Yesterday”
    CJ – Fats Domino’s “Kansas City”

  5. syb says:

    Great suggestions for the most part. OK some are a little safe and predictable, but some are kind of inspired. Agree with the strengths and weaknesses too. I’d add only one. Malaya needs to grow up. I don’t mean it in a mean way, but that style she favors is just never authentic when coming from a child. She can’t sell the pain, she can’t find the soul, the drama she conveys is contrived, paint by numbers and usually depicted by volume and length of time holding a note instead of any passion or interesting vocal twist. I think she could be something some day, but she’s just not appealing now as a singer. In the meantime, I’d enjoy her on a sitcom. She’s a cutie. That’s about it.

  6. CM says:

    I think that U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” would be good for Caleb

  7. Francine says:

    I would LOVE to hear a Martika song on Idol but I can’t see that happening.

  8. Vetle says:

    Pearls has officially been dealt out folks! Will Malaya be the one? Someone should really do that song. It has that “moment” feel.

  9. Kayk says:

    I’m watching the Tuesday performance show and Sam just got done singing Lego House…looks like he has moved up from light bulbs to lamps surrounding him onstage! Weird! They could at least have scattered Legos all over the stage instead of lamps!??

  10. Darielle bruck says:

    I would love to hear dexter or cj sing thunder rolls from Garth brooks and I would like to hear Jessica to Sing some pat benatar that would be awesome ……..

  11. Anna Scala says:

    Caleb I would love to hear you do a Chris Cornell song it’s more current and you could sing the heck out of it any Sound Garden

  12. Brad says:

    Cj can sing cocker better than cocker

  13. Shannon says:

    I think Caleb should sing Meatloaf’s “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad.” Jessica should do either Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” OR Janice Joplin’s ” Me & Bobby Magee”.

    • Bonnie Kanoy says:

      I agree with Shannon just got it online before I did. Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad by Meatloaf. Would be quiet as Ray Connick Jr. suggested.

    • Stormy says:

      The problem with Jim Steinman songs[sung by ML] is they take so long to tell their story. TEOTH and Bobby McGee have been done on Idol. They’re stale. Those and “Hallelujah”, “And I’m Telling You”, “Mad World”, “Across The Universe”, and a few others should be permanently retired like a star athlete’s jersey. JMO

      • Mark says:

        Also “Rolling In The Deep,” “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” “Against All Odds,” Let It Be,” “Under the Rainbow,” and “A Little Less Conversation.”

        • flutiefan says:

          2nd time i’ve heard “Against All Odds” mentioned as an Idol-retiree. but for the life of me, i can’t remember any who has sung it! can someone remind me?

    • Enrique says:

      Caleb looks & sounds like Mest Loaf, 2 out of 3 should be good for him.

  14. Michele Bonuchi says:

    Caleb- would love to hear you do Bob Segar’s ‘Turn the Page’ for the softer song.

  15. William Tuttle says:

    I think the song Caleb should sing is Beth, originally by Kiss. The judges want him to do a ballad, and I think it would be perfect for him.

    • Stormy says:

      I wish he’d do some Seger or “The Chair” by George Strait.

    • Jewllie says:

      I think you are so right! I was going to suggest that, but I see you beat me to it. It would definitely show his softer side while sticking to his style!

  16. Barbree Hoffman says:

    I’d like to see Caleb Johnson & Dexter Roberts each sing the “Sweet Annie” by the Zac Brown Band.

  17. judy says:

    I would like to see Malaga sing Jesus take the Wheel by Carrie Underwood

  18. Donald Hoffman says:

    I want to hear Caleb Johnson sing “Sweet Annie” by the Zac Brown Band, too. He needs a ballad and this song would be perfect for his voice and to test his talent.

  19. Teresa says:

    I would love to hear CJ sing Wet Willie’s Keep On Smilin’

  20. Steve Latauska says:

    I think Caleb should sing “Stairway to Heaven” for his soft song next week. He could knock it out of the park with that one!

  21. DS says:

    love the idea of homeward bound for sam. would be very nice.

  22. Lisa says:

    CJ- Robert Cray “Smokin Gun” or “Right Next Door”
    Caleb- Queensryche “Della Brown” Screamin Cheetah Wheelies “Hello from Venus”
    Dexter- Chris Whitley “Dust Radio” or “Big Sky Country”
    Jessica- Bonnie Raitt “Love me like a man” Gracie Moon “I’d rather go blind”
    Jena- Duffy “Mercy” Fiona Apple “Paper Bag”

  23. AmericanIdolFanatic says:

    Wow! Malaya is so amazing! Goosebumps. Go Malaya, Jena and Alex for the win!

  24. Danielle May Bown says:

    I think Caleb would sound great singing Something from sound garden that is soft, cuz he totally has Chris Cornells vocals! Also I think he could sing “Winds of Change” from Scorpions too for his soft song!

  25. Tanya Holt says:

    A soft song for Caleb—
    Eric Clapton’s Tears in Heaven

  26. Tanya Holt says:

    Jessica totally needs to do a Bonnie Raitt song

  27. mondayswithpaul says:

    I’d like to see
    Jena – Lily Kershaw’s As It Seems, Sarah Mclachlan’s I Will Remember You or Angel
    Caleb – James Taylor’s Steamroller, The Who’s Love Reign O’er Me
    C.J. – Keb Mo’s One Friend, Bob Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay
    Dexter – Jason Mraz’s I Won’t Give Up, Train’s Meet Virginia
    Jessica – Bonnie Raitt’s Love Me Like a Man, Cheryl Crows, Strong Enough
    Alex – Bob Dylan’s Times They Are Changin, Jason Mraz’s You and I Both, Dave Matthews’s The Space Between
    Malaya – Alicia Keyes – If I Ain’t Got You, Faith Hill’s Breathe

  28. kat says:

    Caleb should sing some older metal rock… like 18 to life by skid row or cemetery gates by pantra etc… he has the vocal range to pull off the big vocals of some great bands from the 80s and 90s…….

  29. S, Segrest says:

    Alex should sing “I’ll See you in my dreams” Tribute to George harrison

  30. Dawn says:

    What about old school classics for Caleb like Piano Man or Cats in the Cradle? and Jessica needs to rock out with Stevie Nicks!

  31. Mark says:

    My suggestions:
    Malaya – My Lovin You’re Never Gonna Get It (En Vogue), You Can’t Be Told (Valerie June), Back It Up (Caro Emerald)

    Jena – Digital Witness (St. Vincent), Cheated Hearts (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Chasing Pirates (Norah Jones)

    Alex – Best of Friends (Palma Violets), Do I Wanna Know? (Arctic Monkeys), Touch Me (My Morning Jacket), Hang Me Up to Dry (Cold War Kids)

    Caleb – The Dangerous Summer (Catholic Girls), More Than It Seems (Citizen Cope), Love Remains the Same (Gavin Rossdale), Dust N Bones (GNR)

    Jessica – Bad Boyfriend (Garbage), Psycho (Imelda May), Don’t Get Me Wrong (Pretenders)

    Sam – Inhaler (Foals), Please Come Home (Gary Clark Jr.)

    CJ – Little Black Submarines (The Black Keys)

    Dexter – Powderfinger (Neil Young)

  32. Nancy says:

    Caleb–Levon by Elton John
    CJ–Take It Easy by the Eagles
    Sam–this is how a heart Breaks by Rob Thomas
    Jessica–not Ready to Make Nice by Dixie chicks
    Dexter-something Outlaw country

  33. Laura Hinojos says:

    Caleb-Any Aerosmith song for your Ballad “Dont Wanna Miss A Thing” or Angel. Dexter-” Dont tske the Girl” Tim McGraw or George Strait-” I Cross My Heart” And JessIca- Jett anything or Heart :) Good Luck to All and keep reaching for the stars and a Duet Caleb and Jessica a Duet Kid Rock And Sheryl Crow “Pictures”

  34. Kaaren Smith says:

    Love Sam, but he needs more color in his shirts to show off his eyes. He is adorable. Would live to year him sing “I won’t Give Up On You” by Jason Mraz.

  35. Jeremy says:

    Here is what I would like to see.

    Alex – Cooler Than Me by Mike Posner or Take You by Justin Bieber
    Caleb – Do I Wanna Know by Arctic Monkeys
    CJ – I have no idea.
    Dexter – Home by Phillip Phillips
    Jena – Falling Over Me by Demi Lovato or Loveeee Song by Rihanna (thats how its spelled for the song lol)
    Jessica – Jolene by Dolly Parton or I Kissed A Girl by Katy Perry
    Malaya – Listen by Beyonce or I Look To You by Whitney Houston
    Sam – Mr. Brightside by The Killers or Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood

    I would also like to see see Sam & Alex do a duet with the song “My Love by Justin Timberlake)

    • Mark says:

      I like Do I Wanna Know? better for Alex, but Caleb could handle it also. Sweater Weather for Sam is a good choice.

  36. Shannon Ayello says:

    I want to see Caleb sing “More Then Words”…by Extreme. Harry wants to see a quieter side. This song would be perfect!

  37. don says:

    Caleb..Ambrosia…”That’s How Much”

  38. Steve Miller says:

    Jessica: These Dreams – Heart
    Caleb: Whiter Sade of Pale – Procol Harum
    CJ: Up Where We Belong – Joe Cocker
    Sam: Mr. Brightside – The Killers (2nd Vote)
    Dexter: Witchita Lineman – Glen Cambell
    Jena: Because of You – Kelly Clarkson
    Malaya: Foolish Games – Jewel
    Alex: Steamroller – James Taylor

  39. flutiefan says:


    sorry, just had to get it out.

  40. Kimberly Lee says:

    The judges want Caleb to sing a softer tune. I think a great selection for him to sing would be “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton?? What do you think?

  41. reynaldo says:

    Malaya is not taking this serious enough while she’s playing around everybody is flying bye…If she straighten her hair and wore contacts she, and sing a slow r&b song behind the piano she will kill her competition…this girl took her glasses off joking around on Idol and Wow she is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever scene on this show…stop playing around. I don’t know why Randy is not try to help her. Front runners are Caleb and Jena vocally and Malaya could be in a strong 3rd if she stop playing around and show this is what she really wants.

  42. stephen says:

    Great suggestions but you forgot a great one. Jena Irene would kill 4 Non Blondes – What’s Up. Its right in her wheelhouse.

  43. Pieter Kruger says:

    Caleb need to sing ” whole lotte love” from Led Zeppelin!

  44. Denny Brune says:

    Song for Jena: “In the Embers” by Sleeping at last. Has been used in several TV shows and was the background for TCM’s tribute to actors who passed away last year. Unbelievably beautiful song and made for you.