Idol Exclusive: Top 7 Week Theme Is...

american-idol-80s-week-1980s-music-season-13-top-7-themeThe forecast for next Wednesday’s American Idol performance episode (8/7c on Fox) calls for clouds of Aqua Net with a strong chance of synthesizers.

RELATED | American Idol Top 8 Performance Recap: We Can Learn to Love (This Show) Again

The Top 7* will take the stage for ’80s Week, TVLine has learned exclusively, continuing a Season 13 trend of broad themes that give contestants plenty of leeway in song selection. (*Of course, if the Judges’ Save is used during tonight’s results telecast, it’ll be Top 8 redux.)

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

During yesterday’s performance show, host Ryan Seacrest repeatedly encouraged viewers to tweet song suggestions for their favorite contestants along with “#IdolRequest,” a strong hint that the set list for an upcoming episode will be placed in the hands of the Idoloonie Nation. (Naturally, the fine print under Ryan’s head reminded us that “final decisions [are] at producers’ sole discretion.”)

Are you excited about ’80s Week on Idol? (How could you not be?) And what other themes would you like to see before the season ends? 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. Name This Tune says:

    I’m interested to see if we are going to get stronger performances, like last night, or a return to the doldrums because they have to sing something they are not as familiar with.

    • Alex should sing Straight Up by Paula Abdul. He should play the guitars at first to put on some beat, and then sing without it when the chorus starts. I know he’s gonna make the song unique, and he’s gonna put a twist on it. Could win Harry’s standing o.

  2. 80s week? Ugggh. I was hoping for some cool themes that push them outside their comfort zones, not one that’s been done a million times and might give us Whitney Houston and Phil Collins. They better do some songs I haven’t heard on the show before or else I’ll be groaning. It’d be cool if we heard something by The Clash or David Bowie, but my hopes aren’t too high.

    • Sam would be smart to seek out any of the early Rick Nelson songs such as “Poor Little Fool”
      or “Lonesome Town.” He has the look and sound of Nelson so why not use it.

    • Mark says:

      I don’t think Bowie clears songs for this show. At least I don’t recall ever hearing any.

    • Kate says:

      Matthew, I think you’re stuck in past seasons. Jess and Jena are not going to do Whitney songs, they’re more creative than that. Alex reaches for the unexpected too. Caleb is the one I think would be most likely to pick something predictable, but with Harry’s words to him last night, he’s kind of pressured into picking something less obvious. The country boys aren’t going to do the same 80s songs we’ve seen over and over either. Sam and Malaya are the best bet for overdone songs, but they’re also the youngest and might not know better (and Lord knows Randy won’t help there).

    • Tess says:

      I would think that the ’80s is out of all their comfort zones given that none of them were alive in the ’80s, if I’m not mistaken. it seems like this group (unlike those from earlier seasons) were not really schooled much in music that predates them, so this may actually prove to be a challenge after all. I can’t see any of them purposefully picking a Whitney song (maybe Malaya but she’d be it) or the old Phil Collins standards we’re used to (unless Caleb thinks “In The Air Tonight” equates to that softer sound Harry challenged him to try). I think this is the most specific theme we’ve had save for movie songs (aside from reprising their audition songs because that was limiting but they did pick their initial audition songs too from anything they wanted to do). So long as Pers and co. don’t give them a very limited song list like Nigel would’ve, then we might get some interesting choices. It could always be worse, as we have seen in the past. There were plenty of good songs in the ’80s that can be done without feeling dated. I have hope that next week will build on the improvement this week showed us.

  3. MAB says:

    There is so much to chose from with 80’s music. We can surely get some not overdone songs. I really think this group is coming into their own and we will continue to have good shows. The last few shows were good.

    • willgold22 says:

      If they’re recylcing an old tired theme, chances are they’ll be using the same list of cleared songs they’ve always used. So get ready for another rendition of “Against All Odds.”

      • AlyB says:

        Ugh. I truly hope not. I’d love to see Jessica do Voices Carry by Till Tuesday. Have Malaya take a stab at We Beling Together by Pat Benatar & Jena take on Back On The Chain Gang or Brass In Pocket or anything from The Pretenders. I’m hoping these contestants are musically savvy enough to dig past the usual selections of the lame pop music we’ve seen in years past. I’ve no doubt that Caleb will pick some 80’s hair band anthem but if he picks a ballad it could be interesting. I think CJ could handle Springsteen’s Born To Run. A stripped down version of it might be great for him provided he survives tonight.
        I want to be hopeful but figure we’ll all be rolling our eyes and groaning next week. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong.

  4. Suggestion for the producers: if you insist on doing decade themes in the future, push the contestants REALLY out of their comfort zones and do a 1920s night. Can you imagine Malaya singing Bessie Smith or Dexter singing Jimmie Rodgers?

  5. S. says:

    Oh no, someone’s gonna sing “Against All Odds” aren’t they?

    • Timmah says:

      LOL, it’s inevitable.

      • willgold22 says:

        Ooops, I hadn’t yet seen this comment when I posted the same witty remark above. But now it looks like you stole it from me!

    • Andy J says:

      Paige Miles’ “Against All Odds” remains in my opinion the worst idol” performance of all time.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      LOL. I was just thinking that same thing when I read your comment!
      Honestly, Alex might do justice to “Against All Odds”. His voice and melodies tend to be very original and perhaps it might sound okay. who knows?

  6. GuitarBlue says:

    This is one of the reasons why Idol is not capturing a younger audience in general. Most of the 80s songs have been spun spun thousands of times on radio and hold little interest to most of the younger crowd. .

    • Name This Tune says:

      They’re singing current songs this year. They’re not drawing in younger viewers because the show is old and drags on forever. We live in an electronic age. The show could be cut to an hour and be just as entertaining, if they cut all the filler.
      Seriously, you can catch the whole thing in about 30 minutes on YouTube. What young person is going to sit through 2 hours of this?

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Hey, I have teen nieces and nephews and what’s their favorite movie right now? “The Breakfast Club”.

      My youngest niece was watching some Disney program and a kids band was singing “Don’t You Forget About Me”. My niece wanted to know how I knew all the words. :-) She likes to sing and had me teach her the words, as she liked the song.
      Personally I think it’s a great theme!

    • Lynn says:

      Idol isn’t capturing any audience and certainly not a young one. They’ve tried using current
      music, i.e. “Let It Go,” to retain and increase the number of viewers (hopefully the younger ones, I’m sure) but this strategy is clearly not working. So they’ve returned to their tried and true method of featuring songs the 40- and 50-year-old audience is very familiar with. Most of the Idol “moments” were not made with current songs. I’m talking all previous 12 seasons here, not just the last few.

      • Name This Tune says:

        Which is why we are going to see a demo of less than 2.0 and still see falling total viewers. The overall demographic is going to be older even if they manage to retain 7 million viewers by the end of the season.

        • Lynn says:

          I’m going to go out on a limb (an extremely fragile and treacherous one, admittedly) and predict that Idol won’t lose viewers during songs from the 80s week. Besides, this will staunch the blood flow unitl the show can pick up some steam (hopefully) heading into the sweeps month of May. God help the show if it drops out of the Nielsen top 20 (it will with less than 8 million viewers) during that month.

          • Name This Tune says:

            We seem to be following the pattern of last year. The bleeding didn’t stop until Top 4. Which is 4 weeks away. We’re at 8.77 million this week and it’s not unreasonable to think that 7 million may be the new low by the time we get there.
            We’re certainly going to see less than 7.5 million for tonight’s show.

          • Name This Tune says:

            We seem to be following the pattern of last year. The bleeding didn’t stop until Top 4. Which is 4 weeks away. We’re at 8.77 million this week and it’s not unreasonable to think that 7 million may be the new low by thb. e time we get there.
            We’re certainly going to see less than 7.5 million for tonight’s show.

        • Lynn says:

          Well, 8.77 for wednesday night is probably on course for them, they’re dropping roughly 500K viewers a week, and all the under 20-contestants and current music they’re throwing out isn’t helping the free-fall. Why not fall back on something that’s worked before? Another reason I didn’t understand using the save. Since top 4 is when (with any luck) they might catch a break ratings-wise, why not hurry that along like last year and do a double with the top four? I guess we’ll find out if the standard “theme” week works, because we’ve got the same 8 next week. And as far as “viewer fatigue” goes, sure doesn’t seem to be hurting Dancing with the Stars.

          • Name That Tune says:

            ABC was smart with DWTS. They made some necessary changes while the show was still hot and eliminated the results night. And it’s unique enough from AI and The Voice to maintain itself.

  7. Stormy says:

    My tentative wish list:
    Maalya – Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear It For The Boy”
    Sam – Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” [I know it’s been done]
    Dexter – Rodney Crowell’s “After All This Time”
    CJ – George Strait’s “The Chair”
    Alex – Leo Sayer’s “More Than I Can Say”
    Caleb – Alabama’s “If I Had You” [not the same song as Adam’s with that title]
    Jena- ???????
    Jess – Cher’s “Just Like Jess James”
    As stated this is off the top of my head and subject to revision.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Oh, I love Rodney Crowell and “After All Time”. And we both picked Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” for Malaya.

    • Tommy St. Johns says:

      Hey Stormy how about Black Velvet for Jessica she would nail it.

  8. Mark says:

    I would have preferred 90s week, but I can roll with this if the selections are interesting. My suggestions:
    Malaya – In My House (Maryjane Girls)
    Alex – Come On Eileen (Dexys Midnight Runners)
    Jessica – Don’t Get Me Wrong (Pretenders)
    CJ – Rockin in the Free World (Neil Young)
    Dexter – Bad To The Bone (George Thorogood)
    Caleb – Here Comes The Flood (Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp)
    Jena – Would I Lie to You? (Eurythmics)
    Sam – A Slow Song (Joe Jackson)

    • Lynn says:

      I so want to hear Jena do something — anything — by Annie Lennox. Hopefully her music is cleared because she has appeared on the show.

    • Mark says:

      A few more suggestions:

      Jessica – The New World (X)
      Jena – Hold Me Now (Thompson Twins)
      Caleb – One Slip (Pink Floyd)
      CJ – Mixed Emotions (Rolling Stones)
      Malaya – Good Thing (Fine Young Cannibals)
      Sam – Turn It Up (Simply Red)
      Dexter – Handle With Care (Traveling Wilburys)
      Alex – In The Real World (Roy Orbison)

  9. Debbie M. says:

    Power ballad from Caleb: Poison’s “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” circa 1988.

  10. Andy J says:

    Maybe Jessica could continue her motif of songs about school shootings and sing “The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun”.

  11. Ben says:

    Alex – Something in the Water, Brooke Fraser (still trying to get that song on idol, its what I would have put in for Majesty, but Alex could also nail it. So could Jess, actually).

    • Ben says:

      Perhaps I should ahve read the article first. We pick the songs, but they have to be from the 80s? Why not anything! Oh well.

      • Alice says:

        That was my pick for Majesty’s “I’m with the band”. Would have done her so great and I think could have been a real comeback moment for her

  12. darcy's evil twin says:

    The 80s were a long time ago for this person – these probably aren’t too original but they were the first songs that popped into my head –

    Caleb – “Sledgehammer”, Peter Gabriel
    Sam – “Jessie’s Girl”, Rick Springfield
    Jena – “We Belong”, Pat Benatar
    CJ – “Fire”, Bruce Springsteen (The Pointer Sisters recorded the song but so did Conway Twitty!)
    Malaya – Deniece Williams (I think that was her name) – “Let’s Hear it for the Boy”
    Alex – “My Prerogative”, Bobby Brown
    Jess – “Walk Like an Egyptian”, The Bangles
    Dexter – “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”, Georgia Satellites

    Group numbers? What else – “Footloose” and Toni Basil’s “Mickey”

    • Stormy says:

      Bazinga! I posted for Malaya to do Deniece Williams above, and I’ve been posting for Dexter to do KYHTY for a few weeks now. Great minds etc. i also really want Caleb to do “Still The Same” by Bob Seger, but that won’t work for 80s week.

  13. Adam Fachry says:

    Okay, so this is a chance for Jena to sing The Smiths’ There Is a Light That Never Goes Out, which is a song I’ve been recommending to her for awhile. Caleb can do Pixies’ Hey, and I’d suggest Tom Wait’ Anywhere I Lay My Head for Jess.

  14. Kate says:

    I would love to see Caleb do some Bon Jovi.

  15. DonB says:

    Unbelievable songs in the 80s and tailor made for these contestants.

    Jessica – God bless the USA (The place will rock if she unloads!)
    Jena – I love Rock and Roll (If ever there was song for Jena this is it)
    Malaya – Michael Jackson anything, but Human Nature first
    Alex – U2 anything, but I still haven’t found what I’m Looking for – U2 (emote, Alex!)
    Caleb – Every Breath You Take (all time top ten and tailor made for acting)
    CJ – He stopped Loving Her Today George Jones (CJ make hearts melt)
    Dexter – Mountain Music Alabama (will blow the doors off the place)
    Sam – Late in the Evening -Paul Simon (no guitar, LOUD, with horns!)

  16. CK from DC says:

    This year, JLo is insightful, thoughtful , and isn’t targeting anyone to leave. And, she gave a shout out to Allison. Who isthis person, and what have you done with the old Jennifer Lopez?

    At the rate things are going, JLo will be doing a duet with Haley Rinehart this year. Then again, that would kill Slezak.

  17. Woodmeister says:

    A wish list…..

    Jessica – Harden My Heart by Quarterflash or Only the Lonely by The Motels
    Sam. – The Break Up Song by Greg Kihn Band or Angel Eyes by Jeff Healy
    CJ. – Pink Houses by John C Mellencamp or Centerfield by John Fogarty
    Jena. – Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar or What I Am by Edie Brickell or anything by the Pretenders
    Mayala. – Whisper to a Scream by Icicle Works or You Keep Me Hanging On by Kim Wilde
    Alex. – Stepping Out by Joe Jackson or Graceland by Paul Simon
    Dexter – At this Moment by Billy Vera or Handle Me With Care by Travelling Wilburys
    Caleb – Fire Lake by Bob Seger or Lonely is the Night by Billy Squier

    I just hope that they stay away from Whitney, Phil Colin’s, Bon Jovi, Queen and the boy bands like NKTB

  18. gina says:

    Would love to hear Dexter sing Anne Murray’s Could I Have This Dance?

  19. Jay Andriot says:

    Jessica needs to do Wicked Game by Chris Isaak.

  20. Julie Anderson says:

    I want to see someone cover “Only You” by Yaz(oo). It became popular again due to Fringe. I LOVE that song. Please Alex.

  21. QAZ says:

    I would love to hear Malaya nail Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston. That would be epic or So Amazing by Luther Vandross.
    For Alex, Bizarre Love Triangle with only him and his guitar, if he chooses to still play an instrument next week or Patience by Guns n Roses.
    How about Blue Monday for Jena. Ha! or Out Here on my Own by Irene Cara on the piano!
    I dont know, but I think i would like to see Jessica do Heaven is a Place on Earth.
    Holding Back the Years by Simply Red for Caleb.
    Maybe Eternal Flame for Sam.
    The others I don’t care.

    • Stormy says:

      It won’t work for 80s week, but i wonder what CJ could do with Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father”.

      • marie says:

        Shudder…I sincerely hope never to hear “Dance with my Father” or just about anything by Whitney Houston on Idol ever again!

  22. darcy the slutty twin says:

    I don’t know what I’ll do if Jeeena fake accents her way through “Alone.”

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I don’t really want to hear Jena sing “Alone” without a fake accent. She really doesn’t have a “rocker voice”, IMO.

  23. Nick says:

    I love the 80’s theme all! Michael S I hope you do, but do you agree with me? If a song is a remake, they should sing the ORIGINAL 80’s version. I hate when they pick an 80’s song but they do the OLD or Newer version. 80’s means 80’s!!

  24. Adam Fachry says:

    Instead of 80s week, they should’ve done New Wave week. Considering how big the impact of this era has given to today’s both pop and indie music.

  25. Misty says:

    I would like Sam Wolfe to sing country and to hear how well the others sing country

    • Stormy says:

      Jessica, Dexter and CJ are from Ala-frickin-bama! Alex is from NH, but lived in Nashville with his cousin,country star JoDee Messina. Caleb is from NC, and Sam is from Fl. Country is mother’s milk to them.

  26. Misty says:

    I would like Sam Wolfe to sing country and to hear how well the others sing country cause he alreAdy had to sing punk rock so it would be great to hear him and the other contestants sing country

  27. Stormy says:

    The judges said Caleb should slow it down. I wish he’d do a power ballad like REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling”.

  28. Lori Ann says:

    It was a great idea for American Idol to bring back 80s week. I can’t wait to hear the contestants sing something other than contemporary songs. Aside from Cinema Week and Audition Song week, it’s been mostly the same stuff. As I’ve said before, a true American Idol should be able to sing everything from Motown, to 80s, to Adele, and everything in between. I happen to miss some of the older themes American Idol used to use. I feel we saw more showstopper performances in previous years than we have seen this year.