Idol: What Should the Top 8 Sing for '80s Week?

“Alone.” “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now).” “The Power of Love.” These are just a few of the songs we hope will be strictly verboten when the American Idol Top 8 take the stage for ’80s Night next Wednesday (8/7c on Fox).

VIDEO | American Idol‘s Majesty Rose Talks Early Front-Runner Status, Frozen Fumble, Coldplay Covers

And yes, while this season’s crop has been less inclined to fall into the trap of choosing done-to-death ditties, we still thought it prudent to cook up a list of suggested tracks that would work for a group of contestants who were all born in 1990 or later. [Insert sound of your joints creaking here.]

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

So click through the gallery below for TVLine’s dream set list, then head down to the comments and post your own!

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. gracelessk says:

    I’d like to see Jess do “Betty Davis Eyes” or an acoustic “Holding Out for a Hero.”
    Alex could do something cool with a Michael Jackson classic like “The Way You Make Me Feel.”
    I could see Jena doing well with Roxette, Heart or Pat Benataur.
    As for Caleb, he could work wonders with an number of 80s power ballads and maybe slow things down, keeping it in his realm.
    CJ could maybe have a moment (and maybe stay on pitch) with “Always on My Mind.”
    I’d bet money Dexter does “Wanted Dead or Alive.”

    • The Beach says:

      “Always on my Mind” has way to much range for CJ to even attempt it. Please don’t.

      • Fern says:

        I agree, I think a simple, catchy melody would work for CJ. Billy Ocean’s Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car would be fun in his style.

        Some other ideas:
        Caleb – House on Fire, by Kansas
        Jess – Just Like Jesse James, by Cher / Roam by the B-52s
        Alex – Everybody Wants to Rule the World, by Tears for Fears
        Jena – Running Up that Hill, by Kate Bush / Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil
        Malaya – Angel of the Morning, by Juice Newton (a sped-up, funk version)
        Sam – Rosanna, by Toto
        Dexter – Surrender, by Cheap Trick

        • Jon says:

          I would love to see someone do a Tears For Fears song. Caleb should do a U2 song. Sam should do an early REM song. Malaya should do an early Whitney Houston song.

    • Stormy says:

      Betty Davis Eyes is more talking than singing. Jessica is better than that.

    • Tess says:

      You read my mind on Jess. I was thinking Bette Davis Eyes was right in her wheelhouse – but I think the judges might think there isn’t enough to it and might criticize her for a lazy song choice that might come off as karaoke. I kind of like Slezak’s choice of Fast Car. She might do something nice with that. I think Jena’s got to go for The Warrior because that would be awesome for her voice (and I’m not a huge fan of hers, but I think it would be a strong choice for her). Caleb certainly has a lot of hair band numbers to chose from, but I sort of hope to see him do something like GnR’s Patience because he could show his softer side on it and it would be more unexpected. There are plenty of ’80s country acts for Dexter and CJ to consider (CJ I think could do nicely with Kenny Rogers’ Lady, I’m not as certain on a song for Dexter, but there are plenty of choices out there). I sort of want to see Alex sing something by Tears For Fears because I think he looks like the composite of Roland and Curt but I don’t think their songs are so much in his wheelhouse. I could see him considering At This Moment or Never Tear Us Apart. I’m not really sure what Sam or Malaya should do though, other than stay away from the clichéd overdone numbers.

      • GuitarBlue says:

        Bette Davis Eyes – isn’t that a song that has a history of getting people eliminated in talent shows?? For the guys, it’s Dream On that gets them in trouble.

  2. mikey says:

    Actually, I think “Talking in Your Sleep” would be more appropriate for Sam Woolf….

  3. Please says:

    Caleb needs to sing Faithfully

  4. Adam Fachry says:


    The Smiths’ “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”
    Cyndi Lauper’s “All Through the Night”


    This Mortal Coil’s cover of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren
    Pixies’ “Hey”


    Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”
    Tom Waits’ “Anywhere I Lay My Head”


    Paul Simon’s “Graceland”
    The Clash’s “Rock the Casbaj”


    Talking Heads’ “Houses In Motion”
    Teena Marie’s “Lovegirl”

    Only care for those five contestants.

    And for a duet, I’d like a cover of Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield’s “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”, please!

    • Atticus1 says:

      I love your suggestions of Kate Bush for Jena and Teena Marie for Malaya.
      Jena – “Would I Lie to You” by the Eurhythmics
      Caleb – “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper
      Jess – “Kid” by The Pretenders
      Sam – “Whisper to a Scream” by Icicle Works
      Alex – “My Ever Changing Moods” by Style Council
      CJ – “I’m no Angel: by Gregg Allman
      Dexter – I have no idea… but I am predicting “God Bless the USA”

  5. :( says:

    Jena-Love is a Battlefield
    Jessica-Total Eclipse of the Heart
    Sam-Tainted Love
    Caleb-Dream On
    Alex-Don’t You Forget About Me

  6. Max says:

    Someone (i.e. Jessica, Jena, Alex) needs to do an acoustic/piano twist on Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal.

    • The Beach says:

      Actually, I would love it if they banned all musical instruments for the week just make these contestants get out from behind them and really sell the song. Jena, Sam, Jessica, CJ, Alex…put ’em down. Dexter did this week and it was his best performance to date. Pretty please, just for one week.

      • will says:

        Don’t put Jena on that list. She’s already had non-instrument performances.

      • S. says:

        I don’t get this criticism. Musicians play instruments. Paul McCartney is always, and I mean always, behind a bass, a piano, something. Putting down the instrument is only an issue if they’re too inward to connect without it. Alex might face that problem but the others don’t. If you buy the song, you don’t know on audio whether they’re hiding behind squat, and if you’re talking performance it’s not like they won’t be playing instruments as an artist. I doubt a ton of their career would be spent standing their with a mic not playing. Jess is always gonna have a guitar around pretty much. Big deal if they play it on the show. We’re seeing who they are as artists. Well, that’s who they are.

  7. Timmah says:

    Jena – 99 Red Balloons
    Caleb – Who Wants To Live Forever
    Jess – Sara
    Malaya – Toy Soldiers
    Sam – There Is Always Something There To Remind Me
    Alex – Channel Z
    CJ – Don’t Dream It’s Over
    Dexter – Always On My Mind

  8. The Beach says:

    Would one of you contestants please sing “Fast Car”. Michael has been jonesing for someone to do this song since forever.

  9. Temperance says:

    Jessica – Queen Of Hearts (Juice Newton)
    Jena – Girl In Trouble (Romeo Void)
    Dexter – Power Of Love (Huey Lewis & The News)
    Malaya – Wishing Well – Terence Trent Darby
    Sam – Life In A Northern Town (Dream Academy)
    Caleb – Sister Christian (Night Ranger)
    Alex – Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Tears For Fears) or Lola (The Kinks)
    CJ – I’m On Fire (Bruce Springsteen)

    • Jon says:

      You know, the 80s produced far better songs than that. Really?! Juice Newton? Huey Lewis? Dream Academy? Why don’t we just throw in Madonna and get it over with. I know the contestants are trying to find the right songs, but they can still make ANY song their own so why not pick a really good song?! Like U2, REM, B-52s, New Order, The Cure, Eurthymics, Tears For Fears, The Clash, The Ramones, etc.

  10. Tom says:

    I hope Dexter does Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing At All”.

  11. Woodmeister says:

    I hope the contestants stay away from Whitney, Phil Collins, Bon Jovi, Queen, Heart, and Micheal Jackson only because the better known songs of these people or groups have been done to death on Idol.

    Would love for Jessica to try Wicked Game by Chris Isaak or Sweet Child o Mine by Guns and Roses.

    If she were older I’d suggest Slow Hand by the Pointer Sisters for Mayala. She could probably do it well now but Harry would be all over her about the lyrics.

    If Caleb wants to dial it back a bit but not dip into the ballads, he could do Fire Lake by Bob Seger. I would love to see him do New Orleans is Sinking by The Tragically Hip but I doubt that would ever happen.

    CJ might do okay with Pink Houses by John Cougar Mellencamp.

    Jena Irene would do great with almost anything but I’d love her to do something from The Pretenders.

    • Stormy says:

      I keep sending pleas out into the void for Caleb to sing Seger’s “Still The Same”, but it came out in the 70s so not this week.

    • Temperance says:

      Actually, Alex might do Jack & Diane or Little Pink Houses pretty well. He might be able to pull off anything off The Cure’s Disintegration album with a bit of tweaking.

  12. Kim R says:

    I think Caleb should sing At This Moment by Billy Vera & the Beaters instead of Dexter. I would really like to hear that. :)

  13. Jay says:

    I’m pulling for Jessica and want her to do Wicked Game by Chris Isaak

    • C.J. Schu says:

      She does a wicked stripped down version of the song. Can find it on the utube.

    • Stormy says:

      I’m wondering how Michael envisions Jessica singing “Hey pretty baby is your daddy home” in I’m On Fire”. Clearly a song for a guy to a girl that doesn’t work in reverse.

    • GuitarBlue says:

      “”Jessica and want her to do Wicked Game”” == That would be awesome!

  14. C.J. says:

    I really, really want to Jena sing Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Lorde did a radical reimagining of the song for the Catching Fire soundtrack that, despite being a pretty big failure IMHO, was at least a very gutsy, interesting one. She did take the song in the right direction; she just happened to overdo the gothic elements and miss the mark. If Jena could take that darkly sinister vibe from Lorde’s version, tone down its over-indulgences, add a few subtle runs and position it squarely in her vocal comfort zone, we could have one heck of a performance on our hands. (She should return to the piano this week, too! She’s demonstrated in the last few weeks that she can operate just fine without the piano, and now’s as good a time as any to get back behind it!)

  15. tealeaves says:

    I’m not good at this. But I went thru some lists of 80’s songs and tried to fit them to the contestants.
    Billy Vera, At this Moment. If any of the guys could pull that off it could be a moment.
    Peter Gabrielle and Kate Bush, Don’t Give Up. Would be a great duet if any two of them could pull off singing that together.
    Peter Gabrielle, In Your Eyes. If no one sings Don’t Give Up.
    Aerosmith, Angel, or something from Whitesnake, for Caleb. Or he could sing Faithfully, by Journey, if he wants Harry to stop telling him to sing something softer.
    Belinda Carlisle, I Get Week or Mad About You. For Gena. Or Borderline from Madonna.
    OMD, If You Leave, for Sam.
    Tears for Fears, Head Over Heels, for Alex. Just because I think he looks a little like the lead singer.
    Madonna, Live to Tell, for Jessica. Or The Pretenders, Brass in Pocket, as someone already suggested above.
    Simply Red, Holding Back the Years, for CJ. Or John Mellencamp’s Small Town. But Small Town might be a bad message to sing on this show.
    Eddie Rabitt, I Love a Rainy Night, Dexter. (I don’t know a lot of country-sounding songs from the 80’s)
    Thompson Twins, Hold Me Now, could be a duet.
    Fleetwood Mac, Little Lies, as a duet.

  16. Edward says:

    Sam Woolf – Faith by George Michael, Here I go again by Whitesnake
    Jena Irene – Dancing in the Dark by Bruce Springsteen, Bizzare Love Triangle by New Order (Piano Arrangement of course)
    Alex Preston – Kiss by Prince, Dancing With Myself by Billy Idol
    Caleb – Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def, Walk this way by Run- DMC
    Malaya – I think We’re alone now by Tiffany, Open Arms by Journey
    Dexter – Waiting for a girl like you by Foreigner, Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar
    CJ – When i See you smile by Bad English, Your Love by the outfield
    Jessica – In your eyes by Peter Gabriel, Listen to your heart by Roxettes

  17. Stormy says:

    Jena – “It Must Have Been Love” Roxette
    Dexter – “Keep Your Hands To Yourself Georgia Satellites
    “After All This Time Rodney Crowell
    Jessica – Just Like Jesse James Cher
    Alex – “More Than I Can Say” Leo Sayer
    Malaya – “Let’s Hear It For The Boy Deniece Williams
    Sam – “Treat Me Nice” Elvis
    CJ – “If I Had You” Alabama
    Caleb – “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” REO Speedwagon

  18. jga94 says:

    Sam-In Your Eyes(Peter Gabriel) or In Between Days by The Cure Or Every Breath You Take (The Police)
    Caleb-Start me Up (Rolling Stones) OR Jump (Van Halen)
    Jess-Sweat Dreams (are made of this) by Euthyrthmics
    Alex-something by Tears for Fears (he kind of look like Orzabal) or Where the Streets have no Name
    Jena- I love rock and roll by Joan Jett

    • Stormy says:

      With all of the power ballads to choose from in the 80s, I think Caleb should slow things down this week.

    • tealeaves says:

      Heh. I said the same thing about Alex looking like the guy from Tears for Fears. I have been thinking that since the start of the season.

    • Temperance says:

      You’d have to be able to emote to do Peter Gabriel. It’d expose Sam in the very worst way. The Police might be better.

  19. scorpiosue1102 says:

    If Caleb were to do a soft song by a hard rock group I’d love to see him do Guns N Roses “Patience”. That could be awesome.

    Also, Alex doing Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Wishing Well” would be fab.

  20. Woodmeister says:

    If they’re going to sing duets, what are the chances Dexter and Jessica sing Islands in the Stream? I shudder at the thought.

  21. Stormy says:

    If they’re doing duets:
    Malaya & Jena “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” Cyndi Lauper
    Jessica & Caleb “After All” Cher & Peter Cetera
    Alex & Sam “You Give Love A Bad Name’ Bon Jovi
    CJ & Dexter “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool” George Jones

  22. Tahoe Mike says:

    How about they sing the whole songs instead of wasting time on duets? Show me that you can hold my interest for longer than ninety seconds. I hate those hatchet job arrangements. It would seem to be a lot easier to “connect” with a lyric when you can tell the whole story instead of the Cliff’s Notes version. Those who can do it will rise to the top, and those who can’t will be exposed.

    • Stormy says:

      I agree. Especially with songs by writers like Jim Steinman who seems to need at least 3 to 4 minutes to get there. IMO the only purpose for the duets is similar to the battle rounds on the Voice. It shows the better vocalist.

    • Timmah says:

      I agree Mike. That’s always been one of my frustrations about Idol. It’s really a shame that it’s a two-hour show with tons of filler yet you still get these hacked-up versions that the contestants have to stake their survival on.

  23. Matt says:

    5 words

    Jessica. Meuse. Bette. Davis. Eyes.

  24. Cindy Cahill says:

    I think that a great song for Caleb would be Still Loving You by the Scorpions.

  25. TrP says:

    Caleb – “Sister Christian” Night Ranger

  26. Maria says:

    Caleb: Is This Love? by Whitesnake

  27. lassirrra says:

    I kind of wish Caleb would do a good job with Bringin on the Heartbreak by Def Leppard. Especially if he uses the version that slows down the beginning before going into the heavy section. I mean he couldn’t do it worse than Mariah Carey.

  28. Since I am convinced that Caleb is the lost love child of Meat Loaf (I jest.. he does favor him though), maybe he could do something like “Modern Girl”. I realize Meat Loaf’s biggest success came in the 70’s, but he did a few good songs in the 80’s including this one.

  29. Julie Anderson says:

    I love “Voices Carry”, but for Alex. “You Might Think” by the Cars is an interesting one, especially if he tried a different staging – I.e. Get silly with it even, but I am also afraid of him taking a risk right now.

  30. Alina says:

    Alex – Sit Down (James)
    Jena – Where is my mind (Pixies) / Hounds Of Love (Kate Bush)/ Can’t Be Sure (Sundays)
    Jess – Call me (Blondie) / Song To The Siren (This Mortal Coil)
    Caleb – Under Pressure (Queen & David Bowie)
    CJ – The River (Bruce Springsteen)
    Dexter – About a Girl (Nirvana)
    Sam – Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper)
    Malaya – Jezebel (Sade)

  31. DonB says:

    The contestants have four problems each week. They have to find a song their respective voices can handle. They have to find a song they can manipulate in 1:45. They have to find the essence of the song. They have to convey that essence (act!) to an audience that typically sees the contestant as a one genre person and is predisposed to liking that genre or not. The best performances on AI have all four elements – moments as Cowell used to say. Most contestants (and their mentors this year Randy Jackson, Michael Orland, and Ricky Minor) don’t have that kind of imagination or time to develop it. (Some contestants like Candice Glover or Katherine McPhee had experience they could draw on as a substitute or propelling force instead of imagination.) What the judges should be saying is find a song that you can re-interpret in your genre that incorporates the four elements above. When Michael gives a grade, he is pretty much giving his interpretation of how he contestant dealt with those four elements. There are all kinds of song from the 80s that suit each of these contestants particularly well. I hope they find them.

  32. GuitarBlue says:

    The more popular songs from the 80’s have been done to death and I just hope some of the Idols can find something to give some revitalizing and uniqueness to this…. ……….otherwise, it could be a night of torture……..The fans of some songs will find the Idol’s performance outrageous because it didn’t get done as good as the original — young viewers won’t connect with their parents songs, Harry will find the notes the singer didn’t exactly match with the run-down, 5 note bridge of the band’s arrangement.

  33. Lynn says:

    I’m guessing we’re gonna see some serious retreads Wednesday. Since we have only 3 girls left, we’re a little more limited on the Whitney, Chaka, Cyndi, Pat, Bonnie, Tina and Pretenders front. I do expect two of them to make an appearance. Since we’re back to the AI tradition of guys outnumbering girls, shud be some wiggle room for the boys. I fully expect a Tears for Fears song to make an appearance, maybe even Queen or Michael Jackson, the Police, even. Just do a quick review of the past six seasons and I’ll bet all eight of our songs will be found there. I’m just praying no one gets stuck with All She Wants to Do Is Dance. And under no circumstances do I want to hear Malaya do Whitney or What a Feeling.

  34. GuitarBlue says:

    This past September 2013, Alex Preston released his very first single “The Light Was Already Here.”

    He is a cousin to Country Star – Jo Dee Messina

    One Direction fans are said to be also voting for Alex.

  35. PhotoBug says:

    Dexter – Blue Moon Nights, John Fogerty, Forever and Ever, Amen or I Told You So, Randy Travis to break out of the hick anthems.
    Caleb – Love Bites, Def Leppard, Mediate, INXS
    Alex – Drive, The Cars, True Colors, Cyndi Lauper (over done,but his would capture the quirkiness of Cyndi I think)
    Malaya – When Doves Cry or Purple Rain, Prince. (not read the lyric for age appropriateness)
    Jena – Here I Go Again, Whitesnake or Don’t Forget Me When I’m Gone, Glass Tiger
    Jess – Til Each Tear You Cry Becomes a Rose, Keith Whitley
    Sam – Live To Tell, Madonna
    CJ – Better Man, Clint Black

    My 2 cents worth. I really think if they got Randy out of the mix and had a mentor with a knowledge and passion similar to Harry, they would have been doing much better. Who can really take “Yo Dawg, That was that.” or whatever it is he says and use it to better themselves????

  36. karl says:

    Whatever songs ya’ll are choosing for Caleb if it’s loud fast or screaming he will not choose because he has to slow it down. If anything is to get Harry off his back!!!

  37. Jacqueline Uhack says:

    I would like Jess to sing “Feelings” never have I heard any idol sing this song.

  38. darcy's evil twin says:

    Berlin, Air Supply, or Roxette for Caleb? Seriously, Mr. Slezak? After he killed Led Zeppelin? That’s just wrong. Are you trying to get one of the more interesting contestants booted from the program?
    Here are my previous ideas and some new ones:

    Caleb – “Sledgehammer”, Peter Gabriel or “Keep on Loving You”, REO Speedwagon
    Sam – “Jessie’s Girl”, Rick Springfield or “Rock and Roll High School”, The Ramones
    Jena – “We Belong”, Pat Benatar or ‘Just Like Heaven”, The Cure
    CJ – “Fire”, Bruce Springsteen, or Steve Earle’s “Guitar Town”
    Malaya – Deniece Williams – “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” or Janie Fricke’s “It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Easy”
    Alex – “My Prerogative”, Bobby Brown or “Should I Stay (or Should I Go)” – The Clash
    Jess – “Walk Like an Egyptian”, The Bangles or “Just Say Yes”, Highway 101
    Dexter – “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”, Georgia Satellites, or David Frizzell’s “I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home”
    Group numbers? What else – “Footloose” and Toni Basil’s “Mickey”

  39. Mark says:

    Suggestions 3.0

    Malaya – Master Blaster (Stevie Wonder)
    Caleb – Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd)
    Jena – Roam (B-52s)
    Alex – E=MC2 (Big Audio Dynamite)
    Dexter – So Far Away (Dire Straits)
    CJ – Waiting On A Friend (Rolling Stones)
    Jessica – Middle Of The Road (Pretenders)
    Sam – Black Coffee in Bed (Squeeze)

  40. Lynn says:

    I am going to laugh when everything goes pear-shaped Wednesday when CJ sings “God Bless the USA”; Dexter sings “Forever and Ever, Amen”; Sam sings “I’ll Still be Loving You”; and Malaya sings “True Colors.” Bottom three will be Caleb, “Against All Odds”; Jena “Alone” and Jessica “We Belong.” I predict four of those songs will make an appearance. Another prediction: Someone will sing “Islands in the Stream” for a duet.