It’s always interesting when American Idol chooses a very stylized singer to be the mentor and also asks the contestants to sing those same songs. Shania Twain week sounds at the outset like it might be a difficult week for the Idols, but I thought the same thing originally two years ago when we had Dolly Parton week. What I learned then is it’s not just the songs, but what the Idols do with them. Dolly week ended up being one of my favorites that season. When the judges blame the singers for the song choice, they aren’t so much saying you picked the wrong song, but you picked a song and then didn’t make it suit you.
Here’s a list of the final 6 and what they need to watch out for and what they need to do to survive another week.
1. Aaron Kelly. He’s been in the bottom three the past few weeks, and I’m likely to think he’ll make a return trip. He sings really well and has a great tone, but never makes a song his own or puts his own spin on it. He’s going to really struggle to find a way to make a Shania song his own. Most likely he won’t be able to pick a song this week that he’s been singing since he was 5.
2. Casey James. He may have been in the bottom two last week, but I don’t think he’ll make another appearance this week unless he does absolutely terribly. His fans are probably worried enough to spend a decent amount of time calling in for him on Tuesday night. He needs to not just pick a song he can rock out on. Now that he’s shown that sensitive side, the judges expect it every time, whether he’s rocking it out or playing something beautiful and acoustic. He needs to get back in their favor again, so will have to pull the sensitive card and not worry about those rumors a few weeks back and trying to prove himself.
3. Crystal Bowersox. Despite the fact that she started out this show at the top of her game, she has still managed to improve and surprise us each week. Remember that Shania is one of the three autographs on her guitar. That should definitely help with some inspiration, but I don’t think she needs any. Every mentor to come on this season has sung her praises. She should be able to find one of those gospel/soul songs that she likes so much somewhere in Shania’s arsenal. She has never once failed to put her own spin on a song, so she’s definitely not in danger here.
4. Lee Dewyze. Similarly, Lee has the ability to take any song, no matter who it’s by or when it was originally recorded, and it make it seem like it was written for him this year. Or at least so far he has. Can he do it with Shania Twain music? I’m likely to think he can. He’s truly becoming very comfortable when he performs. Now we just need to get him to not look like he’s going to throw up on results night.
5. Michael Lynche. Big Mike can also take songs and tailor them to fit his needs, yet they aren’t always as well received as when Lee does it. He likes to make everything an R&B thing, and I think if he looks long enough, he might be able to find something in Shania’s song catalog that he can sing in that manner. The only question is how well it will be received, by both the judges and the voting audience.
6. Siobhan Magnus. Unique. Unique. Unique. That’s where Siobhan is failing lately for me. Her voice sounds beautiful and always does. She has a wonderful tone. But a great tone is a dime a dozen. The uniqueness she sang with in the beginning is truly unusual, and that’s what we want to see again. They scared her away from doing the scream, and that’s okay, but the song choices have been far from unique. I don’t want to hear her singing Whitney Houston. And now that she can only choose from songs by Shania, she needs to pick the one that is the most unusual.