The Dude Abides: What Jax, Joey Cook and Tyanna Jones should sing for Kelly Clarkson Week on American Idol

The Original Idol surrounded by the most early-2000s hairstyles you can find.

The Original Idol surrounded by the most early-2000s hairstyles you can find.

Next week could get ugly.

It’s one thing taking a 20-30-year old song that was way overproduced when it was made, then stripping it down so it fits your style of music. That’s not that difficult.

But taking a bona fide hit sung by someone with one of the best voices in a world isn’t that easy.

Kelly Clarkson killed it on the inaugural American Idol and next week she’s going to kill someone’s hopes and dreams because going through her catalog, how Season 14’s contestants are going to pull this off is going to be a mystery.

It’s not that the Top 9 can’t sing; it’s just that they can’t sing like her. It doesn’t help that there are six guys and most of her awesome songs are about being a bad-ass chick, having your heart broken by a dude, being with an asshole or just being a bad-ass chick (did I say that already). I’d say it was a conspiracy, but there’s no way the producers could have known that in a week where one of these guys needs to go home, they’re singing songs that pretty much doom them from the start.

So here’s the tough part – figuring out what the hell the Top 9 will sing. I didn’t think Kelly Clarkson had enough recognizable songs to actually put a good two hours together, but then I went through her hits and realized I know more Clarkson songs than I’d care to admit and I’ve partied with my buddies to every single one of them because nothing goes together better than 30 Coors Lights and Miss Independent.

We’ll break this down into two parts: the girls and the guys. I could have baited everyone for clicks, but these posts should be shorter than the 80s predictions because there are fewer songs to choose from here and, from what I found out, a hell of a lot less covers to help guide the way. So if you don’t mind, click like eight other links even if you’ve read them to help my web hits go up.

How did I pick? Wrote down the songs I knew, did some YouTubing, and then matched the style of singing and covers I heard to who could do something similar.

I don’t expect to get these right, but I do expect these songs – with maybe one or two others – to be song. If you’re not doing Clarkson’s hits, you’re not doing Idol right.

So let the guessing begin.


“Because of You”

Someone’s singing this song. I think it’s perfect for Jax, just with her voice and pianos and Jaxcent and everything else that she’s shown.

My worry – and not to get all Harry Connick on you – is I don’t know if she can connect with the song because by all accounts, it seems she has an awesome relationship with her parents and this song is pretty much a giant fuck you to a parent who sucked.

Still, I don’t care about connections to the music. I want songs that the contestants will sing well and get emotionally into. I really could see this as a Joey Cook song (and if her and Jax swapped my choices, I’m not complaining) but in all honesty, every Clarkson song seems to be in Jax’s wheelhouse.

She’s pretty much got a free pass next week seeing how well she’s done, so even if she’s just so-so, she’ll move on. I just don’t see a so-so performance coming from her.

Joey Cook
“Since You’ve Been Gone”

With everything that’s been going on in her life the last week, I can see Joey singing something really meaningful and breaking down in tears at the end and making all of America cry. I tried to find something that would fit that idea, but I couldn’t get one thing out of my head.

Her magical squeezebox.

I don’t know what it is. Maybe I my kid makes me watch Pitch Perfect far too often. This is a power pop song, but I can hear her singing this with an accordion in a similar style to what she did with the Keith Urban song earlier.

Slowing this down would be a mistake. It’s gotta stay upbeat and that intro – “Here’s the thing/ We started off friends/It was cool/But it was all pretend” – I just hear with the squeezebox. I have no idea how she transitions into the powerful chorus because I don’t know if Joey has that in her voice. I’d love to see her make a go at this and I really think she’s smart enough to pull it off.

This could be a brutally bad idea, but if Joey pulls it off America melts. If she doesn’t and this gives her back-to-back mediocre weeks, she might find herself in trouble. Risk/reward move for sure, but it might not be a bad play at this point for her.

Tyanna Jones
“Walk Away”

Picking songs for Tyanna is a challenge because it’s not about finding a song that suits her; it’s about finding a song that’s incredibly difficult to do and seeing if she can get the job done. Basically, this is the Slam Dunk Contest and I don’t care about execution as much as going for something insane.

I wanted to throw “A Moment Like This” at her, but I really think that song shouldn’t be sung this week. It doesn’t fit Jax or Joey and the guys would be idiots to try and sing it because the only time I’ve heard a guy perform it he got stomped in the Season 1 finale. Listen:

If Tyanna does “Moment,” it could be her moment, but I want her to keep going the pop route and save the big ballad until we get to the Top 5.

“Walk Away” is perfect because it’s pop/rock song that requires a fucking terrific voice that I don’t know if the other Idols could go and get. Tyanna’s not going to sing it the same way Clarkson did, but I want to see her use the power of her voice to emulate the Original Idol.

Tyanna’s got a free pass next week as well, so she should treat it as a chance to maintain her position. There’s no need for her to make a move because her, Jax and Clark Beckham really aren’t going to get surpassed any time soon. When you get a tough week, like Clarkson Week, it’s about singing and surviving, so when she gets back to a more open-ended theme, she can wow everyone again.

But let’s be honest – she’s probably wowing everyone anyway.