The Dude Abides: What the American Idol Top 8 Should Sing – Joey Cook, Jax and Tyanna Jones

The trio of girls killed it on Clarkson Night; next week could be even better.

The trio of girls killed it on Clarkson Night; next week could be even better.

American Idol’s ambiguity with the theme is zero fun.

Around the interwebs it says next week’s Idol theme is the Billboard 100. I’ve been told it’s the Billboard 100 for the last 10 years and while that narrows the field, it doesn’t really do much in making things tough for our singing Elite 8. Is that who ended up on the Top 100? Or any song that’s been on the Top 100 any week?

So instead of getting too serious with picks – and because I have no clue what year or genre the contestants are choosing from – I decided to have some fun this week.

I’m running with Billboard 100 from the last 10 years. Any song that’s been on the list is good by me. Each contestant will have two songs listed; the first is my “this would be awesome but highly unlikely” choice, the second is a more ideal choice.

Originally I was going to post this as one blog, but it clocked in damn near 3,500 words. Since I respect everyone’s short attention span (and love the extra clicks on the site) I decided to break it up to the girls and the guys.


Joey Cook
DRI DREAM PICK: “Little Talks,” Of Monsters and Men

I’ve been preaching this song’s accolades for Idol since I’ve heard it, but if anyone is going to sing an Icelandic hipster song that comes included with a squeezebox, it’s Joey MF’ing Cook.

In a perfect world, Joey makes the Final 4 with Clark, Jax and Nick Fradiani just so I can hear Joey and Nick sing this. (Since both follow me and may or may not read: Just promise me if you guys have the chance to sing a duet you do this. It would rival the best duet in American Idol history.).

Joey’s voice is perfect for this because while she’s not from Iceland, allegedly, her voice accent isn’t far off. I mean, she doesn’t have a pure Jaxcent, but she’s got something and I think she could do enough to the arrangement to a) feature more squeezebox, duh, but more importantly b) that it would sound more awesome than the song is.

Everything about this screams Joey. Squeezebox? Check. Acoustic guitars? Check. Horns? Check. Hipster vibe? Check.

All it needs now is Joey.

(PS Here’s a live version that makes me love this song even more)

WHAT JOEY SHOULD SING: “Pompeii,” Bastille

This is how much trust I have in Miss Cook – there isn’t an inkling of doubt in my head she could take a song with one singer and zero musicians and turn it into a musical extravaganza.

I listen to the lyrics, the rhythm and the tempo and hear Joey, a big band and a squeezebox. I love the idea of a big band playing loud, beautiful music and everything coming to a pause, Joey staring into the screen, and then she hits us with the “But If You Close Your Eyes.”

I’d be lying if I said my own imagination came up with the idea of a female singing this. I knew I had heard a chick sing this somewhere and I found it:

I’m not looking for Joey to copy Jasmine Thompson (who creepily looks like my baby sister); but I think hearing her sing it makes it seem easier to believe Joey could pull this off.

Of course by this point, I don’t know if there’s anything she can’t.

DRI DREAM PICK: “Poker Face,” Lady Gaga

It’s too perfect.

The comparison Jax seems to be getting the most is Gaga, so if she’s going to do a Gaga song she better do the song they played at my wedding that set the dance floor afire.

She can do this one of a million ways. Gaga’s songs can be played in so many different styles – because Gaga is a crazy genius – that they can be adapted to fit whatever you want.

I’d love to see her stay true and go close to the actual version (mainly because I have drunkenly danced and sang this song far more times than I’d care to admit), but I see Jax on the piano, throwing her Jaxcent on the verses, and just killing it.

Now, spoiler alert, my real pick isn’t a Gaga song, but let’s be honest – Jax can pull off anything out of Lady’s catalog and that’s a huge weapon to have, especially as she gets deeper on the contest because popular songs sung well are a guaranteed boost in the votes. If she holds on to one, Bo Bice’s it, we could be talking a Top 30 performance of all time.

WHAT JAX SHOULD SING: “Empire State of Mind,” Alicia Keys

It won’t be the same without someone pulling a Jay-Z, but this is the perfect song for Jax – even more perfect than Gaga.

First off, she’s from New Jersey and that’s New York as far as anyone is concerned, which should please everyone from Jersey who tells everyone they live “just outside the city” anyway.

Secondly, her father was a Brooklyn firefighter who retired after suffering injuries during 9/11. He’s a goddamn hero.

Would there be a better way to honor him than to sing our generation’s song that defines the alleged best city in the world?

Jax hasn’t done anything that’s shown me she can’t pull this off. With the connection with her and her father to NYC and this song, this could be one of those moments where everybody cries. I’m not even talking the audience or me or J-Lo. I mean Hard-ass Harry Connick, Keith Urban, robot Ryan Seacrest and who the hell knows, Simon Cowell just randomly shows up to cry and say “that was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

Tyanna Jones
DRI DREAM PICK: “Chasing Pavements,” Adele

At this point I’m not even songs that are reasonably safe for Tyanna. Dream, real or otherwise, I want to see how good this kid can be.

If you’re going to pick a monster of a song done by a monster of an artist, why not pick a song that made one?
Chasing Pavements is right in Tyanna’s wheelhouse. It’s got enough R&B/Blues swag that she won’t seem out of place. It’s got enough power in it that if Tyanna manages to nail the performance, jaws will drop. Instantly.

But like I said when said she should sing Whitney, Tyanna is in a no lose situation. If she sings this and doesn’t do well, no big deal. Worst case she’s in a sing-off and sends whoever packing.

Best case? I mean, if she pulled this off anywhere near Adele, she might as well quit Idol before they can lock her into a contract that prevents her from getting paid.

I really hope if she does an Adele song, it’s this one because there isn’t another Adele hit with as much vocale power/emotion as this one.

(PS I wanted to embed the Saturday Night Live performance – it’s the one that made her famous – but couldn’t find an embeddable one. Just watch this link.)

WHAT TYANNA SHOULD SING: “Irreplaceable,” Beyonce
A 16-year old has no business singing this song but at this point I care so little about the context of a song Tyanna is singing as much as I do about the sound that’s coming out of her voice.

Beyonce is a no-brainer for Tyanna this week and if I’m picking one of her songs, it’s this one. It’s a little older – bringing in some of the older fans (read: me) – but it’s still Bey so everyone who listens to her current stuff knows it.

The vocals are packed with a ton of emotion and while Tyanna can’t really compare anything in her life to having a scumbag boyfriend who’s mooching off her – YET – I just want to see her sing this with the kind of emotion like she does to hear Harry stumble over his words.

In all honesty, you can switch this pick with the dream pick and it’s the same thing. Every pick made for Tyanna is a dream pick because it’s a struggle to find something she can’t sing.

If she does this, it’s just another diva she proves she can cover and if she keeps covering the uncoverable, she might be closer to winning this thing than we’re giving her credit for.

That’s it for the girls. For what the guys should sing, just click here.