This week on American Idol the Top 10 will be performing R&B and soul songs for "R&B Week." Being that this is the first time this theme has been done on Idol, I'm pretty stoked about it. I believe that mixing it up this year and doing away with passe themes such as "Country Week," "Songs From The Year You Were Born" or "Disco Week" could do this season a huge favor. That said, I brainstormed nine possible theme weeks for Idol to consider for the final nine weeks of competition.
Teen Idol Week
I was so disappointed that Idol decided to change themes last week from "Teen Idols" to "Billboard Hits" so much that this theme is first on my list. Personally, I am really in love with the idea of contestant Lee Dewyze re-working New Kids On The Block's "Please Don't Go Girl" into a huge power ballad. That could easily be the moment that Lee could stake his claim this season.
This is the first of two repeating themes in my list that could help save this season. The last time "'60s Week" was done well was back in season two of Idol. I just think that there is so much fantastic music that came out of that decade, it could even make lackluster singing talent sparkle just a bit. My favorite performance from "60's Week" during season two was Clay Aiken's "Build Me Up Buttercup." That performance reminds me of how good Idol contestants can be when given great music to work with.
Coronation Song Week
I know what you're thinking, hear me out. For the Top Eight, each contestant would be given a past winner's coronation song, "A Moment Like This," "Flying Without Wings," "I Believe," "Inside Your Heaven," "Do I Make You Proud?," "This Is My Now," "The Time Of My Life," and Kara DioGuardi's masterpiece, "No Boundaries." The Idols would be mentored by the past Idol winner who sang the song from each of their respective seasons. What do you think? I call that good TV. And it would be huge to have every past Idol winner appear in a non-finale episode of Idol.
I think this would be a really interesting way to shake up Idol. Contestants could perform songs by bands such as Good Charlotte, Cobra Starship, Fall Out Boy, and Simple Plan. Performing songs by the bands mentioned would allow the contestants to interpret the songs in their style and let Kara use the word "artistry" in her critiques.
No Ballads Week
What was shocking about "Rolling Stones Week" during the Top 12 was that most of the songs performed were of the slower variety. The only Idol who rocked out that week was season seven winner David Cook during the results show. Taking away the option of performing a ballad would probably force a few of the contestants out of their comfort zone and actually take a risk this season.
Reba McEntire Week
Instead of a "Country Week," I think Idol should narrow the field and have the Idols take on specific artist, namely Reba McEntire. She has a terrific catalog for the Idol contestants to use and abuse. I think with this season's contestants Idol could have an overall standout week with the help of Reba's music.
Glam Rock Week
Season eight contestant Adam Lambert put the spotlight back on glam rock last season, which leads me to believe that based on Lambert's popularity, a "Glam Rock Week" could fare well on Idol. Contestants would be able to show their personality as well as their versatility through their performances. And can you imagine the wardrobe?
British Invasion Week
"British Invasion Week" is the other theme that has been previously done on Idol. I am listing it here because it is one of my favorite Idol theme weeks ever, originally done a few years ago during season six. Also, one of my all-time favorite Idol performances came out of that week, that being Blake Lewis' take on The Zombies' "Time Of The Season." I really believe that with the right music, the Idols can do well this season and keep the audience entertained.
Judge's Choice Week
Usually we don't get song choices from the judges until the Top Three, but I think it would be fun to hand the song choices over to the judges prior to the Top Three. I am thinking Top Four, where the contestants usually get two songs to sing that week, they would receive song choices from two different judges. For an added bonus, the judges would also serve as mentors that week. I say that only because during Top Three last year, Kara picked One Republic's "Apologize" for eventual Idol winner Kris Allen to sing, then complained about how he chose to perform it. The judges were allowed that week to work with the contestants, and it came out that Simon Cowell was the only judge who worked with his contestant that week. I think it would help the contestants push themselves, especially if the judges gave them a song that the contestant would usually back down from performing.
These are just a handful of my thoughts to try and make this season of Idol just as good and just as entertaining as previous seasons. I think that due to the talent not being as good as it has been in previous years, Idol really needs to get creative with the themes and bring something new to the table.
Save the theme weeks, save the season.