What should the 'American Idol' Top 4 sing for Leiber & Stoller night? What should they avoid?


Image Credit: Michael Becker/Fox

It’s pretty much impossible to have lived in this country at any point in the last 60 years and not have heard a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, even if you didn’t realize it. Along with tattooed-in-your-brain standards like “Stand By Me,” “Love Potion No. 9,” and “On Broadway,” many of Elvis Presley’s most memorable mega-hits were written by the duo, including “Jailhouse Rock” and “Hound Dog.” But here is the tricky thing for the American Idol Top 4 tonight as they tackle the Leiber and Stoller songbook: Many of their songs sound very much of their time (a kind way of calling the music dated), and yet lyrically they remain remarkably bold. Take their hit “Dance With Me,” which has the singer imploring his (or her) dancing partner to get “closer and closer,” and “tighter and tighter” so that “maybe we’ll be lovers/ When the music ends.” Yeah, don’t so much see Lauren or Scotty taking on that song, do you? Then again, with Lady Gaga stepping in as the guest mentor, anything is possible.

Fortunately, we’ve singled out the Leiber & Stoller songs that could best help each of the Top 4 make it to the Top 3 (presuming they’ll sing two songs each to fill the 90 minute episode), and which songs they should avoid at all costs. Check our our picks below, and then let us know what songs you think they should take on tonight.

Lauren Alaina
DO SING: “I (Who Have Nothing)” (hey, it worked for Jordin Sparks; this girl desperately needs a moment) and “Love Potion No. 9″
DO NOT SING: “Is That All There Is?”

James Durbin
DO SING: “Down in Mexico” and “There Goes My Baby”
DO NOT SING: “On Broadway”

Scotty McCreery
DO SING: “King Creole” (the Viva Elvis version) and “Stand By Me” (but only if he sings it like he did “You’ve Got a Friend,” simply and sincerely — any cheesy eyebrow action, and this song is D.O.A.)
DO NOT SING: “Charlie Brown”

Haley Reinhart
DO SING: “I’m A Woman” (yeah, Melinda Doolittle killed this song, but I more than trust Haley to do her own thing with it) and “Love Me”
DO NOT SING: “Little Egypt (Ying-Yang)”

So those are my picks. What are yours?

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Read more onĀ American Idol:
‘American Idol': Name your Power List for the top 4!
And your… all-time favorite… ‘American Idol’ contestant… IS…
Lady Gaga to mentor ‘American Idol’ Top 4 contestants. Bring the drama!

Comments (64 total) Add your comment
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  • naynay

    I had no idea who Leiber and Stoller were until I read your article…..and I still don’t see how they are relevant to today. When are they going to learn that these contestants are not going to record music anything like this?

    • ST

      I’m with naynay. I realize these songs were hits (and I’m not saying there isn’t any good material to work with here) but these theme nights are kind of ridiculous. I’m still and Idol fan but I wish they would switch that up. These artists are likely not going to record this type of music so find another way to work around a theme.

    • bruno

      EXACTLY. this is the problem with idol! well, that and the fact that this season has been epically horrible….and jlo.

    • Ethan

      Well, sure, music’s different, but I still think “Stand By Me” could be a contender for the most perfect song ever made. Anyone can sing it and have it be beautiful because the song’s so good.

    • ktct

      Other sites are posting that the 2nd song is an “inspirational” song, not from this set list.

    • McProphet

      This is why The Voice is such a breath of fresh air. Idol is doing crap like “On Broadway” for the millionth time and The Voice featured songs from Pink and Beyonce just last night. I couldn’t think of a less-relevant theme, not to mention one that is totally wasted on bringing in Lady Gaga for. I hardly doubt even a flaming meat bikini could make “Love Potion No. 9″ more interesting.

  • Tommy

    This is easily the most uninspired theme week ever. I think The Voice and X-Factor are going to end up having a huge impact on American Idol’s ratings next year. When you can hear people sing regular music instead of songs that were popular 50 years ago (WTF?), it’s a no-brainer.

    • Templar

      How would they impact Idol? If they aren’t on at the same time, people will watch all of them. Xfactor is a fall show, Voice is on later at night, AGT is a winter show. I see no conflict.

      • allie

        it isn’t only about head to head showings. It’s about losing interest. I’ve watched AI every season but have been bored senseless the past 2 years… and now I am loving The Voice. Tonight I am going to DVR the show and skip most of it. The worst singers on the Voice are better than the best this year on Idol.

  • JLH

    I think Haley could do a great job with “Hound Dog”, if she did it like “Big Mama” Thornton did it.

  • Brigette

    Most of these songs I don’t recognize. I guess I’m a youngan. Ah, I can just hear Randy and J-Lo now, “I just wish you had picked a song people knew.”

    • Zazazing

      Nah, they won’t say that, because they are both old enough to know these songs.

      • Brigette

        Yes, I was joking…

  • illyablue

    We had Goffin-King-we don’t need Lieber-Stoller from close to the same period and tradition. Let’s have some variety,please!New Wave,grunge,Power Pop,Merseybeat,90s boy bands,anything!

    • gregk

      I agree; if they are going to do 60’s music what about powerhouses like Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane, and the Doors. Are they allowed to do these artists?

  • Sam

    I think Haley and lauren should do the duet…Far, Far Away, Soft and low..that joke is as old and bad as some of the song picks.

  • mlw

    I am not crazy about tonight’s theme. I think it should have been done earlier in the season and last weeks them should have been for the top 4. Maybe with advise from Lady Gaga these songs could be fresh again. Go Haley!!!

  • illyablue

    my thoughts exactly – so much of this season has been slow, slow, slow, no change up in songs or style, and why, please tell me why is Scotty still the favorite to win? because America is basically conservative, bigoted, voting for safe instead of talented; James should win, he is the only talented one since the top, well, the beginning…

    • humpty

      Scotty is a good country singer james is a great rocker he will win with scotty #2.

  • I meant, to illyablue

    my email at 4:20 was direct TO illyablue, not from

  • to Tommy

    this is easily the most uninspired — season. it is a product placement and JLo merchandising monster

  • Carol

    CBS Sunday morning did a great segment on these two about two weeks ago. They’re so impressive in their songbooks.

  • AI Fan


    • luke

      The majority of the country listens to country radio?!

      • Michelle

        They do, actually. It surprised me, but I just took a class on media and the textbook showed a chart of the most listened to radio genres-country was far and away number one.

    • douchelord

      Speak for yourself. I wouldn’t listen to that garbage if you paid me to.

  • JC

    HAILEY needs to sing “Down in Mexico.” It would fit her bluesy voice perfectly and with a little attitude and sexiness would just KILL. Awesome song that I didn’t know Leiber and Stoller did. Just know the Coasters recorded it.

  • Tissie

    Bet Lady Gaga doesn’t even know who Lieber and Stoller are – how can she help.

    • petra

      Bet you as a gifted student at Tisch and a classically trained pianist – Lady Gaga is IMMERSED in who Lieber and Stoller are.

      Love to see what she will say on the show. Gaga is just 25 and I think she will relate well to these 4.

      If I had my guess, even without “You and I” – to Haley’s benefit the most.
      Scotty and Gaga, though, is two separate universes colliding.

      Hope they have a little time to explore that moment, for comedy. And alternate reality props to Scotty if he comes out for rehersals in gay leather gear with sequined jockstrap worn over the pants—or Gaga slips into a twang and does a little country goofing off with the fine young guy.

    • B.Rich

      Article is wrong, second choice is “Songs that inspire” i.e. Born this Way

  • Anon Emous

    I don’t know what I’d have them sing here, but you know – seeing as the past idols have sung from the songbooks of ‘Bacharach’, ‘Manilow’ etc..

    Why not PAUL WILLIAMS?

    • U.R.Ruth

      Barry Manilow tunes would be great, as would Paul Williams’ However, these 4 would find a way to screw that up too. I am not pleased with idol’s contestants this year at all.

    • Squishmar

      I love a shout out to Paul Williams! I’m a huge “Phantom of the Paradise” fan! And “Bugsy Malone” for that matter.

      • SueN

        LOL! I love “Bugsy Malone”!

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