American Idol 2011: What the Top 12 should and shouldn’t do

This week on “American Idol,” the Top 12 will sing songs from the year they were born. While this is a very broad theme, there are some things the contestants should keep in mind. Not that they’d listen to me if they knew I existed. And not that I expect all of you to care about what I say, but some of you do, right? I thought so. So I’m just going to offer some things that could happen to either make me like them more or make America like them more. (And for extra fun, I’ll put the contestants in the order of my personal favorites to least favorites).

(Note: I’m picking songs for them. Based on their age. Since I don’t know if they were born before or after March, I could have their birth year wrong. So no need to point that out in the comments).

1. Pia Toscano. One thing Pia MUST not do is sing another ballad. She needs to take on something more upbeat. Something pop. Let’s see, she’s 22, and it’s only March (I only know their ages not birth years), so she was probably born in 1988. I’m going to go way out on a limb and say she should sing “I Found Someone” by Cher. That’s upbeat enough and has a lot of power. I think it could show her versatility. And if she was born in 1989, then Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.”

2. Paul McDonald. Paul is a love him or hate him kind of guy. In order to make more people love him, he needs to sing a familiar song. Paul is 26. So he was probably born in 1985. That’s a great year. I think his rasp could rival Bryan Adams.’ So “Summer of ’69” could be a great song choice for him. Or he could pull a David Cook and do “We Belong” by Pat Benatar. That would be awesome.

3. Scotty McCreery. Scotty is safe for weeks to come. But if he wants to keep sucking in non-country fans, then he needs to take a pop or rock song and put a country spin on it. He’s 17, which mean he was probably born in 1994 (and I find that insanely ridiculous). He could go with “I Swear,” which had both pop and country versions in 1994. But I’d like to see him go way out and give us a country version of “Hero” by Mariah Carey.

4. Stefano Langone. Stefano’s success is all about song choice at this point. He was safe last week after getting a wild card stay the week before. So he picked up some fans. But if he makes some bad choices, he’ll start losing them. So he’s 22. 1988, like Pia. I pick “Faith” by George Michael. It’s upbeat and well known. It could suit him well.

5. James Durbin. I don’t think James has anything to worry about yet. As long as he keeps his voice under control. James is also 22, and hoping he was born in 1988 and not 1989, there’s only ONE choice for James. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. That could be pretty awesome.

6. Lauren Alaina. Lauren’s got some staying power, but if she wants to fight her way past Pia, she’s going to have to focus on song choice. I think it’s time for her to do the opposite of Pia and slow things down. I know for sure that she was born in 1995, so the perfect song for her would be (and I can’t believe I’m going to say it since it’s so overdone) “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley. I wanted to say “Take a Bow” by Madonna but I don’t know if they have the rights to her songs.

7. Haley Reinhart. The main thing Haley needs to do at this point is tell us what kind of singer she is. She’s 20, so if she was born in 1990, then “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinead O’Conner would be a beautiful song choice. She could throw in some yodels. It would be great. But should she be doing something more upbeat? Probably. In that case, “Roam” by the B-52s. Why not?

8. Naima Adedapo. She was able to save herself last week while in the pimp spot, but she could be back in risk this week. So song choice is everything. She’s 26. So maybe she was born in 1985? “We Belong” by Pat Benatar. She has to do this. Has to. Unless she was born in 1986. Not knowing the exact birth year is pretty annoying.

9. Thia Megia. Thia has to wake up. Or she’s going to be eliminated soon. Everything she does is so sleepy. She’s got an amazing voice though, so I can’t imagine there’s anything she can’t handle. She’s 16 and I think turned 16 after auditions, so that means she was born in 1995. So something upbeat. And powerful… Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio! I’m kidding. “I’m the Only One” by Melissa Etheridge could be cool. And she could definitely pick up the lesbian vote.

10. Karen Rodriquez. I’m not sure Karen can do anything to save herself. Unless something crazy happens this week, she’s probably heading home. But everyone deserves a fair shot. She’s 21, so she was probably born in 1989 (again since it’s only March). Since there are no Jennifer Lopez or Selena songs that week, so how about Roxette? “Listen to Your Heart”? Nah. “Miss You Much” by Janet Jackson? Nah. She’s a tough one. Good thing it doesn’t matter.

11. Casey Abrams. Casey just needs to be healthy and he should be fine. But if he wants to gain some more fans, pick a song we all might know. “Janie’s Got a Gun” by Aerosmith. Steven Tyler should appreciate that.

12. Jacob Lusk. I don’t know. He just needs to sing something that won’t make my ears bleed.

Who are your favorites? What would you like to see them do or not do? Sing or not sing?