American Idol 2011: Why Motown?

I have to say I’m more than a little disappointed with the rebirth of themes for the idol contestants for season 10 of American Idol especially after Nigel promised this was NOT going to happen.  I mean seriously!  Motown?  Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s been many awesome songs and singers come out of the motor city but we’re talking decades ago with this genre.  How are potential idols suppose to show us what type of artist they plan to become when they have to choose these type of songs?  How will they make these songs their own?  I thought Nigel said before the show even started that the contestants would get to choose more current songs and even get the chance to put together a video.    

For the majority of the contestants this will be fine because they’re going to sing sappy ballads anyway but what about Scotty McCreery and James Durbin?  How are they suppose to find their niche singing Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye?  Jacob Lusk should rule this week and come out on top since this is right up his ally with song choice. 

In other news, Nigel Lythgoe has tweeted that he doesn’t class X Factor as a talent show and says the following about Simon Cowell:  “In a way, I’m delighted Simon’s left American Idol. He’s given us the opportunity to refurbish it,” he said. “Everyone said that it would be the end. And what’s happened? The ratings are equal to last year’s, we got 30 million votes the other evening, and if we lost 50% of our audience we would still be the number one show.”  Let’s see if Simon fires back later on today. 

What do you think about the motown theme week and do you think the contestants will make the songs their own?

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92 Comments

  1. @ Ashli Rae…thank you for the update….Yes, I thought it was going to be a theme-less AI this year as well…guess they can't get past it. So, it is what it is. I am looking forward to hearing what the contestants sing and their choice of song…it could not be any worse than last week's choices.A lot of Motown songs are difficult to sing…they are not all a bunch of "doo wop, doo wop" – there is a lot of beat, rhythm, high notes, falsettos and a lot of emotion…Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Billy Preston, Diana Ross, Gladys Knight and the list goes on for all the great artists and music that came out of this era. Hopefully, the contestants will be able to sing more current songs…but I am sure we will be subjected to an Elvis week, a Rolling Stones week, a Country week and so forth and so forth. I am just tuning in to be entertained. 🙂

      • @ Angela. 🙂 Sending thoughts to you for a gentle and beautiful day. Hello to Phyllis G., Sherry K. as well. 🙂

      • Rose A. & Angela……I think James should do what Adam did last year and just change it up to suit him. Motown had so many girl singers that it should work for them this week…….

        Have a great day!!!

      • Phyllis G. and Rose A. Hugs to both of you! This week should be good! They should all be able to pick out a Motown song and sing it. If not they are not a true all around artist. It will be fun to see! A beautiful day to you my friend Rose A. and also to my friend Phyllis G. 🙂 Sherry K.

        🙂

      • Sherry K. Love seeing you on the site. I like Motown theme week because I can relate to the music…..These idols should be able to sing anything. They all have such good voices….I'm hoping that someone (preferably James) has a bust out week….I can only hope…LOL

        Sherry…have a wonderful day..Hugs to you my idol friend….

  2. Ashli, thanks for your opinion. However, I think that the Motown theme will help to show how versatile the contestants are. I also believe that it is used as a marketing tool to grab the attention of people who don't know all of the latest bubble gum pop songs. I think themes are great for the show because it makes it more culturally diverse, somewhat. God Bless.

  3. I totally agreed! I'm really sick & tire of their non-creativity of the show! They just repeat the same formula every season! I guess they'll have country theme next (suprise, suprise!!!)

    • Well, I wouldn't be surprised if Scotty manages to pull off Motown in some odd way–Didn't SOME Mowtown singers have deep voices. He just has to lose the country tone. I sure couldn't imagine James D, Jacob, or Paul trying to go cuntry and not be a total flop. I think a country week theme would be good because so far Scotty has to go against every other type of music. So far he is doing fine, but it would be nice if he had one week to be really outstanding.

  4. Do they have a week where they sing their own song? I think this should be a requirement for the show. How can you be an Idol without selling the audience your own music?

    • @ KL…I do not believe so. I do not think it is one of the requirements to write your own music, although in the past there have been contestants that have performed their own original songs. As in the case of past Idols, such as Kelly Clark and Carrie Underwood…songs may be written for them to perform toward the end of the competition. If writing their own music and/or lyrics, I think the majority of the contestants would be gone. I may be mistaken but I believe that Paul is the only one that has sung an original of the remaining contestants and I believe that was during Hollywood Week. I believe that Brett Lowenstern sang a song that he had written…(also during Hollywood Week, but of course that was a while back. A lot of really good artists do not necessarily write their own music. 🙂

      • Yeh, I'm sure that would eliminate others who do not have a song already or who are not capable of writing their own song. But that's sort of my point. Make them work with a producer for a week to work out their own music and see what America thinks. Others have already written music, such as the ones you mention. And I know Thia has written her own music as well. So they obviously have a leg up. I guess all I'm saying is that the main component of the contest is music, and so I'd like to see them have to show what they can do for themselves.

      • Honestly, this is not the time for the contestants to write their own music… I don't mind Motown week. There are a lot of artists to choose from. This season started out so positive and now it seems that the contestants are having problems, especially with their song choices. Last week was a disaster. I'm hoping this week will be better.

      • @Phyllis G., I agree, with so much on the line writing their own music now, would be a big risk factor at this stage of the game. It is much nicer at least for me, to see how the contestants handle the challenge of each theme week. Have a Blessed Day!!

      • phyliss G….the problem with motown week is we have heard stevie wonder ,dianna ross , marvin gaye ever since this show started…when i here someone try stevie i change the channel. there has to be an obscure motown artist that has not been overdone..any names of artists?

      • 88fngrslouie…..I'm sure there are more than the artists that you named on Motown records…..Some one mentioned Rare Earth, Gladys Knight and a number of groups like the Four Tops and the Temptations….Remember what Adam did with Tracks of my Tears?….These contestants can sing any song and put their own twist to it.

      • @ Rose A. Actually Stefano performed an original song during Hollywood week. Also, Naima plays guitar, Casey plays the bass, melodica & piano, Stefano plays the piano, Pia took a songwriting/arranging class in high school, James and Scotty both play guitar, Thia plays piano, & Paul plays guitar and did an original song on hollywood week. So as you can see, there are quite a few musicians this year so I think that they would do well on an original song week. To me if you can't help write your own songs (whether it's writing lyrics,coming up with a melody, arranging, composition, &/or playing an instrument) then you have no business being a recording artist.

  5. I like the theme weeks. I want someone who isn't one dimensional. And why should the show be recongifured so someone like Durbin can be more successful. Its to his benefit to show that he can sign different styles. A strictly heavy metal rock singer isn't going to win AI.

    • Iah……James Durbin does sing different type songs, not only hard rock or metal…..If you go to James Durbin on u-tube you will hear him sing a beautiful ballad…..He just needs to do it on the show……I have faith he will succeed…..

      • @ Iah I do not think that AI is "reconfiguring" the show to meet the needs of James Durbin at all. He did a beautiful rendition of Maybe, I'm Amazed and as my friend, Phyllis G. said, if you check him out on U-tube, he does other ballads and songs as well. I do not think the show is being reconfigured to meet any of the contestants personal needs. JMHO 🙂

    • Here's a link to James singing While My Guitar Gently Weeps, IMO one of the most beautiful things I've heard in a long long time.


    • i agree. i loathe motown. even if they change the style, the damn lyrics are always so corny. how about songs from the top 40?

      • lol Good one Angela! I'd cancel my own contract if I had one, I'm more a music appreciator (make sense?) than a musician. As for Motown, I don't, I think it's fun to listen to, but it can seem very dated. It almost always turns into cheesy karaoke night. Don't get me wrong, I really wish for the best, I just think Motown is gonna be hard to put a current, modern spin on. Viva NAIMA ! ! !

  6. @ KL. Point taken. It would be nice if these contestants could collaborate with some of these "music producers" to come up with something that would match their personal genre. It is still early in the season and perhaps this year that may happen. I for one would like to be pleasantly suprised by an original song by the contestants. It could very well be a deciding factor on the outcome of this competition. Have a great day. I know we each have our own favorite to win but do agree on a lot of other things. 🙂

    • I agree with Jane and am tired of the screamers. Scotty could sing almost any of them I think he is going to surprise a lot of people Wed nite. He is No 1 in all the posted vote results

  7. make the songs their own?? Really?? who has to do that?? Oh yeah that's right everyone EXCEPT Scotty McCreepy

    • I love lauren and Scotty is the best. Love that deep voice tired of all the high pitched screeming they have had on.

    • trisha…I'm still waiting for Scotty to make a song his own…..Its all country!!!!!! He should be on a Country Idol show. Don't get me wrong, I think Scotty is a great country singer so was Carrie Underwood and Kelli Pickler but they did sing other songs on the show….Once this show is over these contestants will follow their dreams and sing their songs, their way…..some will make it and most of them won't….thats the real world…

      • Personally, I think that they should stay with what they know. When they go singing that is something completely different, they get kicked off and plus I love Scotty and want him to sing country. Heck, he can talk for all I care, I love that voice!

      • Well, if you guys actually knew, Scotty had sung Frank Sinatra and John Mayer in the preliminary round. He has stated before, country is not the only thing he can do, he is clearly just playing it safe until it really comes down to it. Regardless of the genre that the person in the competition sings, they are still singing and that's what they do. YES, Scotty should change it up, and I think this is his opportunity to shine with the motown week, even though i don't approve of the genre because of people like Lauren, Scotty, and James. He is my favorite in the competition, and I feel he will go extremely far. Like Randy said: Don't fix something if it isn't broken!

      • I don't listen to country music all that much anymore, and yet I LOVE Scotty. I can't choose between 3 favorites so far. I'm hoping Scotty can show us he can also do well with other styles because those songs I'd be more likely to pay to download.

  8. I've seen several posts now talk about the American Idol tour. What is the requirement for the contestants to make that?

    • @ KL. In the past, the top 10 contestants go on tour around the country during the summer. Last year, it was kind of a bust due to the fact the selection of contestants was not all that great. It may improve this year due to the diversity of so many talented contestants. 🙂

      • Ok, thanks Rose. We're down to 11 this week. So whoever survives this week will have the opportunity to be part of the tour. Not that I would attend…I just think it's and opportunity for contestants to get some great experience, especially for some of the younger contestants like Thia. I like how they're in the studio every week working with producers for commercial studio versions of songs. Great experience for them.

  9. I think that anyone who was seriously preparing for this show should have done some homework and acquainted themselves with more than current pop.

    Motown is a natural, and should be considered one of the roots of American popular music.

    • @Willow, yes!!! I believe, that is why AI has not changed the theme week shows.

      Like you said "anyone who was seriously preparing for the show should have done some homework". As important as it is, to be able to sing current or original songs, it is equally important to know how to sing songs from other genres. Your comment, was very well stated!!!!

  10. I think the contestants this year rule over previous years, however I HATE theme weeks. First they are unfair to the women (just find a Elvis song a woman can sing well)another reason is because you hear the judges say, that is just too old for you, you need to make it current.. well those old songs were popular because of the time and nothing short of a complete rewrite is going to make them current. Then the judges would be complaiing they changed the song to much. Just say'in

    • @ kmccormick46. I have to agree with that…we go through this every year Idol has been on…the judges have ALWAYS said…"make it your own", "the song is too old for you", "I want to hear you in this song" and on and on and on…Randy has said…"If it ain't broke…don't fix it"…what a contradiction. These contestants don't know what to expect from one week to the next and are getting mixed messages…the producers are telling them one thing and then the judges contradict what the producers have told the contestants…With that being said…I truly believe that this year all the contestants are extrememly talented in their own way…some better than others. Looking forward to seeing what happens this week. Whoo Hoo~!!! 🙂

      • Totally agree with you. The contestants this year are so far talented, look at Thia, Scotty or Paul. I just can't stand hearing the judges say "Who're you?" or "That's who you're!!!" anymore. Lolz, are there any more useful comment they could give?

  11. Why Motown?

    Because, despite what the judges say, I still don't think the "potential idols (ARE) suppose to show us what type of artist they plan to become" but the potential of the prospective idol!

  12. Stefano, Pia and Jacob is my pick to do well with Motown. Not sure how the country singers are going to do with it.

  13. well, i like a theme, if you can sing you should be able to sing most types of songs. it will show the different sides of the kids not just what they always like. might be interesting to see who nails it.

  14. Ashli Rae….thank you for your comments and updates. This site is so much fun…..Now I'm just waiting for one of these contestants (hopefully James) to give us a WOW performance. Theme weeks are okay but like one of the comments said…Elvis or Beatle weeks are just not fair to the girls….Motown has diversity. Male and Female singers so it really should not be hard to pick a song…..These are singers and singers should do all kinds of music. It may not be what they want to do once this show is over but for now,,,,,they have to sing everything their way,,,,use their voice and make it their song….

  15. …this constant pressure on "make the song your own" gives me the heeby jeebies, and puts unrealistic expectations on the singers…this, I fear, will be a train wreck…Motown was a classic era, and expecting them to try and "2011" it up to these classic songs will just result in revvin' up tempos, rendering them unrecognisable…for the "love of music"…can we just judge the voices, already…

  16. I swore that if a tired old theme week was used again (the exact example I used was Motown), Idol was dead for me. So long Season 10! I don't feel like I will be missing much anyway.

  17. I hope all of the people that leave comments here are voters for American Idol. Maybe Idol realizes that many of the shows audience are older. I love Motown and grew up listening to soul music. I have gone to see the Idol's perform twice, and the first time most of the people were preteen and the second time they were women over 40, never any men that I can think of. Maybe Idol wants to give every person a chance by doing their individual music genre. Like Jacob should be good this week and Scotty at country. I just don't want to hear Heard it through the grape vine again.

  18. Any number of great artists have had defining moments in their careers when remaking previous hits–from a variety of genres from motown to country. A distinctive sound combined with genuitne artistry are the hallmarks of great singers. "The Greatest Love of All" was originally a country song that gained traction in the popular world of music because of the style and power Whitney Houston, who redefined it as one of the BEST pop ballads.

  19. What amazes me about these theme shows is this..the contestants a REQUIRED to sing in that genre, Then when someone such as Scotty tries motown, the judges critisize & say "it's not your kind of song..stick to country". Whoever sets it up is guaranteeing a messed up rendition. I understand a contestant should be encouraged to get out of their comfort zone to an extent, but not get set up to fail! Just sayin'

    • Totally agree with this ab ove post!!!! There even seems to be a bit of a double standard with the judges. When the guys go out of their comfort zone, the judges are praising them for their boldness, or unique take on something. But when the girls try,, they go…"Oh, you don't know who you are or what you did doesn't fit your niche, or whatever….they get criticized, and the guys praised.

  20. What fun would this show be without themes? Every week we would have Scotty singing country and James screaming and Jacob singing like he is at church….Themes keep things interesting…Yes motown week has been done before but so has a lot of the songs we often here…you have to respect the history of music…A lot of the top 40 sample songs from motown artists…So lets just hope that our ears here some sweet harmonies tomorrow night…I love this site!

  21. I hope James does "Shout" by the Iseley Bros. and Jacob does "Yesterme, Yesteryou, Yesterday" by Stevie Wonder. As for Scotty, maybe "She's Out Of My Life" by Michael Jackson.

    • @Templar, I could not believe it when I read your comment! That song, that song, that song,!!! It is a song that reminds me of mine and my sister's childhood. I am talking about the Stevie Wonder's "Yesteryou, Yesterday"!!

      There are songs that evoke so much of the past for many people, but for me, this is one of the songs that did it!!!

  22. the best season that gave a tribute for Motown would be Season 3…The choreographs are so nice too unlike this season hehe

  23. The good thing about having this theme is that contestants will be measured how versatile they are….

  24. My strong guess for the bottom 3 this motown week are HALEY, NAIMA and PAUL… With Naima going home… What do u think guys??

    • Hope Naima goes home but think she will stay because they will want a black female in the top 10.

      • I think Naima will be able to reach top 6. But i wish Stefanoi Langone will be the next American Idol, he is awesome guy!

    • I doubt if Naima will be sent home this week unless she get the lowest votes. Haley is more likely to get the axe.

      Stefano, Jacob and Pia are good bets to win this competition.

  25. Thia is the most talented.She is the complete package and she has the voice,pitch,tone and control.Not a screamer Like some of them.

    Go Thia. you are the Great!!!!

  26. I am about to faint… I just can't understand how people can think of Thia as an American Idol. She is soooooooooo boring, I was literally falling asleep when she sang. Cute, sweet voice… but OH SO BORING!!!

      • I am a musician and I see what kind of people root for Thia, immature teens that cannot accept opinions from others. Let's see whose attitude will change tonight. I am guessing nobody's because when she gets eliminated you will post that American Idol voting system is fixed or something hahahahaha. This is too funny!

      • Gabriela, some musician you are. If you are, then you would not be criticizing her or anyone else like this. By the way, who is listening to you anyway? I can't even understand what you wrote. It's nothing but run ons on your post.

      • @Anonymously yours (what a name by the way) If my comments are nothing, what are you doing replying to them??? You don't know me and I don't have to explain myself to you. GROW THE HELL UP and accept that some people might have different opinions.

      • Yes, you're right about that, everyone has his/her opinions. I have mine and you have yours. I respect that. So long.

  27. Just recently found this chat.Soo fun reading what everyone has to say ! Ive watched Idol since the second year. Really thought this year was the best overall talent, but have been disappointed that noone is a definite standout and noone has had "a moment". I will definitely be staying tuned waiting…

    • design diva, sometimes this chat is fun. Sometimes it's not. Everyone takes it so seriously, you would not believe it. This year does have the best group of contestants ever. I've been watching since season 4.

      Nice chatting with you.

  28. I wish Jennifer would just shut up when Randy is giving his opinion – she doesn't know her place – she is rude!

  29. The format for idol is badly flawed, which is why I seldom watch it. There are some really great artist on the show, but given the choice of songs by the stupid producers even a great vocalist will some times sound meh. Not even the greatest can sing every song ever written, a fact that has been totally overlooked. Singers like Thia would be better off striking out on their own, as their talent will never be appreciated by the people who watch the show, the judges and most of all the producers.

  30. If I was 16, I'd want to marry Scotty, but since I'm 61, how about I just adopt him as an honorary grandson. He's so cute you just want to hug him. Loved the post that said he didn't even need to sing, he could just talk. What a voice.

    So sorry he has to be subjected to these stupid theme weeks. Of course he's not going to shine singing Motown…it sucks no matter who sings it.

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