Michael Becker/Fox
Adam B. Vary
May 04, 2011 AT 07:25 PM EDT

The American Idol Top 5 are singing two songs tonight, culled from the completely clear and specific theme of “Now & Then,” with “Now” being music from, um, “now,” and “Then” being music from the 1960s. I do not envy the contestants their task in choosing songs from such a wide-open field of possibilities, especially now that they pretty much need to pull out a show-stopper every time in their ever-narrowing march to the Nokia Theatre. And speaking of “now,” now is the time for contestants like Lauren to blow us out of the water, and contestants like James to continue his momentum by making surprising choices. Fortunately, we’ve made suggestions for the contestants (that they will in no way be able to take since it’s the day of the show, but let’s just keep up the pretense that we’re helping them out anyhow), both for the songs they should snag and the ones they should avoid at all costs. Check them out below:

Lauren Alaina


DO SING: “Firework,” Katy Perry (c’mon Lauren, blow us away)

DO NOT SING: “Just a Kiss,” Lady Antebellum (it goes nowhere she hasn’t gone)


DO SING: “To Sir, With Love,” Lulu

DO NOT SING: “It’s My Party,” Lesley Gore

James Durbin


DO SING: “The Cave,” Mumford & Sons (maybe I’m crazy, but I can see him turning this into a killer rock song)

DO NOT SING: “Not Ready to Die,” Avenged Sevenfold


DO SING: “Paint It Black,” The Rolling Stones

DO NOT SING: “Light My Fire,” The Doors

Jacob Lusk


DO SING: “Grenade,” Bruno Mars

DO NOT SING: “Run the World (Girls),” Beyoncé


DO SING: “Try a Little Tenderness,” Otis Redding

DO NOT SING: “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” The Four Tops

Scotty McCreery


DO SING: “Country Girl (Shake It For Me),” Luke Bryan (it would be epic, but I suspect he’ll actually sing Chris Young’s “Tomorrow”)

DO NOT SING: “Honey Bee,” Blake Shelton (for one thing, I think Nigel Lythgoe would burst a vein in his forehead; for another, it does nothing for him)


DO SING: “I Walk the Line,” Johnny Cash

DO NOT SING: “Suspicious Minds,” Elvis Presley

Haley Reinhart


DO SING: “Dog Days Are Over,” Florence + The Machine

DO NOT SING: “Jar of Hearts,” Christina Perri


DO SING: “Son of a Preacher Man,” Dusty Springfield

DO NOT SING: “Rescue Me,” Fontella Bass

So those are my picks. What are yours?

Follow Adam on Twitter

Read more:

EW’s American Idol central

Casey Abrams exit Q&A: ‘It was my time’

‘American Idol’ video: Casey’s swan song

You May Like