‘American Idol’ Preview: Is It David Cook’s Night?

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If there’s one thing American Idol has absolutely nothing to do with, it’s rock and roll. But that’s not stopping the show from adopting the official list of “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll” as tonight’s theme. The good news is that, with four contestants left and each singing twice, there is an 8 in 500 chance that someone will perform “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Come on, contestants! Do it for America!

Which songs will the contestants pick? Our best guesses are after the jump.

David Archuleta wandered away from his inspirational-ballad, wounded-puppy-heart tendencies with last week’s “America” and “Sweet Caroline,” so look for him to return to form. If he’s not too intimidated by the feathered hair of Clay Aiken’s ghost, he might try “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” but we’re betting that what his dad is currently punching into the Manipulatron 5000 is Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” which includes discussions of hate and war, both of which David Archuleta would like to stress that he absolutely does not favor.

Jason Castro, who escaped the boot last week only because Brooke White was melting down into a pool of plasma before our eyes, is likely to try to get the “Hallelujah” magic back by aiming for his stool-perched acoustic sweet spot. It’s easy to envision him getting his seventies groove on with “Hotel California,” but he consistently fancies himself more soulful than he actually is, so “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” also seems likely. He’s already tried singing in French and Spanish, so the only thing left, really, is whistling.

Just as Syesha Mercado was itching to do the Whitney Houston version of “I Will Always Love You” during Dolly Parton week, she’ll almost certainly chase her stated musical influence Aretha Franklin this week. She may pass up the much-performed “Chain of Fools” and “Respect” and go for “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You),” which she can perform barefoot while standing on top of a piano and waving a lighter for herself. For her other selection, she’ll need a big number to get the crowd going, and since “The Macarena” tragically is not one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll, bet on a feel-good upbeat song like “Reach Out I’ll Be There.”

David Cook is the one among these contestants who seems to be presented with a gaggle of good choices, to the point where he will be perceived as failing miserably if he doesn’t hit two home runs. We’re actually excited that he could pull out songs like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “The Weight” and smack the other three contestants around the stage with them. Mark it down: This is a David Cook week, and unless he accidentally strangles himself with the cord of his electric guitar, he finishes on top. —Linda Holmes

‘American Idol’ Preview: Is It David Cook’s Night?