Shaky "Let It Go" Cover on 'American Idol' Proves That Contestants Should Never Take on Mega-Hits — VIDEO
Ah, young ambition. On American Idol, that term often comes with a side of sprightliness, excessive optimism, and sheepishness come judging time, but it also comes with a level on inexperience that leads to contestants to make poor song choices over and over and over. This week, Majesty Rose is that contestant, as she chose what is potentially the most over-praised and over-played song of the last six months, "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen .
Not only did Rose pick a ridiculously difficult song performed by one of the most talented singers in the Broadway game, she also picked the song at the peak of its popularity. There's likely not a single Idol voter who wasn't hearing the impeccable Idina Menzel version in their heads the entire time Rose was performing. And no matter what Jennifer Lopez said about the young singer being at home in any genre, mental comparison with a great singer is never a good thing when voting is involved.
What's worse is that while Rose is a lovable contestant in a sweet little dress singing a song she clearly loves — her eyes where absolutely alight throughout her performance — she simply wasn't able to hit the song's high register with the clarity of someone like Menzel. Rose's voice resides in a Janelle Monet sweet spot, not a belting Broadway register, and even Menzel has trouble singing this incredibly difficult song (she cracked on the last note when she performed the song at the Oscars). Rose's entire performance of the tough tune felt strained, however joyful.
What's sad is that the fact that Rose even managed to hold onto the notes throughout the song is a sheer sign of her vocal strength, but because she wasn't Disney perfect, her performance falls into a category of "close, but no cigar."
This sort of songbook Everest is common on Idol, especially a few years ago when Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" was the biggest song known to mankind for over a year. Everyone on Idol wanted to sing it, but the problem was that no matter how incredible the performances were — think Haley Reinhart with her slinky red polka dot dress in Season 10 and even Holly Cavanaugh in Season 11 — when these songs are performed at the height of popularity, all singers manage to do is draw comparisons to the original artists. And on a show where every performance is a cover struggling to make a unique mark, adding the additional weight of the biggest song in America is just asking for trouble.
No matter how strong the performance, there's an overwhelming sense that it's a cover. This is the song that every tween and pop music loving soul (the sorts of folks drawn like moths to Idol's flame) has likely listened to the song du jour approximately a million times. They know every vocal flourish and heavy breath. The subtle nuances of Adele's and Menzel's voices are ingrained in every listener's mind. Even if the Idol contestant sings perfectly and hits every seemingly impossible note, they're still not going to be the singer everyone's got an insatiable hankering for.
What's more is that while these performances were certainly technically incredible, they didn't drive these contestants home to the finale. In recent seasons, the singers who took on the impossibly popular songs and artists were unable to make to the top. Reinhart and Cavanaugh both fell before their respective finales and even Season 12's mega talented Amber Holcomb, who took on Beyoncé's "Love on Top" in the Year of Beyoncé, felt the sting of not living up to Bey's electric level of performance. She was voted off twice, though the judges saved her the first time.
There's certainly not a science to all of this — Candice Glover took on Bruno Mars' mega hit "When I Was Your Man" last year and won because she's just that incredible — but for those singers who need desperately to make a mark, selecting songs or artists that are so beloved by the general public that you could practically lean on any average citizen to sing every last word from memory is dangerous. And it's especially dangerous for someone like Rose, who held her own, but didn't knock the performance out of the park.
Hopefully, for the adorable Idol contestant's sake, audiences are charmed by her cheerfully audacious performance and she gets another week to prove she's still got some Idol game. But she certainly didn't do herself any favors by picking a song like "Let it Go."