This week American Idol makes its most important cut — from 16 to the final 12, the ones who get the most TV time, the most attention and the most love from America — and it will happen to the sound track of the cheesiest music decade ever: the '80s. Here are our hopes and more realistic predictions for who will sing what in this stonewashed week. Times staff writers
Our predictions for Thursday's group medley: (I've Had) The Time of My Life, from Dirty Dancing,
Love Shack by the B-52s, Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners. Song we want banned: 9 to 5, Dolly Parton
What we want to hear: Devil Inside or Never Tear Us Apart by INXS. Go ahead and embrace your inner Aussie, Michael. You're already being compared with Michael Hutchence.
What we'll get: Some other Australian act that doesn't quite fit him: Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil or All Out of Love by Air Supply.
What we want to hear: If you have to sing Bon Jovi, please do Wanted Dead or Alive. We'll settle for Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison. Either way, please put down the mike stand.
What we'll get: Livin' on a Prayer by Bon Jovi. He did this in his audition and is likely to trot it out again.
Kristy Lee Cook
What we want to hear: Xanadu, Olivia Newton John. Why? ONJ was the kiss of death for Alaina Whitaker last week, and we want it to be again. But we hope once Kristy's gone, she'll get her horse back.
What we'll get: This year's Haley Scarnato will torture us with Total Eclipse of the Heart.
What we want to hear: Do You Really Want to Hurt Me by Culture Club.
What we'll get: He's no Sanjaya, but maybe he's a little Sanjaya-ISH with his song choices. Look for Madonna's Borderline, Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax or Michael Jackson's Billie Jean.
What we want to hear: The judges already love him, but if he rocks Open Arms by Journey, he'll be Randy's fave for sure.
What we'll get: Something off the Footloose sound track. It's a good thing Almost Paradise is a duet.
What we want to hear: Her gravelly voice is perfect for Rock You Like a Hurricane by the Scorpions. It would be a nice change of pace from all the '80s cheese.
What we'll get: I Love Rock 'N' Roll by Joan Jett. Look for Simon to call it karaoke.
What we want to hear: Can she do a Pat Benatar impression? We want Shadows of the Night.
What we'll get: The Bangles'
Eternal Flame as she tries to sound like Susanna Hoffs but ends up doing Britney Spears.
What we want to hear: Chaka Khan's version of I'm Every Woman.
What we'll get: Something too cute, like Lost in Emotion by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam
What we want to hear: The judges cautioned him not to bring out the guitar again, but what if it were a keytar? Hey, it's the '80s. In that case, how about Don't You Forget About Me by Simple Minds?
What we'll get: He'll be guitarless and alone and make a bad choice like Chris de Burgh's The Lady in Red.
What we want to hear: They say she has that Carly Simon vibe, so why not bust out something from Carly's former hubby James Taylor, like remaking his remake of Everyday?
What we'll get: It'll be like a bad PG-13 movie she's never seen. She'll play something from Juice Newton. Take your pick: Angel of the Morning or Queen of Hearts
What we want to hear: Good George Michael, like Father Figure or Faith.
What we'll get: Wham!-tastic George Michael, like Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.
What we want to hear: He might be able to pull off some Toto high notes like in Africa or Rosanna.
What we'll get: Something from the Prince catalog. Just as long as he never sings another Queen song.
What we want to hear: Something by Asia. What about Heat of the Moment?
What we'll get: She'll try to belt out a Whitney Houston song, going against last week's advice from the judges.
What we want to hear: We know disco died in the '70s, but Kool & the Gang's Celebration gives Chikezie a chance to dig the leisure suit, which could only be a step up from last week's lame-o polo shirt.
What we'll get: We'll begrudgingly put up with Cameo's rock/funk anthem Word Up! as long as Chikezie doesn't show up on stage in leopard-print pants and shoulder pads. W-O-R-D up, indeed.
What we want to hear: She loves the soulful divas like Whitney and Aretha. But we want a little Tina Turner (What's Love Got to Do With It), an '80s icon who doesn't receive much play on the Idol stage.
What we'll get: Another mangled Whitney song. And we hope not another fake baby cry.
What we want to hear: She's an oddsmaker's dream to pick a Heart song, but her take on the Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams would definitely mix things up.
What we'll get: Her rocking take on Heart's Alone during Hollywood week would easily secure the Irish chanteuse a spot in the Top 12.