American Idol asked its Top 13 hopefuls to perform songs by their own idols last night, leading to a lot of super obvious choices: Shania Twain, Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks. And then there was Paul McDonald, the guy with the $4,500 Nudie suit, fey rasp, and awkward boogie. McDonald picked "Come Pick Me Up" by Ryan Adams off 2000's Heartbreaker, which isn't one of Mr. Mandy Moore's hookier tunes. "My idol is Ryan Adams, with an R," McDonald emphasized in a pre-taped interview (which was wise, because Idol is sort of obsessed with Bryan Adams). "He's a brilliant songwriter and lyrically, I just like what he does."
This isn't surprising if you dig a little into McDonald's background. The dude was actually in a band called Hightide Blues that had a song on a Paste magazine sampler in 2009. This was probably not news to Randy Jackson, who said he's an Adams fan during his critique: "I love Ryan Adams, right? ... What this guy loves, he loves Whiskeytown, he loves Wilco."
Jennifer Lopez made no such claims. "I hope America gets it. I don't know Ryan Adams or that song, and I know a lot of music. I should, I'm gonna look it up!" Here's some help, J.Lo -- he's got 15 studio albums!
If she researches "Come Pick Me Up," she'll see the song's original lyrics aren't exactly ready for prime time. McDonald had to make three major edits to get this track on air: "F--- me up" became "Mess me up," "Screw all my friends" became "Use all my friends," and "They're all full of s---" became "They're all full of it."
After the show, McDonald tweeted from the Idols' luxurious new mega-mansion (seriously, get a look at this thing), "I hope you enjoy the tune I chose for the show tonight...it might not be top 40 tv hits, but I enjoy artists that are a bit under the radar! I'm pretty happy about the performance..i might just be the first to get a Wilco and Whiskytown reference on American Idol! Haha."
According to Paste, McDonald sang a Grace Potter and the Nocturnals song that got left on the cutting-room floor, and has been trying to clear songs by two bands that took part in the 2011 Grammys' salute to acoustic music with Bob Dylan: Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers. If he can survive this week's elimination and live on to sing something off Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, he'll get our vote.
- Ryan Adams
- American Idol
- Paul McDonald
- Michael Jackson