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American Idol: Top *12* all-time best performances
by
 Mollee_Francisco
Apr 19, 2007 | 913 views | 21 21 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

With Season 6 rounding the bend for the final stretch, it seemed a good time to review the all-time best Idol performances. So, I offer to you my Top 10 as well as a few honorable mentions (with their respective YouTube video links).

It should be noted that I didn't hop on the bandwagon until the very end of the second season so you'll find my list heavy with performances from the four most recent seasons. You'll probably also be able to quickly deduce my preference for the slower, showier numbers. With that said...

TOP 12

Fantasia Barrino (Season 3) "Summertime" Fantasia moved herself (and the audience) to tears with this memorable performance from the musical 'Porgy and Bess.' It didn't come off as gimicky and solidified her status as the one to beat in Season 3.

Taylor Hicks (5) "Trouble" Taylor took a lesser-known Ray Lamontagne song, a perfect match for his voice, and infused it with his unique Soul Patrol style.

Lakisha Jones (6) "And I'm Telling You, I'm Not Going" Lakisha delivered her best performance on Week 1 with this gut-wrenching 'Dreamgirls' number.

Chris Daughtry (5) "Making Memories of Us" The resident rocker reached back to his country roots (and exposed his sensitive side) when he gave this surprisingly tender performance of a Keith Urban song. (NOTE: You'll have to zip ahead to 2:30 in order to see Chris's performance)

Melinda Doolittle (6) "I've Got Rhythm" If you need any convincing that this woman has "it", fast-forward this song to 1:16 and watch her blow it out of the park.

Jordin Sparks (6) "I (Who Have Nothing)" A controlled and deeply moving performance of this Shirley Bassey number that proved this 17-year-old was in it to win it.

Diana DeGarmo (3) "Don't Cry Out Loud" Prior to singing this Melissa Manchester tune, Diana DeGarma had been offering little more than beauty-pageant-styled tunes. This song suited her well and catapaulted her into the finals.

Jennifer Hudson (3) "Weekend in New England" Who would have thought this future Oscar-winner would shine so bright on Barry Manilow night? Her big voice and emotional delivery gave "Weekend in New England" new life.

Nikko Smith (4) "One Hand, One Heart" 'West Side Story' has always been kind to Idol contestants but it was especially helpful to Nikko Smith who delivered this minor musical number on a silver platter.

Fantasia Barrino (3) "I Believe" If this encore performance doesn't make you cry, nothing will. Fantasia had just been named the winner of Season 3 and found herself sobbing through what was supposed to be her first single. Her emotional performance (see 2:14) made the otherwise drippy song particularly appropo for the struggling single mother-turned-star.



David Cook (7) "Hello" This was the moment the eventual Season 7 winner stepped out of the crowd and started to demand some respect. We started paying attention and he delivered week after week with gems like "Eleanor Rigby" and "Billie Jean."

Jason Castro (7) "Hallelujah" stunned the audience into silence with his cover of Leonard Cohen's tune. Such a great song choice done very simply.

Honorable Mentions

Ruben Studdard (2) "A Whole New World" Finally a video clip of the moment the big teddy bear put his signature velvety voice to good use on this song from 'Aladdin'.

Nadia Turner (4) "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" The originator of the Idol faux hawk (take note Sanjaya), Nadia proved she should have stuck around a lot longer with this Dusty Springfield cover.

Latoya London (3) "Somewhere" Fantasia's main competition in Season 3 gave her a run for her money on musical night with this 'West Side Story' tune.

Katharine McPhee (5) "Black Horse and a Cherry Tree" and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” Season 5's runner-up delivered some wow performances mid-way through the season starting with her writhing version of K.T. Tunstall's "Black Horse and a Cherry Tree" and following with a performance of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" that made some forget Oz ever existed.

John Stevens (3) “King of the Road” This red-headed crooner may have been a one-trick pony but when he got to standards night, he proved that not even a few missed lyrics could rain on his memorable cover of this Roger Miller song.

Constantine Maroulis (4) “Bohemian Rhapsody” Queen isn't easy to cover but Constantine's rock-gospel version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" illustrated his master showmanship.

Carrie Underwood (4) “Alone” Carrie Underwood broke out of her country rut to deliver a knock-out performance of Heart's "Alone."

Blake Lewis (6) "Time of the Season" Blake let his cool demeanor (and hot dance moves) ooze into his cover of this Zombie's tune.

Vonzell Solomon (4) "Best of My Love" This former postal worker-cutie was the queen of fun performances. No song better illustrated her ability to work the crowd with her infectious smile more than this Emotions' tune.

Fantasia Barrino (3) “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” Ok, so she's my favorite Idol to date. Still, her funktified version of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" is not to be missed. This girl could sing the nutrition information on a box of cereal.

Taylor Hicks (5) “Something" Perhaps the only Idol in history to weasel a Beatles tune through, Taylor did it during Billboard charts week. His version of "Something" was simply lovely.

Lakisha Jones (6) "This Ain't A Love Song" She sings this Bon Jovi tune with such conviction. Her voice hits the low notes and sounds like butter. Heavenly.

TELL US: Do you have an all-time favorite American Idol performance?

Comments
(21)
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Mollee Francisco
|
April 21, 2010
I haven't added any new performances in the last two years. What would you suggest is worthy of this list from either Season 8 or Season 9?

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)
Mollee Francisco
|
April 21, 2010
For fun - here's someone else's list of top Idol moments: http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20312226_20362239,00.html

Turns out Entertainment Weekly's Michael Slezak and I agree on quite a few things. What do you think of his list?

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)
Mollee Francisco
|
January 14, 2009
New additions to the Top Performances list including entries for David Cook and Jason Castro. A top 10 list just isn't enough to hold seven seasons so we'll bump it up to a top 12 list for now...

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)
Louise7
|
October 20, 2008
Good news for you Melinda Doolittle fans! She’s set to release her debut album titled, Coming Back to You on Hi-Fi Recordings in January 09. Produced by Grammy-nominated producer Mike Mangini (Joss Stone, Run DMC, The Jonas Brothers), Coming Back to You was recorded with a team of live musicians in Nashville and New York City.

The first single, “It’s Your Love” will be released to radio in October.

"Keep yourself updated with Melinda's career at http://www.melindasbackups.com"

melindasbackups.com is a web site owned by Melinda Doolittle. Melinda’s Backups™ is a non-profit supportive association inspired by Melinda and authorized by her to operate this web site on behalf of her fans.

Louise7
|
October 16, 2008
Good news for you Melinda Doolittle fans! She’s set to release her debut album titled, Coming Back to You on Hi-Fi Recordings in January 09. Produced by Grammy-nominated producer Mike Mangini (Joss Stone, Run DMC, The Jonas Brothers), Coming Back to You was recorded with a team of live musicians in Nashville and New York City.

The first single, “It’s Your Love” will be released to radio in October.

UPCOMING SHOW: 10/19/2008 3:00 PM

Host Name Tyler Graves

Show Name Moments With Melinda - Show 4

Show Length 1 Hour

Show Description In this episode of Moments With Melinda, Melinda will discuss her new single "It's Your Love" as well as her upcoming debut CD! Fan calls will be accepted

Call-in Number: (646) 716-9978

If you want more info www.melindasbackups.com

Louise7
|
October 13, 2008
melinda First album’s single have been delays. Awww but will be worth it to wait for. She really talented singer. Keep you update at www.melindasbackups.com

UPCOMING SHOW: 10/18/2008 1:00 PM Host Name Tyler Graves

Show Name Moments With Melinda - Show 4

Show Length 1 Hour

Show Description In this episode of Moments With Melinda, Melinda will discuss her new single “It’s Your Love” as well as her upcoming debut CD! Fan calls will be accepted, so please tune in!

Call-in Number: (646) 716-9978

Louise7
|
October 04, 2008
Melinda Doolittle the talented vocalist with a heart of gold. The album’s first single, “It’s Your Love,” was released to radio stations nationwide in September. What a wonderful new! If you want more update about Melinda Career www.melindasbackups.com
Mollee Francisco
|
March 05, 2008
After such a bummer night for the ladies, I had to go back and revisit Melinda Doolittle's "I Got Rhythm" performance from last season. How I miss that girl.

I'm also adding a couple of performances to the Idol Hall of Fame here including Lakisha Jones "This Ain't A Love Song" as seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XrdkfttRGU

and Jason Castro's "Hallelujah" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4s9iq5fYY8&feature=related

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)
valerieflames
|
May 18, 2007
ChicChick
|
April 26, 2007
Oooh, now that I think about it, I really loved Kelly Clarkson's performance of Celine Dion's "I Surrender." I don't think there were as many stand-out performances in Season 1 as there were in subsequent seasons, but this one would be in my top 10 list.
MFrancisco
|
April 26, 2007

Obviously this list is subjective, as any top 10 list would be. This is  my top 10 list.  And I would invite you to submit your favorite performances, as others have. It has been fun to see what performances really grabbed people over the years.  The wide variety of responses seems to speak to Idol's appeal.

As for me, I never felt particularly moved by Elliot Yamin so, though clearly others did, you won't find him on my list (I was in a Taylor Hicks fog). As for Clay Aiken, I can honestly say that I saw only one of his performances from Season 2 (and no, it wasn't the beloved "Bridge Over Troubled Water"). That's why you won't find him on my list. There's also no Kelly Clarkson here. Again, I only picked up the show wholeheartedly in Season 3.

I'd love to go back and watch the first two seasons. Does anyone know why they aren't being released on DVD?

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)

Ging
|
April 26, 2007
Best Performances of WHAT?? is What I want to know ?? Not Singing Performance...I have never seen, and will not believe, a list of Singing Performances without Elliott Yamin and Clay Aiken given very high honors !!
momsrule
|
April 25, 2007
Not a valid top 10 list of AI performances in my opinion.

Although I don't care for Clay Aiken that much, he should be on there with "Bridge Over Troubled Water".

What about Elliott Yamin's "A Song For You". That song was excellent and should be on the list also.
MFrancisco
|
April 23, 2007

More Idol favorites came in over the weekend. Reader Jan sent in five of her top performances:

Clay Aiken - Bridge Over Troubled Water

Clay took a classic song that almost every person in this country  has heard and made it sound like a completely different absolutely beautiful and uplifting song.  From the moment I heard his version, it's only version that I can hear in my head which is really really hard to do.  When you take a classic song and redefine it as the definitive version that is art.

Jennifer Hudson - Circle of Life

Her version of Circle of Life is unbelievable.  It's so stunning that I feel like it literally made my jaw drop.  I felt the same thing X 10 when I saw Dreamgirls.  Also, she performed "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" on the show as good or better than LaKisha.  LaKisha imitated her performance in Dreamgirls.  It was great but the inflection was an obvious imitation.

Anwar Robinson - What a Wonderful World

Anwar gave this classic song a new arrangement that I like better than the original for me.  I still love the original and hear both as separate entities in my head but I remember Anwar's name because of this performance.

Taylor Hicks - Takin' It To The Streets

This performance shook me out of my stupor.  What a great, soulful live performance.  I have a recording of Michael McDonald performing this live on Austin City Limits and it's great but it didn't hit me in the gut like Taylor's performance.

I see someone already commented on the acapella song that Bo Bice perfomed.  Great.

Bo Bice - Whipping Post

Great live performance.  I still remember it.

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)

MFrancisco
|
April 20, 2007
That was a striking performance by Bo. I tried to keep from loading the list too heavily with Fantasia or Taylor. They gave so many great performances (in my humble opinion).

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)
MFrancisco
|
April 20, 2007

"By far my favorite performance of all time on Idol is Taylor Hicks

performing "You are so beautiful".  It was as good if not better then the

original.  He really puts his soul into the music.  What a performer."

--Received this email earlier today.

P.S. As noted, I didn't catch much of Season 2 at all. I'm not sure I would have included Clay Aiken on my list, but having not seen any of the performances recommended by gkw44, I haven't had a chance to rate them. Maybe I'll try to YouTube them.

(Mollee Francisco is a staff writer for the Chaska Herald. She can be reached at mfrancisco@swpub.com.)

gkw44
|
April 20, 2007
You list the Top 10 best performances and you leave off Clay Aiken with Solitaire and/or Bridge Over Troubled Waters?

Not a very valid top 10 list without it.
judyt
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April 19, 2007
Trouble performed by Taylor Hicks was my all time favorite. It played over and over on my cd player and touches me still to this day as much as it did the first time he sang it. He really did show his vocals as he had planned to do that night with it and I feel it was really a defining point for him with some fans who may have been swaying....I was hooked from the beginning. Great observation!!

Judy Trueblood

Let the Music Move Your Soul!

LindaK
|
April 19, 2007
I loved Bo Bice's acapella version of In A Dream. I listen to it all the time. It would be great if he would record it. As for Taylor, I love everything he sings. He sings from his soul.
sabrini
|
April 19, 2007
Taylor Hicks (5) In The Ghetto
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