I know Season 7 is still in high gear, but the last few weeks of the show have gotten me thinking about the best of the best. Here are my top ten “Idol” performances of all time.
10. Brooke White, “Let It Be”
The standout of Season 7 so far, Brooke (who accompanied her raw, lovely rendition on the piano) success gives hope to everyone who wants this year’s Idol to be a musician as well as a singer.
9. Frenchie Davis and Kimberley Locke, “Band of Gold”
I always think the Hollywood rounds don’t get enough airtime, and this duet performance from Season 2 shows how many other incredible performances we could be missing out on before the show even officially begins.
8. Elliott Yamin, “Moody’s Mood for Love”
Dark horse Elliott surprised everyone by choosing this old-fashioned standard, but this soulful performance helped propel him to a well-deserved third place finish in Season 5.
7. Melinda Doolittle, “My Funny Valentine”
Every song Melinda sang in Season 6 was a master class in performing, especially this one from the semifinals. She showed that she could sing any song, from any genre, and make it completely her own.
6. Clay Aiken, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
Clay Aiken almost didn’t make it onto Season 2 of ‘Idol’ when he auditioned, as Simon deemed the dorky redhead “not commercial enough.” Clay put any doubts about his viability to rest when he soared through this Simon and Garfunkel classic, which became the B-side to his first hit single.
5. Chris Daughtry, “What a Wonderful World”
Season 5’s resident rocker showed that he was able to go soft when he nailed a version of this Louis Armstrong standard.
4. Carrie Underwood, “Alone”
Season 4’s eventual winner, Carrie Underwood established herself as a country singer but proved she could break out of her shell and rock the house with her cover of Heart’s ’80s power ballad.
3. Blake Lewis, “You Give Love a Bad Name”
On Bon Jovi theme night in Season 6, Blake took a huge risk by reworking the megahit song to include his trademark beatboxing and techno backbeats. It paid off, and his performance is possibly the bravest in the show’s history.
2. Kelly Clarkson, “Stuff Like That There”
Most people remember original “Idol” Kelly Clarkson belting out R&B and pop ballads, but in this number from Big Band Night she proved that she could get out of her comfort zone to do sexy, subtle, and saucy all at once.
1. Fantasia, “Summertime”
Fantasia–and many in the audience–wept after her breathtaking version of this “Porgy and Bess” song. Randy Jackson called it the best performance in the history of the show, and four seasons later he’s still right.