American Idol All-Time Greatest Performances (Day 3): Bo, Blake, Cook, and Lee Compete!

It’s Day 3 of’s American Idol All-Time Greatest Performance Bracket Tournament, and we’ve got rock songs getting flipped into electronic tracks, R&B ditties getting all guitar-ed up, and even a memorable moment of a capella.

Yes folks, today we venture into the first half of the Rock/Country/Alternative Males division of our 64-player tourney, which is composed of the most electrifying moments in the 10-season history of Fox’s ratings juggernaut. It’s your job to vote in these single-elimination faceoffs, and decide which 32 Idol Moments advance to Round 2.

Every day around 1:00 p.m. ET over the next few weeks, we’ll launch a new set of duels to the death that will have you joyously reliving your favorite Idol moments and tearfully cursing us for making you choose between ’em.

Before you head to the polls, you may want to peruse these memory-refreshing links to the performances entering the ring this afternoon:

David Cook, “The World I Know
David Cook, “Always Be My Baby
Lee DeWyze, “Treat Her Like a Lady
Casey James, “Jealous Guy
Blake Lewis, “You Give Love a Bad Name
Ace Young, “Father Figure
Bo Bice, “In a Dream
Josh Gracin, “I’ll Be

It’s gonna hurt to see four of those great Idol moments snuffed out in Round One, no? So make sure the right choice is made by heading down to our polls to vote for your favorites (Round 1 voting will be open for 72 hours), and hit the comments to justify your picks. And if you’re interested in the matchups we’ve got planned for the coming weeks, click here to check out the entire 64-player bracket (then click again for a zoomed in view), and sign up to follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

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  1. Logistics says:

    I love this bracket, because it is bringing up so many lulzy memories of seasons past.

    I was CONVINCED Josh Gracin was going to win because he was a retired marine (i think) and I thought that all the 9/11 voters would get him through! LOL.

    Ace remains the sexiest Idol man ever. COME AT ME, BRO.

    • Evelyn says:

      Hands down Ace is the sexist idol contestant ever. He performed at the Cherry Blossom parade a few years ago in DC and he’s just as gorgeous in person.

      • Holly says:

        I respectfully submit – you are both crazy! Without question, the sexiest Idol ever is, was and always will be David Cook! Mmm, mmm,mmm!

    • BurnThis says:

      I was a little surprised at some of the choices here. I’ve watched every episode of this show for 9.5 season and did not remember “Always Be My Baby” (where’s David Cook’s “Billie Jean”) or the Bo Bice song. The only true “moment” in this division is Casey James’ version of Jealous Guy. He had so much intensity. And that guitar riff he came up with was pretty wild. Some of the other divisions have much tougher competition.

  2. LJ says:

    Surprised you included Ace’s “Father Figure” over performances like Kris Allen’s “Heartless” or Daughtry’s “Walk the Line.” Or even Constantine’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But otherwise, good choices all around.

    • Michael Slezak says:

      Every single one of those performances is included in the bracket. You have to click on the link to the entire 64-player roster to see where they are seeded.

      • LJ says:

        Ohhh, well now I just feel silly. I bow to your expertise, sir.

      • Kellie D. says:

        Michael, I’m mad at you for making me choose between David Cook’s The World I Know and Always Be My Baby! Ha Ha! Not fair one of them will have to go so soon :(

      • Lauren says:

        I looked at the brackets and I cant believe Kelly and carrie are on the same “eastern” division LOL. WOW thats gonna be a tough call, but I am going to predict a daughtry or cook vs adam labert final on for the men and an underwood vs. hudson final one for the women…(reluctantly because I will be picking Kelly FTW, but I am betting I get outvoted LOL)

    • Carolyn says:

      Where is David Cook’s Hello or Billy Jean. That man in my book had more idol “Moments” and though it was in the semi-finals I still think Hello was “The” idol moment/game changer for all that followed. Just being a good singer was no longer enough. Agree w/the inclusion of Always be my baby but I don’t remember the World I Know being a huge moment compared to those I mentioned. Also Eleanor Rigby and PHantom of the opera. Of course I know you were limited and David cook was the shizzle almost every week but Hello is to me the best idol moment ever. I walked into work and said, “I think James Durbin had his Hello moment today” and my coworker knew what I was talking about.

      • Carolyn says:

        Also after seing idoloonies this week I wish you had included Didi Benami’s Terrified. I wish I could download that.

      • Carolle says:

        Hey hey hey … I agree with Carolyn above! While IMO.. The World I Know nailed the AI Crown…. David Cook’s Owns his cover of “Hello”! Ah.. every song David cook sings he owns!! Awesome talent surpassing all the rest! No one even comes close to the Last American Idol for NyCarole!!!

      • The Wheeze says:

        David’s performance of “Always be my baby” will always be a moment I remember in his Idol journey for the fact that his brother was there. The way he was able to stay composed and deliver such a solid performance just proved to me why I was a Cookie Fanatic. As a viewer I appreciated the fact that from his first audition until Ryan brought it up during the live shows he never tried for the sympathetic backstory vote. There have been way too many contestants that have in the past and will in the future. Yes, I do agree with everyone “Hello” and “Billie Jean” were also polarizing performances that just propeled DC ahead of the pack, but I agree with Slezak on this one.

      • gregk says:

        Eleanor Rigby was the most memorable for me. It got into my head for days, and was his defining song for me.

    • Suzanne says:

      I thought the match up of In A Dream and I’ll Be was ridiculous. In A Dream should have been compared to another performance that was mostly a cappella, like Heartless or David Archuleta’s And So It Goes.

  3. Jeremy says:

    I’m pretty sure “Always Be My Baby” shouldn’t be the lower seed there. I’d also like to see a worst Idol performance bracket. Gokey’s “Dream On” would be a strong contender there.

    • Sarah says:

      “Dream On” was so bad my sister and I still laugh about it. While we’re on that topic, as long as Slezak does lists of Idol songs that should be retired, how about Idol songs that need to be redeemed, starting with “Dream On.”

  4. Joe says:

    Cook’s version of HELLO is more iconic than either of the choices you made here for him and would have probably challenged for the whole thing in my opinion. Can’t believe you left that one off.

    • Elisa says:

      I agree, Hello or Billie Jean would have easily win the whole thing. I love Cook, but ABMB and TWIK are not the best choices.

    • KristenV says:

      Agree. “Hello” is one of my all-time favorite Idol’s performances.

    • Vicki says:

      I agree. I would also suggest his take on Billie Jean. These are my favorite moments on Idol EVER. Cook is the greatest.

    • Elizabeth says:

      And here I thought you were a David Cook fan, Mr. Slezak. He had many amazing performances, but “Hello” and “Billie Jean” were by far the best. These two on the list weren’t nearly as memorable.

    • Carolyn says:

      My point exactly. Bemused at his choices. Cook had too many “Moments” to choose only two. But to me Hello is IT.

  5. Coco says:

    How is Cook’s The World I Know not beating Always Be My Baby? And why Always Be My Baby rather than Hello? I think Blake’s You Give Love A Bad Name is gonna take this whole bracket.

  6. Lex says:

    Write in vote for Hello! That was David Cook’s defining performance.

  7. blingedup.susan says:

    I so don’t want to offend anyone here, but really? People are voting for Lee DeWyze “Treat Her Like A Lady” over Casey James’ “Jealous Guy?” Really?

    • blingedup.susan says:

      Oh, okay. Sorry. Just refreshed my screen and Jealous Guy is now ahead. Whew!

      • JayK* says:

        I know! Jealous Guy is ahead, but not by much! I think THLAL was Lee’s best performance on the show, but Jealous Guy blows it out of the water.

  8. Jessica says:

    OMG David Cook is just so luscious. Always Be My Baby has got to be a strong contender for the finals. So love that version. And David Cook being such eye candy doesn’t hurt either.

  9. Diane says:

    Wow, watching these clips makes me remember why I used to love this show. We have not seen any performances this season that come close to these. Miss Simon, maybe this years performers could shine brighter if someone spoke frankly to them as he used to, so when they got a compliment from him, it really meant something, not “that was really beautiful” comments that everyone gets this year.

  10. Amy says:

    I am really enjoying this bracket tournament. It is fun to go down memory lane, though it is tough choosing between some of these performances! Inevitably it makes me compare this season to past seasons and sad that there have been so few stand-outs so far. None of the performances from this year come close to holding a candle to some of these performances. Here’s hoping that will change over the next month.

  11. ava says:

    Are you ppl insane? Why is Casey James on this list, he sucks. Plus are you ppl all tone-deathed, that song is snooze worthy at best.

    • Tee says:

      I love people with comments like ‘he sucks’. Casey James in fact does not suck. He’s got a distinctive voice, a great face and is an incredibly talented guitar player.

      It’s funny – if you asked me what former contestants I would pay to see – the list is short. Kelly Clarkson, maybe Jennifer Hudson – but most definitely Casey James. He’s the real deal.

    • Fiona says:

      Casey sucked on a song that’s arguably one of the *best* of the season?! Give me a break!

  12. StorytellerGal says:

    RE: Blake vs. Ace. Blake’s song is more original, but damn I could just watch the video of Ace all day – with or without sound! Ditto for the Casey video.

  13. Salvador says:

    My favorite performance ever “alone” Allison Hiraheta

  14. Skitty says:

    This is a lot of fun Michael. More fun than watching Idol, lol.

  15. StorytellerGal says:

    Can you imagine Scotty, Jacob, Casey competing against Bo’s “In a Dream”? They wouldn’t have made it past the wild card round.

    • Skitty says:

      Totally agree with you. Its annoying to hear the judges speak of the contestants artistry the last couple of years. the judges all must have that “can’t remember sh!t syndrome.

  16. Muriel says:

    So happy to see Casey James with Jealous Guy! One of the best moments of that season.

    • Marta says:

      Completely agree.. I will remember it and Crystal’s run fondly. It such such an earnest vocal for him– and cool guitar. I have the iTunes version in my iPod–its pretty stellar.

  17. lacey says:

    Choosing between Father Figure and You Give Love a Bad Name was a toughie but I had to go with Blake.
    Always Be My Baby was a good song and I’m glad it’s beating the other one, but I wouldn’t consider it Cook’s best performance.
    Lee is so hot and can sing to me all day long, lol.
    Maybe it is just because I can not get over him looking like a serial killer, but I do not see what is so special about Bo Bice. Plus I’ll Be has always been a song that I love.

  18. anabelle says:

    “I’ll Be” vs. “In a Dream” which are both horrible, so why is there no None of the Above option?

  19. Maj says:

    For me for you dawg…Casey James’s “Jealous Guy” is the best perf on this page. I was not a fan of Casey & I pretty much forgot all about him but now I remember how much I liked it even then. Too bad we didn’t really get this kind of performance this season yet (w/ James & Scotty being close to that at certain points).
    Blake – the true original.

  20. Clare says:

    You picked those two DCook performances over Hello or Billie Jean? I’m…not quite sure what you were smoking there, Slezak.

  21. Mel says:

    Please don’t forget Imagine by David Archuletta!!

  22. cathy says:

    Am very suprised you didn’t list Hello or Billy Jean for David Cook. They are my favorite Idol moments ever!

  23. Julie says:

    Choosing between those particular Bo Bice and Josh Gracin performances was really a matter of deciding the lesser of two evils! Yuck! The Bice unlistenable, and the Gracin such typical AI fare.

    • Ellen says:

      Uh, clean out your ears! How can Bo’s “In a Dream” be unlistenable????? To me it’s one of the most iconic songs on Idol. Right up there with a number of David Cook ones. Maybe not your style? Can you appreciate a voice like Josh Groban or Celine Dion? Neither is my style but I can appreciate their voices. I can’t imagine what you find “listenable”.

  24. Julie says:

    When will the winners of the votes get placed into the next level of brackets?

  25. Michelle says:

    That thud you heard was the sound of my jaw hitting the floor when I looked at the matchups and saw no evidence of Jason Castro’s existence. Does Hallelujah not count for anything? let alone Over the Rainbow and I Don’t Wanna Cry? I fully acknowledge that his final two performances were horrendous enough to cancel out one or even two of those moments, but surely not to exclude him from contention altogether? I’m also perplexed at the choice of David Cook entries. Where in the name of all that’s awesome is Billie Jean? Vocally it’s far superior to the out-of-tune rendition of “Always Be My Baby” linked here. Other than this bracket, though, I’ve loved the majority of choices in this contest (though I would personally like to register a vote in absentia for Chikezie’s “She’s a Woman.” Also, and I realize I may be alone in this, I would have loved to see Taylor get a spot in this bracket, possibly in lieu of Josh. He’s got twice the soul and about 10 times the range, plus he did win a season.

    • GG says:

      You have to click on the link at the end of the article to see the entire 64 player bracket. I do believe that Castro and Chikesie are both on there.

    • blingedup.susan says:

      Michelle, click on the link above to see the entire 64-player bracket. Jason and Taylor both have turns coming up!

  26. Andre says:

    My prediction:

    The male selection will have an Adam (Mad World) and Cookie (Always Be My Baby) match up and the female selection will be Fantasia (Summertime) and Kelly (Natural Woman). Upset could be Kris Allen’s Heartless over Cookie and Carrie’s Alone over Kelly. While it could put up a good fight, I doubt that Jennifer Hudson will win over Fantasia unless her fans rally behind her on this one.

    I honestly wish this was a real live performance match up. That would be epic.

  27. GG says:

    I’m really loving watching these old clips. Things certainly have changed on AI, and not for the better. And I totally agree about Cookie. “Hello”, “Eleanor Rigsby” and “Billie Jean” were all more memorable than “Always Be My Baby” and “The World I Know”. And I also agree that there needs to be an All Time Worst Performances bracket. There certainly won’t be a shortage of contenders there!

  28. Princess Adora says:

    It’s hard to pick the best David Cook performance, and it almost seems unfair to all the other contenders to put them up against him. So I say after we decide what the Greatest Idol Moment was, we should vote on Greatest David Cook Idol Moment! My vote goes to First Time Ever I Saw Your Face! Yes, Hello and Billie Jean were “game-changers” but this song was like a greatest hits package from the entire season. Great vocal, drastic reinterpretation, and total awesomeness (not to mention sexiness)! Only my opinion though *said in a Simon British accent*

    • Coco says:

      Cook bracket! Genius. The World I Know is actually my favorite. Or Hello. Or Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.

  29. Leslie says:

    I know that most people consider Hello and Billie Jean his best Idol moments, Always be my Baby and The World I Know are my favorite performances of his, for some reason they just really resonated with me.
    I miss DC on Idol–he’s probably my all time fav.

  30. Cat says:

    David Cook’s “Always Be My Baby” is still in frequent rotation on my iPod!

  31. Amelia says:

    I didn’t like Casey James during that season of Idol, but watching his “Jealous Guy” video again I remembered how good it was! Why haven’t we had ANY musically stripped-down performance this Season? I’m starting to think that mediocre-Casey James is better than all the contestants we have left this year – at least, artistically. I blame Jimmy Iodine.

  32. Madeliene says:

    It really stinks to think that so many people are voting for Ace Young instead of Blake Lewis because they think he’s “hot” or “sexy”. Uncool.

    I don’t dislike Ace or think he can’t sing, but Blake Lewis is one of the most original, talented American Idol contestants ever. Regardless of if he’s not your type, his performance of “You Give Love A Bad Name” was absolutely amazing and very memorable. If Ace wins it’s seriously because a bunch of people only vote by looks. Just like American Idol on most years. Ugh.

    • Live music man says:


      You have obviously never seen Ace perform live. Often people say he can’t sing because they have a problem with his good looks and that’s not right either. Ace is one of the best singers there is with a huge range and tons of control. I’ve seen him with a band at big show and on broadway and he is an amazing singer. Many of the biggest producers and songwriters agree. Blake is talented too, but is no where near the singer that Ace is. Ace is featured on Jive recording artist Chipmunks record in the Uk right now (one of the biggest artists in the UK) and his performance is amazing. Maybe you should listen to You Redeem Me as well. Don’t let your love for Blake misrepresent Ace Young’s great talent. Blake wouldn’t like that either as they are often seen togeter and state that they are friends.

      • Tiiiiiiiiiiime says:


      • lacey says:

        Read Madeline’s post again, she says “I don’t dislike Ace or think he can’t sing”.
        If people want to vote for Ace because they like his Father Figure’s performance over Blake’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” then so be it. If they’re voting for Ace simply because they think he’s hot then that’s a shame.

        • Live music man says:

          Ok, but Ace is an amazing talent and a very genuine person (one of the most I’ve seen with all the good things he does for people) so for him to have to deal with people being upset at him because he happens to be good looking is LAME. Not his fault and he gets mistreated because of it. Ace would also be the first to say nice things about Blake and his talent. Ace happens to be accomplished way beyond Idol and it’s stupid to have to hear people talk in such simplistic and uninformed ways about someone that has #1 songs he’s written aroudn the world, is grammy nominated, a accomplished broadway lead, runs his own entertainment company and is giving other artists opportunities to avoid the problems in the business he and others have faced and does so much for charity including being a VP of MDA. He’s still building and doesn’t seem to care to be in the spotlight around anything but his work. Blake is awsome. So is Ace. Ace has so much depth that people caught up on looks and pop tv miss. If you are lucky enough to see him live and meet him you’ll see.

          • lacey says:

            I have nothing against Blake or Ace, and wish them both the best in life. I prefer “You Give Love A Bad Name” over “Father Figure”, that’s all. I never meant to imply that any of Ace’s votes were because of his looks instead of his talent.

  33. Volcfom says:

    Lee vs. Casey is the toughest decision in this bracket! I love this idea, btw. Good fun!

  34. Liz says:

    I wish David Cook’s Music of the Night was here or Daughtry’s Dead or Alive. My favorite 2 ever, for the men anyways.

    • lacey says:

      OMg I can’t believe I forgot about Cook’s version of Music of the Night. That definately should have made the list and could have easily replaced The World I Know.

  35. Mike says:

    Kris Allen’s Heartless as a 3 seed? Really Michael? Show some respect for the Pocket Idol.

  36. impliedbazinga says:

    Why don’t we just agree that ALL of Cookie’s Idol performances were transcendent, across the board? I mean, even his worst one (“Innocent” – where I believe Slezak imagined hearing “Cinnabon” lol) is still better than most of the S9 performances, yeah?

  37. glenna says:

    Bo’s did a great job with IN A DREAM it was one of the best all time performaces on idol ever!!!!

  38. Georgia says:

    Love this poll! I chose “The World I Know” for David Cook, but it’s a tough decision. He doesn’t do anything that I don’t love, and as others have said, almost every performance was an exceptional “Idol Moment”. Bo Bice’s “In A Dream” really was that voice of God about which Steven Tyler blathers on.

  39. Tammy says:

    I think David Cooks “Hello” Should be a choice. That was awesome.

  40. JVC says:

    People wondering where jason castro, daughtry, and kris allen are don’t worry there is another bracket of this category waiting to go at it. It is so fun reliving these performances. I don’t think we should be too upset about billie jean or hello are not on the list for david cook’s performances. The fact we are bringing them up showed David Cook had moments to spare so he doesn’t need. I hope he does well w/ his next album, I’m just worried he waited too long. We’ll see. As for the others: Blake lewis (not a fan, but awesome performance) win goes to him (remember these are just my opinion). Bo bice : definition of guts. Win goes to him. And…. Casey James. Personally I kinda wished he went up against crystal instead of lee. I really felt bad for the guy when it was going down hill for him especially that train wreck during top 5 last season. And don’t get me started on the judges pick for him top 3: I hope they aren’t going to sabotage any of the kids on top 3 this year.

  41. Kellie D. says:

    Michael, is it too late to ADD David Cook’s Billie Jean or Hello to the contest? If you’re reading the comments, you’ll realize why I’m asking. The World I Know and esp. Always Be My Baby are amazing, no doubt, but Hello and Billie Jean were incredible, game-changing songs for him and are still being heralded today (not just on here) as iconic! I hate for the contest to be skewed because the wrong songs were chosen for him. Again, those are great songs as well, don’t want anyone to think I’m dissing them in the least. What do you say, Michael?

  42. paula says:

    I am listening to Jealous Guy right now for the millionth time. OMG it’s the all time best and @CaseyEJames is the most humble and deserving guy ever. And Yes I am Paula and I am. a. Casey James addict!!

  43. Karlena says:

    I gots to say…”Treat Her Like A Lady” does not hold a candle to the insane, chill-inducing awesomeness that is “Jealous Guy”. Casey’s goat bleat was a little hard to handle on some other performances, but that one was pretty close to flawless. Also, HOW am I supposed to pick between two amazing David Cook performances?! THEY WERE ALL SO GOOD.

  44. Lyn says:

    So glad to see Bo here. I still remember how intense and amazing it was when he sang “In A Dream.”

  45. Susan says:

    It’s really funny to read all the comments. Most people agree on more or less one “stand-out” moment for the contestants but with David Cook almost every performance comes up. He really was awesome – and still is, sorry. There is a reason why download numbers for his Idol performances broke all records, right?

  46. Audrey says:

    Where is Constantine Maroulis’ My Funny Valentine

  47. Karen says:

    Casey James “Jealous Guy” wins for me hands down! No song performed on idol has ever affected me the way this one does. I think that Casey has a beautiful voice!

    • Linda says:

      I agree !100%Casey is so very tallented in every way,only someone with NO taste would say otherwise.That man has magic fingers on those guitars,and his singing has so much improved,since the show, not that He wasn’t awesome before.Caseys new songs are WAY! over the TOP. AWESOME, AWESOME, AWESOME !!!!!!

  48. Linda says:

    For me, Blake Lewis’ “You Give Love a Bad Name” will always be number one! There are many, many great moments listed here. I do love Ace Young also. I’d also have to go with David Cook’s “Hello” that was an awesome Idol moment. This is a lot of fun and brings back many happy moments.

  49. Vetle says:

    Nice to see Casey James’ (I almost wrote Abrams..) “Jealous Guy” get some love. Truly one of season 9’s best performances. I was a Crystal and Siobhan fan, but Casey deserves mad props for that performance.

  50. Louie says:

    This brings back a lot of memories – fun ones. I enjoyed many of these. When Blake sang “Bad Name” we were jumping up and down at my house. These are all good choices. Rock on!