Greatest Idol Performance (Day 8): Carrie, Brooke, Allison and Crystal Enter the Arena!

We’ve reached Day 8 of’s American Idol All-Time Greatest Performance Bracket Tournament — the final quartet of first-round matchups. The eclectic lower half of the Pop/Rock/Country Divas division contains two memorable Janis Joplin covers, two terrific renditions of Heart’s “Alone,” and a couple of piano-playing troubadours tackling classic British bands.

Yes, folks, we’re taking you back to “Cry Baby,” “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Let It Be,” and “The Scientist,” among others, as part of our 64-player tourney, which is composed of the most electrifying moments in the 10-season history of Fox’s ratings behemoth. It’s your job to vote in these single-elimination faceoffs, and decide which 32 Idol Moments advance to Round 2.

Greatest Idol Performance? Kris Allen, Chris Daughtry, Jason Castro,
Michael Johns Join the Battle on Day 7!

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 biting your nails wondering how in the heck you’re gonna choose between ’em.

Idol’s Greatest Moment (Day 6): Vote J.Hud, Melinda, LaKisha, Diana, More!

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

Allison Iraheta, ”Cry Baby” (Exit Performance)
Allison Iraheta, “Alone
Crystal Bowersox, “Me and Bobby McGee
Nadia Turner, “Try a Little Tenderness
Brooke White, “Let It Be
Katelyn Epperly, “The Scientist
Carrie Underwood, ”Alone
Carrie Underwood, “Independence Day

‘Idoloonies’: Paul McDonald on ‘Blackbird,’
Crazy Dancing, and…Adam Lambert Comparisons?

It’s gonna be brutal seeing 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 and how the first four days of matchups played out, 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.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. two seconds says:

    that took 2 seconds…

    not really a contest, in each case pitting an obvious choice against an also-ran…

    also kinda odd to pit sensitive-singer-types like brooke & katelyn against power-singers like carrie & allison. only crystal bridges that gap.

    • P4Principle says:

      I kind of agree with this. He pit Archuleta’s Imagine against something by Anwar Robinson. Does anyone remember Anwar? So seeing Kate Epperly vs. Brooke White…kind of a no brainer, especially because…remind me…who is Kate Epperly?

      • John Berggren says:

        I actually voted for her. Since the performance videos are linked in the article, it might be worthwhile watching them back before voting.

        • Tim says:

          Don’t count on many people actually watching the performances as you did. I like what Michael is attempting, but it’s just going to turn into a popularity contest, with lots of recency bias.

        • Kari G says:

          I agree… if you actually watched the videos, you would vote for Katelynn Epperly… that would be the no brainer choice. It’s become very apparent to me in actually watching all the videos before voting that most people are not doing so. It’s unfortunate.

        • Alice says:

          Katelyn Epperly’s performance of The Scientist was one of my favorites from that SEASON. It’s highly underrated. Although I like Brooke White, I think that Katelyn’s performance was significantly better.

      • I hate to sound arrogant but there are some obvious non-sports fans in this discussion. Have you filled out a March Madness bracket before? The first 1-2 rounds always feature the worst against the best, (1 vs 16, 2 vs 15, 8 vs 9, etc.) which is part of your motivation to be at your best when they set up the bracket. The better you’re perceived, the worse opponent you’re assigned.
        That principle makes it more likely that the best will face each other at the end. If the first 2 rounds featured Adam Lambert vs. Kelly Clarkson, then one of those two wouldn’t go any further than the 2nd round, which is crazy and would make people even angrier.

      • Amelia says:

        Actually, Katelyn vs Brooke White is a REALLY hard choice for me. I love both performances & both songs… and Katelyn’s one definitely sticks in my mind as one of the highlights of that season (perhaps THE highlight). I normally prefer the softer singer-songwriter vibe that Katelyn has, but then Brooke also sang very well and I love ‘Let it Be’… It’s all about the emotions and ‘story’ of a performance, for me – and they both really delivered on that. I need to watch both performances again before I decide, because I can’t remember Brooke’s well enough anymore.

    • Matthew says:

      It’s a BRACKET! Similar to how in the NCAA tourney the top seeds play the lower seeds earlier in the tournament. Next week the matchups will be much harder to decide on.

    • BurnThis says:

      Yeah, it looks like some of the groupings were done so that certain results would be achieved. Putting Slezak-favorite Crystal Bowersox against someone I couldn’t pick out of a line up (and I’ve watched every episode of every season and recap the show!) is a nice way of taking care of a friend!

      I wonder if we’ll have an “Alone” show down between Allison and Carrie?

  2. Kumbaya says:

    What if Allison’s “Alone” and Carrie’s “Alone” meet together…? I would go with Carrie’s.

    • Paige says:

      My… what little taste you have!

      • Kumbaya says:

        @Paige You know, there is this thing called an opinion, so please think twice before you speak. And, I love Allison. I love her “Slow Ride” duet with Adam, “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”, and her duet with Cyndi Lauper at the finale.

      • Grace says:


        Carrie is great, and she’s always going to sell more records, but Allison Iraheta is perfection.

        • alliegirl says:

          YES! Alison Alone >> Carrie Alone, but looks like CryBaby might be winning. My favs of hers are Someone To Watch Over Me and I Can’t Make You Love Me. But the Cyndi Lauper duet was truly classy. That whole season 8 duets finale was superb.

    • inmytimeofdying says:

      I really thought allison was outstanding during all her performances probably the most consistent that entire season, but between those two versions of Alone, carries wins by a mile. I will say that Allison’s version of I can’t make you love me and Papa was a rolling stone will Cry Baby exit performance…. those will always, to me, be some of the best performances from American Idol, Ever

    • Mary Ann says:

      To each his own, but I’d definitely go with Allison. I just prefer her style of music.

    • Joe says:

      I’d go with Allison’s Alone over Carrie’s. Carrie’s is fantastic and she adds a lot to it with her doe eyes/deer in the headlights look she had a lot of her season, but Allison crushed the song and to me has the best version of it on the show. I’m stunned people are voting Cry Baby over Alone because when I think of Idol moments, I tend to immediately think Allison’s Alone and Cook’s Hello.
      I also wouldn’t sleep on Nadia Turner’s song. Watch her video and Crystal’s back to back and vote your conscience. Nadia was amazing that night.

    • GinaBallerina says:

      I would go with Carrie’s, too, Kumbaya. I’m sure a lot of others would as well. I know there is a lot of Alison love around here, and I do like her, too, but Carrie’s performance was a true “Idol moment” and more likely to be remembered over time. Not to mention, do you think we would have had all of these other “Alone” performances if Carrie hadn’t first sung it?

    • amelia says:

      i agree!! i mean there is a reason that carrie won the show is one of the most successful idols <3

  3. Marta says:

    Man– The wonky Top 36 format of Semifinals in Season 8 produced some of the worst Idol injustices as worthy contestants left and right unsuccessfully battled for those coveted slots (Ricky Braddy, Mishovanna, Ju’Not, etc). That being said, there was something so glorious and unexpected when almost-unheard-of Allison Iraheta busted out that Alone. (Ditto to Kris’ Man in the Mirror). Screentime and backstories the audition rounds were HUGE that year— thus making me root for these Cinderella stories all the more. Long live my Iraheta enthusiasm!

    • Nat says:

      Yeah, while I can appreciate the emotional resonance of ‘Cry Baby’ and the gut-busting vocal power she displayed, there was something truly magical about those first few notes of ‘Alone’, when we’d not seen Allison at all in Hollywood and had heard a few rough seconds in her audition – and suddenly, there was this girl who was PHENOMENAL and blew away all the people who’d sung before her and overcame producer pimping. I quite literally sat up and became a fan in that exact moment.

      • agrimesy says:

        I remember that moment whe Allison sang “Alone”. There’s a song on Allison’s album called “Scars” that also has a very tender beginning. When she sang it live as an opener for Adam Lambert’s Glam Nation Tour, I was floored! This girl sounds just as good in concert as she does in the studio. Why she isn’t on the radio is a mystery to me!

  4. Lucas says:

    To Kumabaya: Agree. It’s very annoying that people have to judge other people’s taste and thinking that they have better tastes than other. People have different tongues, so I hate that sense of pride. Shame.

  5. Paige says:

    @Kumbaya.. That WAS my opinion!! GO ALLISON!!

  6. Lucas says:

    @Paige It’s still not right to judge the tastes of others, thinking that they have “better taste”.

    • Paige says:

      It was actually just a joke! I wouldn’t be offended if someone said it to me. As Kumbaya came on here and said Carrie’s was better than Allisons, I was jokingly stating that I liked Allisons better. Both girls are great.

  7. Amy says:

    Thanks for including two of Allison’s performances! She has such a killer voice! She has one of the most beautiful and unique voices ever to be on the idol stage.

  8. brandy says:

    Ugh. I disagree with ALL of these. Why would you sabotage Nadia like that? Put two of Crystal’s own songs against each other!

  9. Kevin says:

    First off, putting an exit performance up against a competition performance is RIDICULOUS. Those eliminated perform in completely different circumstances with much less pressure than in competition. And Try a Little Tenderness is MUCH better than that particular performance of Crystal’s, but I figured with as big of a Mamasox fan as you are, Slezak, that you would have put up two performances of hers. (And honestly, neither of them would have been my pick. I would have selected People Get Ready and Up to the Mountain.)

    • Lily says:

      My all time favorite Crystal Bowersox performance was “Put a Candle in the Window” followed by “Natural Woman” (Hollywood round). I’d also have picked a different David Cook song (“Hello”) but, I’m enjoying the tournament – kudos to Slezak for putting it together and the whole idea! I am playing all of the performances before voting, and many times I’ve enjoyed getting a chance to hear Idol singers that I’ve never heard before.

    • JBanana says:

      Up to the Mountain was far and away Crystal’s best performance/moment/whatever on the show. First and only time I ever actually cried during an Idol performance. (I’m not talking “tearing up” I’m talking actual crying..) While “Me and Bobby McGee” was certainly a solid performance, in my opinion it doesn’t even approach the brilliant, heartbreakingly beautiful moment she had with Up to the Mountain.

    • Mike says:

      I like this choice. I also would’ve wanted to see Haley Reinhart’s version of “Piece of My Heart” on here somewhere – better than Carrie’s – and in a category all its own the Slow Ride duet, which IMO was the single best Idol performance ever.

  10. kellen says:

    there’s going to be a wile card round, right slezak? i mean, how else could you justify pitting great performances like ‘let it be’ and ‘the scientist’, and ‘heartless’ and ‘falling slowly’ against each other this early on. it wouldn’t be a true idol competition without a wild card, now would it?

  11. Bethie R. says:

    Yeah, I’ve been thinking about how much the circumstances surrounding a song effect the level of greatness the song achieved. For example, from yesterday’s bracket, part of the reason that Kris Allen’s “Breathless” was jaw-droppingly amazing is because he pulled an upset out of thin air. And Carrie Underwood OWNS “Alone”, so trying to judge Allison’s version, while very very good, just doesn’t have the same punch.

    Still, this is amusing in a won’t change the world kind of way.

  12. Memory Layne says:

    I remember when Ryan announced Carrie was singing “Independence Day” – I wanted to crawl behind the couch because I was so scared for her. In my book, Martina is among the Holy Grail of country singers, along w/ Tricia Yearwood and Vince Gill. I almost cried in relief when she pulled it off.

  13. Geoff says:

    So excited to see Nadia’s “Try a Little Tenderness” in here – it’s one of my favourite Idol performances of all time. Predictably though, it’s getting crushed…ah well, Crystal’s worthy, I guess.

  14. pgv417 says:

    Wait where is that Allison Iraheta “Alone” performance from??? (the youtube in the link you posted, Slezak)

    This is the performance I remember that completely blew my mind:

    which one is which??

    • Melanie S. says:

      In s8 the three contestants from each semifinal who got through to the finals got to sing their songs again–that’s the performance here, rather than her competition version.

    • Melanie S. says:

      I mean, the performance Slezak linked is the results show performance, and your link is the competition performance.

  15. Magen says:


    I agree that Katelyn Epperly was one of the better contestants of season 9, and that she should have gone much further in the competition than she ever did. I think it is almost ludicrous that you’re including her in the top idol performances ever. What about Haley, from season 10?

  16. darcy's evil twin says:

    Nice to see all the Allison admirers!

    She caught my attention big-time when she sang Michael Jackson’s “Give in to Me”. I was watching the performances on my DVR the morning after the program. My husband came downstairs and I told him to come here, he had to watch this girl that was only 16 years old.

    Allison, you’re wonderful!

  17. Princess Adora says:

    I’m not adding anything constructive with this, just wanted to make it public that for me, Carrie’s idol moment was when she sang “Could’ve Been” by Tiffany. Made me a fan for life!

  18. Vetle says:

    Noooooooo, Katelyn is losing. :(

  19. betsy says:

    nadia turner would have way more votes if most of you people had actually watched the videos before you voted….

  20. agrimesy says:

    Allison Iraheta’s Cry Baby is THE BEST exit performance in Idol history! There, I said it!

  21. KoolKat says:

    It is sooo hard to choose between Allison’s “Alone” and “Crybaby” performances! I love both of them and they were both perfection, as a matter a fact all of Allison’s performances were perfection! “Alone” was when she first came out and shocked us all and when I became a HUGE fan! But I had to go with “Cry Baby”. That performance was amazing, heart-wrenching, emotional, and powerful all in one! It still amazes me how she was able to give such a performance like that after she had just been eliminated and she was crying and emotional. This has to be the best exit performance idol has ever and probably will ever have, and personally for me it is the best overall performance on idol ever! Allison is amazing! Cannot wait for her second album!!!

  22. Jader says:

    Allison songs battle is a hard one to choose. But I go for Alone. That was the moment for me, for her. I instantly became a fun till today. The first song I search from her is Alone. Allison’s Alone version is by far the best IMO. Carrie did her thing but overall Allison murdered Carrie’s version.

  23. JVC says:

    Katelyn Epperly vs. Brooke White was pretty tough choice for me because they seemed evenly matched. I did vote for Katelyn and by doing so, I wished that she faced crystal or at least made top 10. Katelyn could’ve been a relevant, viable winner, oh well. While it pretty seems clear allison’s “cry baby” will move on to the next round, I kinda wished it was her performance “alone” that moved up. I liked to see who’s “alone” was better or more authentic Allison Irahteta or Carrie Underwood. But i can’t wait cause this is the last section of round 1, so round 2 might be tougher.

  24. Tahoe Mike says:

    Allison’s best was Papa Was A Rolling Stone. That is the one I can remember without re-watching it.

  25. Paul says:

    I agree with above posters that Crystal’s “Up To The Mountain” was better than her “Bobby McGee”– the former had such raw emotion, sincerity, and it was just a beautiful performance. Such an amazing way to end the season.

    While Crystal was my favorite contestant by 1000 miles last year, this SPECIFIC performance in COMPARISON to Nadia’s “Try A Little Tenderness”– there is no comparison for me. I know that some may not have been watching back then, and Nadia is an ‘obscure unknown’ contestant from the bowels of FIdol history, but it seriously was SUCH an amazing performance!

    I agree with Geoff. While Crystal ‘is worthy,’ and certainly overall IS a much more consistently strong performer, Bobby McGee should NOT be beating out Try A Little Tenderness– WATCH THE VIDEOS folks!

    The other results I think are dead on. “Cry Baby” was just rip-roaring amazing! (Though I do think Papa Was A Rolling Stone should’ve been there in lieu of Alone)– Brooke White gave such a beautiful, simple, emotional performance with “Let It Be.” And Carrie Underwood just nailed “Alone.” Great choices!

  26. erin says:

    Why do you make us choose between mamasox and one of the best semi-final performances ever with Nadia? In the end I pick mamasox every time but I felt like I betrayed my early idol roots.

  27. Katherine Epperly says:

    I assume these are all Michael Slezak’s personal favorites? Because who the heyll is Katelyn Epperly? I assume an early booted who never made it to the finals? Michael needs to stop obsessing about these semifinalists. Most of these people, like Ricky Braddy, Kendra Chantelle were boring as heyll and seemed not to understand a word they were singing. And Allison Iraheta. What an overwrought, overrated performer. Her “Alone” was good, but it was far from perfect and was actually a bit of a mess vocally. I should know because I bought the video performance on iTunes.

    • faithfulfan says:

      i don’t know that slezak addressed it, but i would assume these choices are his alone… how else could david cook’s hello or billie jean not be included… though to be fair, cook had quite a few ‘moments’ … but i thought it was public opinion those two were the shining ones

  28. Brandon says:

    I too liked Epperly’s performance, but its all about name i.d., and Alex Lambert is the only semi-finalist who will ever be famous, and as a result he advanced into rd. 2 of Michaels tournament. I mean he was on the front page of Hulu several days a week for months during his realty show -If I Can Dream, and Clear Channel produced a promo music video for him for G sake- they only do that for Huge names, and there were multiple other major promos for its all about TPTB ,and who they want to promote. Still, I love Epperly’s performance, and hope she does very well…

  29. SteelersAllTheWay says:

    How can anyone emerge from this bracket other than Ms Underwood.

    AI Season 4. Top 11 night no less. Carrie Underwood sings “Alone”. Simon declares not only will she win the competition but will outsell every other Idol.

    Very prolific. Carrie will likely never be topped as a superstar success story if AI carries on for another 10 years.

    She may not have ALL the statistical numbers in her column yet, but Clarkson had a head start. Over time, Carrie will be #1 in everything I expect.

  30. whootowl says:

    I had to vote for Allison’s “Cry Baby” because that performance was just one huge electrifying “moment” all the way through. But I also loved Allison’s “Alone” even more than Carrie’s version, which is to say it was a huge, huge performance as well.

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