American Idol: The Top 20 Performances from Season 10

We’re down to just two contestants on this wild and unpredictable 10th season of American Idol, but there were plenty of vocalists aside from Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery who prompted standing ovations, Kleenex dabbing, and general hooting and hollering from our couches over the course of the last 12 weeks. To that end, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling my list of the 20 best numbers from this year’s performance-night telecasts (which is why you won’t see Casey and Haley’s “Moanin'” duet or the Lady Reinhart’s exit performance of “Bennie and the Jets”).

Take a click through memory lane — we’ve embedded handy videos beneath each photo — then hit the comments to tell me where I got it right, where I went wrong, and which omissions are prompting you to question my sanity, my taste level, and my right to call myself an Idoloonie.

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. Jonnn says:

    I would’ve found it so hilarious for Pia Toscano to come to the season 10 finale with a newly released single, perform live and show once more why you don’t have to win to top the charts.

    • EvaneSam says:

      Will Haley coming to the finale with a new song do for you? Becase she will :D. Can’t wait to hear it. Oh boy oh boy

    • Jen says:

      I would love that!!! I can’t wait to hear Pia singing one of her songs hopefully in the near future! It will be so great to hear her singing again no matter what she sings though.

    • EAP says:

      I would’ve left out Pia’s “All in Love is Fair”, Paul’s “Track of My Tears” and Haley’s “Rhiannon” and included Durbin’s “Maybe I’m Amazed”, Casey’s “I Put a Spell on You” and Stefano’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”. I’m still amazed by Haley’s journey. Can we call her THE MOST IMPROVED IDOL CONTESTANT EVER?

  2. Jonnn says:

    I wish Haley the BEST.

    • Haley's Comet says:

      SOMETIMES I LOOK AT THE COMMENTS ON THIS SITE AND I THINK I WOULD HATE this site if I were not a Haley fanataic!! We all love her so much, I think people who don’t “get” Haley must really find us a bit irritating. But hey Clay had the Clay-mates, Adam has the Glam-berts Aruchleta has Archys-Angels. And now Haley has US!! Now if only we could find a really cool name for ourselves…LOL :)

  3. samanthafromitaly says:

    too much Haley (I would have included just Bennie and the jets and I who have nothing), and too little Casey (where it is I put a spell on you, just to name one??!)

    • AmericanIdolit says:

      Are you insane?!? Haley’s “House of the Rising Sun” and her amazing performance of “What Is and What Should Never Be” were AMAZING! I would admit that her “Rhiannon” probably shouldn’t have made the cut, but that’s nitpicking.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        I agree – but I’m not a fan of the song “Rhiannon” (or much of what Stevie Nicks wrote, as the lyrics are nonsensical) so I’m prejudiced.

        • Mark says:

          What about Rolling in the Deep? That’s the Haley performance with the most YouTube hits, much more deserving that (the admittedly good) Rhiannon. She got bussed thanks to the judges picking James’ Uprising as best of night before Haley even sang, but you have the back-up singer shaking her head at how good Haley is, great moment, great iTunes track.

          • Moi says:

            I also really liked “Rolling in the Deep,” (and think Haley deserves every slot she took in this, though would have swapped “Rhiannon” for another song), but she really did have some pitch issues on the chorus. Bummer, because it was otherwise a solid performance.

        • My Alter Ego says:

          Maybe not so prejudiced. While I think that Haley’s rendition was fine, the problem is that the song itself isn’t interesting. DET, you don’t like the lyrics. Personally, from the melodic standpoint it’s repetitious (yes, I’m acutely aware that all popular music is, which is why I’m a “judicious” listener of it), and, well–not interesting.

          • Billy says:

            Nicks’ “Landslide” was everything “Rhiannon” should have been and wasn’t. Bet Haley would have created an(other) Idol moment with “Landslide”.

      • j. says:

        Yes, House is a must, but I agree, too little Casey!! Spell on You was great!!

    • tamara says:

      like the other person said, Are you INSANE??
      the only Haley song that we could argue about being there is Rhianon. Apparently no everybody liked it. I loved it, cause she showed such control of her voice, and so many colors. But maybe you need to know a little bit about music for that, or you need to know that Stevie Nicks is one of the greats and it’s very difficult to cover her songs.

      Akk those Halye performances needed to be in there, whether you like her or not. She provided the most amount of greatest moments on Idol.

      • Moi says:

        I think “Rhiannon” suffered from the arrangement more than anything else. It was too. damn. slow, and a little “indulgent,” as Simon would have said. The wind machine was cheesy. But I agree she showed a lot of vocal color.

      • steven says:

        I agree, I found Rhiannon to be truly haunting and I LOVED it. Haley Deserved every spot here, and I feel Lauren’s “Anyway” could have been a little higher up the list. Other than that, great choices!

        • Jason S says:

          Rhiannon is the one I keep going back to and singing in my head. Especially the last 30 seconds where Haley completely made it her own. Hell I say not enough HAley. I’d have put “Rolling In The Deep” and “BLue”(two songs I had never heard before) in there as well over Naima and Paul. She really dominated the season that much to have seven or eight of the top 20!!! And where is Casey’s Georgia On My Mind. That was sick. I also loved Casey’s “Who’ll Stop Th Rain”.

    • Larry says:

      Too much?? Only two for the entire top 20??

      How about too little.

      He didn’t even put on her Rolling in the Deep (you know the one with over a million hits) or her Fallin’ (the one with the sweet pure tones), Blue (the one with masterful tons of yodeling) or Beautiful.

      And her Led Zeppelin was only 6 and you are gonna say leave out her What Is and What Should Never Be? Leave out her HOTRS??

      (I also need to toss in a shout out to her Earth Song iTunes which I kinda dig actually and I really didn’t see the hate for her live version and the audience seemed happy enough with from their reaction.)

      • Moi says:

        I also dug “Earth Song.” I thought it was a passionate, authentic performance (emotionally *and* vocally), and the song deserved to have Haley’s full volume. She delivered. I’d love someone to explain what their problem was with it.

  4. I actually disagree with many performances…

    • darclyte says:

      So do I. It’s all Haley, Haley, Haley, and many of them I didn’t think were that great. I’m too tired to try to critique the list, suffice to say that he’s hearing the season thru Haley brand earbuds.

  5. Billy Whitaker says:

    You and I would have been a few higher in my book, but other than that I completely agree!

  6. I think “I Who Have Nothing” by Haley was far better than You and I, it also had all the drama behind it from how many times she was kicked while she was down only minutes before by Randy. But Haley’s “House of The Rising Sun” was by far the best performance. Nice choice there.

    It tells you how weak the Top 20 really were when in the Top 3 is a person who didn’t even make the Top 13. That says something. It also says something that the remaining Top 2 aren’t more heavily featured, especially Lauren. Still feel she hasn’t had that moment yet and is still holding back. As Randy said to James a few weeks back “this competition is his to lose” at this point.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Agreed with you here – “It also says something that the remaining Top 2 aren’t more heavily featured, especially Lauren”.

      I disagree that she’s holding back. I think what we see is what we get. The producers at Idol shot craps on Lauren. Seems like a lovely girl, but like everyone else I wish she’d waited a few years. The only performances she gave ALL SEASON, and I mean ALL SEASON, that even remotely grabbed my interest were the Reba song, “Turn on the Radio”, and the duet with Haley on Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead”.

      I’m a rock fan but I do listen to some country – I like Shania Twain, Reba, Martina McBride, Sarah Evans, Faith Hill, etc. Lauren should be someone I like but her phrasing and lack of control makes me crazy. the judges not calling her on it makes me crazier. And yes, I’ve posted that before – sorry for repeating.

      • tamara says:

        I so agree.
        I’m also a rock fan mostly, but I also like a bit of country: Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Shania, Martina McBride, LeeAnn Womack, Faith Hill…

        And that’s why I liked Lauren in the beginning. But she’s been such a let down.
        I agree with her top20 performances: Candle in the Wind and Anyway are the only ones in which she stood out, specially Candle in the Wind.

        I think she should’ve done more rock songs, or porp-rock, instead of country. Carrie Underwood mixed it up so much more, did different styles, and that’s why people loved her. Maybe those people wdidn’t buy her country albums, but at least they liked her during the show.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          “Candle in the Wind” and “Anyway” were pretty good. But I thought Lauren really stood out on songs where she demonstrated a little sass and spunk and she wasn’t wearing those darned 1950s chiffon Cinderella ball gowns.
          LOVE LeeAnn Womack – she has one of the purest voices in country music. Her “I’ll Think of a Reason Later” would be a good, spunky song for Lauren, IMO.

          • Brittany says:

            It really annoys me that Lauren does the boy-going-through-puberty crack at the end of most of her phrases. It’s one of those things I noticed from the beginning about her and it’s her only vocal technique and she uses in almost EVERY song. She does it at least five times in “Candle in the Wind”, for example. UGH.

          • Moi says:

            Brittany, I totally disagree. I love Lauren’s cracking voice, and thought she gave “Candle in the Wind” a fresh, delicate, pretty new spin. I thought it was Lauren at her best, and should have been higher on this list. Too bad Lauren couldn’t have sung more consistently like this all season. I *completely* agree that she should have waited a few years; I can’t imagine what her singing will be like once she matures a little. Hope they raise the age limit again.

        • haley forever says:

          I guess I’m the opposite — much more of a country fan than a rock fan, though I like rock all right. I thought the best country performance this season was one that Michael omitted — Haley’s “Blue”! I would listen to Haley sing almost any genre, whereas if I buy Lauren’s album, it will probably be because I like the songs more than because I really like her.

    • Snsetblaze says:

      Yes – I agree that it is a weak top 20. There are two that did not even make the final 13. I’d also say Naima’s entry does not belong there. But also, other than Haley’s House of Rising Sun and Led Zeppelin song and perhaps Bennie and the Jets, James’ two entries on the his and Casey’s Nature Boy, how many of these were “moments” and will be remembered seasons from now on a countdown of top performances like Adam Lambert’s Mad World or Carrie Underwood’s Alone etc. Further, if you include Wild Card round and semi-final stuff, then audition stuff should be included as well and Casey’s Georgia on My Mind should be added.

      • Teresa says:

        I thought Casey’s “Georgia” is a strange omission, as well. If we go back to Hollywood week, then Ashthon’s group song is a top moment, and the Minors’ “Somebody to Love.”

        And where’s “Blackbird,” eh?

      • s10 ftw says:

        It doesn’t seem fair to compare the audition and Hollywood week performances to the ones performed on live TV (which includes semifinal and wild-card performances) — where the producers had the opportunity to edit, we don’t really know how well the performance as a whole worked; we just have to take their word that the clips we saw are representative.

        I agree that most of these won’t be remembered on a par with “Mad World” and “Alone.” But those are the kinds of performances that you only see maybe once every year or two — a top 20 from ANY one season would have to include a lot that were far from that level… If this season produced even three or four performances that we’ll remember five years from now, that’s not bad at all.

  7. Bee says:

    LOVE it. totally agreed ;)

  8. SpyKi says:

    My personal top 10…

    1. Haley Reinhart – House of the Rising Sun
    2. Haley Reinhart – Bennie and the Jets
    3. Haley Reinhart – I (Who Have Nothing)
    4. Haley Reinhart – You and I
    5. Haley Reinhart & Casey Abrams – Moanin’
    6. Haley Reinhart – Rhiannon
    7. Haley Reinhart – What Is and What Should Never Be
    8. Haley Reinhart – Call Me
    9. Haley Reinhart – Blue
    10. Haley Reinhart – Beautiful

    • Greg Allen says:

      I like your list, Spyki….it’s actually pretty realistic!!!! Haley one of the best singers/performers EVER on AI!

    • loka says:

      That’s pretty much my list too with some Casey and Naima included. hehehehe

    • Francesca says:

      LOL my list is prettu much the same :) Love HALEY!

    • Ted Barben says:

      Excellent list. I agree! Haley Reinhart is great!

    • tamara says:

      hahaha! kinda like my playlist right now. :)

      But I would put Beautiful above Call Me and Blue. That song puts me in such a good mood. It got me through the weekend after she was eliminated. You and I and Beautiful are so uplifting.

      I feel like an obsessed fan, but the thing is that I haven’t downloaded any song from the other contestants. I just don’t like them enough to listen again to their songs.

      Though James’ Will You Still Love Me is very good.

    • Octodad says:

      LOL at your list! But I’m only laughing because it’s so close to mine. Haley FTW!

    • Haley's Comet says:

      I looked at my ipod today, and I was amazed at how many Haley songs i have on it!

      Don’t totally agree with the list though. Slezak should have included Scotty’s That’s All Right Mama. And Haley’s You and I should have placed way higher on the list.

    • Genie says:

      dig it!

  9. Georgia says:

    the fact that you included Casey at all is amazing so I have to say I’m satisfied with this list even tho it’s obviously biased.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I liked Casey for a while (he was one of my faves going into the Top 13) but Nature Boy was not my favorite.

      • tamara says:

        I agree. I liked him a bit at the beginning, but Nature Boy was one of the worst. He gave me the creeps on that song, making so many weird faces, grunts… Creepy!! serial killer-like.
        And his vocals were not very good either.
        I would actually put Harder to Breathe instead of Nature Boy even.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          I kind of liked “Harder to Breathe”, but when he did Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, which is a crappy song to begin with, I thought, “Oh, you are SO going home”. That was when he got saved, which I must admit, was high drama. Not sure it was the right move but it made for good TV (and it kept him on the tour).

          Like so many other people I liked the “Jazzy Casey” from Hollywood Week and tryouts. “I don’t Need No Doctor”, “Why Don’t You Do Me Right”, and “Georgia on My Mind” were wonderful.
          He needs to stick to jazz songs with limited range, the string bass, and duets with Haley.

          And honestly, I don’t care if I ever hear “Georgia on My Mind” or “God Bless The Child” ever again after this season, LOL. I think I’m done with those songs.

        • Julie says:

          Listen to Nature Boy with your eye’s closed.

        • Moi says:

          Maybe you have to be a musician to appreciate it, but Casey’s ear/melodic choices on “Nature Boy” are outrageous. *That’s* what I loved about Casey, and I would’ve loved to have seen this *consistently* from him.

          He’s another one that I wish had matured just a little bit before going on AI. The whole “Jack black is my idol” thing (perhaps he was emulating him w/ all the faces/grunting?), paired w/ the confusing mixing in of angry rock songs into his jazz genius really threw me off.

      • Yves says:

        That’s unfortunate for you… “Nature Boy” was brilliantly arranged and was sung beautifully by Casey not to mention the degree of difficulty that he was able to pull off…

        • My Alter Ego says:

          Yup, yup, and yup regarding Yves, Moi, and D.E.T.’s responses. It is extremely unfortunate that Casey didn’t delve into that jazz love of his — cuz he’s loaded with potential there! The kid blows me away! I would LOVE it if Haley and Casey would produce some recordings of other tunes (besides “Moanin” which was such fun and a great surprise to hear coming from this show!)

          D.E.T. I agree with you (and, I believe, Mr. Slezak) that “Georgia …” and “God Bless …” should be officially retired before anyone can do more harm to two fine and completely innocent tunes.

  10. Chuck says:

    I think you had the best performances ranked correctly for everyone you listed, except I think I would have put Scotty’s “You’ve Got a Friend” ahead of “Gone;” and Pia’s “I’ll Stand By You” ahead of “All in Love is Fair.”

    Mostly, though, this list is a reminder that our finalists haven’t done nearly enough to merit their current positions.

    • AmericanIdolit says:

      If Pia sang “All in Love is Fair” like she did on the Ellen show then it would have landed in the top 3 of this list easily.

      • tamara says:

        my god… another ballad???

        that’s why she got voted off, because most people don’t want
        another Celine Dion.

        But I do agree that she should have stayed longer than Jacob, Stefano, Casey and the two contry kids.

        • darcy's evil twin says:

          Pia was very popular with the older people in my neighborhood – and I mean the people even older than me, LOL (60 and 70 year old people). I kept telling them if she sang one more Celine Dion ballad, she was going home. “River Deep, Mountain High” is sort of a midtempo ballad.
          the neighbors all bought Susan what’s her name’s CD (the English woman with the curly hair) and they’ll buy Pia’s as well.

          • Name That Tune says:

            LOL Darcy, but I’m 57. The music these kids sang all season is the music I grew up on – “House of the Rising Sun”, “I Who Have Nothing”, “Benny & The Jets”, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, “Maybe I’m Amazed”, “Rhianna”, Led Zeppelin, Anything from Motown week or Elton John, The Beatles, Carole King, Leiber & Stroller, even Lionel Ritchie. Even Casey’s “Nature Boy” is an OLD Nat King Cole Song, more appropriate for my parents’ generation.
            The majority of songs on Idol came from the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s. So they are all singing “Old People’s Songs”. How is any of that relevant? Pia is a great singer who should have lasted longer than Sorry-A** Jacob Lusk. You can’t tell me that you prefer Jacob’s mess of a song like “Alone” to anything Pia sang.
            The reality of Idol is that even interesting performers like James & Haley & Casey (on a good night) could not outlast the Idol machine that wanted 2 teens from the South in the finale. It is the story line they have been pushing all season long. For those of us with more eclectic tastes, we are left out in the cold. I don’t anything to do with that but to change the channel and watch something else.

          • Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

            If Pia sells albums as well as Susan Boyle, I’m pretty sure she’ll be the best-selling Idol of all time.

        • pia fan, haley fanatic! says:

          I have nothing against another Celine Dion…but I don’t get all that excited about the idea, either. And that was Pia’s downfall, I think. Lots of people admired her, respected her, enjoyed her performances…but the number who got so psyched up that they’d pick her as their favorite, or vote more than once or twice for her, wasn’t as large as it was for some of the more polarizing performers. When the votes are counted, there’s no difference between “I like this person a lot, but I like someone else even better” (which was how I felt about Pia) and “I hate her.” I’m sure far more people actually hated Jacob, or Casey, and maybe the other performers you mention, too — but that’s not what mattered…

          Of course, what will matter in the end is how many people like her enough to buy her album. Even if I only vote for one contestant, I can certainly buy more than one album, so the difference between “like” and “hate” matters a lot more there. :-)

          • Name That Tune says:

            I think it’s a huge leap to assume that Pia will become another Celine Dion. Like all Idol players, she was limited by the themes she had to sing. We don’t know what she would have chosen for Songs From The 21st Century, but there are things on YouTube that suggest she can do more current songs. She has the chops to do an Adele song or Lady Gaga. I’ve seen her do Amy Winehouse. Right now, she is mostly a singer who needs to have her performance skills coached up. Would have loved to see her in a mentoring session with Lady Gaga!

          • pia fan, haley fanatic! says:

            @NameThatTune My favorite Pia performance all season was “Grenade” in group round, so I think you’re totally right that she can do a lot more. But it seemed to me like Celine was really what she WANTED to be doing — she went with the diva moment when they had pretty open-ended choices for the semi-finals, picked Celine Dion as “her idol” in top 13 week, did a ballad instead of bringing the soul vibe during Motown week (which could have been a perfect time to show off those Amy/Adele style chops), and even in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame week, managed to pull it back to Celine with a performance of “River Deep, Mountain High” that was a note-for-note imitation of the Celine cover. Maybe it was just themes and limited selections, but she came across to me like one of the performers who was actually really good at taking whatever theme and making it fit her — finding ways to be the very classic powerhouse diva no matter what the format. By the end, I quit saying “She can do so much more; why don’t we get to see it?” and just accepted that she was probably doing what she loved, and doing it well enough that even if it wouldn’t have been my first choice, it was still music I’d be interested in buying. So good for her — but if you’re right that she’s got something else up her sleeve, even better for me! :-)

  11. Tucker says:

    Surprise, surprise. It’s the Haley Reinhart & Friends Variety Hour.
    I’d still say that the top performers of the season were James, Casey and Paul. Best voice of the season was easily Pia (though she seemed to have a bigger problem connecting with the material than Stefano did, which made her performances technically good but a bit lacking in substance). Best swagger was Stefano, who really should’ve used the opportunity to step up to the challenges Jimmy was offering him. Most marketable is Scotty, which is why he’ll win this thing. Most attractive were Haley and Pia. I just find Haley’s voice too kitschy, too quirky for the sake of being quirky, to be a huge draw or have gone as far in the competition as she did. I’m looking forward to seeing what some growth and age do for her.

    • Tucker says:

      Oh, but I will agree that ‘House of the Rising Sun’ was her best performance – though not best of the season of all performers – and I found myself enjoying it.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Tucker – what you’ve written is very good and I can’t disagree, except I’m one of the card-carrying members of the Haley Reinhart Fan Club. I like her voice and I enjoyed the risks she took on the show.
      Good editorial!

      • Tusk says:

        “Card Carrying member of Haley Reinhart Fan Club” LOL

        Someone should come up with one of those for all of us to print out.


    • Moi says:

      In my opinion, Haley’s one of the best singers this show has ever had. I noticed from the beginning that she had amazing vocal control, and saw throughout the season that she seemed to learn to harness the abilities that perhaps she didn’t really even know she had. There was this awkwardness to her in the beginning that just melted away as she got seasoned. There are very good reasons so many of us are Haley fans.

      As for James, the guy had *so much* trouble singing on pitch. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” was a delightful surprise for me, but otherwise, I swear, just about any average singer can get up there and scream off pitch like that. I found him to be a really disappointing contestant, and wish a better singer had been given the chance instead (like Kendra Chantelle or Lauren Turner).

    • babs says:

      Tucker, I’m pretty much on the same page as you. I’m not a big Halley fan. James, Casey, Paul, yes, great. Haven’t you missed Casey and Paul? And Stefano. Geez, the last weeks have been a little draggy without all of them. As far as the women, I’d say Pia was the most promising. One thing I picked up about her–she got really nervous and stiff, she needed more time on the stage, she would’ve been terrific. Anyway,I go back and look at old DVRs with all of them performing. I think it was a great year.

  12. Francesca says:

    Where is michael’s list? I can’t see it……. :S

  13. Natalia says:

    i LOVE your inclusion of all those haley songs!! i personally wish that she would have won american idol, but maybe it’s for the best, as a lot of the winners don’t even have the greatest careers but then you have artists like adam lambert and daughtry that were able to use their start on american idol to launch their careers!! i just know that haley is going to make it far!

    • SusieQ says:

      I loved Haley and I would have loved to see her go to the top two but I did not want her to win only because I was afraid the producers would either bury her music, force her to sing types of songs that are not for her *cough* You Oughta Know *cough* or just not let her be herself.

      I don’t like Lauren all that much, but she needs to win, she is too green and not ready for the “real world” of music and no doubt Scotty will be walking out with a contract, and honestly, I don’t think anyone would sign Lauren right now, she’s cute and adorable, but not that good right now.

      • SusieQ says:

        ignore the bold – didn’t intend for that to happen!!!

      • Moi says:

        “You Oughta Know” was a travesty of a pick for Haley. I mean, wth? I wish she would have at least rearranged the heck out of it. But god, what a note to end on the night of the vote for the finale–angry, bitter woman… If this doesn’t show the judges didn’t “get” Haley, I don’t know what does. What a boring, way-off-the-mark choice for her.

  14. Mike says:

    I could question the placement of certain performances, but the takeaway is all the same: Haley dominated this season.

  15. Mike says:

    Where’s Casey’s “Your Song”?

  16. da says:

    Six of the twenty are Haley?
    Oh wait. This is tvline. Not surprised.

    At least seven of my twenty would be James:
    A Change is Gonna Come
    Saturday Night
    Livin for the City
    Maybe I’m Amazed
    Love Potion Number Nine
    Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

    • AmericanIdolit says:

      “A Chang is Gonna Come” was WAY to screechy and plus Lambert put that song to bed in his season.

      “Saturday Night” was all pyro-piano and nothing really interesting vocally.

      “Livin for the City” was good but not great.

      “Love Potion Number Nine” could have made this list in the bottom 5.

      “Uprising” was painful to listen to when he jumped up an octave.

      “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” was his best performance, no doubt.

      Surprised you didn’t appreciate “You Gotta Another Thing Coming.”

      • AmericanIdolit says:

        Excuse me, “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”

      • Caroline says:

        I couldn’t agree with you more. Though “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” was a true Idol moment, his other performances were completely overrated. Most of the time, James did not deserve the high praise he received.

      • Moi says:

        What AmericanIdolit said. And yeah, the Judas Priest was a bold, cool move. I think James needed another year or two with a vocal coach, *then* I would have loved to have seen what he sounded like.

    • love potion says:

      Not a James fan, but Love Potion #9 was easily the most interesting rearrangement of a song this season. Not to mention that his singing was on-pitch & passionate, and his performance & staging were perfect. The only thing better would have been if had a faster punk beat, turning the whole song more hardcore punk. That would’ve been totally cool!

  17. Tay. Bertolazzi says:

    Haley is awesome. i love all of her performances. Specially Benny and the Jets, House of the Rising Sun and What is and What Should never Be.
    Pia singing I’ll Stand By You really made me cry the first time. Brilliant, as everything she does. Paul it’s beautiful performing, and Casey is exiting to watch cause it’s so different. But Haley will always be… Haley. :)

  18. EvaneSam says:

    HEYYY!!!! Haley’s “I who have nothing” on No.12 ???!!!! Are you kidding me? And Stefano at No. 8? “I who have nothing” was waaaaaaayy better then Stefano’s performance.

  19. Hev says:

    Anyway and I Who Have Nothing are WAY too low on that! They should both be top 5! I’m glad Kendra is at #3, how she didn’t get in is beyond me!

  20. AmericanIdolit says:

    Surprised to see James Durbin’s performance of Muse’s “Uprising.” I would have rather seen you put “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” (Judas Priest) or “Maybe I’m Amazed” (Paul McCartney) instead.

    Plus, I don’t think Naima really belongs on this list. Sorry, but her dancing and performance style was way more fascinating than her singing voice.

    Scotty’s “You Got a Friend” should have been much higher, considering it was as close to an Idol “moment” that he has had (“Gone” of course, was the other).

    Other than that, pretty damn fine list Slezak!

    • Moi says:

      I just don’t get the Scotty thing. “You’ve Got a Friend” put me to sleep, along with most of his other performances. Scotty has a *lovely* tone, but for me that was *all* he had this season. He was consistently outsung by the background singers because he lack volume (and never sings into the damn mic, which is vocalist training lesson #1), he dropped phrases (and people complain about *Lauren’s* breath control?), and for god’s sake, he picked songs because they had “country” in the title–does this kid have even a shred of originality in him? Anyway, don’t get it. Maybe someone can explain it to me.

      • Jem says:

        Most likely it’s because it’s the first time Scotty didn’t rely on his winning lower register. I actually liked that performance very much (despite the cheese), and was about to head for the studio version since I liked it that much–but was flabbergasted to hear the full arrangement shot to hell.

        It was an almost moment for him.

  21. Debbie M says:

    Casey and Haley’s duet of “Moanin'” should be way up near the top. Definitely one of the highlights of the season IMO.

    • loka says:

      I agree that performance was THE moment of the season.

    • pjp says:

      I find myself watching “Moanin” on Youtube several times each day. I love that duet, and Haley sounds and looks outstanding in that video. I also enjoy “Rolling in the Deep.” That song suits her, and Haley looks great in that red dress!

    • Tim says:

      “Moanin” was good, but I thought Lauren and Scotty’s “I Told You So” was amazing, and I don’t even like country music. They should dump the group numbers next season and just do duets.

      • algalhi says:

        Agree with this!! “I Told You So” is the only non-Haley song from this season that I have on my iPhone. Wish we could have had studio recordings of both “I Told You So” and “Moanin'” — the mp3s I made from the HD videos didn’t turn out to be very good quality.

      • ladyhelix says:

        I loved the duets too. When they put 3 or 4 in a group it was usually a hot mess.

  22. loka says:

    Uprising? Seriously? Maybe I’m Amazed and You have another thing coming were James best performances during the season. After than he became a cartoon of himself.

  23. Diane Carter says:

    Good choices but I would have put in We Could Have Had It All in place of Rhiannon.

  24. darcy's evil twin says:

    Pretty good, Slezak! Thanks for remembering Lauren Turner, although her “Seven Day Fool” ranks much higher for me.
    My favorite performance this year, bar none, was Haley’s “What Is and What Should Never Be”, with her dad, the stairs, the run behind the judges, the “fall” and all. They just absolutely brought the house down, but her exit performance of “Bennie and the Jets” was amazing as well.
    They weren’t scorable performances but Casey and Haley’s “Moanin'” and Lauren and Haley’s “Gunpowder and Lead” were very good.

    • larry says:

      Yeah WIAWSNB ( : ) was awesome. So sad that dumb NYC FOX 5 over the air signal jumped to standard definition the instant it switched to Haley’s segment! I was like WTH!! And it didn’t return to HD until not only just all her intro stuff but not until half way through the entire song or more. Now I have no pristine copy of it. :(

      AND the screen went blank for me two seconds into her HOTRS and didn’t return, for me at least, until 35 seconds in. :(

      Why for those two of all performances. :(

      • larry says:

        Maybe I can find someone who captured the over the air transport stream for those two in non-messed up form.

        I got HOTRS from youtube but it’s a little soft and the audio quality is diminished.

      • My Alter Ego says:

        Given the hotbed of conspiracy theories associated with this site, one can only assume the worst. ;=)

  25. brandy says:

    The fact that Ashthon was chosen over Kendra still makes me so sad. Oh, what could have been.

    • AmericanIdolit says:

      At least Ashton had swagger and promise after performing “And I’m Telling You.” Why Karen Rodriguez was chosen in the Top 13, is beyond me. Same goes for Thia and Jacob. I would trade places for them with Kendra, Lauren Turner and Robbie Rosen in a heartbeat.

      • darcy's evil twin says:

        well no kidding!

        I personally never cared for Naima or Ashthon – I didn’t think they earned their spots with their wild card performances. Stephano absolutely earned his.

        I agree, though – Kendra Chantelle, Robbie Rosen, and Lauren Turner were so darned good.

      • Tusk says:

        IMHO Karen and Stefano were JLO’s “boo”. They may have finished worse if not for JLO’s backing.

        Karen’s pandering the Latina vote (singing half in Spanish, her over the top worship of Selena (JLo’s movie). If she had gone in just on her talent she might have made it too. Just her decision from the get go to cater to the Spanish vote shrunk her potential votes, and polarized a lot of people.;

        Kendra definitely in instead of Karen.

    • Alexandre Leal says:

      TOTALLY agreed. I think the judges were responsible for most of the unfairness this season.

  26. dddddddddddd says:

    for me, haley’s “i who have nothing” was her best performance or the second best after house of the rising sun.
    paul’s semi final performance was also great, nature boy would also be up there.

  27. Kathy says:

    I actually would’ve put “I Who Have Nothing” as #1 because of all the authentic angst she infused into that song.

  28. Rebecca says:

    I was expecting to see the Blackbird duet from Hollywood week make the list…but otherwise I mostly agree!!

  29. Ted Barben says:

    Thanks Michael,

    For including Haley Reinhart’s performance of “You and I” in your Top 20. This is the first performance I bought of Haley’s on iTunes, and it is my favorite from American Idol this season.

  30. HilaryV says:

    Not my list exactly, but not far off it either. I thought “I Who Have Nothing” and “Uprising” should have been a little higher. And while I loved Kendra, she didn’t really deserve to be above a lot of your list. I’ll let you off though, because I’m sure it was a Fanboy moment.

  31. kellen says:

    not at all surprised (or disappointed) that kendra made the top 3. though it does piss me off that she didn’t make the ACTUAL top 3, let alone the top 13. *sigh*

  32. Sean D says:

    Slezak, as usual, dead-on and with very good taste. Can there be another #1 besides the Lady Reinhart’s (I LOVE THAT NAME TOO) “House of the Rising Sun”? Probably not.

    My 20 just off the top of my head probably would have added Naima’s “Umbrella” and Stefano’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.”

    Also, really good call with Pia; I totally agree “All’s Fair in Love” was her best. Shame everyone mostly ignored/undervalued that moment: in my view it was the single best non-Reinhart moment of the season.

    • B.Rich says:

      I love how anything good that happened on the show must be classified as best “non-Reinhart” moments of the season. It’s so true that pretty much the entirety of the top 10 moments of the season all involved the Lady Reinhart.

  33. Sean D says:

    I also would have bended the rules a bit to include Rachel Zevita’s “Speechless,” which was remarkable, and my favorite pre-top 24 performance with the possible exception of Casey’s “Georgia on My Mind” and the Kendra/Paul “Blackbird.” So sad how she didn’t really work out.

    • Beantard says:

      YES. Blackbird was one of my fav moments this season.
      It’s tied with Bennie and the Jets for most played on my iPod.

  34. Yo says:

    Thanks for bringing Lauren Turner back; I so wish she had gone farther! My favorite (Haley) isI Who Have Nothing, her voice just wraps around me. Number 2 is James’ with Will You Love me Tomorrow, as that song is where I decided he really had a terrific voice. Lauren Alaina is #3 on the Band Perry song, even with mistakes, because she sounded dramatically better than the Band Perry. Sadly, Scotty’s songs could not rate very high as they were so predictable I didn’t want to hear them twice. That doesn’t bode well; I’ll have to catch him on the radio.

  35. Elle says:

    Guess I’m really Idol jaded as there wasn’t one performance this season that made sit up and truly take notice. Not one.

  36. B.Rich says:

    WAY too much Scotty and Lauren on this list.

  37. EvaneSam says:

    Well I checked my iPod and according to the play count my No 1. is Haley – Rolling in the deep. But if we take the time variable into account the top songs are stll House of the Rising Sun, Bennie and the Jets, I (Who Have Nothing), What Is and What Should Never Be, You and I, Beautiful, Rhiannon and You and I. Basically anything Haley.

    But in my top 20 I also have a lot of Casey and James performances as well as Naima and even Lauren. Somehow I never warmed up to Pia. Her performances were technically perfect but there just was no emotion behind it. (Jacob could have taught her a few things about that since he was always emotionaly perfect :P)

  38. darcy's evil twin says:

    There are three performances I enjoyed that aren’t on here – James’ “Maybe I’m Amazed” (no sharp or flat notes for almost the entire song!), Stephano’s “Lately” (it just soared, especially his exit performance), and Paul’s “Folsom Prison Blues” (so shoot me, LOL!).

  39. GS says:

    This list is a joke! Could you be any more of a freaking Haley fanboy??? She did not do that great every week and in no way should all those songs be listed. James deserved more performances and should have been way higher! Uprising was the best performance of the season with Will You Still Love Me a close second. Stop smoking the Haley crack. She was not as great as everyone on this board made her out to be or she’d be in the finals.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Welcome to Haley Reinhart Hell.
      Enjoy your stay.
      You can check out any time you like…but you can never leave!

    • Light says:

      Stop smoking the James crack.

    • Erin says:

      Ugh! Thank you! The words “irritating,” “painful,” “overrated,” and “cat in heat,” do not even begin to describe my feelings about that chick.

      I can’t wait until she fades into oblivion as so many other finalists have. (Of course, I’ll be reminded of her again when she eventually winds up on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew)

      • B.Rich says:

        Talk about a cat in heat. Down kitty, put those claws away.

      • NedPepper says:

        That would be Lauren Alaina. Too young and too much for a girl who isn’t all that bright to begin with. Her downfall will be as sad as her mother’s stylist. Dr. Drew, I wish you luck. (I’m serious, it will be sad.)

      • My Alter Ego says:

        D.E.T., as always, my hat is off to you!!

        To GS and Erin, well, umm, perhaps it’s time to have your hearing tested.

        Erin, if you find Haley “irritating,” “painful,” “overrated,” and a “cat in heat,” then maybe you should truly listen to your boy James. Because there are a great number of people who would describe him in the same way.

        What I recognize is that those who seem to need histrionics think that James is fabulous. Not so!

        I realize that there are those who prefer/need the visuals and the stimulus that James provides is what they want. Please recognize that for what it is: entertainment — and entertainment ONLY.

        There is nothing wrong with that, but don’t mistake that for real muscianship. Because, Erin, the very ways that you described how you perceive Haley’s singing, can also be ascribed to James — and have been, although, perhaps, not using your exact words on this very post.

        With extremely few exceptions, my experience of listening to just a few bars of James’s performances (and I haven’t been able to listen to complete performances of his) have all had the “lovely” sensation of “nails on chalkboard” to me — and, well, probably to many others.

        And, well, fading into oblivion may happen to James far more quickly than someone like Haley. It’s obvious from this site that Haley has fans outside of this country. I’m not sure that’s true for James.

        And, after viewing the interview with James, posted earlier this week by Mr. Slezak, I’m concerned about some realistic prospects for him (and, please know that I hope he can garner something good out of his Idol Journey).

        My apologies for the length.

      • babs says:

        Bless your heart, Erin! I couldn’t agree with you more! I never sensed any true emotion coming from Haley at all. And yeah, irritating, painful, and so forth. When we watched Idol and she was on, there was more than one person in the room who asked that the sound be turned down. Seriously. She’s as emotional as a brick.

    • debi says:

      TOTALLY agree!!!

    • Caroline says:

      Well, based on that last comment, James would be in the finals if he was sooo wonderful. “Uprising was screechy and somewhat painful to listen to. I commend him for the risk, but he fell short. His other performances were not great, with most of them being pitchy or forgettable. I’d be interested to know which ones you think actually deserve a spot on this list, because IMHO, his only great performance was “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.” As for Haley, the performances Michael chose were usually the best of the night, even according to those Scotty-Lauren-James-everyone but Haley-loving judges. The only one I disagree with a little is “Rhiannon.”

    • cibele says:

      Do you know why more James performances are not here? Because it’s MICHAEL’s blog. You should do your own and write your own list. While you’re at it, respect other people’s opinions, even if they don’t match your own. And using your “She was not as great as everyone on this board made her out to be or she’d be in the finals” reasoning, James is not good either, since he wasn’t in the finals. Is that it?

    • Mean Girls says:

      Say crack one more time.

  40. Steph says:

    I think Rolling In The Deep deserves a spot over Rhiannon. It’s one of my favs from Haley, plus if you look on YouTube it has over 1.3 million hits… Incredible!

  41. tamara says:

    I loved that you included Kendra ans Lauren Turner. I still can’t believe Ashton, Karen and Naima got in instead of those two or Rachel. But I guess they needed cultural diversity.

    I don’t agree with you including James’ Uprising. I absolutely hated that performance. Maybe it’s that Muse is my favorite band, and I Matt Bellamy is god for me. But those high octaves did not sound good. I cringed when I heard them.

    Though I loved that he had the balls to do it. He took risks, like only Haley did this season.

    Also, I’m surprised that I didn’t remember that Naime performance. I never liked her, but Dancing in the Streets wsa great, and her vocals were kinda perfect.

    • babs says:

      I loved Naima! I remember every one of her performances! I guess people just have different tastes in music. But I don’t think it has anything to do with cultural diversity, just different tastes in music. Jazz, reggae, pop/rock, I liked how she did these.

      • DonnaS says:

        Agreed! Although Naima was not my taste, I thoroughly enjoyed her performances, much more than those who are more to my tastes who survived longer than she did. (Did that make sense?)

      • NedPepper says:

        Naima was awesome. I’m actually looking forward to seeing her again on the results finale. I don’t give a crap who wins. I just want to see Naimia, Haley, Pia, and James show why they should be standing in confetti shower instead of outside it.

    • anonymouses says:

      Yeah I remember there were some rumblings that the wild cards were sort of a diversity fix and not so much on how they sang. Kendra just slammed it, nobody did the wild card better and she doesn’t make it. Why? It was predetermined! Like so much else!
      Sing amazingly well but don’t fit some part of the script. Baddaboom Baddabing you are GONE!

      Naimi had some wild performance chops though and was an interesting performer to watch so I think that was a legit pick though myself, although in the end I guess her vocals weren’t quite enough to go really far and some people I think, perhaps, got scared by her sadly.

    • Jem says:

      HA! Yes. I bet most people who didn’t like “Uprising” are the people who knew the song. It’s pretty easy to impress me with anything rock sung in AI, but that song wouldn’t be in my top twenty.

  42. babs says:

    I don’t get the Haley thing. She has never impressed me at all. House of the Rising Sun? You have to be kidding me. I’ve heard so many people sing it so much better.

    Also, Haley had too marginal a talent to have such a snotty attitude. I think the many people who don’t like Haley just don’t bother to write here. I’m about the one out of ten. And that, my friends, is why she didn’t move into the top two.

    • Moi says:

      I think it’s a miracle she didn’t tell Randy to shove it, but instead showed resilience and resisted the BS. I would have been outraged if I’d just given my all to a performance (“You and I,” e.g.) and the judges didn’t say *one word* about the vocal. Making the kind of low blow Randy made right before she had to perform is, to me, an example of attitude gone awry, not the way Haley withstood it. And she had the grace to show them kindness in her exit performance, despite their behavior; nothing snotty about that.

      Also, if Haley was snotty, I guess that makes Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, Lauren Alaina, and anyone else who stood up for her and were way more vocal than she was, snotty too.

      • babs says:

        Naw. Haley often came across with a snotty attitude, too much. And I love your line: “she had the grace to show them kindness in her exit performance”??? SHE had the GRACE?? Wow. Any one of the judges good smoosh her little career like stepping on an ant. She BETTER have the grace.

  43. DonnaS says:

    I can’t believe you left off Rollin in the Deep. It def deserved to go in before Rhiannon. Haley’s performance of RITD was excellent and all Haley. I only wish the studio version had the change ups that Haley did live. Watch the video at about 0:56, and see the reactions of the backup singers.

    Otherwise, your list is excellent. Thank you!

    • Ken Adams says:

      I smile inside every time Creepy Twin #2 looses it on camera when Haley does the leap on the second verse. Her face says ‘Crown this bitch, already’!

      • larry says:

        Hah yeah I just kick out of he twin just laughin’ at that sh, like whhaattt? u kidding me?? shinDIG!

        Ah if only the twinsies were the judges, TPBT and the voters hah.

    • Volcfom says:

      I’m so bummed the studio version didn’t have the changes… that’s what gave me the chills!

  44. kim says:

    Indulge my conspiracy theory for a second. Way back during wild card round I never understood why Ashton and Naima were chosen over Kendra or Lauren T, who were vocally better in my opinion. It makes sense now. Think of how easy it was to get rid of 4 women right off the bat (Ashton, Karen, Naima/Thia) and then the Pia shocker that shortly followed. Leaving Lauren A and Haley. Maybe Uncle Nigel thought Lauren A would have an easier time beating Ashton or Naima, because honestly I didn’t think either of them had a chance to go far in the competition. But I could see Kendra and Lauren T doing well esp if they took risks and improved (which I suspect they would’ve since they seem like gutsy singers to me)

    • ThemApples says:

      Ya know, I’m kinda on board with this. One just knew they were going to be early fodder.

      In fact, today, the venerable L.A. Times pop music critic (and avid Idol fan) Ann Powers writes how obvious it was that the two remaining finalists were “Chosen”.


    • Volcfom says:

      They always load up the top with people who don’t deserve it. That’s why seasons with a lot of promise (such as this one) don’t live up to the potential.

    • it's all rigged says:

      Yes, this. As I understood it, that was sort of the original impetus behind Vote for the Worst — payback to the producers for trying to game the system by stacking the deck with “cannon fodder” contestants. There’d be no real “worst” to vote for if they were really trying to put through the best singers possible. Too bad the producers haven’t learned the lesson…

      Still, even if she was just cannon fodder, I’m glad Naima made it into the finals. She brought some of the most interesting performances during those early weeks when so many of the other women (including Haley sometimes) were playing the generic-diva game, and mostly not even as competently as Pia. I’m looking forward to seeing her perform on tour.

  45. Jennifer says:

    Definitely don’t agree with “Rhiannon” or “Uprising,” sorry. Haley looked beautiful, and James’ drumline idea was pretty sweet, but the performances had flaws. I enjoyed “Heavy Metal” much more from James…and although I flove Haley, I could do without the Haley power on this list.
    Even though they aren’t my favorite contestants ever…I think Scotty’s “You’ve Got a Friend” and Lauren Alaina’s “Anyway” deserve to be much much higher, and that Jacob Lusk’s “A House is Not a Home” deserves a place too. And…did Casey’s “Your Song” mean nothing to you? I’m crushed over here! Not to mention that if you were clearly picking a couple performances based moreso on entertainment value (“Uprising” and “Dancing in the Streets”) then where’s “I Put a Spell on You?” Sure, it was growly…but that delivery TOTALLY worked for this performance. Even your Lady Reinhart couldn’t help but blow kisses to him from above when it as over!

  46. Justin says:

    Agree with all the Haley choices, though I’d replace Rhiannon with You and I. I could barely even find 10 good performances this season for my own website’s top 10 list. It’ll probably just be filled with about 10 Haley performances. This is like the bottom of the barrel here.

  47. ThemApples says:


    We were robbed.

  48. Ken Adams says:

    My personal favs list looks a lot like yours, Michael. I will risk the country fan wrath by saying i had to go back and listen to ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ from Boy Wonder[bread] to remember it, but I can see why it made the list. I would also argue that ‘Rolling in the Deep’ deserves to be in the Top 18, at least. The rearranging she did in the second verse (I don’t recall Adele ever going up the step during the verses) was an underrated change, and I prefer it to the original and Haley’s recorded version.

  49. stevenjaba says:

    where is James Durbin’s “Maybe I’m amazed”? That was my favorite of his – got it on itunes and listen over and over.

  50. Amy says:

    I like your list (but then I am a Haley fan) and the only real foul I would call is not putting I Who Have Nothing higher. Definitely in Top 5. I LOVE that you have Kendra at Number 3. I still can’t believe she didn’t make Top 13. That performance excited me as much as any of Haley’s performances. Honestly, I can’t even remember any of the other performances and I had a hard time remembering who the 4 of the Top 13 didn’t make the list. This just shows that Haley (and James) deserved to go to the finals. Haley grew more than any of the other contestants. When she was first on the show I hated her especially because she got a spot over Kendra, but then she just got better and better to the point where she had a moment ever week! Oh well, can’t wait to see her original song tomorrow night!

    • RD says:

      The thing with Haley was that we watched her grow and blossom week to week. To me the turn around was ‘Blue’ which was stellar in my opinion and she just kept raising the bar.
      Our two little country tykes could barely reach that bar,poor little things.
      Wouldn’t it be great if they did a televised sing off between James and Haley-a runner-up final? then we’d all get the final we wanted….

      • Light says:

        I was re-watching a bunch of Haley’s performances on YouTube the other day and I was so suprised by how young, amateur, and naive she looked in the earlier rounds… She has truly grown by leaps and bounds into a confident and effortless performer.

        • Larry says:

          The vocal were there though but yeah her stage presence and command jumped way up and up. (some reporters said that in person it always seemed stronger than on TV and that even a few weeks out from the top 3 she was just ruling it over the top two)

          I actually had her as my one to watch right from day one at the auditions. Just seemed like she had it in her. Had everything. Good chill smooth attitude, you could tell she was going to be interesting with her vocals not just that they were strong and wasn’t just any old singer but someone with a real old school sense and the look.

          I was always stunned the producers didn’t jump all over that as one of their early chosen two, or at least four, picks. Hard to fathom, ever more so now.