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American Idol: Was Season 11's Top 10 the Strongest Ever? Take Our Poll!

idol top 10There’s this weird part of the week — from Friday morning till Monday evening — when not a single major TV network airs a reality singing competition. It’s terrible, I know, but it also gives me a lot of time to ponder American Idol history. (Everyone does this in their free time, yes?) And my latest flight of Idol fancy got me mulling this question: Was Season 11’s Top 10 the strongest — top to bottom — in show history? Let’s examine:

For starters, I’d automatically rule out the five seasons with three or more Top 10 contestants who probably wouldn’t have outlasted Season 11’s No. 13 and No. 11 finishers, Jeremy Rosado and Shannon Magrane, and certainly shouldn’t have beaten 10th place Erika Van Pelt:

Season 1: EJay Day, Jim Verraros, Ryan Starr, and Nikki McKibbin
Season 2: Julia DeMato, Corey Clark, Rickey Smith, and Carmen Rasmusen
Season 3: Amy Adams, Camile Velasco, John Stevens, and Jasmine Trias
Season 6: Chris Sligh, Haley Scarnato, and Sanjaya Malakar
Season 9: Andrew Garcia, Katie Stevens, Tim Urban, and Aaron Kelly

Sure, the aforementioned seasons may have included a number of outstanding singers, but we’re not debating which year had the strongest Top 8, or Top 5 or Top 3, and the weak links in question drag down their seasons’ overall averages.

From where I sit, I’d say the Season 11 Top 10 also trumps those from Seasons 4 and 8. Now before you yell “blasphemy!” think about this: Sure, the former group had Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice (amazing), but the folks who rounded out the Top 5 — Vonzell Solomon, Anthony Fedorov, and Scott Savol — expose the lack of true depth from that group. Season 8, meanwhile, might win the award for strongest Top 6 of all time, but you can’t convince me that there is any combination of four singers in the Season 11 Top 10 who wouldn’t triumph in a faceoff against Lil Rounds, Scott MacIntyre, Megan Joy, and Michael Sarver.

This leaves me with Seasons 5, 7, 10*, and 11 duking it out for strongest Top 10 ever. (Technically Season 10 had a Top 11, due to the Judges’ Save, so yes, it’ll need an asterisk from this point forward).

The other thing to bear in mind is that Season 11 is still a work in progress; we’ve only gotten four weeks of live performances from the show’s current crop, whereas the singers who made it deep into Seasons 5, 7, and 10 had plenty more opportunities to wow us, to work their Idol magic, to create their Idol moments. But at a bare minimum, I’ve got to narrow things down by at least one more group, so I’m going to go out on a limb and rank Season 11 ahead of Season 10, too. Here’s why: There’s no denying that Season 10 was packed with talent — not when you consider folks like Pia Toscano, Paul McDonald, Stefano Langone, and Casey Abrams all fell short of the Top 5 — but many of that year’s key players were either wildly inconsistent (Stefano, Paul, Casey) or were consistently solid but failed to deliver a defining Idol moment during the live shows (Lauren and Scotty). Plus, the long and arduous journey of Jacob Lusk lowers the season average considerably — and not even Haley Reinhart’s “You and I” can undo that kind of damage. [Tangent break: Did Haley’s rendition end up runing Gaga’s version for anyone other than me? Discuss!]

Okay, so for argument’s sake, let’s say Season 11’s “weak” links are Erika Van Pelt (only because she’s been eliminated), Heejun Han, and (even though I loved his “Master Blaster”) DeAndre Brackensick. As a trio, I’d give them the edge over Season 7’s weakest links (Chikezie, Ramiele Malubay, and Kristy Lee Cook). But then it’s a pretty tight race  — and it might just come down to personal/stylistic preferences. I’d argue David Cook scores a point for Season 7 over Colton Dixon. David Archuleta scores a point over Jessica Sanchez. And Carly Smithson earns one more for Team 7 over fellow across-the-pond-er Hollie Cavanagh. And with that, we’re tied at 3-3. One more point for Season 11 if you rank Joshua Ledet over Syesha Mercado, but how do you score the trio of  Michael Johns, Brooke White, and Jason Castro against Skylar Laine, Elise Testone, and Phillip Phillips? Forcing myself to forget that Michael and Brooke have released some pretty terrific post-Idol music, and remembering that some of their respective best moments (“It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right,” “I Am…I Said”) occurred after Top 10 week (when they had more experience under their belts than the Season 11 crew has to this point), then I’ve got to give Season 11 the win by a 6-4 margin. Yowza, that was painful!

And with that we come to the final showdown: Season 11 vs. Season 5. The latter wasn’t perfect — not with Lisa Tucker, Bucky Covington, and Ace Young — but even if you concede Erika had a stronger run than any of that trio, you’d still be left with two folks whose body of Idol work is probably better than that of either DeAndre or Heejun. How do you square away the others? Joshua over Mandisa? Skylar over Kellie (great post-Idol career, but a ton of pitch problems on the show)? Daughtry over Colton? Paris over Hollie? (That puts us at 4-3 in favor of Season 5.) If you’re willing to give Phillip and Jessica points over Taylor and Katharine — and I have to admit, I am — then it’s 5-4 for the new kids, and leaves us with one very disparate showdown — Elise vs. Elliott — to either tie things up or give us a solo winner. And as much as I’ve loved Elise’s “One and Only” and “Vienna,” I can’t rank her above Elliott. So it looks like a deadlock. Approaching this matchup a different way — if you put Katharine over Hollie, then you’d have Jessica over Paris; and if you put Daughtry over Phillip, you’d still have Colton over Taylor. Any way I slice it, it looks like Season 5 vs. Season 11 ends in an inconclusive draw.

So that’s my super (un)scientific conclusion. Seasons 5 and 11 tie for the strongest Top 10s — top to bottom — in Idol history, with Season 7 finishing a close third, and Seasons 11 and 8 rounding out the top five.

But that’s just one Idoloonie’s opinion! I’ve included the full Top 10 roster for all 11 seasons below to help refresh your memories. Give ’em a once over, then take our poll and tell us which season’s Top 10 you think was strongest. Perhaps as a group you can break the tie I created — or maybe you’ll vote a different Top 10 into first place. Whatever the case, after you take the poll, hit the comments and explain your vote. Let the debate begin!

Season 1
EJay Day
Jim Verraros
A. J. Gil
Ryan Starr
Christina Christian
R. J. Helton
Tamyra Gray
Nikki McKibbin
Justin Guarini
Kelly Clarkson

Season 2
Julia DeMato
Corey Clark
Rickey Smith
Kimberly Caldwell
Carmen Rasmusen
Josh Gracin
Kimberley Locke
Clay Aiken
Ruben Studdard

Season 3
Amy Adams
Camile Velasco
Jon Peter Lewis
Jennifer Hudson
John Stevens
George Huff
LaToya London
Jasmine Trias
Diana DeGarmo
Fantasia Barrino

Season 4
Jessica Sierra
Nikko Smith
Nadia Turner
Anwar Robinson
Constantine Maroulis
Scott Savol
Anthony Fedoro
Vonzell Solomon
Bo Bice
Carrie Underwood

Season 5
Lisa Tucker
Bucky Covington
Ace Young
Kellie Pickler
Paris Bennett
Chris Daughtry
Elliott Yamin
Katharine McPhee
Taylor Hicks

Season 6
Chris Sligh
Gina Glocksen
Haley Scarnato
Sanjaya Malakar
Phil Stacey
Chris Richardson
LaKisha Jones
Melinda Doolittle
Blake Lewis
Jordin Sparks

Season 7
Ramiele Malubay
Michael Johns
Kristy Lee Cook
Carly Smithson
Brooke White
Jason Castro
Syesha Mercado
David Archuleta
David Cook

Season 8
Michael Sarver
Megan Joy
Scott MacIntyre
Lil Rounds
Anoop Desai
Matt Giraud
Allison Iraheta
Danny Gokey
Adam Lambert
Kris Allen

Season 9
Didi Benami
Andrew Garcia
Katie Stevens
Tim Urban
Siobhan Magnus
Aaron Kelly
Michael Lynche
Casey James
Crystal Bowersox
Lee DeWyze

Season 10* (featured a Top 11 due to Judges’ Save)
Thia Megia
Naima Adedapo
Pia Toscano
Paul McDonald
Stefano Langone
Casey Abrams
Jacob Lusk
James Durbin
Haley Reinhart
Lauren Alaina
Scotty McCreery

Season 11
Erika Van Pelt
DeAndre Brackensick
Heejun Han
Hollie Cavanagh
Colton Dixon
Joshua Ledet
Skylar Laine
Elise Testone
Phillip Phillips
Jessica Sanchez

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. Bobbi says:

    Your prejudice against Taylor once again colors your objectivity. Your bias is so obvious, Michael, every time you mention him!

    • Brendan says:

      He should be prejudiced against Taylor Hicks since he was the worst winner ever – and his win marked a change for the show. Before him the most talented and interesting person would win (Kelly, Ruben, Fantasia, Carrie) and ever since the winners have never been the most talented or the people with the biggest focus. Now the dark horses win every season… even Jordin (who I like) still was was in the background most of the season compared to Melinda. David Archuleta has one of the biggest story arcs ever and he lost. And then the last three guys that won were all the same type – semi-cute and boring compared to the people they beat. Taylor’s win ruined the show.

      • sweetsmoke1 says:

        Taylor Hicks is BOSS, man! Love him! He’s one of the best singers and winners the show ever had!! So soulful!!

      • Genoa says:

        Brendan that’s just ridiculous, How on earth didTaylor Hicks ruin the show? The show is still on isn’t it? People are obviously still interested aren’t they? I’m sick of all these parrots who say Taylor was the worst winner and he ruined the show . Taylor won the show with one hand tied behind his back. He was the first musician to win the show even though he wasn’t allowed to play. Believe me y’all haven’t seen half of what that guy can do. And make no mistake Michael… vocally, Phillip cannot touch Taylor Hicks.

        • sweetsmoke1 says:

          Michael thinks Phillip Phillips outsings Taylor Hicks? LOLOL…… come on Slezak…. you MUST be joking. Seriously. You must be tone deaf if that’s the case.

          • Tarc says:

            Phillip beats Talor singing that awful 70’s drek they kept convincing him to sing (all the Michael Macdonald drek), but in blues, they’d be close.

      • Carol Howard says:

        Brendan that is the silliest thing I ever heard. Many were like me, hard to watch after season 5 because Taylor wasnt’ there. Taylor owned that show that year and without him it was like the air went out of the room. He was by far the most talented person ever on that show.
        And he still is a great performer and great singer. Always will be. Idol could use his energy every year.

      • Tarc says:

        I’d name a few Idol winners (Ruben, Kris) that were far inferior to Taylor Hicks. Sorry, but if you don’t like the blues, then you really can’t judge.

      • C says:

        No, Lee DeWyze was by far the worst winner ever.

      • Laurie says:

        Really??? Fantasia? Right. And Ruben struggles just as much, if not more, than Taylor to be heard. If the Top 40 radio wasn’t controlled by sugar-coated pop songs, etc., then maybe some real music would have a chance to be heard.

        Taylor’s genre of music is not loved by the masses of teens and early 20-something kids who usually command what is heard on the radio today. Sadly. This doesn’t mean he is the worst winner on AI not before his season or since. And the show wasn’t ruined by his win. They managed to ruin it all by themselves.

    • JerseyJeff says:

      It is wierd that season 5 was one of the strongest seasons, but had the worst winner.

      • Bob says:

        Exactly, JerseyJeff.

      • Carol Howard says:

        Oh JerseyJeff, not weird, just what you want to believe for some silly reason. Hicks was the most talented winner they ever had and unless you have seen his live show, heard him play harp with John Popper or any of the many others hes been working with than your opinion aint worth spit.

    • Taylor >> Colton says:

      ITA – even without being a taylor fan, i totally recognize that taylor is unmatched throughout idol at what taylor uniquely does. taylor >>>> colton. colton sounds like a session singer.

    • sweetsmoke1 says:

      Some people are tone deaf, so they can’t hear that Taylor Hicks was the most soulful and best performers the show ever had. I’d question this hater’s biased opinion and chalk it up to someone who can’t hear well. lol

      • Tarc says:

        It’s not hearing, it’s exposure. I mean, seriously, most of the kids on the show this year have never heard the big hits of Billy Joel. If that’s the case, you know they (and a lot of the general public) have no exposure to jazz and blues.

    • hippie says:

      The bias against Taylor is crazy. He’s very talented & if people saw him live in concert, they would know.

      • grace2552 says:

        Yeah, if we’re defining “best” and “worst” in terms of commercial success, it’s true, Taylor might be the worst of the Idol winners (is he though? could anyone possible be worse than Lee Dewyze?) and perhaps he should never have auditioned for a show that’s looking to make pop stars when he so clearly had no interest in taking a part in the industry of music. HOWEVER, that does not mean that he’s some sort of joke, and that does not mean that he’s not a very talented musician. I would’ve rather seen Kat or Elliot walk away with the crown in season 5 because it clearly meant more to them and they wanted it more, but Taylor was and still is undeniably worthy. I only wish we could set up some Voice-style battles because I mean, seriously Slezak? Taylor would clearly kick the cr@p out of both Phillip and Colton…

        • Genoa says:

          Even if you are measuring “best” and “worst ” idols by commercial success, Taylor would not be the worst, since he had a Billboard #1 Hot 100 hit and sold 700,000 albums, something that Kris or Lee haven’t achieved. In fact, Taylor has sold more albums than Kris & Lee combined.

  2. Emma says:

    Season 8 was my favourite! I loved everyone from top 10, well except Gokey of course.

  3. kirads09 says:

    SEASON 2 was the best IMO due to:

    Josh Gracin
    Kimberley Locke
    Clay Aiken
    Ruben Studdard

    • Templar says:

      ITA. I was about to post that myself.

    • Faz says:

      Yea, but looking at the long term results — not so much.

    • vicki says:

      Season 2 holds my fav female idol EVER The classy and incredible K-LO…BEST male Taylor of course. SOO much talent wrapped up in an unforgettable package. I do agree however it is the year IDOL was ruined, not by Taylor because of Taylor. The crybaby ptb had to change the process to include a save, b/c Daughtry was their fav. This is when they started to hold their support if their choice was not Americas choice. Ruined the credibility of IDOL and their continued refusal to accept Taylor as a real winner….putting on pics in the opening credits of losers and not Taylor continues to lose them viewers, and royally piss off the Taylor supporters. This guy will NOT fade away Sorry.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I believe that Season 7 was the best Top 10 in Idol history. Everyone had at least one moment during the course of the season, and they all showcased very distinct musical styles which made the weekly performances very compelling to watch.

    That being said, I think that Season 11’s Top 10 ranks just below Season 7, and above other strong seasons like 5 and 8.

    • Riley says:

      I agree 100% that season 7 was the strongest. I loved so many contestants and couldn’t pick a favorite (besides Carly)….Michael, Jason, the Davids, Brooke, and even Seyesha (I still remember that broadway performance). If I remember correctly, it was the first year they were allowed to play instruments, so that also made them an exciting group.

      Season 5 was not my favorite. Besides Elliot and Chris, I didn’t really care about many of the other contestants….not to quote Randy, but they were just a’ight for me.

      I am also having a hard time picking a favorite this season, and am excited about the contestants. It may turn out that it will end up ranking higher, but it is too early to tell.

      • Princess Adora says:

        I think I completely agree with you. Season 7 was the first time I actually wanted to see the AI summer tour. It was the first time I liked multiple contestants. They were all unique and each had at least moments of greatness.
        I hated season 5, no one really excited me. Chris was interesting and I liked Katherine’s voice, but that was about it.
        I’m loving this season and I think I could rank them higher than S7, but it’s too soon to tell.

    • Teena says:

      I agree! Season 7 was my favorite season of all time…I still go to my iTunes PERFORMANCE recordings from that year often.

      I think that there is a very important difference this year with the top 48 and on down. They had that extra piece in Hollywood Week where the performances in groups were obviously coached, styled and choreographed. Making eliminations from that point of people who couldn’t cut it, makes this group strong from the start of live performances.

      And finally, the “Cannon fodder” aspect seems to have gone away. That seemed to happen when Jennifer and Steven came on board. I would say it has something with Simon being gone, except that Season 9 seemed to be primarily cannon fodder.

    • Nat says:

      I completely agree. For me, Season 7 was when I became an Idoloonie – up until that point I had just been a casual fan (who never missed an episode…). It was the first season where I actually felt anxious at every results show because I didn’t want to lose anyone. Even contestants people often claim they weren’t keen on that season like Amanda Overmyer (not top 10 I know) or Kristy Lee Cook gave me plenty of reasons to like them and look forward to their performances. Plus the novelty of instruments and original arrangements made it special. Season 7 all the way!

    • elr says:

      ITA! Season 7 was my pick. I also think it is unfair to be taking a poll now before season 11 has proven itself. I would like to take the poll again after this Idol season is over and see if the results would be similar.

      • Genoa says:

        I agree. Better yet, wait a few years and see how season 11 rates. This season is still too new and people are too excited about the new contestants to judge objectively.

  5. Anna says:

    I think it’s way too early to tell. We have the benefit of every moment and train-wreck from the previous seasons, but only a few weeks for the season 11 bunch. How about we wait and see how long this year’s weak links last, and how many of the front-runners manage to actually pull off their own idol moments? Remember, at this point last year we still thought that Scotty and Lauren were going to have plenty of “moments” (and that Jacob would be gone by next week!).

  6. Bob Gordon says:

    You gotta be kidding right? There will never be a stronger field than Season 10 of American Idol.Let’s not forget that Colton Dixon couldn’t even make the top 12! In the next few years record and album sales will prove my point! And the future will show that there won’t be another Pia Toscano for a long long time!

  7. JBS says:

    Personally, it’s still a little too early for me to rank this AI top 10 in comparison to the other seasons because there are still many things that can happen to this group that could alter the talent curve. So until the end of season 11, the best top 10 in AI history is season 5 (even though the wrong singer won in the end)

    That being said, this group does have a lot of promise. I look forward to the rest of this season.

    • sweetsmoke1 says:

      Uh no, the correct person won Idol in Season 5. Talent is always relevant and Taylor had it in spades. Best winner, best vocalist, best performer ever in 11 seasons of Idol. SOUL PATROL!

  8. Petesastud says:

    Yes, I prefer Haley’s “You & I” to Gaga’s.

    • Twain says:

      Completely agree. Gaga’s version was too heavy on the percussion and the rhythm was all off. Reminds me how I like the Glee version of “Teenage Dream” over Katy Perry’s version.

    • Riley says:

      Agreed – but then again I am probably a bigger Haley fan than even Michael…I would take most of her covers over the originals. B-B-B-Benny and the Jetssssssss!

    • RTW says:

      It’s Haley for me. Haley’s version has this building crescendo that leads into her signature wail at the end while Gaga’s dynamics are pretty low-key and straightforward. It gives me J-Lo goosies (ugh). THANKS A LOT, now I have to go listen to it!

      • ejones says:

        I was in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup and whilst having breakfast at my hotel You and I came on the muzak system. I was so disappointed that it was Gaga’s rather than Haley’s version. As RTW mentions it was pretty low-key whilst in comparison Haley’s builds to that crescendo. Mind you, I’ve heard Gaga sing it live since and I get the impression that she has taken Haley’s interpretation on board and has made her version much more punchy.

    • Brigette says:

      SAME HERE! Every time I start to hear Gaga sing it on the radio, I can’t help but scream “HALEY SINGS IT BETTER” and change the channel immediately. It gets awkward if the other person in the car has no idea who Haley is (but they will eventually. Haley world domination. MWHAHAHA!)

      • Tom22 says:

        lmao , me too
        Sit back down where you belong, ….. playfully
        haley manages to cast everysong she sings in a positive light without being sappy about it … memories, not regrets, possibities ahead not corrections.

      • BB says:

        I feel the same way. But, let me extend that to include…..Haley’s version of “Rolling in the Deep”. I had never heard the song before Haley sang it, and I’m not taking anything away from Adele, who is very talented, BUT I prefer Haleys version of it as well.

        • Syl says:

          I agree. I like Haley’s versions of both of these songs better than the originals. Haley’s voice just has special lilts and quirks that I totally miss when hearing Gaga and Adele sing them, and I love both these singers, as well.

        • Donna says:

          I completely agree! I had (cluelessly) not heard of Rolling in the Deep, then listened to Adele’s version – totally over-wrought. Haley has a great talent for song interpretation.

          • Donna says:

            And now I have to go watch all those videos again, to make up for crummy day, followed by some Dowager Countess Grantham. Somehow that all fits.

    • TB says:

      Agreed. And I think I prefer her Bennie And The Jets too…blasphemy?

      • Bob Humphrey says:

        Haley’s version of every single cover excels over the original except for the Led Zeppelin cover imho. I’ve listened to all the originals and almost dislike some of them compared to her versions. The ones I didn’t care for at first, I grew to like, then love.

    • Loni says:

      Yes! Haley’s is so much better! I’m off to look it up now…

  9. CarolLeslie says:

    Season 11 may have the strongest collection of technically good voices. But it ends there. Big voiced diva/divo singers have always been a dime-a-dozen on Idol. The problem is how many of them are truly both interesting and unique without crossing the line into wierd. All of these great voices in season 11 are just plain boring IMO. Skylar showed some promise initially, but now she just sings every genre with a country twang. She’s not going to surprise us for the rest of the season. Colton and Phil are capable of amping it up but there’s no guarantee either will truly deliver.
    At the moment the only reason I’m still watching the show is so I can follow what you’re talking about on Idoloonies.

    • Brigette says:

      You kinda took the words out of my mouth. From a technical standpoint, yes, I agree with Michael that season 11 is the strongest, but I don’t think I was ever so emotionally invested in a top ten (eleven) than I was during last year’s season 10. They stand out to me as a special group of big voices AND characters.

      • TB says:

        Yeah I think I have to agree with you. I was more emotionally invested in season 10 than any other Idol season. They were a fun group altogether. Lots of uptempo, lots of different genres covered, lots of surprises throughout the season, lots of performers who were very very unique. There was no one in season 10 that I thought…well they’re clearly copying so and so, or they’re clearly trying to fit into this type of performer. I have those reservations with a lot of season 11’s top 10: Colton, Phillip, Jessica, Hollie, even Elise to an extent feel like they are cut outs from specific genre tropes. Plus, and this cannot be said enough: TOO MANY BALLADS.

    • Tom22 says:

      I’m really with you on the “big voices are dime a dozen” and the “being interesting and unique without crossing the line into weird”.

      I voted for the much dissed season 9 because of motivaions like that. Also the weak singers were pretty darn poised on the stage with interesting voices. I found Andrew Garcia a very interesting singer and I definitely could hear more of him. Definitely liked him better than erica and skylar and deandre and hollie. The less remarkable girls and guys mentioned had sung some decent songs somewhere along the line (longer elimnation process) and were poised and taking some risks trying to interperet songs.

      I think people keep repeating it was a bad season and start believing it.

      • Cup of Joe says:

        Oh that’s a laugh! The only interesting thing about Andrew Garcia was that he could’ve been a love child of Kim Jong Il and Danny Gokey. Beyond that, for some reason, his “unique” arrangements sucked the life out of every song and he couldn’t even sing it well enough to become a “moment.”

    • Bob Humphrey says:

      What about Elise?? Talk about interesting. I can’t wait to here what she’s going to do next week to week.

    • Tarc says:

      For me, Colton and Phillip delver ever week. They only needed Idol for exposure. As Iovine pointed out, they were ready to be signed out of the box.

      • Cup of Joe says:

        Sure, they deliver. However, they get outperformed and outclassed by the ladies, however boring you think of them.

        As for P2, if you see that Beiber’s “Baby” get hundreds of millions more views than Dave Matthews’ Band’s “Carsh Into Me,” well… That should say something about his post-Idol longevity.

  10. Ringo says:

    I think that Season 11 has one of the strongest groups female contestants in the top 10, but one of the weaker groups of male contestants. Heejun is a joke, DeAndre is cute but weak, P2 is repetitive and derivative (Dave Matthews clone); Colton is affected and emo; Joshua is one dimensional and often out of tune. The girls are all top class, however, with Erika being the best singer ever to be booted so early IMO.

    • Erika == M Johns says:

      Erika of S11 == Michael Johns of S7
      The two most talented most promising and most consistent singers to have been booted so low on their respective tickets.

  11. Eli says:

    It’s realistically between 5, 7, 8 and 11. I pick 8, based on the awesome adam/kris/alison trifecta really, but it could be any of those 4 I’d be happy with.

  12. Jen88 says:

    Outside of the finalists, I remember 4 of these people.

  13. The girls are very strong but as the likely #1 guy, Phillip seems to be very weak. I don’t know why Steven and the media, who are always calling him a top performer, don’t call him out for singing in exactly the same style every week. I would never know whether Phillip is singing a ballad or an upbeat rocker from his vocal stylings.

  14. Vivi says:

    Season 5. The wrong singer won the prize, though.
    Season 7.

    • sweetsmoke1 says:

      The wrong person won Season 7. Season 5 was correct! Soulman rocks!

      • Tiff says:

        The wrong person won Season 7? Seriously? David Cook gave the most raw, emotional performances I’ve seen on the Idol stage. While ALWAYS staying on pitch, I might add.He broke the mold. I’m no longer looking for my Idol, that deal was signed, sealed & delivered in Season 7.

        • sweetsmoke1 says:

          So where is David Cook now and how is he relevant? His last album flopped – didn’t even reach 100K with a major label pushing it.

        • Bonnie Britigan says:

          I agree DC was the correct winner. If you ever get a chance to see him live, do it. He is awesome live. Great performer-Great humanitarian!

  15. Ken says:

    Slezak, why the nonsense?? Just hit up!

  16. ben says:

    I do think season 11 is the strongest top 10 across the board. But I totally disagree with some of your list being booted before Erika, Jeremy & Shannon from past seasons. The reality is that some of those people outlasted more talented singers, because their personality and entire package got them through. I don’t think that would have changed for those people had they turned up now.

  17. Patricia Robinson says:

    my season of idol is #5,with no other than Bucky Covington

  18. Meghan says:

    I had a tough time choosing between Season 7 (The Davids) or Season 8 (Adam, Kris, and one of my all time favorite Idol contestants, Matt Giraud), but in the end I went with Season 7.

  19. Don Biggs says:

    I have always found it difficult to understand exactly what the judges and America are actually listening to with American Idol. It seems as AI progresses through any season specific camps develop and that carry unworthy contestants through rounds they should be eliminated from. This is supposed to be about singing talent, not fleeting popularity or cuteness, especially after you add a year or two to any teenybopper contestant. For me, it makes the show less relevant because several pure singers get eliminated whether they have a bad week or not. Also, Simon’s departure was both good and bad in this respect: good because when he could be objective he offered constructive insight; bad because he was so full of himself that he alone, and he and Paula Abdul became a major distraction; also bad because his often razor sharp tongue and over-the-top opinions carried way too much weight with way too many viewers. I think there were many, but Season 7’s Carly Smithson was especially a perfect example of this.

  20. In favor of Season 11, the pimp spot has really been misused so far. Jessica’s I Will Always Love You and Joshua’s When a Man Love’s a Woman should have closed their respective shows, which would have made a bigger impact and made the shows more memorable and epic as a whole. If Elise had closed T10 this past week, and Hollie gets to close with Jesus Take the Wheel this week (my guess) or MHWGO before she’s booted for being too boring, we could have had 6 or 7 EPIC closing performances from 6 or 7 different contestants if Skylar, Colton and Phillip turn in some awesome performances later in the season.

  21. Chris says:

    I vote for Season 10 being the strongest thus far (I haven’t given up on Season 11 yet).

    After Adam Lambert’s time with American Idol I hoped someone else would come along and have the opportunity to bring it with all their passion. Second to that, Adam has gone on to identify himself identically how he portrayed his ‘covers’ on the show. He was made to be in this business and he showed us then and he is still showing us now. Rock on Adam! So that led me to Season 10 with a great surprise of James Durbin. He not only took the stage but he stormed the stage – owned it and the audience. It may have well as been one concert for him because he never came across as a newbie to me. The energy, charisma, and die hard confidence in exactly what he wanted to become came across my tube every night. I mean the Muse cover – come on – AWESOME!

    There were stellar performances from all the top 10 – though but he kept me tuning in. Yeah ‘pitchie’, not the best vocal performance every time, but it was his showmanship and passion that got me. He wanted it – every single second of it. THAT is what it’s about whether you are singing Frank Sinatra or Judas Priest – let it OUT.

    So I appreciate what Colton and Phillip are bringing to the stage in how they are presenting themselves. They each grab the moment in their own ways, but I get it. But no one (Erika should have) has grabbed the whole damn building and shaken it like they can. I mean there was the Ledet moment that was awesome but where did that Joshua go?


    • TiaGata says:

      James Durbin was pitchy and screamy too much for my taste.

      Where did Joshua go – probably the same place I went = “Who knows/cares about Billy Joel songs.” I only recognized 2 songs and Heejun supposedly butchered one, and the other went to the highly “pimped” contestant Colton.

      Just as many people here don’t recognize R&B songs, I don’t recognize pop, country, heavy medal, rock & roll (at least not much past the 70s and early 80).

      • Tarc says:

        I don’t want to be mean to anyone, but it’s kinda ridiculous that people don’t know Joel’s best dozen songs. They define classic and they weren’t that long ago or in a less accessible style (like the minor chords of jazz for example).

  22. JenD says:

    I just love that you get paid to give this sort of thing serious consideration. This article was exactly the oreo cookie my brain needed.

  23. djafan says:

    Season 7 hands down.

  24. I voted for Season 8. Saw them on tour and only 1 really weak, and 1 ok, the rest were great. What I can’t believe is that anyone voted for Season 9!? Who are you?

  25. twar says:

    Heejun is a friggin’ joke but the chin*ks will keep voting for him…the Sanjya of this season

  26. Tim says:

    Season 7 for sure. I mean, you had talent like Michael Johns and Carly Smithson that couldn’t crack the top 5. Either of them would have easily made the top 3 this season.

  27. Wow, hate Taylor more, Slezak. I only forgive you for your astute observation about Haley’s “You and I” > Gaga’s ” You and I”.

    Season 5 wins for me, although 7 and 8 are close seconds. Sure, 11 is so far extremely talented, even if I don’t like all of them, but very few of them are that entertaining on a personality level. Therefore, the edge goes to the amazing groups of singers who also kept me from fast forwarding through their interviews.

  28. TiaGata says:

    Okay – I broke it down by who I liked during the seasons and here are my results.

    Season 1 – I didn’t watch
    Season 2 – I didn’t watch
    Season 3 – I liked 3
    Season 4 – I liked 4
    Season 5 – I liked 3
    Season 6 – I liked 5
    Season 7 – I liked 2
    Season 8 – I liked 6
    Season 9 – I liked 2
    Season 10 – I liked 5
    Season 11 – I liked 5

    So for me the strongest top 10 was in season 8, sorry Michael.

  29. anibundel says:

    I won’t rank 7 over 11.
    But I won’t rank 11 over 7 either.

    I think we should all be extremely pleased that after 3 years of feeling like Idol was skidding badly down hill (Adam, Allison and Kris covered a multitude of sins, but in many ways, S.8 was just as weak as S.9, and S.10, though a step in the right direction, was too busy finding its feet), the ship has finally shown signs of righting, and perhaps even taking 0ff again–and amazing feat for one in double digit seasons.

  30. Z says:

    Loving this!! I’d have to say that Season 11 is strongest on complete personal bias–there has NEVER been a season before where I was genuinely excited to watch every performer (or Heejun’s interviews haha). Also, I find it impossible to pick a favorite out of the bunch, whereas every season I always had one or two obsessions. This year, I seem to have eight (occasionally nine) obsessions!

  31. Betsy says:

    I think you’re right, and it has a lot to do with Simon Cowell being gone. Simon always liked picking some terrible contestants just to create drama (or comedy) to (by his theory, anyway) attract more viewers. The past two years without him, the judges have really tried to pick the best singers….not that I always agree with them, but at least they aren’t picking train wrecks like Megan Joy (or Norman Gentle or that Puerto Rican nightmare girl) (Please don’t say her name, I’m glad I’ve finally forgotten it)

  32. Name That Tune says:

    i haven’t seen a singer yet this season that has made me feel strongly enough to root for them. Some very talented individuals, but haven’t felt the urge to vote for one of them. And given the outcome of this show over the last 4 seasons, I’m not really sure I care anymore. Sure, Joshua and Jessica appear to be legitimate Top 4 contenders. Elise may still be there, and Hollie has that big voice and blonde hair. Despite all that, the real contenders are Phil and Colton. If the show ended today, I would say Colton, but I would be disappointed again that Idol can’t produce any other winner anymore than the White Male. Will it be the WGWG (Phil) or the WGWP (Colton)? Not much excitement or drama there.

    And please, this week, let’s say goodbye to Heejun and not a deserving female.

    • Cup of Joe says:

      I’d agree with about Colton. That guy knows how to play the game. But Phil? All I gotta say is “Step aside, Gokey! I’m gonna out-Gokey ya, baby!”

  33. noa says:

    putting Elise up against Elliot. two of my all-time favorites. tough call. for now i’m gonna have to go with Elliot- even if i put aside everything after top 10, he still had moody’s mood for love and if you really love me in the semi-finals.

  34. barbsmsl says:

    I would give more weight to the best contestants of a season, rather than rank them equally with mid-card and lowest group. Therefore, with the best being the best in season 7, I would definitely give them the edge over season 11, since the difference in the lower finishers is insignificant.

  35. t says:

    I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying this season, however I disagree with you on the season 7/11/5 breakdown.
    Both EVP and Chikezie finished their run pretty early, with EVP being the more solid of the two, but Chikezie was seriously AWESOME with “she’s a women” which for me (for you) is more important. Also, even though DeAndre “has potential” he delivered alot of train-wrecks and at least KLC’s train-wrecks were a bit more entertaining (“8 days a week” was hilarious!, “God bless the USA” – genius). This also the reason why I agree that Heejun trumps Ramiele. On the rest I kind of agree, which brings us to 6:4 for season 7..
    On the season 7 Vs. 5, I have Chikezie, Brooke, Jason, Carly and Michael over Lisa Tucker, Kellie, Elliot, Katharine and Taylor.
    So Season 7 wins with 11 and 5 near by.

  36. Rolfe says:

    I honestly believe this is the strongest Top 10 in American Idol History. I have about six that I’m rooting for and want to win. I normally only pull for two or three. I do believe these polls can be somewhat skewed though. This season is fresh and in everyone’s mind. People forget over time. That seems to be the case with every realty show.

  37. archulover says:

    Season 7 forever. Not only the top 10, EVERYONE from that season was AMAZING.

  38. valerie510 says:

    Season 7 wins by a mile. Brooke, Carly, Jason, Michael, Syesha, Cook and oh yeah the best singer to come out of Idol ever, David Archuleta!

    • Tarc says:

      On what planet? I hope I never hear Archuletta again. Brooke, Carly, and Cook are amazing and still having success, though. I’m not sure that any season will trump the eventual success of Casey, Haley, lauren, and Scotty.

      • kathykat says:

        You cannot even spell Archuleta correctly. He’s doing pretty well and he’s famous in Asia, filmed a mini-series in the Philippines (he can act), finished an album of original Filipino music and even sang one in Pilipino (minus the American accent). He is amazing and down to earth. His international fans have pledged to support him even after his leave of absence for 2 years as a Mormon missionary. Btw, his first single debuted at #2 on billboard while Cook’s settled at # 3.

        Season 7 will always be special not only because of David Archuleta but because of the genuine friendship among the top 10.

        Jessica Sanchez is good but I won’t rank her over Archuleta even though she’s half-Filipino like me. Just saying:D

  39. Wow it’s curious that S7 is ahead. Does that season have the most die hard fans? Here.s my list for strongest Top10: S8, 7 and 5. This year’s group is very good but haven’t really proven themselves yet IMO (Notice: I am a huge Cook fan but didn’t choose his season as the strongest. Just sayin)

  40. Sandi says:

    Hard to pick. It’s between 8, 7, and 4. I’m not invested enough in anyone on 11 yet (except for maybe Colton) to pick it.

    My faves of these three seasons:

    Season 8 – Adam, Kris, Alison

    Season 7 – David Cook, Carly, Jason, Michael

    Season 4 – Bo, Carrie, Constantine

  41. Vicki Minger says:

    taylor hicks for me…the consumate entertainer. This man oozes talent and charisma, and just like anyone that didn’t get Simons stamp,of approval he suffered the wrath. If you wnt to see the most unique, inspirational, exciting concert of your life, see Hicks. Also for me the best most rich voice on the female side is without question Kimberley Locke. The girl was/is phenomenal. the show is losing it’s credibility and viewers because it fails to support the fair and square winner. That IS the concept of the show…Without the follow through with the rightful winner, the favortism for others over the winner, like Kris Allens year ( like Taylors year) the voting and viewership becomes pointless. respectfully submitted.

  42. Candy says:

    I went with S7 because that’s the only season thus far that I had to go see on tour.

  43. S5fan says:

    Season 5 and the fabulous Taylor Hicks….his rich whiskey tenor voice is perfection

    • sweetsmoke1 says:

      Amen! Season 5 and Taylor Hicks made that season the most successful – as was the tour – the highest grossing tour ever in all 10 seasons.

      • Carol Howard says:

        Absolutely, and as I talked to all that went to that summer tour they told me how Taylor was by far the biggest part of the show and the one that the crowd was screaming for and the one that had the most fans trying to see him. They can try to rewrite history if they want but there are too many of us who remember all too well.

  44. dj says:

    I’m loving you and Melinda on Idology, and I am agreeing with almost everything you say, except I still love Sanjaya. He was very young and inexperienced on the show, but he sounds awesome these days. Saw him live last summer at a club in Chicago, and he put on a great show.

  45. Henry says:

    I’d say AI5 has a slight lead over AI11 at this point (Joshua over Mandisa, Slezak? And Paris over Hollie??) but this gang has potential for growth.

  46. darcy's evil twin says:

    I was struggling with voting for either season 8 or season 11. Looks like a lot of voters share my opinion. At this time I do believe Season 11 is the best lineup we’ve had. But time will tell.
    I still can’t believe Alexis Grace, Kaetlyn Epperle, and Lily Scott got kicked out prematurely.

  47. syb says:

    I have to give the edge to season 5 which included McPhee, Daughtry, Yamin, Mandisa, Bennett, Hicks, Covington and even Pickler who’s making a nice living still. One advantage was the variety– a little something for almost every taste.

    At this point I might rank season 8 ahead too, although I’d be more inclined to do that if we were just talking strongest top 5.

    Looking at any season but this is looking backwards. I think this top 10 is overall extraordinarily strong vocally. We probably have many many unexpectedly outstanding performances still to see. It’s too early to know. Ask again at the end of the season.

  48. Trish says:

    I’d say that season 7 and season 5 had the strongest top 10 so far. I think this season has good contestants too. Better than the last 3 years. But i find that I don’t really care that much. IDK why. I haven’t cared about the outcome of idol since season 7. I don’t know if it’s the way the contestants’ personalities mixed with each other, how they all seemed to care about each other, or if it’s because the judging hasn’t been the same since.