American Idol: 20 Songs We'd Ban Forever!

If familiarity really does breed contempt, then there exists a select set of overperformed songs American Idol fans would like to drag into a darkened alley and hurl into a manky dumpster.

Indeed, over the course of 12 seasons, certain offending ditties have become almost inescapable on the show, and their annual arrival feels as welcome as Kim Kardashian at a Mensa meeting.

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The good news is that executive producer Nigel Lythgoe and Fox reality chief Mike Darnell have both expressed amusement — and, dare I say, intrigue — at TVLine’s proposal to create a list of banned tracks for the live-performance rounds, a move that would spare the Idoloonie Nation from what those great Motown-era philosophers The Four Tops referred to as “the same old song.”

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Check out our picks below, then sound off in the comments about which ones we got right, which numbers we unfairly maligned, and what blasphemous omissions we made!

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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126 Comments
  1. Taylor Hicks did “A Change is Going to Come” in his initial audition, IIRC. And I’m against banning “Georgia on My Mind,” as suggested above. As long as it is used just in the Hollywood rounds, I think it’s fine. As a musician I understand why they use it: it’s one of a handful of songs that can be molded into nearly any musical style and therefore gives the artist the freedom to show his/her unique abilities and point of view as a musician. So I’m fine with that (plus it’s one of my favorite songs ever). But everything else mentioned here, I agree with. Especially “Hallelujah.” We should start fining people who use that one.

    • Mel says:

      I agree about the “Georgia on My Mind”.
      And they’d get fined himself to them choice, only Lee and PP have not suffered for their songs. But I believe we have the right to shout “WHAT!?” when we hear “I Don t Want to Miss a Thing” AGAIN. This isn’t a song to blame, it is about choosing the contestant – I want to understand what they are able to make the right choice.

  2. Alienate says:

    I have tabulated all the “don’t sing again” songs from this post.
    At this point we are left with:

    Anything sung by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.

    Well done! :)

  3. D Vanhorn says:

    Aerosmith’s Dream On, especially the scream at the end, should be the first song banned. Also, all Stevie Wonder songs.

  4. poptart89 says:

    didn’t Aaron Kelly (S9) also sing “The Climb?”

  5. JK says:

    How many of these will we hear this season? 5? 8? 10?

  6. EVPandHC says:

    Michael, Shannon is Season 11.

  7. EVPandHC says:

    How about Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”

  8. Lois Benton says:

    I totally agree with you on every song, and there may even be others I hate that you didn’t list. It’s interesting, though, that, in mentioning Hallelujah, you note X Factor performances, but not Nicole Nelson most recently on The Voice. Her choosing that song for her blind audition on The Voice is one of the reasons I didn’t put her up high on my list at first. I loved the song when Jason Castro sang it. I now actively hate it and, by extension, anyone who presumes to sing it , particularly on competition shows. Nicole’s downfall may well have been song choice in general. Her choice of Alicia Keys during the knockout was bad too, dated, overdone, boring…..

  9. Mel says:

    I looked down the list and read the comments. I hate when they sing Adele, but if your name is Elise, you can go out and kill with the help of “One and Only”. And “Rumors” on AI-tour were great. I was sure that the “Superstition” – it’s the most horrible song by Stevie Wonder (thanks to Siobhan & Clint), but PP was able to adapt it. I was waiting for “moment” when Joshua sang “A Change Is Gonna Come”, but it crashed on this song like on a wall.
    Conclusion, what I can do: applicants must have the mind to choose the songs THEMSELVES. And if they don’t do it and choose the song wrong, it’s less of them, if you expect them something greater, than from the connection jukebox and coins. And don’t tell me about the age, we have seen examples of a wise choice from the kids and the stupidity of the “senior”.
    The biggest fools in this show will still not on the stage and choose for poor kids not one nail in the coffin (thanks to the judges, Nigel, Fuller, and acceded to him Jimmy).

  10. HitTheGroundRunningWonderlandHaleyOhMy says:

    I definitely wouldn’t ban “Alone” or “Hallelujah”.
    .
    Actually I say let them sing what they are going to sing, no sense to ban anything. We’d already have missed some really good things if they banned things.

  11. Nephtalia says:

    Idoloonie Nation represents 1% of Idol viewers. Most people watching Idol right now are not the same audience of Season 1. This season for ex, there will be lots of Nikki fans. I myself started watching Idol season 9. So you need to satisfy the die-hard fans and the new ones too. So using well known songs is necessary to keep interest. So banning songs is not a good idea.

  12. Carla says:

    “Son of a Preacher Man”

  13. Montavilla says:

    Has Hallelujah really only been sung five times (six counting The Voice tribute, I suppose)? Seems like it’s been a lot more than that. What I dislike is when its made into a big, soaring “moment.” That song is the antithesis of a moment. It’s not a “victory march.”

    Which is maybe why the only two times I’ve respected the performances are Jason Casto’s quiet rendition, and, ironically, The Voice’s use of it for their tribute to Newtown.

    Now… about “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” I think anyone who picks that song to sing should be penalized by having their sheet music immediately switched out for “Time for Miracles.” Sing that one, sucker!

    • Mel says:

      Add to the list of “Imagine” and “You Are So Beautiful” – these kids believe that before no one knew how to sing, and now they go out and show voice. It is about the lyrics, not vocals. Ugh!

  14. Teechabc says:

    Mad World, simply because NO ONE will ever compare with Adam Lambert’s heart-wrenchingly perfect rendition. And it also taught us that Seacrest can’t tell time and to always add time to your DVR recording!

  15. Gailer says:

    That Seal song, Kiss on a rose on a grave? lol

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