American Idol: 30 Best Performances of All Time

American Idol wraps its twelfth season with a two-part finale (tonight and Thursday, 8/7c on Fox), and in the midst of the Candice-Vs.-Kree debate, a larger question looms: Is there room for either of these ladies (or any of their recently vanquished rivals) in a countdown of the show’s all-time greatest performances?

I tried to answer that question by taking a long hard look at the finest Season 12 moments alongside the greatest hits from years past. I’ve added, subtracted, rejiggered and reconfigured, till I finally had a list that didn’t make me actively loathe myself. (Hey, no one ever said it was easy being an Idoloonie.)

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For the record, I limited my countdown to competitive performances on live shows — meaning semifinals, finals, and wild cards count; exit performances, auditions, and Hollywood Week do not — and still ended up with two or three dozen amazing moments left on the outside looking in. (Oh how “Superstar,” “A House Is Not a Home,” and “The Scientist” forced me to consider making this a Top 35 list!) I also decided on allowing only one performance per contestant in the Top 25 — because spreading the wealth is fun. I weighed everything from vocal excellence to emotional connectedness to creativity and risk (with bonus points for competition-altering moves).

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So click through my picks below, then tell me where I got it right, where I royally messed up, who I unforgivably snubbed and for which contestants I chose the wrong performance. And for all my Idol news, recaps, commentary and videos, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!



Comments (337)

  • I like Candice but I think it’s too early to place her in the No. 1 spot.

    Comment by davey – May 15, 2013 09:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Ya, that kinda made me roll my eyes.

      Comment by terri – May 15, 2013 10:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I had major eye roll going hahaha

        Comment by Tati83 – May 15, 2013 10:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • +1 on all the eye-rolling… totally predictable though

          Comment by Timmah – May 15, 2013 10:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Michael, your ranking lost all credibility with me when you put Candice’s Love Song in the #1 position. First of all, it wasn’t even her interpretation but Adele’s so it lacked creativity. Second, since when was a Cure song such a great song–even if it was done by Adele?! Third, as usual, Candice was sharp in her performance of Love Song.

            Comment by Lee – May 15, 2013 12:26 PM PDT  
          • To Lee, I was agreeing with you until u said she was sharp. Bitch, please.

            Comment by WishesRandyCouldn'tSpeak – May 15, 2013 07:11 PM PDT  
        • Grace put it well below: Lovesong at #1 is ” arguable, but certainly not eyeroll-worthy.” Besides, you have to give Slezak credit that he didn’t put Haley #1 or #2.

          Disagree with his list if you want — its’ subjective after all — but he obviously put careful thought into it.

          Comment by karyn – May 16, 2013 10:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • In a list like this, noone would rank Siobhan’s Paint it Black above Adam Lambert’s Mad World. They were similarly dramatically-staged and were great performances. But Mad World came first. If Siobhan had been on an earlier season and performed Paint it Black first, then you might rank it above Mad World because it would have been more of a jaw dropper. Similarly, Bo Bice’s In a Dream was a fantastic bold Idol moment when he went out during the live shows and delivered a powerful, memorable acoustic performance. If some other contestant in a later season did something similar it might be a great Idol moment but you would not rank it above Bo’s fantastic performance in a list like this. Likewise, I would never rank Candice’s Lovesong above whatever David Cook rearrangement is on the list. She did jazz runs which is not his style at all. But the impact of the performance was primarily that the original was not jazz. I don’t believe for a second that a Candice Glover on Season 7 or earlier would have gone out on stage and flipped a Cure song into a jazz song, so I would not rank the performance above anything from Cook.
          Plus, Lovesong had too many runs and she stripped out the lovely melody. So I would not put it higher than 10 overall. I think next year the list should have a different song for Candice.

          Comment by teatime – May 17, 2013 09:23 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Paint It Black should definitely have been in there…as well as Siobhan’s performance of “Think”.

            Comment by Dale McCain – June 5, 2013 06:39 AM PDT  
    • I don’t at all. That performance was legendary.

      Comment by dude – May 15, 2013 10:12 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Preach to Lovesong being number one. That performance was life changing.

        Comment by Andrew Rogers – May 15, 2013 10:19 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Seconded! Argue all you want about who would win if you put Candice Glover on a stage next to Kelly and Tasia and JHud RIGHT NOW and made them have a sing-off (I still say Candice could hold her own). To call Lovesong the greatest single performance ever to grace the Idol stage is arguable, but certainly not eyeroll-worthy.

        Comment by grace2552 – May 15, 2013 06:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Totally agree.

      Comment by james – May 15, 2013 10:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Totally agree!

      Comment by Sara – May 15, 2013 10:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Too early? AI performances aren’t like recorded music where time can reveal them to be better or worse than they are. The performances are a one time thing and can be judged at the moment.

      Comment by Jess – May 15, 2013 11:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I see what you are saying. But for a list like this you also want songs that are memorable over time. Something more recent might stick out more in your mind at the time, but a year or two later you might realize some other great performances have stand out more years later. Every song on the list was a great performance.

        Comment by teatime – May 15, 2013 02:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Which is why there tends to be a new list every year — a list in which some songs remain but, perhaps, change position and some may fall off the list because other have been added. Remember, he said in his intro, that he almost made it a top 35.

          Comment by My Alter Ego – May 15, 2013 05:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I haven’t watched this season but I find it hard to believe that she was better than Adam Lambert’s Mad World

      Comment by Holly – May 15, 2013 01:30 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Adam’s Mad World was by far the best ever.

        Comment by Carl – May 15, 2013 01:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • THIS to the millionth power.

          Comment by Dayna – May 15, 2013 02:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Sorry But Haley’s House Of The Rising Sun should be number 1 David Cook’s Billy Jean and Little Sparrow was way better then the one you chose. No way Candace is number one. Not even in the top 20. Most of the great Idols kelly, Carrie, haley, Cook, had four or five performances better than any of hers.

          Comment by Jason – May 15, 2013 02:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • I agree with your Haley and David choices – I thought those were their respective stronger performances.

            Comment by Nat – May 15, 2013 05:11 PM PDT  
          • @Jason- Exactly. I didn’t see Kelly. I know this is a one song per artist list. If it weren’t, Bo, Carrie, David Cook, Haley, Allison, & Crystal alone would have 30 performances better than anything this year.

            Comment by Danny – May 15, 2013 06:28 PM PDT  
        • I have watched every year and Mad World was the best ever!!!

          Comment by Linda Ambler – May 15, 2013 03:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • slezak, you gotta qualify that lambert’s “mad world” from the top 8 (‘the year you were born’ week) was by far, better than his reprise of the performance at the finale. likewise with david archie—his top 20 “imagine” surpasses his version at the finale. speaking of, i’m torn between david cook’s “always be my baby” and “the world i know.” both poignantly powerful performances, but “twik” kinda has an edge because cookie took a risk with a new song at the finale despite young archie playing it safe with “imagine,” don’tcha think?

          Comment by leepreferstrouble – May 15, 2013 06:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Thanks for clarifying re Archuleta. I didn’t watch that season till near the end and I was not at all impressed with the version he did in the finals, so when I saw this on the list, I was shocked.

            Comment by karyn – May 16, 2013 10:25 AM PDT  
        • YES! Mad World was the first song that I thought of when considering the best Idol “Moment” performances ever. It will always be at the top of my list (as will Adam Lambert!)

          Comment by Kaykee – May 15, 2013 06:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • You are SOOOO wrong.

          Comment by L Barthel – May 17, 2013 11:50 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Honestly I didn’t like Mad World. I was kinda bored :/

          Comment by Jacob P. – May 20, 2013 02:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You guys need to go back and listen to Adele’s version vs. the Candice version of Lovesong. Two completely different renditions. Having watch all twelve seasons, I would rank Fantasia’s Summertime performance as No. 2 behind Candice as No. 1 for Lovesong. Remember the inclusion criteria was NOT about popularity, but about the overall performance. Start eye rolls, shaking your heads and wagging your fingers now. :)

      Comment by TVDIVA – May 15, 2013 03:25 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Seriously. I think those who say it was ‘Adele’s version” are repeating something they read somewhere but haven’t actually heard Adele’s version. LOL.

        Comment by syb – May 16, 2013 10:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • FANTASHIA WAS # 1….. TO BE TRUTHFUL… IDOL HAS HAD SOME ALRIGHT TALENT… BUT NOTHING OUT THE BOX LIKE FANTASHIA… AND QUITE FRANKLY… THE SHOW HASN’T BEEN THE SAME SINCE. FANTASHIA SHUT IT DOWN !!!!!!!! ;)

        Comment by dee – June 8, 2013 08:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Ditto and IMO nothing is gonna beat Fantasia’s Summertime and Kelly’s Stuff Like That There

      Comment by cgreene – May 15, 2013 04:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Kelly’s song was a Broadway tune from Bway theme week – which they should bring back as a theme! It could provide a moment, for the next Idol season.

        Comment by NJ idoloonie – May 15, 2013 08:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • +1

      Comment by ETG – May 15, 2013 06:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I haven’t seen the list yet, but he’s got Candice in the #1 spot? Wow!! I don’t think any song from this year belongs on that list. I’ve only been watching since Season 4, and there wasn’t a top 30 this year from just the years I’ve been watching. This was a brutal year.
      The only thing this year has going for it is that it’s recent and it’s fresher in people’s minds.
      .

      Comment by Danny – May 15, 2013 06:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • LOL. How can it be “too early?” It’s not a list of who performed best after Idol. If somebody comes along later and knocks this performance off the spot, then the list is reconfigured again.

      Comment by syb – May 16, 2013 10:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I wouldn’t even call “Love song” Candice’s No.1 performance of that night. “Don’t make me over” was much more beautiful and gut-wrenching, IMO.

      Comment by Dave – May 22, 2013 10:55 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved Crystal Bowersox’s “Bobby McGee,” but I think “Up to the Mountain” was by far her best performance both emotionally and vocally.

    Comment by Nancy – May 15, 2013 10:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yes, I agree with you on the song.

      Comment by Marilyn – May 15, 2013 11:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I completely agree with this^

      Comment by The Beach – May 15, 2013 01:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • totally agree. me and bobby mcgee was just okay comparatively.

      Comment by unicornwasp – May 15, 2013 01:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yeah there were several Crystal performances I’d put ahead of Me and Bobby McGee.

      Comment by syb – May 16, 2013 10:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • “People Get Ready,” “Give Me One Reason,” “Long As I Can See The Light,” “Come Together,” “Up To The Mountain,” “Saved”…all Crystal performances off the top of my head that were better than “Me And Bobby McGee.”

      Comment by white lancer – May 17, 2013 07:32 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • The only ones on your list that I agree with are Clay’s Solitaire and Adam’s Mad World. Regarding David Cook, I was more impressed with his Music Of The Night.

    Comment by lyn – May 15, 2013 10:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Seriously? I could easily name 3-4 performances of Cook that rival Always Be My Baby, but music of the night is definitely NOT one of them…

      Comment by Eli – May 15, 2013 10:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • This. That one will always be my favorite DC performance. Watched it on YouTube yesterday, and it still gives me chills.

      Comment by Cairi – May 15, 2013 10:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I thought Mad World should have finished higher than #4. That was such a great performance.

      Comment by Ann – May 15, 2013 10:53 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Lambert totally copied Gary Jules arrangement. Nothing at all original about his performance. I can understand why Slezak had to rate him so high though. Can’t take a chance on the wrath of Glamberts.

        Comment by Ann – May 15, 2013 11:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Gary Jules version is the only one I know. From Donny Darko. I was surprised when I read some people thought he had rearranged the song. Still, it is my favorite Lambert performance.

          Comment by teatime – May 15, 2013 12:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • So? Candice copied Lovesong from Adele. Cook copied Billie Jean from Chris Cornell. Daughtry copied Walk the Line from Live (I think). Kris copied To Make You Feel My Love from Adele. Doesn’t take away from the actual performances.

          Comment by trimaran12 – May 15, 2013 01:57 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Actually this isn’t quite true. Yes, Lambert used the Gary Jules arrangement rather than the original, but he added a lot of cool musical flourishes that Jules didn’t. IMO, Lambert’s version > Jules’ version.

          Comment by Dayna – May 15, 2013 02:18 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • For me, David Cook could occupy 4 or 5 of these 30 spots. He was that good. I’d put him higher than 8th position for sure.

      Comment by Annie – May 15, 2013 01:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • No Somewhere over the Rainbow – Katharine McPhee??

    Comment by Lee – May 15, 2013 10:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • and no Haley Reinhart? I Who Have Nothing? Benny & The Jets??

      Comment by Lee – May 15, 2013 10:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • He’s got Bennie and the Jets at number 6

        Comment by bingham – May 15, 2013 10:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • I’ve somehow missed that one. Still, Somewhere Over The Rainbow is better then lots of these performances.

          Comment by Lee – May 15, 2013 10:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • What about House of the Rising Sun?!!

            Comment by Lee – May 15, 2013 12:29 PM PDT  
      • This is another where I think the song chosen for Haley wasn’t the best of what she did.

        Comment by syb – May 16, 2013 10:54 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yeah, that was a major omission.

      Comment by dude – May 15, 2013 10:12 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree. Easily in the Top 5 best ever, no matter how much I hate her on Smash. I love Haley but I think HOTRS is her best. And should easily be in the top 4. And I still don’t get Fantasia’s Summertime.

      Comment by Kevin – May 15, 2013 10:27 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • It’s ridiculous that Katherine Mcphee isn’t on here. You just never liked her as a person and it clouds your judgement of her performances.

      Comment by annabelle – May 15, 2013 12:45 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Yes, agree totally; you should have had Katharine McPhee with “Over the Rainbow.” & Siobhan Magnus with “Paint it Black.” & Adam Lambert should be #1 as the BEST Idol contestant of all time! Also, superstar Carrie Underwood should be in the top 5 at least!

        Comment by MaryHelen aka MH (@mimiMH) – May 16, 2013 02:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Kat’s “Rainbow”, though beautifully sung and probably her best performance (or maybe “Cherry Tree”) was a note-for-note copy of the late, great Eva Cassidy.

      Comment by The Beach – May 15, 2013 01:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • actually, i think “black horse and the cherry tree” was katharine mcphee’s best performance on idol. slezak may have blocked her out inadvertently as a life-saving reaction to her horrendous dead-eyed performances on the abysmal smash.

      Comment by leepreferstrouble – May 15, 2013 06:16 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • AGREE!

      Comment by tewence – May 16, 2013 04:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Tamyra Gray’s “A House Is Not a Home” missing from this list is pretty egregious, considering some of the subpar performances that did make the cut.

    Comment by Mackenzie – May 15, 2013 10:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Truth. That was classic

      Comment by Jiggy – May 15, 2013 11:49 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • So true!

      Comment by The Beach – May 15, 2013 01:12 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Not having Tamyra there is a crime. Also of all the kelly songs why that one. I would of went with Natural Woman when she hit that note she blew the judges away.

      Comment by moonbunny28 – May 15, 2013 02:14 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • ummmmmmm where’s kat mcphee’s “over the rainbow”? smh @ you slezak

    Comment by Dani – May 15, 2013 10:01 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Whoa! Never thought Summertime would be dethroned, but I actually agree. Lovesong is the single best performance ever on Idol. Don’t Make Me Over is also very close (maybe top 5?).

    Great list Michael, always look forward to reliving these moments. Too bad so many have been removed from youtube.

    Comment by B.Rich – May 15, 2013 10:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wow. Lovesong #1. That’s saying something. I can’t believe Carrie Underwood’s signature song “Alone” was so in the middle of the list and Jordin Sparks’ “I Who Have Nothing” is so far down the list. I think Billie Jean was even better than Always Be My Baby by David Cook, but that’s a close one. Solid list. My #1 probably would have been Summertime. But good choices.

    Comment by IdolBeTheJudge.Blogspot.com – May 15, 2013 10:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Cook’s “Billie Jean” for sure!

      Comment by The Beach – May 15, 2013 01:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Yes! Bo Bice in the top 10.

    Comment by Theresa – May 15, 2013 10:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Yay!

      Comment by the real wendy – May 15, 2013 10:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I actually think Bo Bice should be ranked higher. No one else has attempted anything like this.

      Comment by ann – May 15, 2013 11:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • That was truly a stunning performance from Bo. It was also a very bold choice, especially considering it was way back in season four.

        Comment by MC – May 15, 2013 01:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • My favorite performance of all time. I was totally blown away and felt like he could beat Carrie after that.

        Comment by Deena – May 15, 2013 08:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Agreed. I was completely blown away by that performance. Still get chills whenever I watch it. Beautiful.

          Comment by Norah – May 16, 2013 07:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Candice in #1 spot. Oh please Michael, too early for that. I would place Lovesong Top 10 but def not #1.

    Comment by Tati83 – May 15, 2013 10:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Her performance was the best. It just was. Why should he have to wait two years to properly acknowledge that? Just because its a recent performance, doesn’t mean it’s less deserving. Old performances aren’t any better than new ones just because they’re farther in your memory.

      Comment by dude – May 15, 2013 10:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I am puzzled by “too early.” Did you want a vacant #1 spot to await something we haven’t heard yet?

      Comment by syb – May 16, 2013 10:56 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Really? Bennie and the Jets made it for Haley, but not House of the Rising Sun?????

    Comment by Jpdx – May 15, 2013 10:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I love both of those! Those 2 always seem to be the ones most associated with Haley and they are the 2 she performed on the idol tour. But if I had to pick a favorite performance of hers (which is really hard… she had so many great moments) it would probably be between “Beautiful” or “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” or “Rolling In The Deep”.

      Comment by bingham – May 15, 2013 10:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Oh or her version of “I Who Have Nothing”, I love that one too. And “You and I”, I just can’t pick one favorite of hers! hahah

        Comment by bingham – May 15, 2013 10:18 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Frankly I thought her best was the Led Zeppelin cover “What Is and What Should Never Be” (falling on her butt notwithstanding, she recovered nicely!). Everyone has their favorite.

          Comment by bamabunny – May 15, 2013 10:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
          • Haley had so many great performances. I was so pissed that they kept throwing her under the bus so they could engineer a country singer win.

            Comment by WitchyWoman – May 15, 2013 11:42 AM PDT  
        • I just went back and watched Haley IWHN and not only would I place it higher than the other songs but I’d put it higher than Candace or Jordin Sparks (who I also just watched) doing the same song. I’ve just gotten myself worked up all anew about her getting eliminated in 3rd – what was America thinking?!

          Comment by karyn – May 16, 2013 10:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Maybe I need to don my flame-retardant suit for this: I have been a huge Elton John and Janis Joplin fan since the beginning of each one’s career. I was also pulling for both Crystal and Haley to win their respective seasons. However, I have never liked either “Benny” or “Bobby McGee”. Or maybe I’m just crazy :)

        Comment by The Beach – May 15, 2013 01:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Haley certainly could have more…”House”, “What is” and others. Prior to the start of this season, if you put “American Idol” into the iTunes search, Haley had 8 of the top 10 recordings, with 1 for Phillip, and 1 for Scotty. Can’t believe her label never released a single when her album came out, just “Free” earlier. “Hit The Ground Running” and “Wasted Time” should have been hits. Oh, and maybe “Moanin’” with Casey should also be on the best performances list. Don’t think anyone’s mentioned Shioban’s “Paint It Black” which was pretty amazing.

      Comment by peb – May 15, 2013 01:08 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I totally agree!!!!!!
      Haley should have Benny and the jets, house of the rising sun and I who have nothing.

      Comment by Raphael – May 15, 2013 07:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Pretty awesome list… My one gripe is Jordin at #20. She should at the very least crack the Top 15. Seeing Blake’s mug place much much higher rubbed salt on the wound. Sure YGLABN was his best, but it would never ever top I Who Have Nothing in my opinion.

    Comment by Willow – May 15, 2013 10:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Very true.

      Comment by tuke18 – May 16, 2013 08:11 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Jordin’s performance was really terrific, but my problem with it is that Candice did a better version of the same song last night.

      Comment by syb – May 16, 2013 10:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Haley house of the rising sun?

    Comment by JM – May 15, 2013 10:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • RJ Helton “Under the Boardwalk” should be number 1.

    Comment by JB – May 15, 2013 10:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Lovesong does not best Summertime

    Comment by d – May 15, 2013 10:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agree. Lovesong was AMAZING, but I’m going to need some distance from it before we call it Summertime’s superior.

      Comment by CRC – May 15, 2013 01:02 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Just went back and watched both Summertime and Lovesong….although Candice gave a masterful performance, there’s one part in the middle when she got both sharp and shrill for a moment. Summertime still > Lovesong.

        Comment by SororSalsa – May 15, 2013 06:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • And Brooke White’s “Let It Be” from Season 7!

    Comment by Elizabeth Rosalyn – May 15, 2013 10:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • haha get off the Candice love already…number 1, c’mon.

    Comment by Chris – May 15, 2013 10:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Um… where was Katherine McPhee Somewhere Over the Rainbow? I was waiting for it in the top 5. Adam Lambert Mad World and Fantasia SummerTime totally agree should be in Top 5

    Comment by John Wilson – May 15, 2013 10:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This just reminded me that I will never stop being mad about Lee DeWyze beating Crystal. Happy to see “Lovesong” in the #1 spot though, it was incredible!

    Comment by Lydia – May 15, 2013 10:11 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Adam’s best was “A Change is gonna come”, Haley’s – “The house of the rising sun” and Phil’s anything but Home lol. i say “Volcano”. Oh, and Kelly’s best was “Natural woman”

    Comment by yeah – May 15, 2013 10:11 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Whoa. You just pointed out the exact four songs I was thinking of as the best. Awesome! My other change would be Clay Aiken’s Bridge over Troubled Water – I watched that one soooo many times after it aired.

      Comment by Dayrah – May 17, 2013 11:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I made it as far as Clay being so low for Solutaire and the list lost all credibility. That’s Top 10 if not Top 5.

    Comment by GS – May 15, 2013 10:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Clay is the best singer Idol ever had. most of his performances should be in the top 10 of this list and Bridge Over Troubled Waters should be #1. Too bad Slezak allows his prejudices to cloud his judgement. The black diva will always top his list.

      Comment by Sasha – May 16, 2013 11:24 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Kris Allen could’ve had like 3 more appearances in this list

    Comment by Michele – May 15, 2013 10:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • My thoughts exactly, from “falling slowly” to “she works hard for the money” to FREAKING “AIN’T NO SUNSHINE” which was brilliant when he did it in the finale.

      Comment by Iman – May 15, 2013 10:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • The reason kris won (deservedly so) was because of his incredible musicianship as shown in heartless, falling slowly, and ain’t no sunshine. Kris is a musical mastermind

      Comment by Alex – May 15, 2013 04:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Do we have to argue Season 8 again? Kris and Adam are now in the real world.

        Comment by Lisa – May 15, 2013 05:51 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Paris Bennet should be there as well, with Fever or These Foolish Things. both flawless performances.

    Comment by Omer – May 15, 2013 10:15 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Totally agree. I loved Paris and looked forward to her performances each week. Was so disappointed she didn’t win that season. These Foolish Things was outstanding. Can still see her singing it. Thanks for mentioning her.

      Comment by don_mae – June 4, 2013 04:44 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have to agree with Candice taking over the top spot as I believe she is the most talented vocalist to ever grace the stage as a contestant. Not saying the best performer but the best vocalist with Adam Lambert a close second. The things she can do with her voice are simply amazing. Nobody will ever top Miss Clarkson as the greatest idol of all time based the combination of vocals, performance and sheer force of personality but IMO Candice is the greatest pure singer.

    Comment by Thebrad – May 15, 2013 10:20 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I would have picked Phillip Phillips’s performance of Volcano over Home. Volcano still gets a lot of airplay on my iPod.

    Comment by SherryM – May 15, 2013 10:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I think “Jealous Guy” by Casey James should be on that list. Awesome performance!

    Comment by SH – May 15, 2013 10:25 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • “Jealous Guy” by Casey James is one of my all-time favorite performances on Idol. Do not understand “Summertime” at #2 (but I am not a Fantasia fan). Cook should have placed higher on the strength of his ability to change a song and make it his own, as well as several stellar performances, i.e., “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”

      Comment by Cheryl – May 15, 2013 11:06 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree. Jealous Guy should have been on the list. That’s my favorite performance from all of season 9.

      Comment by teatime – May 15, 2013 12:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • That was a really great performance. Wish he could have found space for it. Poor Season 9.

      Comment by trimaran12 – May 15, 2013 02:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • good choices but to soon for Candice to be number 1. Is that performance worthy of being in the Top 10 . . . Yes, but not number 1. Also Haley Reinhart had better performances her year then the one selected . . . “House of the Rising Sun” anyone. Finally, Carrie Underwood at number 16. “Alone” is definitely worthy of being in the Top 10. Stellar performance and it is the moment Simon Cowell said she would win and sell more records then any other Idol winner. Well 8 years later and the statement holds true.

    Comment by Wes – May 15, 2013 10:28 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • What the heck man, no Haley, and what about Constantine’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”? At least you got some right!

    Comment by Karrie – May 15, 2013 10:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Haley is on the list…

      Comment by Vetle – May 15, 2013 10:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • David Cook is known for his Hello by Lionel Richie Redux. That was jis best song ever.

    Comment by justine – May 15, 2013 10:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agreed. Hello for me was the best DC song ever!

      Comment by islandgirl – May 17, 2013 03:28 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Agree that Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, Haley Reinhart,David Cook, Bo Bice, Elliot Yamin, Phillip Phillips, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daugherty, Jordin Sparks, Skylar Laine, & Michael Johns deserve to be in the top 30 and that Kree and Candice have a spot too – BUT it is too early to crown Candice as #1. I do think ‘Lovesong’ was when Candice decided to step up. Adam’s ‘Mad World’ and Elliott’s ‘Song For You” are still favorites for me. And I can’t wait to hear Kree tonight, I think she will peak tonight right when she needs to win. I like both Kree and Candice, but I am not a big R&B fan. I would argue that Angie Miller’s original is better than ‘Lovesong’!

    Comment by Cheryl – May 15, 2013 10:33 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I’d put Angie’s original above Lovesong too, but for the list he left out anything from Hollywood week.

      Comment by teatime – May 16, 2013 11:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I agree! The fact that Angie’s YSMF was anoriginal song, and so beautiful vocally, and morally, I think that it should have at least been included! She too I a risk, and it could have been a hit or miss, and luckily it was a hit!! Honestly it feels like Slezak doesn’t really like Angie, from the way he would talk about her in Idology, and like someone mentioned above about Kathrine McPhee and it clouding his judgement, that’s how it feels here. ( somewhere over the rainbow should have been in here as well!). Also I agree that Cadice shouldn’t be #1 solely with the fact that she just sang it. So it’s fresh in your mind and relivent. I think their should have been more Jessica Sanchez and Angie Miller, c’mon Jessica’s love you I do?? And Angie love came down or who you are??? Those were all pretty phenomenal, on Angie’s part bc she was diverse and did more than just sing, she also played music as well (which can be quite difficult!)

        Comment by Writing months later – November 14, 2013 12:00 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I mostly agree with most of this, and though Candice’s ‘Lovesong’ was absolutely amazing, methinks it shouldn’t be on the no. 1 spot. But then again, that all comes down to personal preference. Personally I would put Adam’s ‘Mad World’, Elliot’s ‘A Song for You’ and Blake’s ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ in the top 3 spots. But that’s just my preferences

    Comment by Karen – May 15, 2013 10:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I would really love to relive those moments. It’s great that Fremantle has them blocked on YouTube and unavailable online – because that’s a win-win.

    Comment by Ann VerWiebe – May 15, 2013 10:37 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Michael, Michael,Michael… tsk. Of all David Cook’s performances you choose ABMB, which, though of course great, still falls below, well, take your pick: Billie Jean, Hello, The World I Know…. shall I go on? And below the top 5? No, no, no.. I love Candice and she’ll be up there, but #1 of all time? We don’t know that yet.

    Props for giving Joshua Ledet a good spot for that amazing performance. With you on that.

    Comment by Cornucopia – May 15, 2013 10:39 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Ohhh, “The World I Know” was absolutely killer. When Simon panned it, I didn’t know what to do with myself, lol.
      -
      David Cook can be on that list for any one of the following: Billie Jean, Hello, ABMB, The World I Know, and Little Sparrow.

      Comment by deedee – May 15, 2013 12:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • DC had a lot of good moments. He knew how to work the Idol machine.

        Comment by cassiopeia0tvxq – May 15, 2013 08:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You could make an entire top 10 of just David Cook.

      Comment by Deena – May 15, 2013 08:27 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I loved:

    Lauren’s Anyway
    Diana’s Don’t Cry Out Loud
    LaToya’s Don’t Rain On My Parade
    Hollie’s Bleeding Love and All the Man I Need
    Colton’s Love the Way You Lie and Everything
    Scotty’s Gone
    Angie’s Who You Are
    Carrie’s Angels Brought Me Here
    David Cook’s Music of the NIght, Eleanor Rigby
    David Archuleta’s Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me
    Melinda’s Trouble is a Woman

    Comment by Julie – May 15, 2013 10:40 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Also, loved Cook’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”

      Comment by Erika – May 15, 2013 12:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Stuff Like That There is still my personal #1. It was electric watching it live that night especially after everyone else had bungled the theme.

    Comment by Et al. – May 15, 2013 10:41 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree. Kelly’s ‘Stuff Like That There’ is my hands down favorite Idol performance. It’s what won her the competition for me. After that, Kris Allen’s ‘Heartless’, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, and ‘Falling Slowly’ are my favorites.

      Comment by Miz (@Miztig) – May 15, 2013 12:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Not a bad list. I have some minor quibbles but can live with most of it. Sorry, but Candice is a little bit high. Top 10 or top 5 maybe, but I don’t feel it had the emotional impact of a Summertime or Mad World. Wish you had made room for Tamayra’s This House is Not a Home. I would have put that in over anything from Elise, Kree or Kendra. Also, your choice for Allison was not her best, in my opinion. Would have went with Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Someone to Watch Over Me, or Give in to Me instead.

    Comment by trimaran12 – May 15, 2013 10:42 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I know most people didn’t like Jacob Lusk, but “you’re all I need to get by” belongs on that list. Amazing performance…it actually woke ST up from his season long stupor.

    Comment by Greg – May 15, 2013 10:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • oh, yeah Brooke’s Let it Be :)

    Comment by Julie – May 15, 2013 10:46 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I still remember Kelly Clarkson singing ‘A Moment Like This’ after she won. Even with all the emotion, it was superb.

    Comment by yankeesrj12 – May 15, 2013 10:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have no problem with Lovesong at #1, it is what it is and it trumps Summertime and I love Fantasia. Heck, Don’t Make Me Over, performed the same night could be in this top 30 list. What is the point of saying it is too soon when it simply was the best. The irony is Michael agrees with Randy Jackson, lol.

    Comment by In it to win it, dawg! – May 15, 2013 10:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Lovesong is the best performance of the season, in my opinion. It is too early to put it at #1 because it is so recent we are likely to remember it better and rate it higher than older performances. Plus, as a standout in a mostly lackluster season, I wonder if that makes it rate higher? Would it have stood out as much in another season, let’s say Season 8 among Allison, Adam and Kris?

      Comment by trimaran12 – May 15, 2013 11:08 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • nahhhh…. leaving out Lambert’s Change is Going to Come, Whole Lotta Love and Feeling Good is crazy… Candice is up there but NOT #1….

    Comment by nds – May 15, 2013 10:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • and Tracks of My Tears, One, Ring of Fire. But it’s pretty clear where Michael’s biases lie.

      Comment by Timmah – May 15, 2013 10:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • It is subjective, make your own list for god sake. I hated Adam’s Ring of Fire but Mad World and Tracks of my tears were my top two for him.

        Comment by Mary – May 15, 2013 11:05 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
        • Gah! Really? Adam’s Ring of Fire was insanely good! Weird, but good!

          Comment by deedee – May 15, 2013 12:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • I thought Adam Lambert’s” If I Can’t Have You” was exquisite. And it was a completely original arrangement of a disco-song-turned-ballad.

        Comment by WitchyWoman – May 15, 2013 11:46 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • “Ring of Fire”….yes !

        Comment by The Beach – May 15, 2013 01:31 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • And Ring of Fire! Also, Joshua Ledet and Adam could have about four each on this “list.”

      Comment by Carl – May 15, 2013 01:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • There are several Adam Lambert songs that could have made the list, and Mad World was definitely one of his best and was a game changer, his “Tracks of My Tears” was one of my favorites…

      Comment by AtoZ – May 15, 2013 02:37 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How do you miss LaKisha’s version of “And I am Telling You I’m Not Going”??? Simon himself told everyone to pack their bags because that performance was in a different league! Major oversight!!!

    Comment by Tom – May 15, 2013 10:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How about David Cook´s Billy Jean!!? Still the #1 performance for me.

    Comment by bird – May 15, 2013 10:52 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have to give you credit Michael, not sure how you could pick just one on a few of the performers (David Cook, Kris Allen, Haley etc.) It is all subjective but as much as I loved Candice Lovesong – sorry I don’t believe it is number one. Top ten for sure. In Idol’s glory days this list could go on so I give you props for picking top thirty. I sure do miss those days.

    Comment by Mary – May 15, 2013 10:57 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I am honestly shocked..Candice is very good…but really I wouldn’t even dream of her belonging in the same tier of singers as Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, Joshua Ledet, Melinda Doolittle. I’d put her around Latoya London/Kimberly Locke tier..so to give #1 for that performance is very disappointing to see YOU of all people write that…I think you need to take a few months after this season is over and re evaluate…

    Summertime brought every judge/audience member to tears on top of the vocal perfection. My Funny Valentine was the single most sophisticated mature vocal ever given on the show. Its a Mans World had everyone shouting at their TV WHATTTT along with Randy Jackson and probably was one of the most insane vocals ever on live TV. Mad world was chilling and haunting and moving in new ways for an American Idol performance..and Adam is top 2 male vocalists ever on the show. Kellys vocals set the standard for every single person after her. I just don’t see how “Lovesong” fits into this mix rather than just being a realy perfect amazing performance that you can add to the list of top 30. It was NOT a gamechanger. I do appreciate some of the more forgotten numbers on this list though. You didn’t forget everything!

    Comment by Kevin – May 15, 2013 10:59 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • We must share the same taste. Summertime, My Funny Valentine and Mad World are the “moments” that have stuck with me through all of the Idol performances. They would be my Top 3 in any order. Who is the top male vocalist if Adam is #2? Mad World was Adam’s big moment but A Change is Gonna Come was his best vocal IMO.

      Comment by Lisa – May 15, 2013 11:45 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • You are right. “A Change is Gonna Come” was Adam’s best vocal ever on that show. Paula said so and she was honest about Adam. The powers that be could not stand anyone pointing out that Adam deserved to win. People like Michael, who have their nose up American Idol’s address won’t say so because it challenges the myth that Kris deserved to win because Adam peaked too soon. Now, claiming that Glover’s win is anything but a disaster, is pathetic. Lets see how many albums she sells and how she fills the tour venues. It will be historically low numbers for both and it deserves to be. A good singing voice is not enough to make you a star.

        Comment by Emma – June 21, 2013 11:35 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I would add Syesha’s One Rock and Roll too Many somewhere in there.

    Comment by Scott – May 15, 2013 11:02 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • You’ve lost all credibly Mr. Slezak. “Without You” performed by the original

    Comment by jon l. – May 15, 2013 11:03 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Over the past 12 yrs of American Idol,Pia Toscano is a STANDOUT! With her exit from American Idol the ratings have continuosly fell to an all time low now.With the exception of Kelly and Carrie and Pia, the winners were not the ones with the best voice.There voting system is to blame and there lack of serious judges.

    Comment by olemanbob – May 15, 2013 11:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • American Idol never was, and is not now, only about the voice. Pia has a great voice, but all she did was sing ballad after ballad, and had not stage presence what so ever. I would say all the winners except maybe one or two, deserved to win, even if they were not my favorite. Pia showed no versatility during her run on AI.

      Comment by Mary – May 15, 2013 11:13 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • lol. Now Pia’s exit in 9th place of season 10 is when the ratings started to decline? Do you have some numbers to back that up? Besides, Pia was given a lot of support by TPTB and a single and video. If she was destined to take off that year, she would have.

      Comment by teatime – May 15, 2013 01:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This list is a travesty without Carly Smithson and Kim Locke represented.

    Comment by Timmah – May 15, 2013 11:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I just watched number 1 on youtube. Sorry, but I hated it! It was too much — she oversang the heck out of it. Too much screeching when all she needed to do was sing.

    Comment by lisa – May 15, 2013 11:09 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Name one point of the song where you heard screeching? Sometimes people do not have anything better to do but be negative. If you don’t agree it is number one, fine, but to say that it is not a great performance is just lunacy.

      Comment by In it to win it, dawg! – May 15, 2013 11:29 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree. So many runs the original melody is practically unrecognizable. It was pure showing off, with no connection to the meaning of the song.

      Comment by Timmah – May 15, 2013 11:32 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • couldn’t disagree with ^^ this ^^ more! love song was strong, sexy, emotional, fantastic and goosebump-inducing. and for y’all who keep saying this was adele’s arrangement ~ ??? HUNH-? i don’t know how you are hearing this because the way candice sang it is NOT how adele sang it. candice totally owned not only the arrangement but the song and her womanly self, as well. she is fully and totally present in whatever she sings. which is why she won…

        Comment by sherab – May 17, 2013 06:15 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree. It’s just my personal taste, but I don’t care for her singing at all. I know she’s talented but I wouldn’t buy any of her music.

      Comment by Cheryl – May 15, 2013 12:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I have to agree. While I think Candice has a good voice, I did not like Lovesong at all. iwas not a big fan of Fantasia but Summertime was incredible. Candice is good but, in my opinion, definitely not the best Idol has had.

      Comment by KP – May 15, 2013 02:05 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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