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).

RELATED | American Idol: 11 Terrible Ideas to Avoid in a Potential Season 13 Reboot

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 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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337 Comments
  1. davey says:

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

    • terri says:

      Ya, that kinda made me roll my eyes.

      • Tati83 says:

        I had major eye roll going hahaha

        • Timmah says:

          +1 on all the eye-rolling… totally predictable though

          • Lee says:

            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.

          • WishesRandyCouldn'tSpeak says:

            To Lee, I was agreeing with you until u said she was sharp. Bitch, please.

        • karyn says:

          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.

        • teatime says:

          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.

    • dude says:

      I don’t at all. That performance was legendary.

      • Preach to Lovesong being number one. That performance was life changing.

      • grace2552 says:

        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.

    • james says:

      Totally agree.

    • Sara says:

      Totally agree!

    • Jess says:

      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.

      • teatime says:

        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.

        • My Alter Ego says:

          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.

    • Holly says:

      I haven’t watched this season but I find it hard to believe that she was better than Adam Lambert’s Mad World

      • Carl says:

        Adam’s Mad World was by far the best ever.

        • Dayna says:

          THIS to the millionth power.

        • Jason says:

          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.

          • Nat says:

            I agree with your Haley and David choices – I thought those were their respective stronger performances.

          • Danny says:

            @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.

        • Linda Ambler says:

          I have watched every year and Mad World was the best ever!!!

        • leepreferstrouble says:

          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?

          • karyn says:

            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.

        • Kaykee says:

          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!)

        • L Barthel says:

          You are SOOOO wrong.

        • Jacob P. says:

          Honestly I didn’t like Mad World. I was kinda bored :/

    • TVDIVA says:

      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. :)

      • syb says:

        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.

      • dee says:

        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 !!!!!!!! ;)

    • cgreene says:

      Ditto and IMO nothing is gonna beat Fantasia’s Summertime and Kelly’s Stuff Like That There

      • NJ idoloonie says:

        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.

    • Danny says:

      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.
      .

    • syb says:

      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.

    • Dave says:

      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.

  2. Nancy says:

    I loved Crystal Bowersox’s “Bobby McGee,” but I think “Up to the Mountain” was by far her best performance both emotionally and vocally.

  3. lyn says:

    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.

    • Eli says:

      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…

    • Cairi says:

      This. That one will always be my favorite DC performance. Watched it on YouTube yesterday, and it still gives me chills.

    • Ann says:

      I thought Mad World should have finished higher than #4. That was such a great performance.

      • Ann says:

        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.

        • teatime says:

          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.

        • trimaran12 says:

          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.

        • Dayna says:

          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.

    • Annie says:

      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.

  4. Lee says:

    No Somewhere over the Rainbow – Katharine McPhee??

    • Lee says:

      and no Haley Reinhart? I Who Have Nothing? Benny & The Jets??

    • dude says:

      Yeah, that was a major omission.

    • Kevin says:

      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.

    • annabelle says:

      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.

      • 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!

    • The Beach says:

      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.

    • leepreferstrouble says:

      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.

  5. Mackenzie says:

    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.

  6. Dani says:

    ummmmmmm where’s kat mcphee’s “over the rainbow”? smh @ you slezak

  7. B.Rich says:

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. Theresa says:

    Yes! Bo Bice in the top 10.

  10. Tati83 says:

    Candice in #1 spot. Oh please Michael, too early for that. I would place Lovesong Top 10 but def not #1.

    • dude says:

      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.

    • syb says:

      I am puzzled by “too early.” Did you want a vacant #1 spot to await something we haven’t heard yet?

  11. Jpdx says:

    Really? Bennie and the Jets made it for Haley, but not House of the Rising Sun?????

    • bingham says:

      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”.

      • bingham says:

        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

        • bamabunny says:

          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.

          • WitchyWoman says:

            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.

        • karyn says:

          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?!

      • The Beach says:

        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 :)

    • peb says:

      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.

    • Raphael says:

      I totally agree!!!!!!
      Haley should have Benny and the jets, house of the rising sun and I who have nothing.

  12. Willow says:

    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.

  13. JM says:

    Haley house of the rising sun?

  14. JB says:

    RJ Helton “Under the Boardwalk” should be number 1.

  15. d says:

    Lovesong does not best Summertime

    • CRC says:

      Agree. Lovesong was AMAZING, but I’m going to need some distance from it before we call it Summertime’s superior.

      • SororSalsa says:

        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.

  16. And Brooke White’s “Let It Be” from Season 7!

  17. Chris says:

    haha get off the Candice love already…number 1, c’mon.

  18. John Wilson says:

    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

  19. Lydia says:

    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!

  20. yeah says:

    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”

    • Dayrah says:

      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.

  21. GS says:

    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.

    • Sasha says:

      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.

  22. Michele says:

    Kris Allen could’ve had like 3 more appearances in this list

    • Iman says:

      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.

    • Alex says:

      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

  23. Omer says:

    Paris Bennet should be there as well, with Fever or These Foolish Things. both flawless performances.

    • don_mae says:

      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.

  24. Thebrad says:

    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.

  25. SherryM says:

    I would have picked Phillip Phillips’s performance of Volcano over Home. Volcano still gets a lot of airplay on my iPod.

  26. SH says:

    I think “Jealous Guy” by Casey James should be on that list. Awesome performance!

    • Cheryl says:

      “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.”

    • teatime says:

      I agree. Jealous Guy should have been on the list. That’s my favorite performance from all of season 9.

    • trimaran12 says:

      That was a really great performance. Wish he could have found space for it. Poor Season 9.

  27. Wes says:

    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.

  28. Karrie says:

    What the heck man, no Haley, and what about Constantine’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”? At least you got some right!

  29. justine says:

    David Cook is known for his Hello by Lionel Richie Redux. That was jis best song ever.

  30. Cheryl says:

    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’!

    • teatime says:

      I’d put Angie’s original above Lovesong too, but for the list he left out anything from Hollywood week.

      • Writing months later says:

        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!)

  31. Karen says:

    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

  32. Ann VerWiebe says:

    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.

  33. Cornucopia says:

    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.

    • deedee says:

      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.

    • Deena says:

      You could make an entire top 10 of just David Cook.

  34. Julie says:

    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

  35. Et al. says:

    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.

    • 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.

  36. trimaran12 says:

    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.

  37. Greg says:

    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.

  38. Julie says:

    oh, yeah Brooke’s Let it Be :)

  39. yankeesrj12 says:

    I still remember Kelly Clarkson singing ‘A Moment Like This’ after she won. Even with all the emotion, it was superb.

  40. In it to win it, dawg! says:

    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.

    • trimaran12 says:

      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?

  41. nds says:

    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….

    • Timmah says:

      and Tracks of My Tears, One, Ring of Fire. But it’s pretty clear where Michael’s biases lie.

    • Carl says:

      And Ring of Fire! Also, Joshua Ledet and Adam could have about four each on this “list.”

    • AtoZ says:

      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…

  42. Tom says:

    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!!!

  43. bird says:

    How about David Cook´s Billy Jean!!? Still the #1 performance for me.

  44. Mary says:

    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.

  45. Kevin says:

    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!

    • Lisa says:

      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.

      • Emma says:

        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.

  46. Scott says:

    I would add Syesha’s One Rock and Roll too Many somewhere in there.

  47. jon l. says:

    You’ve lost all credibly Mr. Slezak. “Without You” performed by the original

  48. olemanbob says:

    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.

    • Mary says:

      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.

    • teatime says:

      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.

  49. Timmah says:

    This list is a travesty without Carly Smithson and Kim Locke represented.

  50. lisa says:

    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.

    • In it to win it, dawg! says:

      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.

    • Timmah says:

      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.

      • sherab says:

        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…

    • Cheryl says:

      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.

    • KP says:

      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.