American Idol's Greatest Performance? Kelly, Katharine, Jordin, and Pia Enter the Ring!

Day 4 of’s American Idol All-Time Greatest Performance Bracket Tournament has arrived, and our combatants include a number of gorgeous, talented ladies who are on a first-name-only basis with the Idoloonie Nation: Kelly. Jordin. Katharine. Pia. Carly. Siobhan. Kimberley.

All of these women are playing in the Pop/Rock/Country division of our 64-player tourney, which is composed of the most electrifying moments in the 10-season history of Fox’s ratings juggernaut. It’s your job to vote in these single-elimination faceoffs, and decide which 32 Idol Moments advance to Round 2.

‘American Idol’ All-Time Greatest Performances (Day 3):
Bo, Blake, Cook, Lee, and More Compete!

Every day around 1:00 p.m. ET over the next few weeks, we’ll launch a new set of duels to the death that will have you joyously reliving your favorite Idol moments and weeping into your clenched fists over the fact that you have to choose between ’em.

Before you head to the polls, you may want to peruse these memory-refreshing links to the performances entering the ring this afternoon:

Kelly Clarkson – “Stuff Like That There
Kelly Clarkson – “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
Kimberley Locke – “New York State of Mind
Siobhan Magnus – “Paint It Black
Jordin Sparks – “I Who Have Nothing
Carly Smithson – “Here You Come Again
Katharine McPhee – “Over The Rainbow
Pia Toscano – “I’ll Stand By You

It’s gonna be brutal seeing four of those great Idol moments snuffed out in Round One, no? So make sure the right choice is made by heading down to our polls to vote for your favorites (Round 1 voting will be open for 72 hours), and hit the comments to justify your picks. And if you’re interested in the matchups we’ve got planned for the coming weeks, click here to check out the entire 64-player bracket (then click again for a zoomed in view), and sign up to follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV.

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  1. Alicia says:

    #slezakfail – How am I supposed to choose between Pia’s best and Katherine’s best right out of the gate!?! Those are two of my favorite performances of all time. boo.hiss.

    In all other respects, this bracket tourney is AWESOME!

    • Alex says:

      Bahhhhh I totally agree! This is round ONE; what a tough choice.

      • But when you look at it, Katherine banked off of her best performance “Over The Rainbow” all the way to slide into the 2nd position on her season, Pia got voted off at the 9th position. “Stand By You” only took her so far. So that was my basis for choosing Katherine, which performance took them the furthest.

        • Can't Sleep says:

          But a straight up comparison between the 2 is what we’re asked to do. Lovely as it was, “Rainbow” was just a little too sleepy for me.
          But thanks Michael for reminding us what a sin it is that the Top 5 this year doesn’t include Pia. The 2 girls that are left are just “Meh” for me.

        • Douglas Hall says:

          So it must be easy for you to make your choices on here. Jut vote for the performer who made it the furthest in the competition. Ridiculous. And for the record, Pia Toscano’s future record sales will DWARF those of Katherine McPhee as well as the sales of the eventual winner of AI 2011. And keep in mind, I thought it was a travesty that Katherine didn’t win over T. Hicks.

    • GG says:

      I KNOW! Those are two of my favorite female performances, EVER! Even though I do share Slezak’s opinion of McPhee, there is no denying that girl could sing! And I am still mourning over Pia’s elimination.

    • gregk says:

      Totally agree: how could you do that to us? Pia did remind me of Katherine, but no reason to put her against Katherine, who I did vote for. BTW, glad I did not not watch the season that Hicks beat Katherine. I would have been devastated. Maybe just as well that Pia got eliminated early.

    • Tuzo says:

      For me, for you, that was almost a coin flip. Really hard to choose!

    • J. says:

      Simple: Katherine’s singing on Rainbow was great, Pia’s, meh. Close your eyes and listen.

    • K says:

      Well, we know how much Slezak loathes McPhee, so I guess we have to give him credit for including her at all. Still, very Nigel of you Slezak.

  2. AJ says:

    Say what you will about Taylor Hicks, his “In the Ghetto” was pretty darn good. I hope Slezak puts that one up for a vote.

    • Dallas says:

      I loved Carly Smithson’s “Blackbird”!!! Anybody?

    • LW says:

      Nice to see someone reminding us why so many people voted for Taylor Hicks in the end! Last night… we went to see Taylor perform… he was simply amazing! His voice, if anything, is richer & more flexible now & he & his band are having such a good time on stage… the high energy ‘pingponging’ back & forth between Taylor, his band & the audience. It was a great time!!!

  3. Sasha says:

    I TOTALLY love BOTH “Stuff like that there” and “Natural Woman” for Kelly Clarkson

    They’re both soooo goooooooooooooooooooooood

    • Steph says:

      There are too many amazing Kelly performances! I wish I Surrender or Without You made the cut… those two performances were knockouts compared to some of the others listed.

      • Sasha says:

        OMG Yes….”I surrender” was soooo Awesome and even more so because she was sick.

        Her second performance of “without you” at the results show was amazing!!! (both were good but i prefer that one :):))

    • Eliz says:

      I went with “Stuff Like that There” because when I think of Kelly on AI, that’s the first thing that pops into my mind.

      I totally agree – so difficult

  4. Glenn says:

    The 2 Kelly songs would be my in my top 5 all time AI performances.

  5. S says:

    Please, please don’t make me choose between Katharine and Pia. This choice hurts my soul.

    • Fromo says:

      I know — they are both so boring.

      • coinyman says:

        Only to you dude only to you. I love both of them. But of course you are of the generation of non singers so called “performing”. Its all crap but if thats what you enjoy thats fine but dont try to put down real singers.

        • Michael says:

          How do you know which ‘generation’ Fromo is from? S/he made a silly, annoying comment, but you did the exact same thing, trying to put down someone on the Internet whom you know nothing about. Be the bigger (coiny)man and let it go next time.

  6. marti says:

    Katharine singing Over the Rainbow is absolutely the best!

  7. Truth says:

    Where’s Iraheta?

    • C says:

      I completely agree ! I was extremely disappointed not to see any of Alison’s performances or Carrie Underwood’s performances

      • Michael Slezak says:

        Guys, this is a 64-player tournament. Carrie and Allison are both in a different part of the draw. You have to read the entire article and click on the 64-player bracket link to see all the players.

        • Lauri says:

          Michael, Could you please explain again (or for 1st time), or give us a link, how you came up with each song for the 64 player brackets –

          For example, I would have picked other amazing songs Crystal Bowersox performed, not necessarily “Me & Bobby McGee” (even though it was amazing) –

          How did you choose that song, and the others??

          Thanks, this is much fun revisiting all the old YouTube vids & shows!

          • GG says:

            I second that, and while you are at it, explain the process for seed placement. It couldn’t be luck of the draw, otherwise not every contestant with two entries would be competing against themselves.
            I’m really enjoying this tournament, Slezak (and Idoloonies is awesome)!
            How about starting a tournament for worst Idol performances. There is certainly no shortage of contestants there: MIKALAH GORDON, KRISTY LEE COOK’s “Eight Days a Week”, everything SANJAYA sang, CAMILLE VELASCO’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, TIM URBAN, DANNY GOKEY’s “Dream On”, HAELEY VAUGHN, PAIGE MILES and JACOB LUSK, just to name a few. I think this could be as much fun as the Best Performance Tournament,

  8. BurnThis says:

    How’d I manage to vote in the minority in every case?

  9. Tamara says:

    Kimberley Locke’s and Carly Smithson’s songs bored me. I NEVER got Siobhan Magnus. Highly overrated. Loved Jordin’s song. Katherine’s rendition of Over the Rainbow was fresh and beautiful. Still upset that Pia was voted off this season when, arguably, she should have won. Kelly is the classic American Idol. Loved both of her songs above, but am slightly partial to the sassy way she sang Stuff Like That There.

    • ghg says:

      I LOVE Siobhan Magnus. Highly underrated. Her renditions of Wicked Game and House Of The Rising Sun could also easily be included here.

      • jeff says:

        Amen ghg ! No one like Siobhan ! She is one of the most unique & talented artists that has emerged in along time ! Her new single ” Beatrice Dream” coming out Sunday on itunes !

        • mark jones says:

          i totally agree,my favourite idol artist ever,never liked across the universe until siobhan sung it:)

  10. I think Jordin’s performance of “I Who Have Nothing” is in the Top 10 of best performances of all time, so this should be an easy Round 1 win.

  11. SharonM says:

    Out of all these, Kelly’s ‘Stuff Like That There’ and Jordin’s ‘I Who Have Nothing’ are my favorites.

  12. Jessica says:

    Kelly is just so incredible there’s no way to choose between those two songs. Natural Woman got it for the glory note at the end, but man, that was tough. I also have to say I preferred Carly’s Come Together over Here You Come Again. Voted for Jordin, but Carly probably would have won the match up with Come Together.

    This is so fun…thanks for putting it together!

    • mary says:

      Kelly is such an incredible singer! I had to catch up on all of her songs after just listening to Natural Woman. Can we all just agree that Kelly is the best and most original Idol?!

      • Billy says:

        Yes we can.

      • Marian says:

        OMG, it’s so difficult to conclude which of Kelly’s performances stand out. They all do. SLTT and Natural Woman were super. And to think that Kelly sang “I Surrender” when she was ill is just too unbelievable. She is the BEST of all the idols and her performance of “You’re All I Need” was a standout knockout!!! Kelly is just too amazing.

  13. daisy says:

    I feel for you Slezak having to pick only 2 of Kelly’s performances. I prefer Respect over Natural Woman but to each his own. With that said, I hope Stuff Like That There wins.

  14. JVC says:


    I’m surprised you didn’t pick carly smithson’s performance of “superstar” sure it got her eliminated but i still remember it to this day. Here you come again was great but superstar was greater. still this is a battle w/ these songs. While it is somewhat a no brainy who is advancing in the next round, it is only going to get tougher. but fun!

  15. Erica says:

    Slezak! Where the hell is Melinda Doolittle? You can’t tell me she didn’t have a single performance that was better than Siobhan Magnus, bc that’s just not true. Nutbush City Limits, anyone?

  16. Petra says:

    Nice list, though I would have ditched Toscano because she was too “fresh and recent in the news” and put Iraheta in in her stead. I think Pia may just get votes off “controversy, 9th place finish!”.

    Tamara – beg to differ. Siobhan was on fire in Paint it Black. It had it all – art, unbelievable vocals, glorious theatricality. Complete performance. Siobhan Magnus was inconsistent, but when she was at her best, she justly is included in the very best Idol performances.

    I’d put Brooke White up there, and Syesha.

  17. Mike says:

    I have to say, these rules suck. Only allowing 2 performances from one individual really weakens the field as a whole. The fact that we’ve got performances from forgettable Anoop and Ace freaking Young just proves my point. Middling performances should not be in this competition. We all hate when the producers of the show put through canon fodder but these artifical rules have accomplished the same thing.

  18. petra says:

    Erica – I also overlooked Melinda. I would put her best up against anyones best, and that goes past Siobhan to not just all the other ladies but the guys too.
    It comes down to “who you like”. And people will argue if “My Funny Little Valentine” was better than PIB or better than Lambert’s “Ring of Fire” for that matter. Some people really liked Doolittle, others did not. Many thought Taylor HIcks was the consummate pro they would happily see – others preferred country Underwood or Reuben Studdard. Conversely, people will say that because they value originality, 3 David Cook performances top their list..

  19. KCB says:

    I was alone on a shelf….in world by myself, trying to figure out how to choose. ;)

  20. lucia says:

    I’ll Stand By You was good but I’m rooting for Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I think Idol producers should make it a rule that songs that have been used on Glee can not be sung on AI, because I now can not stop comparing the two.

  21. Wally says:

    I hate that you pair up my current favorite performance of the season (I’ll Stand By You) to one of my favorite perfomances of All time, Somewhere Over The Rainbow! I love Pia, she’s amazing; and my favorite of the season but I’ll have to g owith Over The Rainbow.

  22. jason says:

    carly!! carly carly carly!!!!

  23. AJ says:

    I feel like Pia’s All is Fair in Love performance during Motown was her shining moment on the show. I would have voted for that one over Katharine’s Rainbow. I don’t care for her I’ll Stand By You as much as some of he others, so I voted for Katharine cause that really was Katharine’s moment on the show.

  24. brandon says:

    Man. You could have your own bracket tournament for Kelly’s performances alone.

    Jordin, Siobhan, Katharine, Pia…it doesn’t get much better than this. Too tough to pick!

  25. LissaB99 says:

    My all-time hated idol – Katharine McPhee.

  26. D says:

    Paint it Black for the underdog win!!
    My personal favorite Idol performance. Followed by Jordin’s I who have nothing and Carly’s Superstar

  27. the world says:

    I personally still love Taymara Gray’s – A house is not a home. Watching it live back then, I thought it was simply amazing! I don’t think enough love is given to it.

  28. Marta says:

    If I had my way…. Stuff Like That There and I Who Have Nothing would both have AWESOME runs in this tourney….both worthy of battling it out at the top, for sure. A classic for Kelly, and the moment where I along with many thought, “Damn, Jordin is coming to PLAY!”

  29. Jessabean says:

    Nope. Can’t stand Katherine McPhee. It’s totally irrational.

    Carly Smithson had MUCH better performances than this!! Jesus Christ Superstar???? Holy crap!

    • JAson S says:

      You haven’t realized by now that Slezak likes sappy ballads. Hell, Crazy On You, Blackbird, Jesus Crist Superstar, and Come Together were all better then the one he picked.

  30. cg says:

    Ha it’s so not fair two of Kelly’s performances are up against each other. Both of those performances are great but her “Stuff Like That There” was her best performance when she was on Idol and it is the best Idol performance of all time (along with Fantasia’s Summertime).

  31. Leland36 says:

    So many great females throughout the ten years of Idol – but none have moved me more than Siobhan Magnus. Her “Paint It Black” on Idol and then on the Idol Tour were amazing – hope it wins this contest. Siobhan’s first solo single will be released on iTunes on 1 May – also released an EP with her band Lunar Valve two months ago. Three more solo tracks soon … full album out in October.

  32. carolyn says:

    So hard to pick between Kelly’s performances.

    The whistle note won out, but Stuff Like that There was great.

  33. Billy says:

    Jordin rocked that performance! Hands down!

  34. Kevin C. says:

    “I Who Have Nothing” is probably my favorite performance all-time by a female Idol contestant.

  35. Chris says:

    Why on earth did you not include Kellie Pickler in pop/rock/country divas? She’s one of few who actually sang country songs on Idol, she nailed those and pop/rock songs, made great country/pop/rock albums, and she’s #7 on Billboard’s top Idols of all time list. Oh yeah, she’s not a diva.

  36. Lu says:

    Katherine McPhee, all the way!

  37. dawna says:

    Katherine McPhee should win this one. The best of all the girl singers from idol. Her “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” hits me right in the heart. I do like Kelly’s “Stuff Like That” as well.

  38. King Solomon says:

    Pitting Pia and Katharine McPhee against one another in Round 1 is like the Celtics and Lakers playing in Round 1.

  39. j. says:

    Never watched Idol in those old days, and I have to say, Katherine McPhee and Kelly Clarkson blew me away. You’d never guess from that over-produced garbage she’s come out with in her huge post-idol career what a great, expressive, singer Clarkson actually is… Isn’st there something wrong here?
    But I also voted for Siobhan (of course).. and Carly!!! How can Jordin Sparks and that drippy song (song choice people!!) win over Carly?? There’s something about her singing…

  40. Julie says:

    I do wish you’d chosen “Come Together” for Carly’s first round, because she could have won on that and gotten to the next bracket level!! Now she’ll be out!!! How can we go on without her!!!???

  41. johnny says:

    not fair to put two Kelly performances against each other!!!