Longtime Idol viewers can easily recall the most stunning performances of the show. We wouldn’t hear a pin drop when some soulful singer pours everything out, only to be followed by everyone going wild when a rocker kicks up the angst! Then there also the underrated ones that we might have forgotten. Now that the Fox reality series is having its penultimate season next year, here are performances that gave us all of these and more:
10 Memorable Yet Underrated American Idol Performances
10. Phillip Phillips – “Home” (Season 11)
Written by Drew Pearson and Greg Holden, the folksy song “Home” quickly became a favorite amongst past Idol coronation songs. Phillip Phillips stayed true to himself till the finale. Armed with a marching band, his vocals and the lyrics resonated with his Idol journey, all of which pretty much sealed his victory.
9. Kelly Clarkson – “Natural Woman” (Season 1)
The hit talent show produced one of its top stars during its first run. Kelly Clarkson showed off with a soulful performance in season 1 in her 2002 rendition of Natural Woman by Aretha Franklin. Today, Kelly is still known for her powerhouse vocals. She became a runner-up of World Idol in the succeeding year with this same song.
8. Fantasia Barrino – “Summertime” (Season 3)
Fantasia Barrino shows off her versatility in this Gershwin song. As she was taken with her song, the audience and judges seemed to have sensed some magic in her poignant interpretation. The performance was later placed into AOL’s 2004 list of greatest television moments!
7. Andrew Garcia – “Straight Up” (Season 9)
Hollywood week was Andrew Garcia’s moment to distance himself from the other contestants. He ended up wowing everyone with this acoustic cover of Paula Abdul’s song. Unfortunately, this set the bar high too early and his later performances failed to live up to the judges’ expectations.
5. Angie Miller – “You Set Me Free” (Season 12)
Performing a self-panned song on AI is always a risk. Angie Miller’s soul-baring move paid off when she blew everyone away with the effort and captivating quality of her song, proving she’s more than a karaoke singer. And who wouldn’t have chills with pipes like hers?
4. Didi Benami – “Terrified” (Season 9)
Didi Benami’s unique sound is a breath of fresh air. Her different take on “Terrified” was a risk, too, given that Kara DioGuardi wrote the song and was one of the panelists during her season. She ended up being authentic and likable, conveying an organic feeling with her voice.
3. Kris Allen – “Heartless” (Season 8)
Humble Kris’ chances of winning against Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey were thin during season 8’s final 3 – until the audience jammed to his acoustic version of Kanye West’s “Heartless”! This showed the depth of the season’s dark horse. Who knew a Kanye song could turn out sounding like this?
2. Jena Irene – “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (Season 13)
Jena Irene’s hauntingly beautiful take on the Elvis classic will make anyone swoon. Idol had many contestants who relied solely on their vocals, but contenders like her who can turn a song into something new (or in Keith Urban’s words, musical platypuses!) make up the show’s memorable moments.
1. David Cook – “Billie Jean” (Season 7)
David Cook had a knack for taking serious risks. Fortunately, his cover of Chris Cornell’s reinvention of “Billie Jean” paid off big time! Sure, the WGWG revolution started with him, but this rocker definitely made watching the show worthwhile when Idol decided to let contestants play instruments.
What Idol performances struck you the most? Share your thoughts below!