Whitney Reisser: American Idol Performances Worth Idolizing

Whitney here again with your latest dose of American Idol scoop.  This week’s post is going to be a little different from my first Idol Thoughts though.  Rather than review each of the remaining contestants’ performances from the last couple of weeks, I thought I would spend this week sharing my top 10 performances over the past 10 seasons.  As I said in my previous post, one of my favorite things to do is to re-watch old footage of Idol.  I’ve put a lot of thought into compiling my list, so if you’re looking for something to do while you’re bored at work on this pretty Monday, take a quick break and check out these performances.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  Also, I would love to hear what your favorite performances are if I happened to leave yours off the list.

10.   Adam Lambert- Mad World  

Let me start of by saying that season 8 of Idol has by far been my favorite season.  You will see several performances from that season made this list.  Many of my all-time favorite Idol contestants were part of that season—Anoop Desai, Kris Allen, Allison Iraheta, and obviously Adam Lambert (when he wasn’t screaming crazy!)  I’m kicking my list of with Adam’s performance of “Mad World.”  I really struggled between choosing this song or Adam’s rendition of “Tracks of My Tears.”  But ultimately I had to go with Adam’s hauntingly beautiful performance of “Mad World.”  You could tell he really connected with the lyrics, and I can honestly say that this is one of the only performances I’ve ever seen that ended with a standing ovation from Simon Cowell.

9.  Kelly Clarkson- Stuff Like That There

A top 10 list wouldn’t be complete without including our first American Idol, Kelly Clarkson.  Kelly was the sure standout the entire first season (sorry, Justin Guarini fans…), but she had so many amazing performances that year.  One of my favorite TV moments ever was when she was crowned the first Idol singing “A Moment Like This.”  I just love how she’s crying, fanning herself, and squealing her way through that performance.  As much as I love that performance though, I had to choose her performance of “Stuff Like That There” from the season’s Big Band Week as my favorite Kelly Clarkson performance.  Not only is her pitch perfect (and I’m not a singer, but this song sounds HARD TO SING!), but she also has such a strong stage presence.  Kelly definitely set the bar high for all of our future Idol contestants.

8.  Clay Aiken- Bridge Over Troubled Water

When putting together this list, I tried to be very objective and not just include my favorite contestants (ie. Paul McDonald didn’t make the list).  Clay Aiken is definitely not a contestant I would consider myself to be a real fan of, but his performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is just so moving.  His voice is so powerful!  I also had to choose this song because it includes a gospel choir, which I know Clayton loves.  There’s been a never-ending debate since the end of season 2 about whether or not America got it right voting Rueben as the winner, and I have to say that this performance makes me think America may have gotten it wrong.

7.  David Archuleta- Imagine

I always cry when I watch this performance.  Is there anything else I need to say?

6.  Joshua Ledet- When a Man Loves a Woman

I had to include one of season 11’s frontrunners in my top 10 list!  Joshua’s performance of “When a Man Loves a Woman” is seriously one of the best performances I’ve ever seen on Idol.  You just need to watch this performance because I’m not sure if I even have the words to describe how amazing this performance was.  I think Joshua has a real shot at being named our 11th American Idol.

5.  Deandre Brackensick, Jessica Sanchez, and Candice Glover- It Doesn’t Matter Anymore (from Las Vegas group round)

Each year American Idol gives us our fill of drama during the Hollywood group performance round.  The contestants are given one night to pick group members, learn a song, choreograph a dance, and perform for the judges.  As we all know, these performances are typically a disaster!  The past two years, the producers have given us a second round of group performances in Las Vegas, and this year Deandre Brackensick, Jessica Sanchez, and Candice Glover did not disappoint.  In all my years of watching Idol, I’ve seen a lot of group performances, and no other group performance comes close to comparing to this one.  I seriously find myself replaying this performance almost daily.  Each singer exuded a great amount of soul and confidence and showcased their own vocal strengths.  I also love the judges’ faces and all the hair flipping during this performance.


4.  Allison Iraheta- Cry Baby

Allison is one of my favorite female contestants from any season, but I don’t feel like the judges ever really gave her the respect she deserved.  I loved her rock edge and raspy vocals.  Allison sang “Cry Baby” during the top 4 week, and Simon pretty much told her she would be going home the next night because the other contestants were just more popular.  Unfortunately Simon was right, and Allison was sent home.  I never really pay much attention to contestants’ sing-out songs, but with tears rolling down her face, Allison captured all of my attention with the most breathtaking and emotional performance of “Cry Baby” after being eliminated.  The judges were so tough on Allison all season, and something about this performance seemed like a form of catharsis for her.  I vividly remember throwing my hands in the air and cheering her on as she belted it out.  One of my favorite all-time Idol moments.

3.  Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta- Slow Ride

The past few years, the judges have had the top 4 contestants pair up and sing duets.  Adam and Allison set themselves far apart from the other pair (Danny and Kris- who had NO chemistry!)  Adam and Allison had a blast performing “Slow Ride” together, and it just made for a fun performance to watch.  I remember watching this over and over and over again in the weeks following this performance.  I think my roommate at the time, Kristen, was about to kill me for watching it so much!  I was lucky enough to go to the Season 8 American Idol concert tour in Atlanta that summer, and Adam and Allison performed this song live.  I honestly wish they would do an album together because their voices are a perfect match for each other, but sadly this is the only duet we’ve heard from them.

2.  Carrie Underwood- Alone

Carrie Underwood has been the most successful Idol winner of all time, and Simon predicted Carrie’s future after her performance of “Alone” during season 4’s top 11 week.  Carrie came out on stage with a new look and more confidence and than she ever had before.  After her performance, Simon said “Not only do I predict that you win this competition, but I also predict that you will sell more records than any other Idol winner.”  And there were eleven more weeks left in the competition!!  Simon definitely knew what he was talking about.


1.  Kris Allen- Heartless

Kris Allen is my favorite Idol winner, so of course I had to name his performance of “Heartless” as my favorite performance in all ten seasons of American Idol.  Kris was my favorite kind of contestant because he just kept growing and improving as the season progressed.  Some contestants peak too early in the competition and seem to fall through the cracks and get eliminated prematurely.  Kris, however, peaked on the right night.  He was definitely the underdog going into the top 3 performance night, as Danny Gokey and Adam Lambert were expected to battle it out in the finale.  Kris took a risk and performed an acoustic rendition of Kanye’s hit and won America’s vote and was crowned the eighth American Idol the following week.  Just an FYI, I literally fell to the floor with tears streaming down my face when Ryan announced that Kris had won.  A little dramatic?  Maybe, but what can I say?!  I love this freaking show.

Hope you had fun catching up on some of my favorite American Idol memories!  Let me know what your favorites are!


Posted on by Guest in Featured, Guest Spots, Reality Check, Television

2 Responses to Whitney Reisser: American Idol Performances Worth Idolizing

  1. Jonny

    I can’t believe you didn’t include “Pants on the Ground” by the honorable General Larry Platt!!! I’d have to put Carrie at #1…mainly bc that song makes me wanna break something I get so pumped- you could almost say it chills me to the bone…

    • Whitney

      How did I forget to include him?! Oh and Eccentric! Maybe I’ll have to do a post on the worst auditions ever cause I hate to break it to you, but Larry Platt might be on that list.

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