Top 5 Performances on American Idol: The Best of All Time

Top 5 Performances on American Idol: The Best of All Time
Top 5 Performances on American Idol: The Best of All Time

American Idol‘s 21st season ended on May 21, 2023. Ryan Seacrest was the host, and Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie were the judges. The winner was Iam Tongi. Before the main show, there were auditions where some singers got special tickets. These tickets let them skip ahead to the second round.

During Hollywood Week in December 2022, past American Idol singers helped the new singers get better. American Idol first started in June 2002. Each year, there’s a new winner. Some winners, like Kelly Clarkson, became very famous. Even singers who didn’t win, like Jennifer Hudson, became famous too. Altogether, the show has helped a handful of artists start their careers, whether they win or not. With that in mind, here are some of the best American Idol performances out there.

1. “A Moment Like This” By Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson In American Idol

A Moment Like This, Kelly Clarkson‘s unforgettable song, marked a high point in American Idol‘s first season. More than 20 years ago, this young singer rose to fame. She gave memorable performances, such as “At Last” by Etta James and “A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin. But it was her final song, “A Moment Like This,” that stood out and made her America’s first Idol. This song wasn’t just any song. It was specially written for the winner of American Idol’s first season.

Clarkson and the three other finalists recorded their version of it, not knowing who would eventually win. When she was named the winner, she sang the song one last time on the show. The song was so popular that it quickly rose to the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 and Canadian Singles Chart. It even made it to number 11 in Billboard’s list of Top 100 American Idol Hits of All Time. These moments all added to Kelly Clarkson becoming a household name and an unforgettable first American Idol. Needless to say, she gave quite an amazing American Idol performance.

2. “Chandelier” By Trent Harmon

Trent Harmon In American Idol

In the 15th season of American Idol, which was generally not as popular as the others, something extraordinary happened. Trent Harmon, the winner, sang an unforgettable version of Sia‘s “Chandelier” that still stands out as one of the show’s top moments. He sang this at the grand finale that took place on April 6, 2016. Instead of performing it as a pop song, Harmon turned “Chandelier” into a heart-touching slow song. His voice really stood out in this performance. The judges had nothing but praise for his performance.

Harry Connick Jr. even said that choosing the winner that year was the most challenging decision in the history of the show. Keith Urban loved the performance and compared the song to something Freddie Mercury would have written. Jennifer Lopez praised Harmon, saying he couldn’t have sung it any better. Not only did it raise the bar for the rest of the contestants that season, but it also set a high standard for future contestants.

3. “Imagine” By David Archuleta

David Archuleta

In Season 7 of American Idol, David Archuleta quickly became a favorite. His consistent performances each week gained him a lot of votes, and he reached the final round. He was among the youngest contestants to achieve this, alongside Diana DeGarmo, Lauren Alaina, and Jessica Sanchez. A particular performance that stood out was when Archuleta sang “Imagine” by John Lennon. He gave the song a slow, acoustic twist, showcasing his soulful voice.

This version of the song was unique because Archuleta chose to sing the last verse instead of the earlier ones. According to him, he had a great message. It was this performance that moved Paula Abdul to say that it was one of the most touching performances she had ever heard. As a result, Archuleta gained praise from all the judges, with Simon Cowell even stating that he was “the one to beat“. Even though other contestants have tried to perform the same song in later seasons, Archuleta’s rendition was admired and remains memorable.

4. “Mad World” By Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert didn’t win American Idol’s 8th season, but he had a massive impact on the show and its audience. He went on to become a successful musician and the lead singer of Queen. Lambert was known for his likable personality, fashion style, and powerful singing on the show, making him a memorable participant. One standout moment was his rendition of Tears For Fears’ “Mad World”. On a darkened stage, he captivated the audience with a chillingly beautiful performance.

Fans worldwide still remember it, and it even became the theme song for a character on General Hospital. Interestingly, Mad World may not be the first song people associate with Lambert, but his breathtaking performance led to him singing it again on the show in 2016. Despite not winning, Lambert exemplifies how true talent can leave a lasting impression, even without winning a competition.

5. “Circle of Life” By Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson

It was a big surprise when Jennifer Hudson, who later became a famous movie star, was voted off early in the third season. Her American Idol performance was hands-down a standout one. She left the show in the seventh position, which was far too soon. Hudson sang “Circle of Life” during the Top 9 week. People still remember this performance as one of the best, not only in that season but in the whole show.

This performance was a big win that shocked the judges and showed Hudson’s range. Randy Jackson praised her performance on American Idol, calling it the best of the night and her personal best. Paula Abdul commended her for staying true to herself and discovering her true identity. Simon Cowell acknowledged that this was the first time Hudson truly showcased her talent as one of the final 12 contestants, and he praised her great performance.

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