Top 40 Greatest American Idol Performances Of All Time

I would be remiss if I did not release a countdown honoring 15 years of televised rock and roll performances on one of the biggest shows of my generation, American Idol. Before tonights series finale, I decided to follow up on yesterday’s ranking of all 14 coronation songs, and do my best to countdown my top 40 favorite Idol performances over the span of the series. Granted, these may not be considered “the best”, but they are as close to my top 40 as humanly possible. No write-ups are necessary, just the cold, hard facts, and a link to the performances. You be the judge and tell me how much of an awful person I am for not including 7 David Archuleta songs, or the entire Melinda Doolittle Idol catalogue. Or tell me I am an idiot for having such an obsession with “And I Am Telling You”, and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” But, considering Ryan Seacrest is signing off for the final time tonight, I think it would be more fitting, if we just all just get along, and get through this night together.

Without further adieu, my Top 40 American Idol performances of all time.

*** Note, coronation songs are not included, as they were part of yesterday’s countdown.

40. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” – James Durbin (Season 10)

39. “The Story” – Lacey Brown (Season 9)

38. “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” – Michael Johns (Season 7)

*Johns became the first Idol finalist to pass away a few years ago. RIP MJ. You were the man.

37. “Circle of Life” – Jennifer Hudson (Season 3)

36. “Wanted (Dead or Alive)” – Chris Daughtry (Season 5)

35. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” – Jena Irene


34. “The Trouble With Love Is” – Clark Beckham (Season 14)

33. “When You Tell Me That You Love Me” – Vonzell Soloman (Season 4)

*Not exactly sure why I love this so much, but I do, and I am not ashamed.

32. “Maybe I’m Amazed” – Caleb Johnson (Season 13)

31. “I Believe” – Joshua Ledet (Season 11)

30. “Eleanor Rigby” – David Cook (Season 7)

29. “You Give Love a Bad Name” – Blake Lewis (Season 6)

28. “The Boxer” – Lee Dewyze (Season 9)

27. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” – Jason Castro (Season 7)

26. “Bright Lights” – Nick Fradiani (Season 14)

25. “Fat Bottomed Girls” – Phillip Phillips (Season 11)

24. “Man in the Mirror” – Kris Allen

23. “Think” – Katherine McPhee (Season 5)

22. “Imagine” David Archuleta (Season 7)

21. “Paint It Black” – Siobhan Magnus (Season 9)

20. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Jacob Lusk (Season 10)


19. “That’s All” – Phillip Phillips (Season 11)

18. “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” – Nadia Turner (Season 4)

17. “Tracks of My Tears” – Adam Lambert (Season 8)


16. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Constantine Maroulis (Season 4)

15. “You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)” – Kelly Clarkson (Season 1)


14. “Remedy” – Bo Bice (Season 4)

13. “So Small” – Matt Giraud (Season 8)


12. “Independence Day” – Carrie Underwood (Season 4)


11. “Me and Bobby McGee” – Crystal Bowersox (Season 9)

10. “House of the Rising Sun” – Haley Reinhart (Season 10)


9. “One Rock and Roll Too Many” – Syesha Mercado (Season 7)

*Sexiest Idol performance ever??


8. “Moving Out” – Phillip Phillips (Season 11)


7. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Clay Aiken (Season 2)


6. “And I Am Telling You” – Jessica Sanchez (Season 11)

and then there was this…….



5. “Always Be My Baby” – David Cook (Season 7)


4. “You Found Me” – Matt Giraud (Season 8)


3. “Alone” – Carrie Underwood (Season 4)


2. “Hallelujah” – Lee Dewyze

1. “This Ain’t A Love Song” – LaKisha Jones (Season 6)

“I have heard of Bon Jovi and I have seen him on Oprah.”

Yes LaKisha Jones said that, and yes, I am sure this is my favorite Idol performance of all time. And no, I do not have a fever.


What performance did I miss? What is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below.

All 14 American Idol Coronation Songs Ranked From Worst to Best

Over the past 14 years, American Idol finalist have been forced to sing a coronation song at the finale. These songs, written “just for them” are designed to pull on the heartstrings of the public,  and make the confetti falling scene as emotional as possible, all while trying to launch the winner to the top of the charts.

While some of the coronation songs flopped harder than Brian Dunkleman’s post-Idol hosting career, others went on to become bonafide hits, and made the sobbing American public get the “goosies” from head to toe.

Below are 14 years worth of winning coronation songs ranked from worst to best.


14. “Beautiful Day” – Lee Dewyze (Season 9)

The American Idol writing team decided to take a year off back in 2010, as they didn’t even bother penning original tracks for finalists Dewyze and runner-up Crystal Bowersox. After complaints from the public that previous coronations songs were too cheesy (particularly the ill-received Kara DioGuardi track “No Boundaries”) they decided something needed to change.

So, instead of putting forth the effort, they forced the finalists to sing cover songs, and have that be their first single should they win. Dewyze was tasked to cover a 10 year old track by one of the most popular bands in the history of music, U2. Dewyze gave some of the most memorable performances in the history of the show, but the only thing that separated his coronation song from the rest of his performances was the pomp and circumstance that was supported by a bigger budget, a bigger stage, and most importantly, lots of violinists. In a recent interview (skip to 14:35), Dewyze shares his disappointment at having to release a cover song as his first single.


13. “I Am Beautiful” – Candice Glover (Season 12)

Was season 12 even aired? While Candice Glover is undeniably a talented singer, “I Am Beautiful” is by far the most ridiculous coronation song in the history of Idol. I understand that the show may have wanted to highlight Glover’s story of gaining confidence, and becoming an independent woman, but having a song in which a woman is judging her self worth based solely on a man thinking she is beautiful, seems to be counter-productive. The only explanation is that the “He” Glover is referring to, is God, but if that is the case the message is unclear, and a bit confusing.

This may be the only coronation song that I have literally never heard again since the night I was barely paying attention to the awful season 12 finale.


12. “This Is My Now” – Jordin Sparks (Season 6)

First of all, back in season 6, the producers were still giving both finalists the same song to sing as their potential first single. If you are up on your Idol history, you will remember that Jordin’s co-finalist was beat boxing wiz kid Blake Lewis. Can you please tell me how it would be humanly possibly for Lewis to beat box his way through this cheesy song and gain more votes than Sparks?

As for the song, it is a clear rip off of “A Moment Like This,” and obvious that the producers were trying to find the same success as they had with Kelly Clarkson’s coronation song. Needless to say, they failed miserably.


11. “I Love You This Big” – Scotty McCreery (Season 10)

I get it, Scotty McCreery was young when he won American Idol. But, did his coronation song have to be written from the perspective of a kindergarden student? I love you this big, is what a 5 year old would say to his mother when she is tucking him in at night. Coming from a 17 year old guy with a voice deeper than James Earl Jones, the song seemed silly and on the verge of being a joke. Did I buy the song on iTunes and sing along in my deepest voice? Yes. But then again, I love my momma this…….

<—————————————————————————————–> big, so I really had no other choice.


10. “Do I Make You Proud” – Taylor Hicks (Season 5)

On the complete opposite end of the Idol age spectrum is Taylor Hicks. His “Do I Make You Proud” would have been a much more fitting single from a teenage contestant, rather than a 29 year old that looks as if he is 49.

While the song itself is shockingly decent, it would be surprising if anyone outside of Hick’s support group, “The Soul Patrol” remember his coronation song. And after ten years, most of the “Sole Patrol” are probably either dead or in a nursing home and had to sell their Taylor Hicks CD in a yard sale before making the move to their new living quarters.


9. “Flying Without Wings” – Ruben Studdard (Season 2)

In one of the most depressing pieces of news I have heard in weeks, I found out today that “Flying Without Wings” was not a Ruben Studdard original. For years I have been referring to it as my favorite R&B song of all time (it actually is the only song on the list.)

Apparently Irish boy band, Westlife released the track in 1999, four years before Studdard stole America’s hearts and made preppy little white boys consider a career in R&B and moving to area code 205. Wherever the hell that is.

As devastating as the news may be, “Flying Without Wings” was good enough to push Studdard just over the edge and beat runner-up Clay Aiken, in what has got to be the most mix matched pairing in the history of reality television.

clay vs ruben

(photo credit:




8. “As Long As You Love Me” – Caleb Johnson (Season 13)

“As Long As You Love Me” is far and away the most Un-Idol-ish finale song of all time. This could fit in on any rock station, and even better on any classic rock station. It sounds like it is directly from any late 80’s rock band’s catalogue, and not surprisingly, was written by The Darkness frontman, Justin Hawkins.

Idol’s original winner, Kelly Clarkson, is said to have wanted the song as her own, but due to time constraints, was not able to record it in time, and the track was given to Johnson for his coronation song. Of course, Clarkson would have turned it into a multi platinum hit, while Johnson’s version was one of the least successful finale songs in the history of the show, according to the charts.


7. “No Boundaries” – Kris Allen (Season 8)

While many consider Kara DioGuardi’s “No Boundaries” to be one of the worst coronation songs of all time, I personally, played it on repeat so many times in 2008 that still today I could nail it in karaoke without even taking a glance at the screen. Both Allen and Adam Lambert had their own renditions of the song, but “No Boundaries” helped baby-face Kris Allen get that little extra push at the very end to beat out season long frontrunner, Lambert. This is all despite the fact that Kris Allen looks like he is going to have an aneurysm while trying to reach the uncomfortably high notes. Not only does he forget the words, but the track clearly does not suit his voice, and it is painfully obvious. If Allen wasn’t such a heartthrob, this would’ve been one of the worst finale performances of all time. He was just so damn likable, however, that you looked past it, and spent three hours redialing his 866-idols-02 phone number just so he could pull off the huge upset.



6. “Inside Your Heaven” – Carrie Underwood (Season 4)


On any other American Idol related list, it would be hard to imagine that Carrie Underwood would not land at one of the top two spots. Considering how successful Carrie Underwood has been post-Idol, it is difficult to think of “Inside Your Heaven” as anything but another corny American Idol coronation song. Granted, it is a very good, corny American Idol coronation song, just a wee bit too corny to fully appreciate.

Underwood and her co-finalist, Bo Bice, both sang this as their coronations song, and while Bice did it justice, it was Underwood’s performance (right down to the Kelly Clarkson’esque cry while singing) that makes it one of the most memorable moments in the shows 15 year run.


5. “Time Of My Life” – David Cook (Season 7)

David Cook was so good all season that if he didn’t get a decent coronation song, riots would have swept through the streets of LA, the likes of which they have not seen since Rodney King’s unfortunate turn of events.

“Time of My Life” is a radio friendly song that is not cheesy, and is actually quite relatable. The guy just wins American Idol and sings a song about having the time of his life. It’s believable, and catchy, and Cook delivers it flawlessly.


4. “I Believe” – Fantasia (Season 3)

I was never a huge Fantasia fan. In fact, I couldn’t stand her, and resented the fact that it was painfully obvious she was going to win for the last two months of the season. Her performance of “I Believe”, however, made a believer out of this guy. It is one of the few Idol performances that I actually get the goosebumps when I watch. Like David Cook’s “Time of My Life”, “I Believe” is among other things, believable. Fantasia truly makes you believe that anything is possible when you believe. If I can go all season not being able to tolerate her, then think her finale song is one of the greatest moments in the show’s history, absolutely anything is possible.

I would actually go to a Fantasia concert just to hear this song. Literally, only this song. Then I would leave. Not before, however, a video of the whitest white-boy of all time, fan-girling over “I Believe” at a Fantasia Barrino concert goes viral.



3. “Beautiful Life” – Nick Fradiani (Season 14)

The coronation song for current American Idol champion, Nick Fradiani, is by far the best thing that has come out of the show in years. “Beautiful Life” found commercial success, and I consider it to be one of the best songs of 2015. Period. I have no idea how Fradiani snuck through to the end of the show, and ended up winning, but he gave us “Beautiful Life” I am forever grateful to the couple hundred people that bothered voting last season.

“Beautiful Life” is cool, current, and one of the only Idol coronation songs that I can blast in my car without fear of being judged or ridiculed by friends or strangers.


2. “A Moment Like This” – Kelly Clarkson (Season 1)

Kelly Clarkson’s performance of “A Moment Like This” is one of the most iconic moments in television history, and solidified American Idol as the biggest show on television (for a few years at least). As cliche as it may sound, it was literally like watching a star being born. People all across America were witnessing a young girl from a small town turn into a full blown massive celebrity on a soundstage that now seems to have been made out of a cardboard box.

One final note, if crying longer and harder than Kelly Clarkson’s own mother is wrong, than I don’t want to be right.


1. “Home” – Phillip Phillips (Season 11)

Not only is “Home” the best coronation song of the show’s history, but I would go as far as to say that it is the best song that any Idol alumni has released pre or post show. I have never seen the numbers, but I would be shocked if Phillips didn’t receive over 90% of the final votes over his competitor Jessica Sanchez.

Phillips is a guy’s guy, and a ladies man, and one of the most laid back contestants that has ever been on an American reality show. “Home” could easily have been released as a Mumford & Sons track and it would have been a massive hit. Couple that with the fact that it got the exposure of Idol, and it was performed by the most likable contestant in a decade, and you have the recipe for the most successful, and best, American Idol coronation song of all time. Old people loved it, young children loved it, hip 30-somethings loved it. Hell, I think that even Jessica Sanchez’s family probably threw a few votes Phillips’ way after falling in love with “Home”.


Tune in tonight and tomorrow to see how the final American Idol coronation song compares to its predecessors.