Tonight is the premiere of American Idol: Season 10, so I figured I should commemorate the occasion with another "favorite moments" list. I have to admit, my love for AI has waned in recent years--especially when there were four judges and Ellen DeGeneres was hired (Still have love for Miss Ellen though! Just not on a music competition show). I'm curious to see how everything plays out tonight with J-Lo and Steve-Ty. It could be TV gold, or a massive train wreck. Anyway! Let's get to the list, shall we?
10) Lisa Leuschner – Sweet Thing: I'm still very ticked off about Lisa Leuschner not making it to the finals in AI 7. She's beautiful and I love her sexy, R&B voice. I mean, the girl has SKILLZ. Just listen to her sing this Chaka Khan song. It's just as good as the original--how often can you say that? Boo judges, boo.
9) Carly Smithson—Audition: I was bummed that Carly Smithson got booted from AI 7 after singing Jesus Christ Superstar. That's no way to go out! I have to say, when I watch her audition footage, I still get chills listening to her sing the opening from I'm Every Woman. (PS: Chaka Khan rules!)
8) Michael Johns—It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right: Okay, I am apparently obessed with AI 7, and I think that's okay because I remember so many people from that year, especially Michael Johns, the gorgeous Australian who loved classic rock. Swoon! I thought his best performance was when he covered this Dolly Parton Song. Sooo bluesy and perfect.
7) Paris Bennett – Audition: I'll always remember Paris's audition for AI 5, not only because she sang The Dixie Chicks AND Billie Holiday and OWNED them, but because of the emotional reaction she gets from her family once she gets the golden ticket. Also, I still think it's so strange how different her singing voice and speaking voice are. Crazy!
6) David Cook – Hello: Back to AI 7, the mecca of great performances. I know that David Cook is a little bit smarmy, but I must admit, his electrified version of Lionel Richie's Hello was flat out genius. He managed to make a very dated, but sweet song feel really fresh and angsty. Too bad David all but disappeared after winning this season.
5) Elliott Yamin – Moody’s Mood for Love: Confession time--I actually own Elliott's debut album, and I heart it so much, I can't even begin to tell you. I always thought it was crap that he lost out to that Tucker What's His Face, and Pretty Tall Brunette Girl with the Big Teeth. How could anyone deny Elliott's superior talent, which is proven by his A++ take on Moody's Mood for Love, one of the most difficult songs to sing? This dude is, was, and will always be AWESOME.
4) Kelly Clarkson – Without You: AI 1, where it all began! And who knew how big Kelly Clarkson was going to become? Well, I'd like to think that I did after hearing her belt out this heartbreaking song by Badfinger. Although this performance isn't flawless, it's clear that Kelly has what it takes to be a superstar.
3) Bo Bice – In a Dream: While Carrie Underwood won AI 4 and went on to take a Louisville Slugger to both headlights, the high point of the final showdown this season was Bo Bice's performance of this Badlands track. It was pretty damn ballsy for him sing without a band or backup-singers, and the hush that falls over the crowd in this clip is almost palpable. I won't ever forget how I felt watching this for the first time--completely breathless.
2) Melinda Doolittle – My Funny Valentine: I'm going to go on record and say that Melinda Doolittle was robbed on AI 6. I know that teenagers rule the voting and that's part of the reason Jordin Sparks reigned instead of this classy, uber-talented vocalist (who is also a sweetheart), and I've come to accept that. But come on guys, Melinda is totally where it's at. When I saw this performance, I closed my eyes and just listened to her voice--it was freaking RADIO READY. Just love the judges reaction to it, too.
1) Fantasia – I Believe: Yes. I said it. My number one pick is Fantasia singing the cheesiest, cliche-ridden song in music history. But you know what? I don't care! And the fact that Fantasia could make me NOT care about how lame the song is, is a feat in and of itself. Also, the way her face lights up when the gospel choir starts singing with her is like magic, and the grit of her voice reflects her troubled personal history, which I found so compelling as well. She had one of the longest ovations in AI history, and has over 4 million hits on this video clip, so I'm not the only person to feel this way. I do, however, try not to think about the fact that she turned out to be a homewrecker and a reality TV star. Instead I focus on this brilliant moment of promise, and I think that's what people love about AI in the first place.