Top Idol Performances: #90-86

10% done! Yeah, I’m totally burning through these things. At this rate, I’ll be done by the time Season Eleven starts. And by that time, Haley’s gorgeous take on “Rolling In The Deep” will be added. Also? I’d probably stick Naima’s “Umbrella” in the #100 spot because it totally deserves a mention on any memorable performance list. Pia might get herself an entry (“All In Love Is Fair” or “I’ll Stand By You”) simply from the she! was! robbed! momentum of it all. Otherwise? This season has been pretty devoid of standout performances. Lots of good ones, not a whole lot of epic ones.

Anyway, on to the actual list.

90. Trenyce – “I Have Nothing” (Whitney Houston) (Season 2, Top 11 Movie Hits)

Nowadays, I roll my eyes and put my brain on autopilot if Ryan announces that someone is going to sing “I Have Nothing.” (Although, I’d be lying if I said this was the only time a performance of the song showed up on this list.) But, eight seasons ago, Lashundra Cobbins AKA “Trenyce” took Movie Hits week to introduce the Idol stage to Whitney’s The Bodyguard staple. On the brink of elimination just two weeks prior as Paula’s wildcard selection, she catapulted herself to frontrunner status by steamrolling the likes of Carmen Rasmussen and Corey Clark with sheer vocal power. Trenyce’s classy poise held strong as she turned in her third consecutive show-stopper. (Spoiler alert: those other two will show up later.)

89. Justin Guarini – “Get Here” (Oleta Adams) (Season 1, Top 4 1980s)

Rarely during Idol’s first season was I able to move past Justin’s Sideshow Bob ‘do and understand his hype. He was a good singer, sure, but I felt the women (namely, Tamyra Gray, Christina Christian and one Ms. Kelly Clarkson) routinely outshone him. In fact, when Justin sang the same song during Hollywood week and Paula had to take a minute to rescue herself from the verge of tears, I thought she’d been popping them meds again. (And to be entirely fair, she probably was.) But when Justin returned to his signature song on top 4 night, he clicked for me. It was infinitely less pretty than a typical Justin performance. When his voice cracked on the held note, he let loose and just threw down everything he had into the song. The lack of polish gave him that edge to, finally, deliver the best performance of the night.

88. Brooke White – “I Am… I Said” (Neil Diamond) (Season 7, Top 5 Neil Diamond)

I referred to Season Seven as the tale of the two Davids earlier, but another perfectly apt description would be the tale of the two flame outs. One of those tragic cases of crash ‘n burn was Brooke White. (And the other might not be mentioned throughout the entirety of this project, woops!) She started off by nailing performance-after-performance of raw, folksy tunes with an unparalleled emotional sincerity. Then as the pressures of the Idol machine wore on, she became more known for her tendency to be quick with the reset button. However, she managed to compose herself for her last performance before she was mercifully eliminated. “I Am… I Said” was a near-return to Brooke’s former glory. It was achingly vulnerable and worked with, instead of against, the breaks in her voice. Remembering her once again behind her piano almost makes me sad she was sent home after such an honest performance. (Of course, then I remember “I’m A Believer” and all that sadness is long gone.) Oh Brooke White, you were such a beautiful disaster.

87. Bo Bice – “Spinning Wheel” (Blood, Sweat & Tears) (Season 4, Top 12 1960s)

I’m not going to lie, this performance is kiiind of just here to bring up the male representation on the list. I didn’t enjoy Bo’s brand of rock when he was on the show. (And I don’t currently enjoy his brand of country.) He also came off as a touch too nonchalant about the whole thing in its early stages for me. (I prefer my Idols desperate and needy, thanks!) But this one was well sung, energetic and pretty much started off the tendency for all future Idol rockstar wannabes to drag the mic stand with them wherever they went on stage. That Bo Bice, such a revolutionary.

86. Elliott Yamin – “Moody’s Mood For Love” (James Moody) (Season 5, Top 20 Guys)

I still consider Elliott Yamin to be one of the best male vocalists to grace the Idol stage. Here, during just the second week of the semifinals, he proved it by giving a smooth vocal that highlighted his effortless proficiency. There are no glory notes. Heck, there’s hardly any belting at all. But Elliott wields his voice like a jazz instrument and deftly finesses his way through all the nooks and crannies of the song’s melody. A little simple in the performance aspect and not particularly awe-inspiring, but man, that vocal was such a breath of fresh air on Idol.

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