Top Idol Performances: #80-76

This batch of performances is brought to you by Long Forgotten Inc., a branch of the Useless Trivia Co. I think this will help acclimate everyone to some of the exceedingly bizarre choices you’ll see later on in the list. (I know there are at least two performances in the top 20 that will make people go, “huh?” and a few more in the top 50. It’s my list, I can cry if I want to.) Anyway, on to the wtfery!

80. Adam Lambert – “Black Or White” (Michael Jackson) (Season 8, Top 13 Michael Jackson)

With Kris Allen and Allison Iraheta debuting on the list a few spots ago, it was a safe bet that Adam Lambert would be right behind. Before the finals, I didn’t really know what to expect of Adam and not in a “how will he surprise me this week” kind of way. I was unsure if he was going to be any good as a contestant, given that he was coming off the heels of what I thought were two misguided performances (Cher’s “Believe” in Hollywood week and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” in the semis). But after this performance, it was clear that, love him or hate him, Adam was going to be truly entertaining week after week. He was downright giddy when he started, clearly enjoying every second on stage. As a huge proponent of fun on the Idol stage, I couldn’t help but love his enthusiasm. He wailed, kicked (whilst singing “when I saw you kicking dirt in my eye” no less) and faux-moonwalked his way to a thoroughly amazing experience.

79. Tamyra Gray – “Minnie The Moocher” (Cab Calloway) (Season 1, Top 6 Big Band)

I’m going to make one thing readily apparent: I love big band night (or equivalent) on American Idol. I always find the performances to be endlessly entertaining and, especially now, refreshing in their simplicity. They’re all about how well a performer can grab a melody and tell a story without worries of who they really are as an “artist” or if they’re “changing it up” enough. And well, Tamyra was skilled at both navigating a melody and selling a story. “Minnie The Moocher” gave her a perfect opportunity to impress with both her voice and her attitude. With the way she dug into every phrase of the song, it was hard to see her as anything other than an old professional.

78. Kimberley Locke – “Over The Rainbow” (Judy Garland) (Season 2, Semifinals Group 2)

This performance might have been the third time that season we’d seen Kimberley Locke take on The Wizard Of Oz (even if it was the first live performance) and she might have done nothing other than stand in place while singing a popular standard, but that was all she needed to do. These were simpler times. The semis stage was tiny, there was no in-studio audience and the only backing the contestants got was a single piano. To stand out, all you could do was sing extremely well and that’s exactly what Kim did. She showed off just how strong her voice was throughout her entire range and garnered enough votes to edge out to-be-fan-favorite Clay Aiken. So, you know, she clearly did something right.

77. Gina Glocksen – “I’ll Stand By You” (The Pretenders) (Season 6, Top 10 Gwen Stefani)

Before Carrie Underwood rocked “I’ll Stand By You” on Idol Gives Back or Pia Toscano began her tour de force big ballad crusade for a new decade, Season Six’s identity-confused half-rocker, half-diva-balladeer found her footing with the Pretenders’ tune. Never quite sure if she should be in full-on Celine Dion mode or growling a Rolling Stones cover, she met herself halfway (cue awful Black Eyed Peas music!) with some loud boots and an guttingly emotional delivery. I have to admit, I’ve never met a cover of this song that I didn’t love, so Gina may only be here on song choice. (But hey, song choice is an important part of the Idol game.) Still, she sang well and it felt like it had finally come together for her after five weeks of floundering in the live rounds. (Of course, she would go on to get eliminated a week later. Woops!)

76. Alexandrea Lushington – “Spinning Wheel” (Blood, Sweat & Tears) (Season 7, Top 24 Girls 1960s)

Alexandrea is the second of three semifinals casualties to make this list. After receiving literally zero face time in the audition and Hollywood rounds of the show, she needed an absolute showstopper to stick around in the first week of the live show. So, she incorporated every piece of that small semifinals stage she could to create an entire, full performance. Her arrangement was interesting! It built! It fell! It went somewhere. Sure, there were times when her voice was less than, less than perfect (cue Pink!) but her skills as an entertainer more than made up for those deficiencies. I still like to pretend I live in a world in which Alexandrea Lushington and Asia’h Epperson made the finals over Kristy Lee Cook and Amanda Overmyer. Oh, what a world that would be…

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