Top Idol Performances: #45-41

And them performances just keep on comin’! In this installment we look at a whole bunch of big-voiced belters hitting some of the classics and, um, Matt Giraud during country week. So obviously the Matt performances is the highest ranked of the bunch. I hope you weren’t expecting anything else.

45. Kimberley Locke – “Band Of Gold” (Freda Payne) (Season 2, Top 3 Random Pick)

Perhaps the most memorable Hollywood week moment in the entire run of the show is Frenchie and Kimberley tearing into “Band Of Gold” as a group of two. While Kimberley Locke’s solo take on the song in her final week of the competition wasn’t quite the event that her earlier performance had been, it reminded everyone that she had fought hard for her spot in the final three. Ruben and Clay were getting all the attention and were essentially locks for the finale but K-Lo still brought her powerful vocals and went out on a high note.

44. Latoya London – “Don’t Rain On My Parade” (Barbra Streisand) (Season 3, Top 5 Big Band Night)

Big Band night during Season Three was a unique night for American Idol. The contestants, instead of performing in rounds, gave mini-sets in which they actually got to introduce their second songs. Anyway, Latoya gave an able performance of “Too Close For Comfort” which was entirely forgotten after she stunned the judging panel with a fun, energetic “Don’t Rain On My Parade.” Latoya often is remembered as a one-note, stand-and-belt contestant, but she really shouldn’t be. “Don’t Rain On My Parade” was entertaining and brimming with personality. Heck, Latoya’s dress alone had more personality than all of Season Nine.

43. Katharine McPhee – “Over The Rainbow” (Judy Garland) (Season 5, Top 3 Judge’s Choice)

Before Katharine McPhee was starring in Smash or dying her hair blonde and releasing horrific pop songs, she was best remembered for her powerful performance of “Over The Rainbow” during top 3 night. Simon Cowell, who picked the song for Kat, told America that it was going to be an Idol moment while introducing the performance, and as much as I hate to feed Simon’s ego, it really was. The production of the performance was simple but deliberate; Kat stayed seated on the Idol logo bathed in white light the entire time. Not even a technical mishap with her earpiece derailed Kat’s pitch-perfect voice and just-shy-of-bombastic delivery. The song built slowly and right when most Idol performances would crank it up to full blast, Katharine reigned it back in from a strong finish.

42. Kelly Clarkson – “A Moment Like This” (Kelly Clarkson) (Season 1, Top 2 Coronation Song)

Coronation songs are notoriously awful and, as much as people like to rewrite history, “A Moment Like This” is no different. But even so, every now and then a finalist really nails the cheese and sap of the coronation ditties and somehow makes it all feel honest. I know, in my head, that “A Moment Like This” is trite, but when Kelly Clarkson was on the verge of becoming a superstar and sang “I can’t believe it’s happening to me / some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this” I believed it. Everything just sort of fell into place and all the overly-saccharine lyrics in the world couldn’t change that. That’s just how magical Kelly Clarkson’s voice is, apparently.

41. Matt Giraud – “So Small” (Carrie Underwood) (Season 8, Top 11 Grand Ole Opry Night)

Going into the semi-finals, Matt Giraud was a definite frontrunner. His take on “Georgia On My Mind” as well as his participation in White Chocolate’s “I Want You Back” put him in the spotlight. And, well, then Coldplay happened and Matt unfortunately played catch-up for the rest of the competition. So when, during Grand Ole Opry week, Matt decided to cover Idol darling Carrie Underwood, things looked like they could all burst into flames. But Matt surprised and gave his best performance of the competition. His rearrangement perfectly transformed the song to suit all of his strengths and the bit of rasp in his vocals took the song to a completely different place than Carrie’s original. It was just really, really smart and really, really effective.
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