Top Idol Performances: #30-26

We’ve somehow made it all the way to the top 30! I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel, y’all, and it looks oh so pretty. Here we look at the joys of midtempo/uptempo songs from a bunch of contestants who were much better known as somewhat stale belters at times. Man, now that we’re in the top 30 I really do love every single one of these performances. I’m sad I’m cutting a few of these.

30. Lakisha Jones – “This Ain’t A Love Song” (Bon Jovi) (Season 6, Top 6 Bon Jovi Night)

After her very first live performance, a wall of sound to the tune of “And I Am Telling You”, Lakisha was Season 6’s frontrunner. Simon told the other 23 to pack their bags because Lakisha was taking the crown. As the competition progressed, Lakisha failed to live up to expectations, owing in part to some poor song choices (“I Believe” & “Jesus Take The Wheel”) and uninspired belting. But Bon Jovi night apparently cures all. Lakisha sang with a level of conviction rarely seen on the Idol stage and only got better when she stepped out from behind the mic stand to bring the house down with her gigantic voice. And with this entry, half of the performances from Bon Jovi night have appeared on the list. Maybe Idol should revisit the theme?

29. Syesha Mercado – “One Rock N Roll Too Many” (Starlight Express) (Season 7, Top 6 Andrew Lloyd Webber Night)

Syesha Mercado is probably best remembered for her record-setting eight trips to the bottom three, including a trip after her thoroughly entertaining staging of “One Rock N Roll Too Many” on Andrew Lloyd Webber night. Syesha got to show off her personality and, above all, had way more fun on stage than any of her competitors. She took full advantage of a theme which allowed for some acting, as she danced, flirted and belted her way to yet another week on the show.

28. Trenyce – “Come See About Me”

Motown tends to be a tricky theme for contestants, especially contestants that get labeled as divas. Usually it ends in a hilariously misguided trip down Burger King flame road with “Heat Wave.” More contestants should take notes from Trenyce, who managed to make “Come See About Me” seem fresh with just a few tweaks and some honest enthusiasm. Oh Trenyce, what an underrated contestant you were.

27. Ruben Studdard – “A Whole New World”

Now, on paper, a performance from an overweight guy in a football jersey standing still and singing a Disney ballad sounds pretty bad. But there’s something special about Ruben’s performance of “A Whole New World.” The Velvet Teddybear’s buttery smooth tone pushed the song from simply well-sung to mesmerizing. The only things that could’ve improved the performance were a magic lamp and flying carpet. (Side note: check out Ryan’s hair in that video.)

26. Katharine McPhee – “Black Horse And The Cherry Tree”

How many contestants are willing to shimmy across the stage on their knees during a performance? No one but the beautiful Katharine McPhee, really. Katharine proved two things with her uniquely staged performance of “Black Horse And The Cherry Tree”: she could do energetic uptempo numbers even better than she could belt ballads and that there are actually quite a few dance moves one can do while kneeling.

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