Top Idol Performances: #15-11

This will be finished. This is so close to being finished. I have three updates to slog through. Three! I can do it. I have faith in myself. I am writing this one on zero sleep, so it will make no sense, but that’s okay. They never make sense. No one needs complete sentences.

15. Christina Christian – “Ain’t No Sunshine” (Bill Withers) (Season 1, Top 7 1970’s Night)

I have no way of defending this placement in a remotely objective manner, really, so I’m not even going to try. Christina Christian holds a special place in my heart as my first Idol favorite (and, um, my first Idol crush). She was totally enchanting and magical and drop-dead gorgeous while tapping into the melancholy of the Bill Withers classic. I have no words to describe how much I love this performance. (And yet, somehow it’s not even my favorite rendition of “Ain’t No Sunshine” on the show.)

14. Carrie Underwood – “Alone” (Heart) (Season 4, Top 11 Billboard #1 Hits Night)

Before Carrie stepped out and gave what is now one of the most memorable performances in eleven seasons of Idol, she was mostly regarded as the country girl with the pretty voice. Yeah, she could sing and yeah, she was definitely a frontrunner, but not many saw her as the multiplatinum artists she is today. So when she picked an 80s rock song and delivered one of the most difficult vocals effortlessly, I was more than a little surprised. It showed off just what a talented vocalist she is and led Simon to predict her as the highest selling winner.

13. Elliott Yamin – “A Song For You” (Donny Hathaway) (Season 5, Top 6 Love Songs Night)

The classics keep on rolling in! Except I feel bad because I missed this classic in its original airing. Elliott Yamin remains one of the most talented male vocalists Idol has ever seen. What he lacked in sheer power (which, honestly, was not much), he more than made up for in flawless phrasing and impeccable interpretative skills. He navigated around complex melodies like they were Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. All of these qualities and so much more were in full display on ” A Song For You.” Vocal masterclass, yo! For real.

12. Kimberley Locke – “New York State Of Mind” (Billy Joel) (Season 2, Top 7 Billy Joel Night)

Listen to her gorgeous tone and this beautiful song and try not to melt. It’s impossible. In eleven seasons of Idol, this might be the most listenable performance ever.

11. Kelly Clarkson – “A Natural Woman” (Aretha Franklin) (Season 1, Top 8 1960s Night)

If you’ve got it, flaunt it. That’s the philosophy Kelly Clarkson went with when she unleashed an insane whistle note in “Natural Woman.” Was it entirely necessary? No. But it was damn impressive and made everyone else in Idol’s first season look like total amateurs by comparison. It helped that she also completely commanded the stage and had more soul in her adorable hat than all of the others (save Tamyra Gray) combined.

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