Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Showstoppers

After Kelly Clarkson sang Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" on American Idol, judge Randy Jackson said, "I didn't know you had all of that!" He was stunned by the former cocktail waitress's performance.
I know that everyone and their grandmother has made their own version of this list by now, but no American Idol tribute would be complete without it. So without further ado, here are my 15 favorite performances from the show’s phenomenal run. These are the ones that stayed with me after their original airing, and will continue to do so for years and years.

1. Kelly Clarkson – “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”

Before Kelly covered this Aretha Franklin song on the first week of season one’s live shows, no one—not even Simon Cowell himself—thought of her as a real contender. This performance changed people's minds. With that jaw-dropping high note towards the end, Kelly made Simon and America sit up and take notice of her.

2. Kelly Clarkson – “Without You”

By the time Kelly broke out this Badfinger single on the show, she was the clear favorite to win it all. Kelly’s original performance of this was good enough, but her reprise on the results show was even better. It was the moment Kelly established herself not just as a frontrunner, but as a real star who could go far in the music industry post-Idol.

3. Tamyra Gray – “A House Is Not A Home”

Everything about Tamyra was perfect—her choreography, style and especially her vocals. Maybe that’s why the American public never really got behind her like they should have. Tamyra eventually placed fourth in season one, but many believed she deserved to go further. This best exemplifies why.

4. Jasmine Trias – “Inseparable”

Contrary to popular belief, Jasmine actually wasn’t the first Filipino to compete on Idol. (That honor goes to season two semifinalist Jordan Segundo.) Anyway, Simon said this performance of Jasmine’s was “superb,” and I so agree. She didn’t always get it right on the show, but when she did, she was dazzling. It was after her season that Idol became a major thing in the Philippines. After she placed third, she went on to have a big acting and singing career here—her album even went platinum!

5. Fantasia – “Truth Is/I Believe”

I wasn’t a fan of Fantasia’s during her season. But that changed when she released her debut album Free Yourself. It made me appreciate her unique vocal stylings, so by the time she guested on Idol in season four, I was already on board the ‘Tasia train. It’s impossible to avoid getting goosebumps when you watch this. It’s that good. Fantasia really took us all to church on this one.

6. Carrie Underwood – “Alone”

Earthshaking. Enough said.

7. Katharine McPhee – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

In a season marked by strong performances from every member of the Top 12, Katharine’s take on Judy Garland’s signature song was one of my favorites. I remember being totally amazed that she sang the first verse a cappella. But probably the most important thing I learned from Katharine that night was that the smallest details can make or break a performance. Check out the ruby-red high heels she wore. Remind you of anything? Hehe.

8. Blake Lewis - "You Give Love A Bad Name"

Blake will go down in Idol history as one of the show’s bravest contestants. He took a really big risk when he chose to beatbox on his cover of this Bon Jovi classic. Even Jon Bon Jovi himself wasn’t sure it would go over well on the show, but Blake proved him wrong. I remember thinking this was an electrifying performance, and looking back, it paved the way for future Idols to be more daring in terms of arrangement and song choice.

9. David Archuleta – “Imagine”

This was a total lightning-in-a-bottle moment for ickle Archie. Paula Abdul wasn’t the only one who wanted to squish him, squeeze his head off and dangle him from their rearview mirror after this. I was a fan of his already—I saw that video of him singing to Kelly Clarkson and company way before the season began—and this performance further cemented my love for him.

10. David Cook – “Always Be My Baby”

When I learned that the season seven Top 7 were set to pull from the Mariah Carey songbook, I was very scared for Cook. I wasn’t sure what someone like him would do with a classic from one of the foremost divas of today. But in the words of Randy Jackson, Cook took this 1990’s pop hit and he worked it out! His studio version of this went on to enjoy heavy rotation on Philippine radio.

11. David Archuleta and David Cook – “Hero”

Season seven was the first year in which I could honestly say I didn't care who won because I’d still be celebrating either way. I loved both Davids so, so much, which is why I cried when they sang this together.

12. Kris Allen – “Heartless”

I believed in Kris from the first time I saw him perform on Idol. It was during Group Day, and he sang a couple of lines from the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” as part of the White Chocolate quartet. I found Kris captivating for some reason, and I championed him even though everyone else I knew—including my own mother—was obsessed with Adam Lambert. I believed Kris was special, and he proved me right when he did this song.

13. Pia Toscano – “I’ll Stand By You”

Pia was my original pick to win season 10, primarily because of a video I saw before the season began, in which she took on a Kelly Clarkson song with relative ease. I was horrified when she was eliminated. I think Pia is one of the best singers in Idol history and deserved to make the finale. I was thrilled when The Powers That Be invited her back for the series finale to reprise her cover of “All By Myself,” which was as good as this one.

14. Jessica Sanchez and Jennifer Holliday – “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”

Vocally, Jessica Sanchez was probably the best Filipino to ever stand on the Idol stage. Jessica had performed this by herself earlier in the season, but when she reprised it at the finale, Jessica joined forces with Jennifer Holliday, who originally sang it in the musical Dreamgirls. The result? A diva-off for the ages that had everyone in the Kodak Theater on their feet by the time it ended.

15. Dalton Rapattoni – “The Phantom Of The Opera”


I really wasn’t planning on getting invested in any of the contestants on Idol’s farewell season, as I wanted the show’s last hurrah to be more of a nostalgia tour for me than anything else. But Salty Dalty had to go and blow me away with this acoustic cover of an Andrew Lloyd Webber song. I had never heard this song sung that way before, so I couldn't help but root for Dalton. Darn him, his eyeliner and of course, his talent!

The American Idol stage has witnessed a lot of showstoppers, so it was very hard for me to make this list. I only reason limited it to 15 so the number of performances on it would match the number of seasons Idol was on the air. If I hadn't, I would have ended up with a considerably longer list, seeing as how I love the show to bits.

All videos courtesy of their respective YouTube channels.

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