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American Idol Finale — Reliving the Show’s Best Performances of All-Time [POLL]


It’s all down to Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez — the young Dave Mattthews-esque rocker and the 16-year-old with a voice out of this world. The two will sing for the final time tonight to determine who will become the 11th American Idol.

Season 11 has been full of talent, arguably the most talented field in the show’s history. American Idol has suffered some ratings pain to shows like The Voice, but it has showed it can produce superior talent even 11 years in.

But as we look to tonight, whether you’re on team Phillip, team Jessica or one of your favorites are already gone, we can also take the time to look back on reality television’s most successful show. There have been scores of unbelievable performances each year, and narrowing this down was certainly not easy.

But nevertheless, in celebration of Season 11, here are my top 11 American Idol performances of all-time:

11. Jordin Sparks: ‘I Who Have Nothing’ [Season 6]

If Phillip Phillips beats out Jessica Sanchez this week, Jordin Sparks will remain as the last girl to win American Idol — six years ago. But this performance was the one that set her apart, and eventually launched her to the win.

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10. Kelly Clarkson: ‘Stuff Like That There’ [Season 1]

Alongside Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson is the most successful Idol in the music industry, and rightfully so. She can sing anything, cross genres and pull some things off you would have never thought possible. It’s been 10 years since she won American Idol, but “Stuff Like That There” is still one of the best in the show’s history.

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9. Jennifer Hudson: ‘Circle of Life’ [Season 3]

Looking back, one can only wonder how in the world Jennifer Hudson finished seventh on this show. That voice, that command she has on stage … few can match it. One would have thought singing Elton John would put Hudson at a disadvantage, but as she shows, that wasn’t the case.

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8. Phillip Phillips: ‘We’ve Got Tonight’ [Season 11]

I’m not a Bob Seger fan, but I am a fan of “We’ve Got Tonight.” To put it simply, Phillip Phillips was far and away ahead of Seger’s version of this song. He sang it at the perfect time, too, in the final three. It was the first time Phillips really showcased his voice, and it might just be the song that helps him win it all.

7. Crystal Bowersox: ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ [Season 10]

On the Jordin Sparks subject, Crystal Bowersox should have easily been the first girl to win American Idol since Sparks. The talent gap between the eccentric coffee-shop singer and the rest of the field was staggering, but sometimes that’s just how teenagers voting goes.

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6. Joshua Ledet: ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ [Season 11]

The church boy from Louisiana has an absolutely powerful voice, and ending the show in the final three is certainly nothing to scoff at. Easily one of the most talented R&B voices to ever come through the show, Joshua Ledet had several off-the-wall performances (except “Imagine” — leave that one to Mr. Lennon) that will long be remembered. His performance of “It’s a Man’s World” might be more glamorous, but this was easily his best.

5. Carrie Underwood: ‘Alone’ [Season 4]

Fact: Carrie Underwood is still the most talented singer to ever come out of American Idol, and I’ll be shocked if that ever changes. Of course, I’m not reaching out on much of a limb there. If there’s only one thing that’s not perfect about this performance, it’s Carrie’s her. But, we don’t have to hold that against her.

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4. Bo Bice: ‘In A Dream’ [Season 4]

A song no one heard of from a band no one knew — and all on a stage empty except for Bo Bice himself. It was the first performance of its kind on American Idol, and it is still the most heralded. He would/should have won the season if not for someone named Carrie Underwood.

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3. Adam Lambert: ‘Mad World’ [Season 8]

Another second-place finisher who should have won. Adam Lambert’s talent during Season 8 was second-to-none, as is evident right here.

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2. Jessica Sanchez: ‘I Will Always Love You’ [Season 11]

One of Season 11’s final two was almost eliminated. Thankfully, the judges used their one save on this 16-year-old powerhouse. Less than a month after Whitney Houston died, American Idol honored the queen of pop with a night on the show. It was certainly no accident Jessica Sanchez sang last, and sang this. Only 16 years old … unreal.

1. Haley Reinhart: ‘House of the Rising Sun’ [Season 10]

Another of my picks who I felt should have won and didn’t. But, there’s no denying, THIS is the best performance on American Idol. Flawless from beginning to end, Haley Reinhart’s slow intro and rise to pure power in her cover of The Animals’ classic was chilling. Her voice fit this song perfectly, which resulted in a perfect performance.

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Of course, there are plenty of performances that didn’t make my list, but came close. You have to give honorable mentions to Fantasia’s “Summertime,” Chris Daughtry’s “Hemorrhage (In My Hands),” Clay Aiken’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and several more.

But, you get your voice, too. Which, in your opinion, is the best ever?

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