The 10 Best Male Vocal Performances in American Idol history

Clay Aiken's cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" still remains the show's capstone performance. (Photo property of 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America & FOX)

Clay Aiken’s cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” still remains the show’s capstone performance. (Photo property of 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America & FOX)

By: Jacob Elyachar

American Idol will premiere its 12th season on FOX with new judges Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj and a whole new crop of undiscovered talent.

This year’s new batch of singers has a whole lot to expectations to live up to especially the guys.

For the past five seasons, the guys have received the crown and I have a strong feeling that the guys want to continue to keep holding on to that winning streak.

In order for the guys to reach their goals, they need to watch these 10 Idol Hall of Fame performances, so they can learn from the best and how they can build a fan base to not only prepare them for the competition but for the post-Idol world.

Justin Guarini (Season One): “Get Here”

During the show’s first Final Four week, the Columbus, Georgia native delivered a passionate cover of Oleta Adams’ “Get Here.”   Justin showed incredible vocal gymnastics, which helped him gain enough momentum to deliver him to the show’s first finale.

Clay Aiken (Season Two): “Bridge Over Troubled Water”

Many longtime American Idol fans call the Season Two Runner-Up’s cover of the Simon and Garfunkel classic: the defining performance of the entire series.   This moment was pure gold because it showed off Clay’s vocal range, personality and most importantly, his connection with the audience.

 

Bo's risky gamble paid off and his cover of Badlands' "In A Dream" still remains a fan-favorite performance. (Photo property of 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America & FOX)

Bo’s risky gamble paid off and his cover of Badlands’ “In A Dream” still remains a fan-favorite performance. (Photo property of 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America & FOX)

Bo Bice (Season Four): “In A Dream”

If you want to go onto the finale, you have to be bold.  Bo’s decision to perform Badlands’ “In A Dream” a cappella remains one of the gutsiest moves in Idol history. This performance was full of excellent vocal phrasing and not only impressed music legend Clive Davis but still remains Idol’s first legendary rocker.

Constantine Maroulis (Season Four): “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Bo’s fellow rocker and early frontrunner Constantine Maroulis delivered one of the best covers of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” during the fourth season.   This performance not only showed fans that Constantine could rock out but he was the first Idol rocker to infuse theatricality into his performance.

 

Elliott Yamin's powerful rendition of "A Song for You" still remains one of the show's best vocal master class performances. (Photo property of 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America & FOX)

Elliott Yamin’s powerful rendition of “A Song for You” still remains one of the show’s best vocal master class performances. (Photo property of 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America & FOX)

Elliott Yamin (Season Five): “A Song for You”

Listening to the Idol guest mentors can definitely pay off.   One example of this lesson was when Elliott Yamin delivered the performance of Season Five when he tackled Leon Russell’s “A Song for You.”  Thanks to the suggestions made by David Foster, Elliott delivered a master class vocal performance that made then judge Paula Abdul weep and inserted his place in Idol history.

Chris Daughtry (Season Five): “I Walk the Line”

Chris Daughtry was the first artist to bring the Alternative Rock scene to the show.  When Chris performed Live’s cover of Johnny Cash’s hit: “I Walk the Line,” he took Idol viewers on a wild ride.    This performance not only cemented Chris’ place as a frontrunner for his season but also on a path that lead him to become the top-selling male alum from Idol.

David Archuleta (Season Seven): “Imagine”

David Archuleta’s stripped down cover of John Lennon’s legendary anthem during the show’s Top 20.  His cover of “Imagine” remains one of the show’s best performances because of his amazing vocal range and his ability to keep the song simple under his allotted 90 seconds.

David Cook (Season Seven): “Billie Jean”

David Cook won his season of American Idol not only because he produced great moments like “Billie Jean,” but also, he successfully harnessed two playbooks of past Idol rockers.  Like Bo, he took risks with his song selection and he also chose covers from not as known artists (Chris Cornell, Switchfoot) like Chris Daughtry.

Adam Lambert (Season Eight): “Mad World”

The Season Eight standout delivered an astonishing cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World.”  He showed so much emotion during this song that he was only contestant to receive a standing ovation from all four judges from Birth Year week, but it was sign that he was a future superstar in the making.

 

Joshua Ledet blew everyone away with his cover of James Brown's "It's A Man's World." (Photo property of 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America & FOX)

Joshua Ledet blew everyone away with his cover of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World.” (Photo property of 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia North America & FOX)

Joshua Ledet (Season 11): “It’s A Man’s World”

In all honesty, a majority of the guy contestants in the post Cowell and Abdul era of Idol have been either average or abysmal.  The only guy contestant that is worthy to be on this list is Joshua Ledet.  His cover of “It’s A Man’s World” was not only out of this world but was the best male vocal of the season.

Comments

  1. I’ve always said it, Clay’s performance of BOTW will always be the best. Actually, Clay was the best of Idol, period.

  2. I agree with you about Clay Aiken’s performance of Bridge Over Troubled Water! It was the best performance on American Idol to date and I don’t see anyone topping it!

  3. LCT DA2014 says:

    Have to say I loved Imagine!

  4. violet4ever says:

    Excellent list!! I’m happy to see my favorite David Archuleta on your list. I am looking forward to David’s return from his church mission in 2014.

  5. Glad to see David Archuleta’s Imagine on the list. He has many other Favorites too and been a Fan ever since he auditioned with Waiting On The World To Change. Counting the days until he returns 2014 and happy he left songs to be released while he is gone.

  6. Clay Aiken was great singing Bridge Over Troubled Water then. A stellar performance.
    Hard to say it, but he has gotten even better over the last 10 years.

  7. You sure have this right – Clay’s performance is #1 with BOTW. Many have tried, but could never top this.

  8. The early years of Idol were the best, it was all about the unknown young men and women who could actually sing not about the glitz and/or the judges who want to revive a sagging career. on the note I still think Clay Aiken was/is the very best of Idols

    • jacobjournalist says:

      Llana, could you imagine if Kelly, Clay, Jennifer H, Chris D, Bo, Elliott or Melinda Doolittle tried out today? I almost think that some of them would not have made it through.

  9. Great choices. All of those performances were great. David Archuleta’s Imagine will always be the best performance on AI IMO. Also loved Cook’s Billie Jean and Lambert’s Mad World. Kris Allen’s Heartless should have been on the list as well.

  10. Love the list you have here. Those were the days when the show was really about singing and singing well. David’s Imagine had me awestruck honestly. David Archuleta is still the most amazing singer to come out of that show, for me personally. Love the others too but I’m such a fan of David’s and always will be. Love his incredible, moving voice and the caring, humble person he is.

  11. It was great to see David Archuleta’s Imagine made your best of list! I was taken by his smooth, velvety vocals early on and have since become one of his #1 fans.

  12. Miss Vicki says:

    DAVID ARCHULETA WINS HANDS DOWN……CAN”T WAIT TILL HIS RETURN IN 2014…..HE IS THE NEXT FRANK SINATRA……MISS VICKI

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