Yep, it's time again to take a glance backward into Idol history, to choose the Ten Best 'Top 6' performances of all time. Each member of this list ended up in their season's respective Top 4 -- there are two former winners, four runners-up, and two third and two fourth place finishers.
(As a reminder, performances from the current season are not eligible for on any of these Ten Best lists)
Ten Best Top 7 Performances of All Time
Ranking the 7th Place Finishers
Ten Best Top 8 Performances of All Time
Ranking the 8th Place Finishers
Ranking the 9th Place Finishers
Ten Best Top 9 Performances of All Time
Ranking the 10th Place Finishers
Ten Best Top 10 Performances of All Time
Ten Best Top 11 Performances of All Time
Ten Best First Finals Performances
Ten Best Semifinals Performances of All Time
1. Kelly Clarkson, "Stuff Like That There" (Season 1)
Words can't possibly do justice this iconic Idol performance that basically secured the title for Ms. C. Just when it seemed like Kelly had revealed all she had to offer, she came out and wowed the judges and audience alike with this show-stopping ditty. Transporting herself to a different age, Ms. C was sounded so good and was so charming, you couldn't help but fall in love with her. I know I did!
2. Elliott Yamin, "A Song For You" (Season 5)
There is a reason this is Elliott's signature song -- there is no one in the world (except, possibly, it's originator Donnie Hathaway) who sings it better. Handling the vocal runs like it was a walk in the park, Elliott transformed himself into a true contender for the title with this confident and beautifully sung performance. It was so good he recorded it on his recently released debut CD!
3. Tamyra Gray, "Minnie the Moocher" (Season 1)
Kelly may have stole the show during Season 1's Top 6, but Tamyra was a solid second best performing on this Cab Calloway tune. Looking like she just stepped out of the 1920's, she was incredible -- and she even scatted!
4. Bo Bice, "I Don't Wanna Be" (Season 4)
Singing a song that is playing on the radio is always a risk for Idol contestants, but Bo scoffed at the risk, delivering a totally credible (and enjoyable) version of the Gavin Degraw hit. He may not have nailed the high note at the end, but everything leading up to it was totally rockin'.
5. Justin Guarini, "Route 66" (Season 1)
After becoming the early favorite in Season 1, Justin had hit a bit of a rough patch, even falling into the Bottom 2 during the Top 7. He came back with a relaxed and well-sung version of this old standard that clearly showed he, along with Kelly and Tamyra, were the best Season 1 had to offer.
6. Clay Aiken, "I Could Not Ask For More" (Season 2)
Clay Aiken + Dianne Warren power ballad = magic. These were the kind of songs Clay was meant to sing, and if Warren had written Clay's CD (instead of the unwise choice of releasing a CD of covers) I bet he'd be topping Adult Contemporary radio. Alas, at least we have this performance to look back on.
7. Diana Degarmo, "Turn the Beat Around" (Season 3)
Diana continued her mid-season turnaround with this Gloria Estefan number, effortlessly handling the tounge-twister lyrics and adding in a few dance moves to boot. This is by far the best version of this song that has ever been performed on the show (sorry, Haley!)
8. Carrie Underwood, "When God Fearin' Women Get the Blues" (Season 4)
Carrie was best when performing two different types of song on American Idol -- 80's power ballads and country tunes (especially, like this one, that were originally sung by Martina McBride).
9. Anthony Fedorov, "I Surrender" (Season 4)
Kelly Clarkson gave the definitive Idol performance of this song back in Season 1, but Anthony put his own spin on the Celine Dion power ballad, acquitting himself better than anyone (especially me) expected him to. This is my favorite Fedorov performance.
10. Kimberley Locke, "If You Asked Me To" (Season 2)
After her Billy Joel week triumph, K-Lo continued her hot streak on this Dianne Warren song, giving it a soulful spin that ended with a beautiful note sung in her rarely-heard head voice. Not Kim's best performance, but very strong nonetheless.