Who hasn’t dreamed of packing a 55,000 person stadium, grabbing a microphone and singing “Dream On” in a perfect Steven Tyler pitch that has everyone screaming and adoring fans crying? Singing competition series “American Idol” has given young talent that opportunity for 18 seasons so far.
Since first debuting on Fox in 2002 with Kelly Clarkson became the nation’s darling, other major successes have followed in her footsteps, including Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks and Ruben Studdard. Even when contestants didn’t win, they could go on to fruitful careers (see: Chris Daughtry, Adam Lambert and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson).
Although show ended its 15-season run on Fox in 2016, it re-emerged on ABC just two years later. Now, “Idol” is entering into its 19th season overall (fourth on ABC) on Feb. 14.
Looking ahead to that upcoming season and the next wave of musical talent (including perhaps Claudia Conway?) hoping to make an impression in this cutthroat business, Variety reflects on and ranks the Top 20 best performances in “Idol” history so far.
Honorable mentions include: David Archuleta (“Imagine” by John Lennon), Janelle Arthur (“You Keep Me Hanging On” by The Supremes), Jason Castro (“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen), Casey James (“Jealous Guy” by John Lennon), Siobhan Magnus (“Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones), Jordin Sparks (“I, Who Have Nothing” by Tom Jones), Ruben Studdard (“A Whole New World” from “Aladdin”), Pia Toscano (“I’ll Stand By You” by The Pretenders)