It’s that time of year again when another American Idol season is upon us. Before tonight’s premiere, I thought we’d take a trip down memory lane and rank the best songs from previous Idol contestants. If American Idol didn’t exist, perhaps a few of these songs would’ve never been hits. Love it or hate it, American Idol is a huge force in the music industry and has churned out one multi-platinum artist after another.
Originally, I was going to keep it down to ten tracks, but I couldn’t narrow it down to just ten. Another thing to keep in mind while checking out the list is, I imposed a two song maximum per artist. Let’s face it, I could’ve filled the list completely from songs solely from Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood alone. Also, no coronation songs were eligible since I’m doing a post, ranking the American Idol cheesy winner’s song at a later date. Without further ado, here’s my Top 15 Tracks From American Idol Contestants.
Top 15 Best Songs From American Idol Contestants
15. Crush by David Archuleta
Ewww. I can’t believe he made my list, but I have to reluctantly admit, I like this song. Though most people thought he had the competition in the bag after his “Imagine” performance, I was in the minority and hoped he wouldn’t. Despite my hate and to my surprise, I ended up liking his first post-Idol single. Turns out, I AM a teenage girl at heart.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J1-eYBbspA
14. Band of Gold by Kimberley Locke
Kimberley almost crashed the Clay/Ruben final two party, the producers had hoped for all season long due to her strong vocals and performances. But in the end, she fell just a tad short. Some might argue “8th World Wonder” is her better single, but I love this remake of the disco classic. We first saw her sing “Band of Gold” with Frenchie Davis during the Hollywood rounds of the second season of AI. We always knew Locke was a smart girl, and by choosing to release this single, she knew who her biggest fanbase was- the GAYS.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0r6yo1Jvm04
13. Free Yourself by Fantasia
Some regard Fantasia as the one of the best American Idol contestant winners ever. In my opinion, she’s meh at best and a poor-man’s Macy Gray. Having said that, I can’t deny Fantasia’s awesomeness during this song. Bobo’s recently made a foray into reality TV. Her VH1 show, “Fantasia For Real” recently made its debut to positive reviews.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWs3fs9nnzc
12. Home by Daughtry
Known mostly for being the “elimination anthem” for season seven, this Daughtry ballad should be praised for its own merits. Season five’s top 10, probably had the best pool of talent of all time. And had Daughtry won instead of “Soul Patrol” Taylor Hicks, it would’ve been hailed as the best season ever. Up until recently, thanks to Lee DeWyze & Kris Allen, Hicks was the worst selling Idol ever. Record sales is the best revenge, right Daughtry?
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIUw4ZS1J_A
11. Invisible by Clay Aiken
My name is Donovan, and I was a Claymate. Admitting is the first step, right? I love adult contemporary and Aiken, whose old-fashioned vocalizing, hit all the right notes with me. I love this song, but I do have my limits. Purely for its embarrassing factor, I made sure to leave it just outside my top ten.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbhOVKhwO_4
10. How Many Words by Blake Lewis
I have to thank former cast member Landon, for exposing me to season six runner-up’s debut album. More specifically to the Dave Aude remix of “How Many Words”. (Editors note from Patrick: It was Patrick who introduced it to Landon!) When I used to go to the gym (have to start again), this was on heavy rotation. It’s a shame season 6 got a bum rap, IMHO it was definitely one of the more underrated seasons.
Check it out: http://youtu.be/HqiKi4KVJk0
9. What About Now by Daughtry
Here’s the second of my Daughtry choices. I chose this one for two reasons. First, the image of those African kids singing this song with Daughtry during one of the “Idol Gives Back” segments was so touching, it made me a little misty. Secondly, the accompanying video is equally moving. Good on you Daughtry, for trying to “make a change” and “looking at the man in the mirror”.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roDXSHSEuoo
8. My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson
I had a really tough time trying to pick just two Kelly songs. In the end, I chose one of her most recent efforts instead of “Because of You”. So, how did I pick? I flipped a coin. Haha. Depending on what mood I’m in, they’re both amazing. It’s like musical “Sophie’s Choice”.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRM70Jw7F4M
7. Whataya Want From Me by Adam Lambert
Arguably one of the most successful Idols from the past few seasons, Adam Lambert scored a trio of hits from his debut album, “For Your Entertainment”. Even though the title track and “If I Had You” are all worthy of making this list, I picked his second single, “Whataya Want From Me” as his best. It not only hit Top Ten on Billboard’s Hot 100, but it also scored him a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Too boot the single sold more than 1.6 million copies within the US making it the most successful single from the album. Lambert asks “Whataya Want From Me?”. To that I say, more awesome tracks like this.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6LKXRCQAAs
6. Wait For You by Elliott Yamin
He didn’t make the finals and didn’t have a major record deal backing him, but Yamin still managed to sell almost more records than Taylor Hicks. Considering Hicks’ heavy promotional dollars and the Idol title on his side, Elliott’s efforts are pretty friggin’ amazing. His album sales were primarily due to the strength of this single. Hate to say this, but had Yamin more conventionally been better looking, me might’ve taken the crown. Nah, there was no derailing that silly cult’s (Soul Patrol) efforts.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xaHyvAMLk7U
5. Before He Cheats by Carrie Underwood
Whether you’re a country fan or not, you’ve probably, at one point during a drunken night, sang this scorned-girl anthem out loud. Trust me, you weren’t alone. It was this single that allowed Underwood to crossover to the pop charts. She’s so pretty, she could sing the “Macarena” to me, and I’d eat it up.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaSy8yy-mr8
4. Spotlight by Jennifer Hudson
This song should’ve been a bigger hit than it was. The hook alone is genius with all the “woo hoos”. Arguably the most robbed Idol contestant ever, Hudson exited the competition in one of the most shocking eliminations of American Idol. I guess that consolation prize called an Oscar, should soften the blow. If you’re not a fan of the original, be sure to check out the dance remix- it’s HOTTTTTTTTTT.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9qtRcHJVI8
3. No Air by Jordin Sparks
Sure Chris Brown had something to do with its success, but since he’s been blacklisted, this duet all of a sudden became a solo effort. Without this song, Katee and Joshua’s unforgettable routine from SYTYCD would never be. Probably one of the most under appreciated idol winners ever, Sparks has quietly sailed her way to multi-platinum success. She’s had more singles enter the Billboard charts than half the previous winners but yet she doesn’t get her due. Poor Jordin. Hang in there girl, just “Let the Music Play” and keep fighting in the musical “Battlefield”.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBKnpyoFEBo
2. Wasted by Carrie Underwood
No 2. Really? Yup, I love this song and I’m not going to apologize for it. What about “Jesus Take the Wheel”? It’s good and so are most of Underwood’s songs, but for some reason this song is pure gold to me. There’s nothing better than belting this out while driving in the middle of the country with the top down in my Jeep.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paMzF1lnwGg
1. Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
Was there every any doubt that this would be my number one pick? Not only did this song rule the airwaves and billboard charts, but it finally gave Idol contestants some industry credibility. It was finally cool to listen to an American Idol winner. On a personal level, I’ll never forget dancing to this song with a bunch of party goers the first time I went to Tigerheat in LA. We literally danced our asses off that night. So much so, our shirts looked like they just went through the spin cycle. Kelly, you’re forever my “American Idol” regardless of your weight issues.
Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41LG2k-ivVY
Here are a few other songs that almost made my list but just didn’t make the cut: Jordin Sparks “Tattoo“; Adam Lambert “For Your Entertainment“; Katherine McPhee “Over It“, Mario Vazquez “Gallery” and Tamyra Gray “Star”.
There you have it boys and girls. Do you agree/disagree with any or all my choices? Be sure to post all your feedback and comments below.