“Glee” aired it’s Whitney Houston tribute this week and IMHO it was one of their best “theme” episodes. For the most part, the cast did a stellar job on some of Houston’s classic. That being said, no one can come close to Whitney’s talent, especially on her signature songs. Chris Colfer (Kurt) was given the enviable task of tackling one of her most popular tracks, “I Have Nothing“, which brings me to this post.
“The Bodyguard” ballad is by far Houston’s most covered track on talent shows. It’s soaring and powerful, yet not “I Will Always Love You“. No sane person really wants to sing that incredibly difficult, especially live. “I Have Nothing” has been covered seven times on “American Idol” tying “Against All Odds” as the most performed song during the semifinals and finals of the Fox show. I’m sure it’s probably the most covered song if you take into account all reality singing competitions. It’s popped up on most of the international Idols, “X Factor” and “The Voice“.
For the purpose of this post, I decided to just compare and rank only the “American Idol” performances. “I Have Nothing” was first covered on Season 2 with Trenyce and all the way to the current season where Shannon Magrane butchered it during the Whitney Houston theme week. Watch all the videos below and be sure to cast your vote in our poll.
Season: 2 (Ruben Studdard)
Theme Week: Movie Hits
Eventual Placing: Top 5
At the time, I thought Trenyce nailed it. Looking back on it, it actually wasn’t very good.
Season: 3 (Fantasia)
Theme Week: Semifinals
Eventual Placing: Top 12
Believe it or not, Leah’s version was the only one I couldn’t find anywhere. If memory serves me correctly, it wasn’t that bad. Not great, but not bad either. I thought I’d embed her audition where she sang another Whitney track in lieu of. You get the gist of what she did with “I Have Nothing” after watching this.
Season: 3 (Fantasia)
Theme Week: Movie Week
Eventual Placing: Final 7
If J-Hud were to perform this now, she would kill it. There are a few pitch problems, but overall an outstanding homage to Houston.
Season: 4 (Carrie Underwood)
Theme Week: Songs of the 1990s
Eventual Placing: Final 3
On paper, she’s not the strongest vocalist and surprised everyone by making it to the Final 3 of her season. That said, Vonzell pulls one out of her ass and does this song proud. I wonder what she’s up to these days.
Season: 5 (Taylor Hicks)
Theme Week: Classic Love Songs
Eventual Placing: Runner-Up
On performance night, Simon Cowell tore Katharine a new one when he critiqued her. The next day, during results, he made a public apology to her on the show, saying she was pretty good. I’m glad he did, because I remember liking it when I first heard it. Plus she looks drop dead gorgeous in that yellow dress. If you watch close enough, she has a slight wardrobe malfunction. One of the lower buttons pops open during her “angry stride” during the bridge.
Theme Week: Personal Song Choice (Semifinals)
Eventual Placing: Top 4
When the Top 32 first sang, LaKisha slayed everyone with her “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” performance. Of course, having a hard act to follow, this Whitney cover paled in comparison. Listening to it on its own now, it’s actually pretty damn awesome. Definitely one of the better ones.
Theme Week: Whitney Houston Week
Eventual Placing: Top 11
Simply AWFUL. How she wasn’t eliminated after this tragedy is beyond me. Thankfully, justice prevailed the next week and was eliminated after she massacred another great diva’s song- Mariah Carey’s “One Sweet Day”.
My Rankings of “I Have Nothing” American Idol Performances
- 1. Jennifer Hudson
- 2. Vonzell Solomon
- 3. LaKisha Jones
- 4. Katharine McPhee
- 5. Trenyce
- 6. Leah Labelle
- 7. Shannon Magrane
Now that you’ve heard all the “American Idol” ladies’ performances and voted (hopefully), you can enjoy Kurt Hummel’s serenade to Blaine. I’m glad the producers chose to give “I Have Nothing” to Kurt instead of the girls. That way you aren’t as easily inclined to compare it to the late great Houston.