Okay so 11th season is done. White Guy with Guitar wins for the fifth year. I’m not actually putting the blame on Phillip Phillips. Had Crystal Bowersox won in Season 9, there will not be a strong clamor for a female winner, and WGWG argument is put into rest. LELZ. All in all, this season is pretty uneven. While the potential of the talents involved this year are very very varied, we’re stuck with the same old sucky themes (Year of Birth? Check. Billy Joel? Check. Queen? Check), WTF judges (given the choice, I’d rank Steven as the best among the three. You can actually tell that he’s genuine and not superficial), over the top standing ovations (and by over the top, it’s not the same definition as to what Steven says when he use it). Nevertheless, here are the 20 best performances of the season for me.
20. Jessica Sanchez, “How Will I Know”
This one is a real guilty pleasure for me. I love the way that she didn’t go Whitney all the way with this version, and that it did not sound dated despite the week’s theme as 80s. Also, bonus points for her acting out majority of the lines in the songs such as “I say a prayer”, “I’m too shy”, and “I tried to phone.”
19. Heejun Han, “My Life”
Due to the pressure of being in the competition such as Idol, I tend to favor performances where you can see that the finalists just decide to go with the flow and have fun. This is one of them. I love Heejun’s take of this Billy Idol classic, and how this sends a subtle FU that he doesn’t care what the judges will say. After all, that is “his life.”
18. Phillip Phillips, “U Got it Bad”
Count me in to those who were not that totally amazed with this one. The good news is that Phillip Phillips made this an unpredictable pick for his song choice. And while I appreciate the surprising song choice, it’s difficult to go gaga over it when it lost the storytelling that Usher did in the original. This is really good, but not as good as what others perceive it is.
17. Joshua Ledet, “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World”
Another version of a song that is good, but not as good as judges want viewers to perceive. Joshua clearly has the chops to deliver a song and this one suits him because you can clearly see and hear James Brown’s influence in this number. Sadly, this still pales as compared to the versions of Christina Aguilera and The Voice’s Juliett Simms.
16. Jessica Sanchez, “Sweet Dreams”
I like this stripped version of this song especially since Jessica managed to get more dramatic with this performance. This prevented her from being a flat out Beyonce clone, and I think she’s being taken for granted when she delivered something new to this dance hit. But isn’t that the regular pattern in AI already? A guy changes the arrangement, he’s an artist, a girl does it, she’s a trying hard clone.
15. Jessica Sanchez/Joshua Ledet/Phillip Phillips, “Got to Get You Into My Life”
What I particularly like about this number is that despite the announcement of the Top 2, they managed to give a laid back and entertaining performance that highlights the strengths of the Top 3. And yes, for those doubting Phillip’s vocals, he’s not unforgettable here, and he held his own against the two vocal wise.
14. Sklyar Laine, “Wind Beneath My Wings”
I’m not particularly fond of Skylar in general, but she’s really an entertaining performer and brings vigor into all of her performances. Her Wind Beneath My Wings number not only closed the show that week, but it made its way into the best numbers of the season. Well done!
13. Joshua Ledet, “When A Man Loves A Woman”
Joshua’s best individual performance on the show is this number where we got to see him bare the song effectively enough that you wouldn’t mind all the theatrics that he did all season. If I’m gonna give Joshua a standing ovation this season, it will definitely be for this number.
12. Jessica Sanchez, “Everybody Has A Dream”
I call this number as Jessica’s Bennie and the Jets. How she managed to turn a very boring theme week (Billy Joel), and transformed a song that sounded dated as hell into a possible winning performance, this is another of those Jessica’s numbers that merited a standing O from the judges back when it still mattered.
11. Hollie Cavanagh, “Rolling in the Deep”
Yes, I can hear that grunt. Singing Adele is not my cup of tea, and I absolutely abhor everyone who covers her songs. However, this Grammy version that Hollie did as the opening for the Top 7 redux made its way to the best list because I did not see her mimicking Adele; instead, I saw her stamping it with Hollie all over. Win!
10. Jessica Sanchez “The Prayer”
Jessica is really a polished singer above anything else, and performances like this one highlights her advantage into the competition. This is her best performance in the finale show, and I thought that note sealed the deal for her that round. I love to gossip just like J.Lo, but clearly, Jessica rallied her way that round with this number.
09. Phillip Phillips, “Volcano”
Ah, Who would have thought of covering Damien Rice in Idol stage? I bet most people think that his songs weren’t even cleared for the competition. LOL. This performance by Phillip is really one of his bests. I love everything that leads up to this number. The song choice, the treatment, the vocals (yes I said it) were all good, and it highlighted Phillip as a good musician.
08. Hollie Cavanagh, “The Climb”
It’s such a shame that we get to hear Miley Cyrus own this song when all the other versions after this are clearly superior to hers. One of those is Hollie’s performance in the Top 5. I like that she used this as her swan song as well, as that performance of hers made me love Hollie more (Yes, I’m a fan).
07. Elise Testone, “Whole Lotta Love”
Elise is probably known as the oldest contestant this year, or a Mimi look-a-like, but I really think that she’s the most underrated candidate of the season. Elise knows how to deliver, and her vocals are really really interesting. Her take on Led Zepellin’s Whole Lotta Love puts all the other Idol finalists to shame as it packages her not only as a bonafide singer, but as an overall performer.
06. Phillip Phillips, “Beggin'”
See my point regarding Steven in my opening paragraph? This is one of those supporting evidence to that. When he gave this song to Phillip, it was very predictable that it’ll be just like his other performances. However, he owned the song so much that when he performed it in the Top 3, it really gave us a glance as if we are listening on his own tour and concert. No need to beg for more, as this one is an instant win for me.
05. Jessica Sanchez/Joshua Ledet, “I Know You Were Waiting”
Here’s the Idol showdown that everyone was secretly wishing. Mantasia meets Hudson. A redux of Season 3 all over again. This might not be the actual showdown that happened at the end of the season, but at least we got a glimpse of how it could have happened if they were the Final 2. And based on this number, it has the potential to be epic.
04. Jessica Sanchez/Jennifer Holliday, “And I Am Telling You”
The ultimate diva song. Everyone was waiting for Jessica to nail this during Top 4, and she actually did. Now she gets to perform this with seasoned singer a.k.a original Dreamgirl Jennifer Holliday. While there’s a part of me that thinks that it wasn’t Jennifer Holliday who showed up, and it was actually Effie White herself, no one can deny the power of this number as one of the best duets in Idol history. And oh, the birth of a new meme.
03. Phillip Phillips, “Home”
While this might sound as a Mumford & Sons reject, there’s something about the way Phillip sang this song. It’s as if he feels every line that he delivered, and not only does this count as the best Idol coronation song in 11 seasons, it also sealed the deal for Phillip for the title. I think that even non fans warmed up after he performed this yesterday.
02. Colton Dixon, “Piano Man”
Colton Dixon always sounded to me as the one who fits the Idol bill. And while it may sound totally absurd that he got booted off Top 7 (which was pretty understandable when you saw the performances that night), his Piano Man still highlights his effectiveness as a musician. This is an idol highlight that will be used a measure of comparison when future Idols perform this in the succeeding seasons.
01. Jessica Sanchez, “Stuttering”
Probably what I consider as the best performance this season, it really is a damn shame that she was sent home after this number. There are so many things going for her during this performance. It was a very inspired song choice and something that is not predictable, Jessica nailed every note she had in that two minutes, she was looking every inch a celebrity there, and this was clearly the genre and direction that she’s the most comfortable with. It’s sad that she didn’t take more risks after this (which is fully understandable), but clearly takes the cake for the best of the season.
That’s it for me. Do you agree with this list? What will you remove? What was your best choice for the season? And do you agree that Steven is the best judge? Pipe them in!