I’ve got some time to kill … figured I’d rot my brain and entertain the masses by offering up my all-time Top 25 American Idol contestant lists. This is based, 100 percent, on my opinion of who’s best. No science applied …
1. Bo Bice: I know … I know. Carrie Underwood went on to country music dominance, and Bice has sorta vanished. To me, it’s the template for post-Idol reality: The best people aren’t usually the most successful mainstream artists. As far as I’m concerned, Bice set the stage for other performers to be funky and creative.
2. Josiah Leming—Remember this kid? Season seven … lived in his car … sang in a British accent? He didn’t last long, but that’s mainly because people are idiots, and he wasn’t mainstream. This moment, however, is my favorite in Idol history.
3. Haley Reinhart—OK, she growls a bit too often. Fine. I just love her voice. Love it, love it, love it. The judges are pathetically hard on her, and I don’t understand why. Marvelous.
4. David Cook—His post-Idol shortcomings baffle me. The dude is a genuine talent, and I saw him going far. But after initial success, he’s kind of vanished. I chalk it up to a dull name. Remember this performance? Kick ass.
5. Adam Lambert—Did he annoy me? Uh, yeah. Very much. But his voice, to cite the wife, is an instrument. Undeniable talent. Vocally, he is to Kris Allen (that season’s winner) what Celine Dion is to Miley Cyrus. That said, this is the worst song ever.
6. Crystal Bowersox—Got robbed last season by a guy who’ll be singing in bowling alleys for the next decade. Reminded me of a cool, hip Indigo Girls.
7. Kelly Clarkson—Look, there’s no denying her Season One dominance. Is she overly original? No. Otherwordly gifted? No. A star? Yeah.
8. Chris Daughtry—Easily the greatest misfire in Idol history. This dude dominated—like, absolutely dominated—the show, then got dumped and had to watch from home as the Soul Patrol guy sludged through.
9. Ruben Studdard—Had the biggest, most loveable personality in the show’s history. Plus, a voice that reminded me so much of Luther. Not an amazing post-Idol career, but OK.
10. Allison Iraheta—Big, big pipes. First teenager to blow through.
11. Jennifer Hudson—She came in seventh place in the third season. Let me say that again: Jennifer Hudson, amazing singer, came in seventh. Baffling.
12. Fantasia Barrino—I’m a fan of anyone who brings soul to a relatively soul-deprived show. Has had a very nice post-Idol run, too.
13. James Durbin—The wife and I debated who had a bigger voice, Durbin or Lambert. I say Lambert by a nose, but Durbin is probably a better all-around singer. Have to root for this guy.
14. Carrie Underwood—Gotta admit, I loved when she sang with Rascal Flatts in the final episode. So, hey.
15. Jordin Sparks—You know, she has a beautiful voice and is extremely likeable. The best singer around? No. But a total package on a show with a lot of flawed performers.
16. Taylor Hicks—Yeah, I just bashed him. But, to be honest, at the time I loved his devotion to blues and soul. If only he could, eh, sing a little better. (If we’re honest here, he goes down as Idol’s biggest bust—by far).
17. Danny Gokey—I was rooting for the guy to win. Lost his wife, seemed pretty kind and decent. Lambert was better, Allen was worse, Gokey was very solid. Oh, well.
18. Syesha Mercado—My biggest Idol Crush. Hubba hubba.
19. Scotty McCreery—This guy is gonna have a huge country career. Huge.
20. Melinda Doolittle—She was good.
21. Kellie Pickler
22. Anoop Desai
23. Jason Castro
24. Pia Toscano
25. Anwar Robinson