The curtain is about to come down on “American Idol,” Fox’s phenomenal singing competition series that launched a genre of reality television shows devoted to singing and novice singers aspiring to be stars. After 15 seasons packed with performances both good and not-so-good, “American Idol” ends its run April 7.
In honor of the show’s end, here are five of the most memorable performances to grace the “Idol” stage. Many of them aren’t from the show’s winners or more popular alumni.
Fantasia Barrino, ‘Summertime’
True musical icons are known by one name only: Patti, Aretha, Beyonce and the winner of “Idol’s” third season, Fantasia. The young singer impressed judges and audiences with her stirring rendition of the “Porgy and Bess” standard “Summertime” — sitting on the floor of the stage, shoes off. Judge Paula Abdul called it an “Oscar-winning performance” while fellow judge Simon Cowell, who was not easy to please, called it “magical.”
Blake Lewis, ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’
Blake Lewis of Season 6 put his own twist on the singing competition, injecting beatbox into his arrangement of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.” The move was considered by producers to be risky. Bon Jovi lead singer Jon Bon Jovi, who served as show mentor for the week, called it “rolling the dice.” But given the crowd’s reaction and his eventual second-place finish, the gamble paid off.
Kelly Clarkson, ‘A Natural Woman’
The original “Idol” is and always will be Kelly Clarkson, winner of the show’s first season. Her soaring performance of Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” is considered one of the series’ most solid highlights and gave a hint of her eventual stardom.
Joshua Ledet, ‘It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World’
Season 11’s Joshua Ledet’s powerful version of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” brought the arena to its feet. Of the performance, judge Steven Tyler said “neither man nor woman has ever sang that good with that much compassion on this show ever.”
Candice Glover — ‘Lovesong’
When musical legend and judge Mariah Carey dusts an artist with glitter, no greater seal of approval is needed. And the only “Idol” contestant to be bestowed with such an honor was Season 12’s winner, Candice Glover. Her cover of the Cure’s “Lovesong” earned a standing ovation from the judge’s panel, the special recognition from Carey, and judge Randy Jackson’s declaration that it was one of the best performances in his 12 years on the show.