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American Idol Flashback: Favorite Finale Performances

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With Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox getting ready for their final performances on American Idol this week, I thought it would be fitting to share my favorite Top Two performances from past seasons. (Some of my picks may come as a surprise!)

In season three, it had come down to Diana DeGarmo and Fantasia Barrino in the Top Two. They both had to sing the Tamyra Gray-penned coronation song, "I Believe." Diana sounded pretty good, but it was Fantasia's performance of the song that made me reach for my Kleenex box. I am definitely not a huge fan of hers, but in my opinion, her performance of "I Believe" is one of the best performances on Idol over the past nine seasons.


During season six of Idol, I was strongly rooting for a Blake Lewis win. After watching Jordin Sparks perform what would become her winning coronation song, "This Is My Now," I knew that Blake would more than likely not be winning that season. I am usually not a fan of the coronation songs — they tend to be too cheesy for even my taste. Jordin sings "This Is My Now" with so much conviction, it's impossible for me to not just love her performance.


One of the biggest moments during the season two finale performance show was Clay Aiken pulling out all of the stops during his last performance to try to win it all. His performance of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" to this day still gives me chills. I am still surprised that he didn't manage to edge out Ruben Studdard for the win that season.


Season seven ended with the two Davids (David Archuleta and David Cook) in the Top Two. David Archuleta ended his season with an immaculate reprise performance of John Lennon's "Imagine." You can really tell that he put everything he had into that performance and that's why it has remained one of my very favorites.


Last season, I was not a fan of Adam Lambert's until after his performance of "A Change Is Gonna Come." (His voice wasn't my cup of tea, what can I say?) Anyway, this performance is amazing, and it showed that Adam has some soul to his voice. This performance was definitely a highlight from last season's Top Two.

Speaking of last season, the eventual winner Kris Allen also had a fantastic reprise performance of "Ain't No Sunshine." Out of the three songs Kris performed that night, he really pulled out all the stops to make his reprise perfect. For me, it was better than his original performance and was a great song choice for him.


It should be no shock to anyone that David Cook's rendition of Collective Soul's "The World I Know" is my very favorite performance from past Top Two weeks. I love that even though he was given the chance to reprise a well-praised performance that instead he opted to give the audience something new and fresh. This is the the performance that in my opinion, won him the competition. He sounds just absolutely wonderful on the song, and his performance was definitive of what was to come for him in his post-Idol career.


These are my favorite performances from the Top Two weeks of the past. I am hoping to add performances from Lee and Crystal to this list this week. What are your thoughts on my picks?

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About Kirsten Coachman

Kirsten Coachman is an Entertainment Writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She has interviewed a variety of people from across the entertainment spectrum, including singer-songwriter/Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas, Andrew Dost from the Grammy Award-winning band fun., singer-songwriter Christina Perri, and acclaimed writer-director Derek Cianfrance.
  • mike

    Diana degarmos version outdid Fantasia. It brought tears to Kelly Clarkson and it is also favored by Fred Bronson of Bilboard .

  • Geri

    I thought that all 3 songs by David Archuleta on Finale night were amazing!! He sang his heart out that night.

  • Sherry

    Clay’s performance of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” will never be equaled. Best performance of the entire 9 seasons!