American Idol Winners: Would You Have Picked Them At First Glance?

As this is the Farewell Season of American Idol, I thought I would cull through the video archives featuring past auditions of former  winners from this popular reality show. 

For old times sake.  

And to see if there was a hint of what was to come in their future. 

Now, I know many of you have seen these videos over and over again, but, with the audition phase of Season 15 at the completion stage, I thought it would be neat to see if these videos could assist us in predicting which singer will win the top prize this year. 

I have added my thoughts  at the bottom of each video and hope you will add yours in the comments sections below. 

So, here they are – all under one roof here on the MCL site. Let’s have a look -see, shall we?  

Kelly Clarkson: Winner, American Idol Season 1: Audition Song: “At Last”

I love Kelly’s warm and engaging personality. She is basically the same person today as she was back then, enthusiastic, bubbly, genuine and throughly relaxed and confident.

She was quite the force during Season 1 – giving consistently excellent and memorable performances week after week. I have yet to see anyone quite as engaging as Kelly – she could be everyone’s best friend. All that talent and personality wrapped up in one adorable package. 

In this audition clip, she sings with impeccable vocal technique while, at the same time, exhibits her unique performing style. A true standout and a true Idol. 

You can listen to  Kelly’s new album, “Piece By Piece” on APPLE MUSIC or download it on iTUNES

Ruben Studdard: Winner, American Idol Season 2: Audition Song: “Ribbon In The Sky”

Well, those was the most unenthusiastic “yeses” in Idol history.  The judges may as well have said “no”. Their expressions would have remained the same. So strange.

In this video, Ruben gave a flawless rendition of this song, with beautiful intonation and phrasing.  His smooth vocal range was duly highlighted in this video with confidence and style. 

Ruben, I believe, was the chosen one for Season 2 and you could sense that each week with the “Ruuuubbeeeen” shootouts from host Ryan Seacrest.  However,as good and as affable as he was, Ruben struggled to overshadow the brilliance of Runner-Up Clay Aiken’s voice – and his rabid fanbase. 

However, in the end, Ruben won the top prize and has since gone on to a pretty decent singing career. Producer/Songwriter extraordinaire, David Foster, regularly features him in his shows.  His voice is truly golden – that whisky flavoured and velvet texture in his vocal tone is contagious  and covers me like a warm blanket on a frosty night. 

Fantasia: Winner, American Idol Season 3: Audition Song: “Killing Me Softly” and “Rollin’ On The River”


Simon said it first and best : “I actually think you are one of the best we’ve ever had“. Those were his words to Fantasia after her audition and the rest is history. 

She really was a unique entity. Her name, her look, her voice, her personality, her presence – all these qualities were so distinctive.  There was no doubt in my mind that this young 19-year-old had a “je ne said quois”charisma that was hers and hers alone .  

However, my problem with Fantasia has always been the manner in which she delivers her voice. In this video, she sings very well and her voice sounds pure. But, if you listen, really listen, you start to hear  the breaks in her voice, the result of faulty technical skills.  

She did have many magical moments on that Idol stage – wh  could ever forget her remarkable and poignant performance of “Summertime”?  It was magical. 

But, many times, when she resorted to screaming her emotions – with that pierced, shrill vocal delivery, – she lost me . Yet, the fans loved her and embraced her quirky style. She was fun and cool and just different enough to separate herself from the pack. 

Carrie Underwood: Winner, American Idol Season 4. Audition Song: “I Can’t Make You Love Me”

Now, who does she remind you of?  

To me, she reminds me of a shyer version of Kelly Clarkson. Carrie not only sang beautifully and flawlessly during this audition but her warm, kind, respectful and “aw shucks” demeanor was exactly what the Producers craved in a future country artist destined for stardom. 

And these qualities set the stage for her American Idol Promo Journey as the next big superstar in the country music scene. 

Throughout the season, Carrie’s voice proved amazingly adaptable to numerous genres, garnering her more fans with each passing week.  

Like Kelly, she was a star from the moment she walked through that audition door and, like Kelly, has remained the same person she was back then in Season 4. A beautiful, Idol – worthy young lady. 

Taylor Hicks: Winner, American Idol Season 5: Audition Song: “A Change Is Gonna Come”

Aha. I was right. Simon was wrong. Can we hear an hallelujah?  

From Day One, I predicted that Taylor Hicks would be the winner of American Idol Season 5. He was soulfully brilliant in his delivery, a true original and a fun, energetic and savvy contestant to watch on that stage every week. 

He loved his Soul Patrol fans, sending them shout-outs every week after his performances, much to the chagrin of the Producers. He was unstoppable! This guy was a marketing genius and his strategic planning worked. 

Simon was dismayed and frustrated by his growing momentum and made life a living hell for him. But, the fans had Taylor’s back and they meant business. They were an organized, passionate entity and, were it not for the Soul Patrol, the outcome of Season 5 would have been different. 

Taylor moved on to great success and has carved a very successful career in the music business.  In addition to appearing on Broadway, Taylor is the first Idol winner to secure a long-term residency in Las Vegas. He began his residency at Bally’s Las Vegas in June 2012 and moved to a larger venue, Paris Las Vegas, in January 2013.

You can download his newest CD, “In Your Time” from iTUNES or listen to it on APPLE MUSIC

Jordin Sparks : Winner, American Idol Season 6: Audition Song: “Because You Love Me”


There was no doubt that Jordin gave a phenomenal audition. She was a gifted vocalist and it showed in this video. She highlighted the vastness of her vocal range and her pitch never wavered during this a Capella version of this number. 

That being said, she hit some bumps along the way when she made the Top 10 – mostly due to her young age and technical issues with her voice. 

But, she came to this show with strong connections – her Dad played for the NFL – and was the centrepiece of the  built- in agenda of the American Idol Producers. They wanted her to win and she did. 

Personally, I thought she needed a couple of more years to refine her voice and performing style but the music business doesn’t like to wait. Everything was set in motion when she planted her feet in that audition room. 

With that being said, her last couple of weeks on American Idol were arguably her best.  In the end, she deserved the prize and I credit her for her resilience and strength to overcome her fears and insecurities during the course of this show. 

David Cook: Winner, American Idol Season 7. Audition Song: “Living On A Prayer”

Oh David – how much do I love thee? Very much indeed. I remember thinking when I saw this audition that this guy sings with amazing technique for a rock singer. 

 And this impressed me.

I was rooting for him from the beginning but, during this particular season, the talent was so deep and diverse that it was difficult to predict how it would play out. And there was another David that I had my eye on as well. 

However, David’s kind, humble, intelligent demeanor was something one rarely sees on these shows. And, as time moved on, he exuded a high level of creative artistry during his performances, always preparing each song with impeccable skill and finesse. He was hard to ignore and his fans multiplied like loaves each week, remaining steadfastly loyal to him even now. 

His coronation song, “Time Of My Life” is still my favorite coronation song. Have a listen on APPLE MUSIC or iTUNES and hear why. 

Have we seen a male singer like David in Season 15? Yes, I believe we have – in the first week of auditions. Let’s see what happens. 

In the meantime, you can purchase David’s new Digital Vein album on iTUNES or stream it on APPLE MUSIC

Kris Allen: Winner, American Idol Season 8: Audition Song: “A Song For You”


Kris is a sweet, adorable singer with great musical instincts. However, I have no idea how he pummelled Adam Lambert during the American Idol Season 8 Finale.  

And, obviously, if you watch the video, the judges concurred. The producers did their best to “hide” him.  This video was not aired during Season 8 and we rarely, if ever, saw Kris perform before he magically made it to the Top 10. 

However, this was the year when American Idol realized that the staying power of fans coupled with the performing resilience of the singer were tantamount to winning this competition. The show, noticeably, became a popularity contest vs. finding a singer with charisma and vocal talent.It was going in another direction from the Kelly Clarkson days. 

I am happy that Kris has carved a career for himself. He is a great guy, honest and decent, and, at the end of the day, is passionate and devoted to his music.  I guess nice guys can finish first. Good to know. 

Lee DeWyze: Winner, American Idol Season 9: Audition Song: “Ain’t No Sunshine”

Lee gave a solid audition here but, personally, he wasn’t a standout. As good as he was in this video, we had heard  singers similar to Lee’s  style and substance during the past 8 seasons.  He was not unique like Taylor Hicks or Fantasia  nor did he have the charisma of David Cook or Kelly Clarkson

In fairness to Lee, however, the entire season was extremely weak – and not just on stage. The chemistry between the judges was lacking and, sometimes, downright volatile.  It was hard to get in to the Idol game when the core of the show was an organizational train wreck. 

However, his music career has remained solid and steadfast since his tenure on American Idol – which speaks highly of his resilience and passion for his music, with a new album – OIL AND WATER – set for release on iTunes on February 2016. 

Scotty McCreery: Winner, American Idol Season 10: Audition Songs: “Your Man” and “Put Some Drive In Your Country”

This audition was hilarious and fun and full of good vibes. I was smiling throughout the entire process. Scotty sang just beautifully, giving us a wonderful taste of the magnitude of his country – flavoured vocals. I smelled a winner from the beginning. How about you?

In fact, I predicted, early in the show, that the Top 2 would be Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery. Yes, that season, American Idol became American Country Idol and you could look feel it in the air and the subtle editing which took place over the weeks and months. 

What can you do?  I am still waiting for a Big Band singer to win this show. It’s this year or bust. 

At any rate, Scotty won this show with his charming and humble demeanor – this counts for a lot on this show as we have seen in past seasons. 

However, his vocal performances only  worked when he came equipped to perform songs closer to his personal style.  When confronted to perform songs out of his comfort zone, his vocal delivery would unravel.  He was a country boy at heart 

No worries, though. American Idol was galloping full force on the Scotty train. They needed a male Carrie Underwood  and the potential for all that success in Scotty seemed to be the ticket. 

Since then, Scotty has carved a great career in the country music industry – certainly not of the magnitude of  Carrie, but pretty darn close and closing in. It’s just a matter of time. 

You can stream Scotty’s “See You Tonight” Deluxe Album on APPLE MUSIC and/or purchase it on iTUNES

Philipp Phillips : Winner, American Idol Season 11. Audition Song: “Superstition” and “Thriller”

Is it just me or is Phillip Phillips channeling Season 5 winner, Taylor Hicks?   Like Taylor, Phillip inhabited the emotion within  his songs and immersed his body and soul in the musical impetus.  He was so unaware of his surroundings during this audition and this is the sign of a true artist.  

With that being said, I should have embraced Phillip from Day One, but, truth be told, my musical taste  was aligned with  other artists in Season 11’s Top 10, most notably Deandre Brackensick

But, Phillip’s quirky, folksy delivery ruled the stage each and every week and he could do no wrong. He was by far one of the weaker singers in the competition but, in the past few seasons, this didn’t seem to matter. It was the look, the vibe, the cute guy with the guitar who ruled the day. 

And the Producers got the message loud and clear.  His soon to be coronation song, “Home” was waiting to be christened by Phillip at the Finale. The song was tailor – made for his style of singing and it was such a hit it became the best selling coronation song of all time. Yes – better than Kelly’s or Carrie’s or David’s – or anyone else for that matter.  The song was ubiquitous and yet, one never tired of it. It was a great number.

You can still download “Home” on iTUNES or steam it on APPLE MUSIC

Candice Glover: Winner, American Idol Season 12. Audition Song: “Syrup And Honey”

Hard to believe, but this talented young lady auditioned three times for American Idol.  So, I guess, “three’s  a charm” for Candice because she  was finally rewarded with the Season 12 crown. 

I was happy to see her get her gold ticket and then move forward to the Top 10 but there were some mighty fine singers in this group of finalists.  For me, as good as she was, it was difficult to determine if she would finally win the whole thing. 

And, as good as this audition was to see and hear, nothing  different really “popped” for me, except for the fact that she had auditioned numerous times for this show.   However, I found myself rooting for her.  She was a survivor – a gutsy and risky performer.  

So this reason – in addition to her talent – her fans rallied around her and decided that this young lady obviously embodied resilience and passion for her music. They felt it was her time to shine. 

Caleb Johnson: Winner, American Idol Season 13. Audition Song: “Into The Void”

Caleb definitely had the chops during this audition. I actually had my eye on him from Day One. The tone of his voice drew me in. It was meaty and powerful and he sang with confidence. 

He did go on to win this season – but, overall, the entire season did not measure up and the viewers were complacent.  At least I was. 

Nick Fradiani: Winner, American Idol Season 14 Audition Song: “In Your Eyes”

Nick, Nick, Nick.  He was a tricky one!  He performed with confidence and strength in this audition but I would be lying if I said I thought he would be the next American Idol. His look and sound was one that had been heard many times before and Harry Connick Jr. echoed this statement. As good as he was, he didn’t stand out on Day One. 

However, once he catapulted to the Top 10, there was no stopping him.  In my eyes, he became another person. All the important elements necessary for success – charisma, strong vocal and performing technique, endearing persona, – seemed to strengthen with each passing week.  He worked tremendously hard during American Idol Season 14 and I would  have been disappointed had he not won – although he had a worthy Runner-Up in talented Clark Beckam

His coronation single, “Beautiful Life” was a fantastic song – reminiscent of David Cook’s “Time Of My Life”.  It deserved to receive more recognition and, to this day, am dismayed that it did not enjoy the same level of success as its predecessors. 

You can stream “Beautiful Life” on APPLE MUSIC or download it on iTUNES.  I play it all the time. It is contagious. 

About Masterclass Lady

Rosanne (Giallonardo) Simunovic began her musical career in Timmins, Ontario. She studied piano with Anne Pizzale and later, at an advanced level, with Soeur Anita Vaugeois (Sister Cecile of Les Soeurs De L’Assomption in Timmins). Her vocal and accompaniment skills were nurtured by her aunt, the late Dorothea Mascioli. When Rosanne graduated from O’Gorman High School, she moved on to the University of Toronto where she continued her piano and vocal studies while attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree. She was hired as a piano accompanist for several musical companies, most notably, the National Ballet Of Canada. She presently holds an A.R.C.T. Teacher’s Diploma in Voice from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Rosanne has studied choral conducting with numerous well known Canadian Conductors, including Wayne Riddell of Montreal, Quebec and the internationally renowned Dr. Elmer Iseler. She has been a founding member of numerous community-based arts organizations: the Timmins Arts Council, later known as Arts & Culture Timmins, the Timmins Symphony Orchestra, and, the Timmins Youth Singers…as well as the TYS Alumnus choir, the Timmins Concert Singers. In 1987, she was also selected to be the conductor of the Timmins Board Of Education Choir, comprised of talented students from Grades 5 to 8. In 1988, she was elected to the Board Of Directors of the Ontario Choral Federation (now known as Choirs Ontario), where she served as Chair of the Festivals Committee for six consecutive seasons. In 1996, in honour of the Ontario Choral Federation’s 25th Anniversary, Rosanne was selected as one of 25 recipients of the OCF’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to the choral art. The ceremony was presided by Lieutenant Governor, Hal Jackman. In November 1997, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Rotary Club Of Timmins to receive the prestigious Paul Harris Award for her years of dedication to the artistic development of young musical talent in Timmins. In August of 2002, Rosanne Simunovic was selected by the Board Of Directors of Choirs Ontario to serve as Conductor of both the Provincial Junior and Teen Choir Camps, now renamed in honour of the Camp Benefactors, Don and Lillian Wright. In November 2002, Rosanne was the one of the recipients of the Commemorative Medal for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, honouring her work in the development of the arts in Timmins. Under Rosanne Simunovic’s direction, the Timmins Youth Singers and the Timmins Concert Singers have been featured in numerous choral festivals and performing opportunities outside of Timmins. In 1985, they were selected to partici

10 Responses to “American Idol Winners: Would You Have Picked Them At First Glance?”

  1. Well I have followed American Idol really through the end of Season 2 an till about Season 10 and my true winner and all around most loved contestant of all is Carrie Underwood…… I cant honestly say that all seasons had the best winner though…..

    Season 1- Kelly was the true winner, even though i never cared for her voice
    Season 2 & 3 I actually thought Clay & Diana had the better voices..
    Season 4 – Carrie the true winner – My absolute favorite idol of all time..
    Season 5 – Actually preferred Katharine, but was okay with Taylor winning
    Season 6 – really did not matter to me….. Melinda Doolittle was the best performer
    Season 7 – IMO David Archuleta should have won….. What a beautiful singer
    Season 8 – Adam Lambert, still shocked that he did not win. Incredible performer
    Season 9 – made no difference to me, no singer ever was a favorite of mine..
    Season 10 – Haley Reinhart was my actual favorite

    The rest of the seasons I truly lost interest in and stopped watching the show…..

    In all it was a great show from the beginning and launched some great singers and we got to see some exceptional vocalists and great performances. What a great platform to showcase your talent and perfect oneself in the business..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have always liked Kelly Clarkson, and as the first Idol winner, she has worn the mantle very well. She continues to be exactly as she was when she auditioned. I remember Carrie’s audition, and also agreed with Simon when he predicted she would be the most successful winner of Idol. Personally, it’s a tie between her and Kelly.

    For me, the favorite has always been and always will be David Cook. I must respectfully disagree with Richard who feels David A. should have won. I love David Archuletta, he’s sincere, humble, and most importantly very talented. Should he have won? I don’t think so, and this is strictly from an ability to handle the overwhelming media scrutiny that accompanies an Idol win, at least back in 2008. I can recall countless interviews after the finale in May 2008, when he and David Cook were doing the media circuit. He always had trouble with the rapid fire questions, they always seemed to make him ill at ease. David C. on the other hand managed all his interviews with intelligence, aplomb, humor, and grace. I just don’t think David A. was mature enough at the time. I can’t imagine that Idol would have been willing to release him from his record contract to do a 2 year mission, that was very important to him. To this day David A. and David C. are very close. In fact, when David Cook did a recent interview about the end of Idol, he cited Archie as a close friend that he invited to his wedding. How many knew about that?

    Other than S7, most of the other seasons after that were total snoozefests, especially S9(can you name any of Lee Dewyze’s releases?) I’ll miss Idol for all the good moments it gave us, along with a crop of mostly deserving winners, but unfortunately this show had reached it’s best before date, about 8 years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That was a very good summary of the 14 seasons of American Idol. I agree with just about everything you wrote! I was disappointed in Season 10, partly because I’m not a huge fan of Country music. I could handle Scotty McCreery but Lauren Alaina annoyed me. I didn’t have her in my TOP 5 at all. However, Idol wanted a Country singer battle and they got it. Scotty’s win wasn’t a surprise at all.

    My favorite season remains Season 7. I loved every singer in the TOP 10 and was very pleased to see them in concert. Season 9 was great, but I didn’t want Lee to win. I didn’t think he was special enough. However, that season has my favorite female Idol – Siobhan Magnus. I also enjoyed the concert tour. I hope Idol brings an outstanding line-up and goes out with a bang!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for your comments everyone. It seems like everyone is pretty much on the same page.

    I LOVED Season 7 the best! They got it absolutely right that year. It was marvellous and magical and the Battle Of The David’s was so exciting. I am so happy that those two remarkable singers have remained close. Like brothers.

    And I didn’t know that David Cook became a husband. Have to research this. When did this happen??


  5. So good to hear from you again MasterClassLady. I always looked forward to your assessments. I can only comment up through Season 6 as I stopped watching after Simon in particular was so ugly to Taylor. I agree with all your comments up to then. The only winner I didn’t pick was Ruben. To this day I still think Clay should have won even though I liked Ruben. I am fans of all the winners up through Taylor. But Taylor is the one who is my all time favorite, not just of AI contestants. I loved his unique, soulful voice and genuine love of music. And he’s the one I traveled to see perform multiple times and bought all his albums. His voice is so unique that you know it’s him as soon as you hear him. Season 5 had the most talent of any season and he won!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. MasterClassLady, FYI, many fans didn’t know David had married until about a month after it happened. That boy is so secretive, I suspect his experiences after his Idol win with Kim Caldwell, closed that door forever. He’s become exceedingly reticent to reveal ANY personal info. He was engaged to a lovely young lady he met through family friends, in May 2014. He was married on June 22nd in a quiet ceremony with only family and close friends in attendance. Many media and tabloids have been trying their hardest to get any info on his wife and the wedding, but, alas to no avail. All I can say about David, is good on him. There are pictures of the two of them taken at the annual Chris Evertt charity tennis tournament in Florida, that takes place in November. She’s a very lovely young woman. David did very well for himself indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I missed the first year of Idol, and only saw a few episodes of Season 7. I was wrapped up in the political primaries during Season 7. My favorite season was 5. I was a HUGE Taylor fan and voted like crazy for him.
    I do think Carrie Underwood was the perfect Idol, but I was a Boo Bice fan. Rueben was good too, but I loved Clay’s voice. After Season 5, I was never as enthralled with any of the Idols. Last season, I much preferred Clark Beckham.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I didn’t watch whole heartily until season 5 and picked Taylor as the winner from the min he auditioned, season 7 I was a fan of David only it was the 3rd David that had my attention David Hernendez was my pick, Season 9 from the second I heard Kris sing Man in the Mirror I knew he had it, Lee was my favorite as well. But the last couple season I’ve only watched now and again but am watching this season, it is after all the end of an era and I will miss it.

    Liked by 2 people


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