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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Related: Vocal Masterclass Discussion For American Idol Season XIV Top 2 Results Show: The Grand Finale
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.