The right take on a well-known tune can win over with the judges — and the viewers — while a wrong note will send your reality-TV dreams home in a Ford-sponsored body bag. So with American Idol kicking off its thirteenth season tonight, it had us wondering: Which songs have become go-to choices for the contestants competing on these programs over the years? After a trip down a deep rabbit hole to research the song selections on twelve different American reality singing competitions see our helpful note on how we compiled our data below , we discovered a lot of our previous theories about song choice were wrong. The biggest revelation: The number of times any one song has been performed on a television competition is much lower than we anticipated, with the top tune appearing only seventeen times. And without further preamble, here are the top twenty songs most frequently performed on reality singing competition shows:. Though the year-old prodigy reprised the song during the second season finale, her talent was no match for the rabid fan base of country bumpkin Tate Stevens. Though this failed rock-only version of Idol looks straight out of nineties MTV, it managed to last for two seasons and featured some talented rasps — like that of Gioia, who charmed judge Tommy Lee with a belly-dancing take on the Joplin classic.
What to Read Next
When American Idol premiered on Fox-TV on June 11, , it was far from certain that the "Search for a Superstar" the show's subtitle was going to produce one. Music critics didn't give the series much credibility and radio did not go out of its way to play songs by Idol finalists. The industry should have known better, based on the success of Pop Idol in the United Kingdom. The first of that show's two seasons did produce two superstars, in Will Young and Gareth Gates. Gates' first release, a remake of "Unchained Melody," debuted at No. The stage was set for similar success in America but there was no guarantee.
American Idol has returned for its 17th season! We considered their runs on the show, as well as success after the show in our ranking. Allison Iraheta has been discreetly making her way through the music industry since her fourth place finish on season eight. Fans were shocked when Haley Reinhart finished in second on season But she signed a record deal with Interscope Records shortly after. Her first album was released to critical acclaim! She late became the first Idol alum to sing at Lollapalooza. Since then, she has performed multiple covers with Postmodern Jukebox and headlined a US tour in
It remains to be seen if a new network can revive the show though I have hope! And I got to witness — and write about — all of them. Also, for the sake of variety and semi-brevity, I did not load up this list with multiple performances by the same singers. All of those contestants could have filled best-of lists all by themselves. I still secretly suspect that Heejun was planning to do this all along, and that his time on Idol leading up to this breakthrough had been one long genius act of performance art. Melinda is without a doubt one of the greatest divas ever to grace the Idol stage. This exquisite, tasteful performance is a vocal master class.