There are some songs that get covered over and over again on talent shows. It makes sense that so many artists would choose to perform them. They’re instantly recognizable, with plenty of opportunities to show off powerhouse vocals and maybe tug at the judges’ heartstrings.
The problem is that, by choosing such popular songs, the contestants are setting themselves up to be compared not only to the artist who originally sang the song, but also to everyone else who’s sang it before. (And that’s usually a lot.)
As we saw this week on American Idol, going with an original song can also be risky. But going in the opposite direction, and choosing something unoriginal, isn’t always a great choice either. These are the songs we wish we could stop hearing on talent shows.
1. “Wicked Game,” Chris Isaak
If you’ve been watching American Idol and The Voice this season, you might have this song stuck on your head on a loop. Evelyn Cormier and Johanna Jones have both performed it on Idol, as well as Crystal Rose on The Voice. But can anyone really ever beat Chloe Kohanski and Noah Mac’s version in Season 13?
2. “All I Ask,” Adele
This goes for pretty much any Adele song, let’s be honest. But there’s something about this track in particular that so many artists have latched onto. This season alone, three contestants on American Idol have sung it. In fact, Madison Vandenberg changed from an original song to this one during her solo in Hollywood Week. That’s quite the 180.
3. “Fight Song,” Rachel Platten
This is a popular song choice for contestants with emotional backstories. Young singers Calysta Bevier and Angelica Hale both earned the Golden Buzzer for their performances of the song on America’s Got Talent. Rachel Platten herself even sang it with Mara Justine on American Idol. It’s a powerful song, but it loses some of that power when so many people sing it.
4. “Never Enough,” The Greatest Showman
Despite the song’s title, we’ve had enough. In fact, let’s just retire pretty much any song from this musical. Jurnee performed “Never Enough” last year on American Idol, and Margie Mays sang it this season. Audri Bartholomew previously sang it on The Voice. “This Is Me” got covered by Mara Justine on Idol and Kyla Jade on The Voice. And who could forget the Peacock’s (Donny Osmond) performance of “The Greatest Show” on The Masked Singer?
5. “What About Us,” Pink
This song was only released in 2017, but you’d think it was way older based on how many people have covered it on talent shows since then. Kennedy Holmes, Brooke Simpson, and Jackie Foster sang it on The Voice. Amanda Mena sang a bilingual version on America’s Got Talent. And this season, Alyssa Raghu sang it on American Idol. What about … other songs?
6. “Natural Woman,” Aretha Franklin
This song was performed twice on last season’s America’s Got Talent, by both Amanda Mena and Christina Wells. Then there was Brooke Simpson and Megan Linsey on The Voice. Laci Kaye Booth sang it this week on American Idol. After Kelly Clarkson sang it in Season 1, the show should have just banned it.
7. “Lay Me Down,” Sam Smith
Sam Smith is another artist who’s generally overdone on these shows, but this song has been popping up everywhere lately. It’s especially popular on American Idol, with Crystal Alicea and Jonny Brenns singing it last year, and Ryan Hammond and Margie Mays this season. How many more times will we hear it?
8. “Rise Up,” Andra Day
This is another emotional song that definitely shows off contestants’ range. But how many times do we have to hear it? Angelica Hale sang it on AGT, Kelsea Johnson on The Voice, and Shayy on American Idol. There’s no doubt these are great performances, but they start to run into each other after awhile.
9. “Stand By Me,” Ben E. King
Ironically, this classic comes from an album called Don’t Play That Song! It’s been a staple on talent shows since the early days of American Idol. Point to almost any season of the show, and someone probably sang it, from David Archuleta to Phillip Phillips. On The Voice, Darby Walker and Mark Hood sang it in recent years.
10. “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”
Ever since Jennifer Hudson sang this in Dreamgirls, we can’t stop hearing it from contestants who want to blow people away with their voices. Jessica Sanchez sang it on Season 11 of American Idol, and Ada Vox sang it last year. Mara Justine sang it on AGT when she was just 11 years old. And let’s not forget the TNT Boys on The World’s Best this year. This song is “not going,” but we wish it would.
11. “All Of Me,” John Legend
As if we didn’t hear this song enough at weddings, now we have to hear it on every talent show? The song seems especially popular on versions of The Voice all over the world. Then the Peacock (Donny Osmond) sang it on The Masked Singer. When a singing Peacock gives possibly the best performance of a song since the original, it might be time to retire it.
12. “House Of The Rising Sun,” The Animals
This song has inspired a number of different performances on The Voice in particular. Hannah Huston and Kimberly Nichole sang it in past seasons, and 13-year-old auditioner Ava August sang it this season. There have also been plenty of Idol performances over the years, including Ada Vox’s audition last season.
13. “Chandelier,” Sia
This song is so popular on talent shows around the world, there’s a YouTube video counting down the best versions. The top performance, unsurprisingly, comes from The Voice winner Jordan Smith. It’s so hard to beat, you’d think people would give up. But Myra Tran just performed it this season on American Idol. A sad clown even sang it on AGT!
14. “If I Ain’t Got You,” Alicia Keys
Pretty much any song by Alicia Keys is overdone, but this one is especially unoriginal. Hannah Goebel and Lauren Diaz even sang it for Alicia herself when she was a coach on The Voice. Chris Blue and Vanessa Ferguson sang it in a battle, and Lynnea Moorer sang it last year. Some people want it all, but we just want this song to go away.
15. “Hallelujah,” Leonard Cohen
Enough with this song in general, not just on talent shows. Everyone and their mother has tried to sing it, often changing the original lyrics. Jordan Smith and Matthew Schuler sang it on The Voice, and there was even a group performance after the Sandy Hook shooting. It’s a beautiful song, but it should have been retired after the Shrek soundtrack.
16. “Amazed,” Lonestar
This song is a go-to for country guys on The Voice. Dave Fenley, Adam Cunningham, and Kaleb Lee all sang it in recent years. Caleb Lee Hutchinson sang it on American Idol last year, and Scotty McCreery also performed it back in the day. Honestly, we’re amazed these shows still allow this song.
17. “I Have Nothing,” Whitney Houston
These singers have nothing … except their obsession with this song. Jennifer Hudson, Jessica Sanchez, and Gabby Barrett all sang this on American Idol. Tessanne Chin and Davon Fleming sang it on The Voice. It’s also made appearances on America’s Got Talent.
18. “Time After Time,” Cyndi Lauper
The Voice winner Javier Colon sang this in his audition for the first season. But he’s not the only one to perform this tender ’80s classic. Michelle Chamuel sang it, Chloe Kohanski sang it, Allison Iraheta sang it with Cyndi Lauper on American Idol. I guess you could say we’ve heard it … time after time.
19. “Scars To Your Beautiful,” Alessia Cara
This is another song that’s been overdone in general, so when we hear it on talent shows, it feels even more overdone. Abby Cates and Wé McDonald sang it on The Voice, and Uché sang it this season on American Idol. And although Grace VanderWaal didn’t sing it on AGT, she covered it not long after winning.
20. “Landslide,” Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac is another overdone artist in general. Chloe Kohanski sang both “The Chain” and “Landslide” on The Voice, and duo Whitney & Shannon also auditioned with “Landslide.” Last season, American Idol winner Maddie Poppe sang it. Stevie Nicks herself showed up to perform it on AGT. That’s enough for now.