Top 5 Iconic ‘American Idol’ Moments We Can’t Stop Watching

Jill O'Rourke
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Kelly Clarkson was named the first American Idol winner 19 years ago today. Since then, we’ve witnessed countless iconic moments from talented contestants — both winners and non-winners. We’ve also seen Clarkson go on to have an amazing career.

To mark this special anniversary, let’s look back at some of the most iconic moments in Idol history. Some of these performances have stuck with us for years, and we’re always in the mood to watch them again.

The Top 5 Most Iconic ‘American Idol’ Moments

1. Kelly Clarkson Wins the First Season

Clarkson was just 20 years old when she was crowned the first-ever winner of American Idol. To celebrate the emotional moment, the singer performed her coronation single “A Moment Like This.” Clarkson held back tears as she sang, and the track’s lyrics fit the moment perfectly.

“Some people wait a lifetime / For a moment like this,” Clarkson sang, choking up as she got to the line, “I can’t believe it’s happening to me.” The singer’s mom could be seen in the audience wiping away tears. As Clarkson finished the song, her fellow contestants embraced her on stage.

2. Adam Lambert Sings ‘Mad World’

Despite not winning Season 8, Adam Lambert has made a name for himself as one of the most memorable contestants in American Idol history. During the Top 8, Lambert delivered arguably his most iconic performance when he sang Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” in the style of Michael Andrews and Gary Jules’ cover of the song.

Lambert started the performance sitting down in a chair while bathed in blue light on stage. As the song built, he stood up. Lambert’s voice was haunting and unique, and it prompted judge Simon Cowell to give him a rare standing ovation.


3. Carrie Underwood Performs ‘Alone’

Carrie Underwood was the winner of Season 4 of American Idol, and one of her most iconic performances came during the Top 11, when she sang Heart’s “Alone.” Before the performance, Underwood said she wanted to “take a risk” by breaking out of the country mold she’d put herself in so far.

Underwood was backed up by a string orchestra as she belted out the classic rock song. The goosebump-inducing performance has gone down as one of the greatest in American Idol history, showing Underwood’s incredible range and versatility as a singer. Afterward, Cowell correctly predicted that she would win the show.

4. Jennifer Hudson Channels Aretha Franklin in ‘American Idol’ Audition

Despite coming in seventh place in Season 3 of the show, Jennifer Hudson has become one of the most successful contestants in American Idol history. It all started when she sang Aretha Franklin’s song “Share Your Love with Me” during her audition.

Hudson impressed the judges with her performance, with Randy Jackson calling her “the best singer I’ve heard so far.” It was a prophetic moment, as years later, Franklin herself chose Hudson to portray her in the biopic Respect, which was just released this summer.

5. Alejandro Aranda Wows the Judges with an Original Song

The more recent seasons of American Idol haven’t been without their iconic moments. In Season 17, a singer named Alejandro Aranda impressed the judges with his unique performance of an original song. The show’s YouTube even suggested it was the greatest audition ever.

Aranda ended up finishing the season in second place, angering some fans, but he’s been releasing music under the stage name Scarypoolparty ever since his appearance on the show. He just put out a new album called The Act of Forgiveness.

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