The American Idol Live Performances We Should Never Forget

American Idol
From left: Michael Becker / FOX (2); Frank Micelotta / FOX; Michael Becker / FOX; Ray Mickshaw / FOX
American Idol

Tonight marks the start of American Idol‘s live shows, and all the performance highs and lows that come with them. To prepare, we’ve pulled together some of the most memorable and most wish-we-could-forget moments from live shows past. – Atiba Rogers and Diana Oliveira.

Most Stylish Performance

Season 11 runner-up Jessica Sanchez colorblocked her way into the judges’ hearts in a bodycon one-sleeve dress. As a top 4 performer she brought the house down by belting out Jennifer Holliday’s “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” for which she received a standing ovation by the judges.

Most Chill-Inducing Performance

Kelly Clarkson can give more chills than a wintry day in New York City anytime she sings Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman.” She showcased her vocals with this number during the first season — and went on to win the title.

Best Song for the Kids

Jennifer Hudson only made it to seventh place in Season 3, but she sure knew the best way to make children gather around a television set. Jennifer Hudson’s live performance of “The Circle of Life” from Disney’s The Lion King didn’t include goofy characters like Timon and Pumbaa, but her vocal arrangement was all the entertainment there needed to be.

Best J-Lo Tears Moment

In Season 11, judging panel softie Jennifer Lopez came close to crying a river as Jeremy Rosado sang Carrie Underwood’s “I Know You Won’t.” Sadly, Jeremy couldn’t bring everyone to tears: He made it to the top 13 before he got eliminated.

Most Creative Performance

Season 6 runner-up Blake Lewis turned into a funky-psychedelic-beatboxing-robot dancer while covering Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name.”

Most Disastrous Performance

Paige Miles locked in her elimination with a very pitchy rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Against All Odds” in Season 9. You could blame it on her bout of laryngitis, but the judges were far from kind, calling it the “worst vocal of the season.”

Most Off-Key Performance

It’s never easy singing a Whitney Houston ballad, but we cringed for Shannon Magrane when her voice cracked at the most pivotal notes of “I Have Nothing” during Season 11.

Most Yawn-Inducing Performance

You’d never guess John Stevens was a sixth-place finalist on Season 3 after watching this. Possibly one of the least-energized vocal performances ever on American Idol, he nearly talked his way through a rendition of Gloria Estefan and ‘N Sync’s “Music of my Heart,” leaving us bereft of any feeling other than boredom.

The “Hair”-Scratcher

The always-entertaining Sanjaya Malakar delivered in Season 6 — but not with his vocals. Instead, his pony-hawk-styled hair managed to steal the attention away from his forgettable cover of No Doubt’s “Bathwater.”

Worst Everything

Talk about an overzealous performance! Season 10’s Jacob Lusk showed why singing a duet as a solo is not a good idea. It’s as if he tried to compensate for it by belting out pitchy vocals that would give the illusion there were multiple people singing with him. His wild crotch-grabbing, body-rolling, punching-the-air dance was unintentionally awkward and hilarious.