10 of the Most Memorable 'American Idol' Moments and Auditions: Kelly Clarkson's Win to Kyra Wait's Performance

most memorable american idol moments auditions
Source: MEGA; American Idol/YouTube

Apr. 22 2024, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Adam Lambert Earned a Standing Ovation With 'Mad World'

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Source: MEGA

Adam Lambert, a runner-up in the American Idol 2009 series, earned a standing ovation from Simon Cowell when he performed Tears for Fears' "Mad World." His rendition led him to being invited on several U.S. TV shows.

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Iam Tongi Auditioned With 'Monsters'

American Idol judges all cried when Iam Tongi, a teen from Hawaii who lost his father a few months before his audition, performed an emotional and powerful rendition of "Monsters."

"I mean, what a fantastic song to pick," said Katy Perry. "I feel like you could have written this song. I mean, you sang it, you delivered it, and you're making these grown men cry. You hit a nerve. And that's what great storytellers do. That's what great artists do, and your voice is just so magnificent."

Luke Bryan applauded Tongi for doing everything perfectly with his great voice.

Tongi got the golden ticket that led him to be crowned as the American Idol Season 21 winner.

Candice Glover Serenaded Viewers With 'Love Song'

Candice Glover won over everyone when she offered a cover of Adele's version of the Cure's "Love Song." Her routine moved the judges and viewers so much that Randy Jackson called it "one of the greatest performances in the history of 12 seasons of American Idol."

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Constantine Maroulis Serenaded 'American Idol' Viewers With 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

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Source: MEGA

American Idol Season 4 saw Constantine Maroulis perform his rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," the piece that secured him the sixth place.

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David Cook Performed a Cover of 'Billie Jean'

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Source: MEGA

Before David Cook took home the American Idol Season 7 trophy, he set high standards when he delivered a slow, haunting cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean." The song helped him take the next step to become the season's winner.

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James Durbin Brought Judas Priest Onstage

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Source: MEGA

In 2011, rock band Judas Priest graced the stage of American Idol when it joined James Durbin in performing the group's classic hits "Breaking the Law" and "Living After Midnight."

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Kelly Clarkson Became the First 'American Idol' Winner

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Source: MEGA

Kelly Clarkson ended her American Idol journey triumphantly as she was crowned the first-ever winner of the singing competition show in 2002.

Her win became her ticket to RCA Records, earning her a record deal with the company.

"20 years ago today I won American Idol and it forever changed the course of my life," Clarkson told Billboard in 2022. "That moment was the door that opened up so much access, opportunity, and creative partnerships that I will be grateful for all of my days."

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Kyra Waits Marked Her 6th Audition

After five tries, Kyra Waits finally marked her sixth audition in front of the judges. The stay-at-home mom revealed she attempted to become part of the show for the last five years but failed.

The contestant finally bared her soul with a rendition of Patty Griffins' "Up to the Mountain," snagging her the golden ticket.

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Kaeyra Earned Luke Bryan's Heart

In March 2023, Kaeyra joined the long list of singers who wanted to become the next American Idol. She showed off her skills when she performed in front of the judging panel, auditioning with Chris Stapleton's "Cold."

"I wasn't expecting that!" said Bryan. "You don't sound like anybody else. You can tell you've sat at the piano and you can just tell that music's been in your world. It was great, it was really great."

Perry then asked her to offer something slower if she could go to Hollywood since it would fit her vibrato.

Meanwhile, Lionel Richie advised her to use her moody voice when singing songs that could highlight her range.

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Prince Made a Surprise Appearance

Source: MEGA

American Idol Season 5 welcomed Prince on stage and presented his jaw-dropping performances of "Satisfied" and "Lolita." According to executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, the late singer "just showed up, walked on stage," and grabbed the mic despite the show not booking him. He also reportedly left immediately afterward.


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