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With this week’s announcement that Mariah Carey is taking a seat at the American Idol judges table, we had to wonder: will future contestants be brave enough to perform the diva’s hits in her presence?
The Grammy-winner’s songbook has long been a staple of the Idol repertoire, though not always positively. Looking back, Carey’s songs have served some contenders well, while others wilted under the strain of attempting to deliver the goods of one of pop music’s most powerful voices.
STORY: ‘American Idol’ Producer Wants to See Judges Change Every Year
Here are six performances from seasons past that stand out:
1. Season seven winner David Cook tops our list of Carey covers with his original arrangement of the 1996 smash “Always Be My Baby.” Then judges Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell raved about the performance, with the former telling Cook that his version could be on “a movie soundtrack right now,” while the latter called it “a breathe of fresh air” from a night otherwise described as “karaoke hell.” Carey, who was the mentor and theme that week, loved it as well, and the song became one of the show’s best selling downloads.
2. Ironically enough, Carey’s “My All” is one of former judge Jennifer Lopez‘s favorite songs, and she assigned it to Season 11 runner-up Jessica Sanchez as a test. The 16-year-old Sanchez handled the challenge with the poise of a pro and the chops of a superstar in the making.
3. Who can deny the vocals of Season 7 runner-up David Archuleta? Archie, as he’s affectionately known by fans, treated devotees to a performance of Carey’s duet with Whitney Houston — a brave choice considering he took on not one but two of the greatest female singers in under two minutes. And he delivered, with some quality mentoring from Carey herself.
4. Simon Cowell couldn’t wait to hear Kelly Clarkson do Carey’s cover of Badfinger’s “Without You” and the season 1 champ more than delivered. Her performance set the template for future Idols, including Carly Smithson who performed the same song on season 7.
5. Season 7 featured Carey as a mentor and theme, which included a group number, of course. The remaining seven finalists (particularly eventual third placer Syesha Mercado) delivered this impressive rendition of Carey’s hit with Boyz II Men, “One Sweet Day.” As an added bonus, TV viewers got to gaze once more at the lovely locks of Jason Castro.
6. Season 11 mentor Jimmy Iovine admitted he cheated choosing Carey’s cover of The Jackson 5 classic “I’ll Be There” for Jessica Sanchez, but who cares? It was one of the runner-up’s finest moments on the Idol stage.
BONUS: Because we just had to remind our faithful Idol Worshippers of season 8’s unforgettable “Vision of Love” sing-off betwen Katrina “Bikini Girl” Darrell and then-judge Kara DioGuardi. Who sang it correctly was a point of uneasy contention between the two women during auditions, culminating in a battle of the bods for that year’s finale.
Do you agree with our choices? What are some of your favorite Mariah Carey Idol moments? Tell us in the comments.
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