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American Idol’s top 13 may be competing for viewers’ votes with carefully-crafted images and distinct genre identities, but they experimented with plenty of other musical styles — and hairdos — before they debuted on the Fox singing show.
Idol Worship rounded up our favorite uploads of each of the top 13 singing before they won over the show’s voters and judges:
Emily Piriz may be positioning herself as a rocker, covering Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ “Paris (Ooh La La)” much to Harry Connick Jr.’s dismay, but in this video from 2011, she was far more innocent at the age of 14 appearing on the Latino TV show, Minuto de Famo.
Majesty Rose may have rocked her performance of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” but nobody nails every lyric, especially when tackling an emotional Beyonce ballad. Watch how she recovers after flubbing a few lines in “Listen.”
Malaya Watson sure loves the classics, but the high notes that come with them aren’t the easiest to hit. In this clip shot this past December, she attempts to learn “Stay” by Chaka Khan in what appears to be vocal lessons.
Kristin O’Connor doesn’t necessarily need lyrics to rock a stage. Watch how the finalist, shown at 21 years old, sings some runs off the top of her head in an impromptu improvisation from 2012.
Jena Irene showed her patriotism as she auditioned to sing the National Anthem for the Detroit Pistons home games back in 2011. The then 14-year old aspiring pop star showed no fear in front of the judges even then.
When she was 17, M.K. Nobilette already began collecting fans in her hometown of San Francisco. Watch how she handles a spontaneous outburst after singing Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” at an outdoor festival.
Jess Meuse’s donned a very different hair color back in 2011, but even more surprising is that the blues belter touted a sweet cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” in the recording studio when she was 20 years old.
Dexter Roberts entertained a boy in a wheelchair with one of his original songs back in January. Even better, it seems Roberts brought in his guitar to a hunting supply store, and let his partner incorporate some duck calls into the mix.
Who knew that country contestant C.J. Harris could also bust out some Bruno Mars? Back when he was 20 years old, he rolls with the punches of the Super Bowl headliner’s ballad.
Caleb Johnson didn’t always have long rocker hair, but his pipes are shown to be consistent. Check him out at 19, as he takes on “Faithfully” by Journey in 2010.
We are so used to seeing Sam Woolf with his guitar crooning “Lego House” by Ed Sheeran, but he did add his melodic vocals to accompany an instrumental provided by his friend, Rob Murdock, last summer.
Southern rocker Ben Briley touted the “piano man” sound when he was 21, singing through an Elton John medley in 2011, complete with what he calls an “unnecessary piano solo” at the end.
Like most of America, Alex Preston found inspiration in Miley Cyrus‘ Video Music Awards performance of “We Can’t Stop” last summer. Of course, he skipped the twerking Teddy Bears and kept his tongue in check, while showing off which instruments he can play.
Whose pre-Idol performance do you like best? Sound off in the comments below!
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