We're always proud when Texans make their way to reality TV. OK, scratch that. We guess it depends. But making it to the finals of American Idol, the biggest and best reality competition singing show on TV right now, is something to be proud of. The show has been pulling out all the stops for its final season, including an emotional return from season one winner and Burleson native Kelly Clarkson. Which got us thinking: What are the best AI performances by Texans from the show's 15-season run? Drumroll, please.
10. "Kiss Me" by Lacey Brown
Lacey Brown had such a unique sound and that’s why her rendition of “Kiss Me” was so memorable. It’s apparent during this performance how much she enjoys singing for a crowd. Brown finished 12th during season 9.
9. "Knock on Wood" by Kimberly Caldwell
It was easy to see that Kimberly Caldwell had the star quality American Idol typically looks for: She looked good and she had fun on stage. But she could sing and entertain a crowd just as well. Her performance of “Knock on Wood” is one to remember.
8. "Can't Help Falling in Love" by Tim Urban
Ah, yes, Tim Urban stripped down the already simple “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley, then added his own flair: By singing the tune while strumming his perfect guitar and also melting all preteen girls’ hearts in the process with his shaggy hair. It impressed the judges, even the irascible Simon Cowell. Urban finished seventh.
7. "Bleeding Love" by Hollie Cavanagh
It’s hard to match the vocals of a song by Leona Lewis, but McKinney native Hollie Cavanagh did it. Sitting at the piano in a long black dress, Cavanagh poured out her soul and finished in fourth place.
6. "Hey There Delilah" by Dalton Rapattoni
Dalton Rapattoni is representing Dallas in AI's farewell season, and he's there because he can take almost any song and completely change it. Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah” is a good song, but it’s recorded as a sweet love song. Rapattoni took it and made it an amped-up rock song. Not only did the judges love it, but hundreds of screaming girls in the audience also couldn’t get enough. There may be more highlights yet to come from this kid.
5. "Up to the Mountain" by Kree Harrison
Look no further than "Up to the Mountain" to see why Kree Harrison, the runner-up for the 12th season, deserved to finish that high up. With this performance, her amazing vocals and stage presence prove that all she has to do is stand behind a mic and sing. Judge Keith Urban also loved it because at the end, he joyfully fist-bumped the sky in delight.
4. "Jealous Guy" by Casey James
With this performance of “Jealous Guy," Casey James took us back and gave us some John Lennon vibes. The simplicity of the performance is what makes it stand out. There was no need to jazz it up or make it over-the-top. The judges liked it — even judge Ellen DeGeneres — so you know it was good.
3. "Hallelujah" by Jason Castro
Jason Castro has never felt the need to dance or over-perform a song. That was never more evident than when he performed “Hallelujah” which, really, is not a song to dance to. It was a performance that made him a serious contender to win the entire show. He finished fourth.
2. "Piece by Piece" by Kelly Clarkson
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She wasn’t even a contestant on the show when she sang this, but we don’t effing care. If there was ever a performance that proves American Idol can produce insanely talented stars, it was when first season winner Kelly Clarkson performed “Piece by Piece,” a soul-crushing song about marrying a man better than her father. She brought everyone to tears. Contestants were crying. Clarkson was crying. God was probably crying. Judge Jennifer Lopez wore a sad face she had never worn before. Judge Keith Urban was a damn waterfall as he watched. Live on, Kelly. Live on.
1. "A Moment Like This" by Kelly Clarkson (again)
Speaking of Clarkson, she earns two spots on this list because, well, she deserves it. There are things that just go together and American Idol and Clarkson's winning performance of "A Moment Like This" is one of them. It's easily the best American Idol performance in its history, and not just from Texans. Damn, she makes us proud.