'American Idol': 15 Audition Songs We'd Ban
''Rolling in the Deep,'' Adele
We've all sung along with Adele in the car or the shower. But that doesn't mean anyone should even try to compare themselves to the British songstress during the Idol auditions (even though we have the sneaking suspicion the hit will be season 11's butchered song of choice). Who sings ''Rolling in the Deep''? Adele. Yeah, let's keep it that way.
Any song by any of the three judges
Jennifer Lopez might be flattered to hear you sing ''On the Floor,'' Steven Tyler might feel welcome to hit on you if you perform ''Dream On,'' and if you sing ''Don't Stop Believin','' you?ll give Randy an opportunity to talk about Journey, but resist the urge. Jennifer, Steven, and Randy welcome the free publicity, but viewers at home only see the tactic as cloying and obnoxious. Remember exactly who determines your fate on Idol.
''And I Am Telling You,'' Jennifer Holliday
When Frenchie performed the Dreamgirls tune in her season 2 audition, we applauded her inspired song choice. Demanding of the then-image conscious Idol that ''you're gonna love me''? Genius. But those who recycled the tune in coming years in an effort to impress the judges into letting them stay in the competition? Decidedly stupid. The song has turned into a gimmick on Idol since the days of Frenchie (and Tamyra Gray, who performed it expertly in the season 1 semifinals). Once Norman Gentle bastardized the tune in season 8, I am telling you, we knew it was time to live without the Dreamgirls song.
''Vision of Love,'' Mariah Carey
Season 1's Tamyra Gray was, well, a vision performing Carey's first big hit during her audition. Unfortunately, our recent memories can only recall Bikini Girl's (a.k.a. Katrina Darrell) karaoke performance of the song in season 8... and Kara DioGuardi's own bikini-infused version in the finale, a moment that may have just set the stage for the jump-the-shark television that was season 9. It's still too soon to bring back the tune. We need time to heal.
Anything by Stevie Wonder
Season 1 was overrun by Stevie Wonder hits. A grand total of seven songs from the artist were used during the season's debut run during the semifinals and finals — and that's even before Idol aired approximately 7.2 days a week. Idol's obsession with Wonder only continued, and the series even dedicated an entire theme night to the artist (which seemed unnecessary, considering how often Wonder's music was already covered in the competition). Idol auditioners followed suit, and turned out in droves to sing Wonder's tunes: season 2's Ruben Studdard sang ''Ribbon in the Sky,'' season 3's Nikko Smith (and season 8's Lil Rounds) sang ''All I Do,'' and season 6's Melinda Doolittle and Sanjaya Malakar sang ''For Once in My Life'' and ''Signed Sealed Delivered,'' respectively. And that's just counting the good auditions. We love you, Stevie, but we'd be overjoyed to see some different artists take up Idol airtime.
''Over the Rainbow,'' Judy Garland
Season 2's Kimberly Locke, season 9's Lacey Brown, and season 10's Jordan Dorcey are among those who already cast spells on the judges with the song made famous by The Wizard of Oz. And that's just during the audition rounds: Season 5's Katharine McPhee, season 7's Jason Castro, and, er, Locke (again) all sang the tune later in the competition. Sorry, we can only take so many renditions until we are officially over ''Over the Rainbow.''
''Proud Mary,'' Tina Turner
It's no wonder why the hit is an audition favorite. What other tune can better sell an Idol sob story? But not everyone can bring it quite like Fantasia, who pretty much locked in her season 3 win via Turner's song during her audition. Others, however, have tried. Among those who have performed ''Proud Mary'' in their auditions: Season 7's Danny Noriega, season 10's Alex Attardo, and season 10's Michael Perotto. Proud Mary is getting a little tired, guys. Let's cut her a break.
''Unchained Melody,'' Righteous Brothers
The Righteous Brothers hit used to be known as Simon Cowell's favorite song, but we imagine his tastes have moved on after hearing it performed with varying degrees of success by the likes of Kady Malloy, Patsy Charles, Mary Lacarelli, Michael Lynche, and many, many more. Enough already! We?d rather stick our heads in a pottery wheel than listen to an auditioner try it on for size again.
Any song by Whitney Houston
You guys. You're not Whitney. You'll never be Whitney. Just don't.
''Bohemian Rhapsody,'' Queen
The fragmented song seems a difficult sell in the audition room, but that hasn't stopped contestants from trying to grab golden tickets via the Queen hit. Season 2's Vanessa Oliverez, season 6's Steven Thoen, season 8's Adam Lambert, and season 10's Brett Loewenstern have all performed their versions of the epic song that unfortunately sounds best in moderation. The thought of even more ''Bohemian Rhapsody'' from would-be Idol contestants? Can't do this to me, baby.
Any song made famous by a previous Idol winner
Even before she sang Kelly Clarkson's ''Since U Been Gone,'' season 5's Kellie Pickler knew she was taking a gamble: ''I've got some big shoes to fill, that's for sure,'' she said before breaking out into a passable performance of the season 1 winner's hit. But, still, Pickler didn't seem to sell the judges until she followed up the number with Martina McBride's ''A Broken Wing.'' Goes to show that even a top 6 finalist can't top a former Idol winner on their former home turf. So, Idol auditioners, please stay away from the following: Clarkson's ''A Moment Like This,'' Carrie Underwood's ''Before He Cheats,'' Fantasia's ''I Believe,'' and any other songs ''owned'' by previous winners. (We're looking at all of you who have attempted to top Underwood's ''Alone.'' Tsk tsk.) Shoot for shoes in a slightly smaller size.
''Hallelujah,'' Leonard Cohen
At least two Idol auditioners have captured golden tickets via the song — season 9's Maddy Curtis and season 10's Rachel Zevita. But they've hardly captured anyone's hearts. That's because it's entirely too easy to get lost in an overpowering song like ''Hallelujah'' — music lovers can experience spiritual journeys just listening to the tune. It's tough for anyone's vocals to compete with such emotionally overpowering lyrics. Jeff Buckley's ''Hallelujah'' is probably one of the most memorable songs released in the last half century — problem is: Do you even remember Curtis and Zevita?
''Take Five,'' Billie Holiday
Paula called Paris Bennett's season 5 performance of Holiday's vocally challenging song ''phenomenal,'' Simon called it ''unbelievable,'' Randy could only say ''wow,'' and EW named it the best American Idol audition ever. It's hard to imagine anyone topping it, so why even try?
''She Bangs,'' Ricky Martin
Paula giggled at William Hung's season 3 performance of the Martin dance number, Randy guffawed, Simon rolled his eyes, and TV viewers at home were in stiches. It's hard to imagine anyone garnering as much success — three (that's right, three) albums — from a terrible audition, so why even try?
''I Will Survive,'' Gloria Gaynor
Now, let's not make the punchline too easy for the judges.