'American Idol': 15 Best '80s Songs
Carrie Underwood, season 4, winner
''Alone'' by Heart (1987), sung during Top 11 — Billboard Number Ones night
Nobody figured the corn-fed country girl could rock out, but when Carrie stepped out onto the Idol stage in her teased-up hair and black leather jacket, she proved she could power belt with the best of them. It was absolutely spine tingling to hear her hit those high notes in the chorus. Ann Wilson should be proud.
Blake Lewis, season 6, runner up
''You Give Love a Bad Name'' by Bon Jovi (1986), sung during Top 6 — Bon Jovi night
Mentor Jon Bon Jovi gave Blake a wary look when the season 6 beatboxer proposed a drastic reinterpretation of the Bon Jovi hit. Blake stuck to his guns and the result was a contemporary remix that incorporated Blake's skillful beatboxing, while keeping that soaring chorus that fans loved. The song was a hit and the Idol reinterpretation was born, leading the way for other rearrangers like David Cook and Kris Allen.
David Cook, season 7, winner
''Hello'' by Lionel Richie (1984), sung during Top 16 Guys — 1980s night
David transformed one of the cheesiest adult contemporary classics from the '80s into a searing, post-grunge power ballad. That semifinal performance turned the angsty rocker into a contender, and would anticipate a season full of unique takes on beloved classics.
Adam Lambert, season 8, runner up
''Mad World'' by Tears For Fears (1982), sung during Top 8 — Year They Were Born night
Adam was born the year the hit song was released, but it was the decidedly moodier 2001 Gary Jules version that the glam rocker covered. Adam, sitting in a chair, bathed in a blue light, delivered one of the simplest and most stunning moments of season 8.
Jason Castro, season 7, fourth place
''Hallelujah'' by Leonard Cohen (1984), sung during Top 16 Guys — 1980s night
Jeff Buckley's ethereal 1994 cover of ''Hallelujah'' is beloved by many, so it was a big risk for the dread-headed singer to sit center stage and sing this classic with only a guitar for accompaniment. The gamble paid off: Simon Cowell called Jason's sweet, plaintive performance ''brilliant.''
Kris Allen, season 8, winner
''She Works Hard for the Money'' by Donna Summer (1983), sung during Top 7 — Disco night
What's a strummy guy like Kris to do when confronted with disco week? Find a dance classic that extols the virtues of hardworking women everywhere, rather than the typical themes of love and sex, give it a little Latin beat, and an instant Idol classic is born.
David Cook, season 7, winner
''Billie Jean'' by Michael Jackson (1983), sung during Top 10 — Year They Were Born night
The Chris Cornell cover was David's inspiration, but he still managed to put his own spin on this M.J. classic about the lies and deception of a gold digger. By this time, the eventual Idol winner had learned to play to the camera with perfection. The result was swoon worthy.
Chris Daughtry, season 5, fourth place
''Wanted Dead Or Alive'' by Bon Jovi (1986), sung during Top 24 Boys night
When the North Carolina family man initially auditioned, it was a no from Simon Cowell, who was not convinced Chris could be a star. That all changed after the raspy rocker's effortless take on Bon Jovi's ode to the wild west. ''For the first time...now I'm hearing somebody with potential,'' Simon finally declared.
Brooke White, season 7, fifth place
''Love Is a Battlefield'' by Pat Benatar (1983), sung during Top 16 Girls — 1980s night
Brooke showed the guys that girls could reinterpret songs too when she slowed up the Pat Benatar classic and sang it with only an acoustic guitar as accompaniment. Brooke was the original indie Idol, paving the way for rootsy singers like season 9's Crystal Bowersox.
Pia Toscano, season 10, ninth place
''Where Do Broken Hearts Go'' by Whitney Houston (1988), sung during Top 12 — Year They Were Born night
The judges had been asking Pia to go up-tempo after a string of ballads. She finally took the leap with one of Whitney's most beloved...ballads. The dance remix Pia performed gave her a chance to groove a bit while still showing off those massive pipes.
Haley Reinhart, season 10, third place
''Call Me'' by Blondie (1980), sung during Top 8 — Songs from the Movies night
Haley did Deborah Harry proper, strutting out on stage in a multi-colored mini and thigh-high boots to growl her way through the chorus of this '80s dance classic. Even if the judges didn't like the bluesy singer's song choice, the crowd gave her a standing O.
Anoop Desai, season 8, sixth place
''My Prerogative'' by Bobby Brown (1988), sung during Wildcard night
To prove that Noop Dawg was back and worthy of the judges' consideration as a wild card contestant, Anoop reprised a song he performed in Hollywood, but this time with an extra dose of swagger. It worked. Anoop was the last contestant picked for a surprise Top 13.
Crystal Bowersox, season 9, runner up
''I'm Alright'' by Kenny Loggins (1980), sung during Top 4 Songs from the Cinema night
It wasn't just a love of the '80s comedy classic Caddyshack that prompted Crystal to choose the Kenny Loggins hit; she was also sending a message to the judges, who had been panning her performances of late. ''Don't nobody worry 'bout me...why you gotta give me a fight?'' she asked in her signature bluesy style. Afterward, Simon declared Cyrstal ''back in the game.'' Message received.
Justin Guarini, season 1, runner up
''P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)'' by Michael Jackson (1983), sung during Top 4 — 1980/1990s night
When Justin took on the King of Pop, his performance wasn't vocally perfect, but the little girls didn't care as long as he showed off his moves — and his muscled arms.
Fantasia Barrino, season 3, winner
''Crazy Little Thing Called Love'' by Queen (1979/80), sung during Top 5 — Big Band night
Fantasia's sassy, brassy take on Queen's rockabilly hit was so much fun, it was worth including in the compilation even if the original was technically released at the end of 1979. It didn't peak on the U.S. charts until 1980.