'American Idol': 20 Songs We'd Ban from the Show Forever!
''I Don't Want to Miss a Thing,'' Aerosmith
No disrespect to Aaron Kelly's (pictured) fine season 9 cover of the love theme from 1998's Armageddon, but it's time to hang this ballad's jersey from the rafters. We could even get David Cook, Allison Iraheta, Josh Gracin, Lindsey Cardinale, and Antonella Barba to attend the retirement party. All of 'em did their part to make it the second most-frequently covered song in the history of American Idol live performance episodes.
''(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,'' Martha and the Vandellas
Those who don't learn their Idol history are doomed to repeat it. Which is why we'll feel no sympathy for any future contestant who experiences a hiccup in momentum after covering this Motown ditty that sent powerhouse vocalists like season 2's Kimberley Locke and season 3's Jennifer Hudson to early bottom-three appearances. Come to think of it, ''Heat Wave'' wasn't exactly a winning look for season 4's Vonzell Solomon (pictured) or season 8's Lil Rounds, either.
''I Don't Want to Be,'' Gavin DeGraw
Isn't it bizarre that five out of the last six Idol seasons have featured a rock-soul crooner tackling this mid-tempo ditty which once served as the theme song to One Tree Hill? We're pretty sure Bo Bice, Elliott Yamin, Chris Richardson, Michael Sarver, and Casey James (pictured) can't all claim to be ''a prison guard's son'' (as the lyrics suggest), but perhaps they're all addicts of loopy teen dramas on The CW?
''Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)," Phil Collins
Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Which is why we question what was going through the damn minds of Corey Clark, George Huff, Jessica Sierra, Scott Savol, Katharine McPhee, Ramiele Malubay (pictured), and most recently Paige Miles when they each offered a lackluster rendition of the same overwrought Collins ballad, now the No. 1 most-covered song in Idol semifinals/finals history. Hey, kids, if you like the Genesis frontman so much, might we suggest ''Sussudio''?
''Put Your Records On,'' Corinne Bailey Rae
In theory, the jaunty 2006 smash is supposed to read ''young,'' ''fresh,'' and ''quirky.'' But in Idol reality, Corinne Bailey Rae's neo-soul track has done little more than expose the vocal limitations of contestants like Antonella Barba, Megan Joy, and Katie Stevens (pictured). As Kara DioGuardi explained to the latter songbird, some very fine songs don't make a great vocal showcase in the transition from radio to live stage. And ''Put Your Records On'' is one of 'em.
''Feeling Good,'' Nina Simone (as well as various other artists)
Here's a song so toxic to the Idol experience that it wiped out not one but two contestants — Leslie Hunt and A.J. Tabaldo — from the season 6 semifinals, and knocked powerhouse Adam Lambert (pictured) into his first and only brush with the bottom two during season 8 Rat Pack week. And the judges didn't exactly warm to Katie Stevens' rendition in the season 9 semifinals. Perhaps future contestants shouldn't tackle this number unless they're looking to make an early escape from the competition?
''I Have Nothing,'' Whitney Houston
Every diva-in-waiting wants to prove she can tackle the greatest balladeer of all — regardless of Simon's words of warning about Whitney's untouchable status. Fair enough. But how come Trenyce (pictured), Jennifer Hudson, Leah Labelle, Vonzell Solomon, Katharine McPhee, and LaKisha Jones all settled on the same exact track, when Ms. Houston's Greatest Hits compilation is a two-disc set? Is ''I Have Nothing'' really that incredible, or do Idol's producers need to invest a little more time (and money) clearing tracks for use on the show?
''Turn the Beat Around,'' Vicki Sue Robinson
This 1976 disco classic requires a rapid-fire, staccato delivery that left Idol wannabes Carmen Rasmusen, Amanda Avila, and Haley Scarnato (pictured) sounding like they were performing at the end of a grueling triathlon. And while season 3's Diana DeGarmo managed to pull off a respectable cover, we're thinking that one-in-four batting average is reason enough to call a moratorium on future Idol renditions.
''Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me,'' Elton John
Here's a curious Idol factoid: Over the course of eight seasons, Elton John's 1974 ballad has not only reared its overdone head six separate times, but on three of those occasions it was foisted on contestants via ''Clive Davis's choice'' (for Bo Bice and David Archuleta) or judges' choice (Justin Guarini). (The other three finalists who chose to cover the song were Jorge Nuñez, Clay Aiken and Jasmine Trias.) Note to Mr. Davis: You may have signed everyone from Janis Joplin to Aerosmith to Billy Joel, but your skills in the Idol song-selection department are just ai'ight for us, dawg.
''I'm Every Woman,'' Chaka Khan
We're always happy when Idol divas choose an uptempo track in favor of another boring ballad, but how come Trenyce, Mandisa, Vonzell Solomon, and Lil Rounds (pictured) all settled on the same exact disco nugget? Alternate suggestions: ''Got to Be Real,'' ''Finally,'' ''Heartbeat,'' ''More, More, More,'' or even ''I Love the Nightlife (Disco Round).'' All together now...''Ack-shonnn!''
''Son of a Preacher Man,'' Dusty Springfield
Hey, here's an idea! Let's have a moratorium on teenage female contestants — in the tradition of season 3's Camile Velasco and season 4's Mikalah Gordon (pictured) — singing about their sexual awakening at the hands of the offspring of their family's religious adviser! Actually, given the way 23-year-old Julia DeMato manhandled the number in season 2, perhaps it's best to outlaw it from Idol altogether.
''Over the Rainbow''
In the wake of well-liked covers by Kimberley Locke (season 2), Katharine McPhee (pictured, season 5 — on two separate occasions), and Jason Castro (season 7), isn't it safe to say the Wizard of Oz gem has had its Idol moment?
''I Believe,'' Fantasia Barrino
Everyone knows Idol coronation songs are nothing but sentimental dreck. So why in the name of all that's holy have two separate seasons featured deluded songbirds (LaKisha Jones, pictured and Syesha Mercado) volunteering for a mission that only Fantasia Barrino and a full gospel chorus could successfully complete?
''Imagine,'' John Lennon
Imagine no contestants/ Tackling this tune/ No offense to J.Hud/ Or Ruben Studdard, too/ Imagine all the Idols/ Singing ''Help'' instead / You-ooh-ooh/ You may say Archuleta/ Sang it best of anyone /And Blake Lewis was decent/ But on Idol, this song is done.
''It's Raining Men,'' The Weather Girls
Note to future contestants: If you're flirting with the idea of covering a novelty disco hit, please reconsider — especially if said song features an exceedingly difficult vocal line that nearly felled big-voiced Kelly Clarkson and Kimberly Locke, and left poor Jasmine Trias (pictured) gasping like an asthma sufferer in a pollen factory.
Anything from the Stevie Wonder songbook
Over the past nine seasons of Idol, close to 40 atrocities have been committed against the music of Stevie Wonder — and we're not even counting the audition rounds. There was A.J. Gil bludgeoning ''My Cherie Amour'' with a vibrato baton in season 1. There was Camile Velasco smothering ''For Once in My Life'' with her nasal whine in season 3. And let us not even speak of the crime perpetrated against ''Knocks Me Off My Feet'' by season 6's Sanjaya Malakar (pictured). In light of the evidence, it's a wonder that Wonder hasn't sought a restraining order.
It would require great hubris, or complete ignorance of Idol history, for a contestant to cover the one song that's indelibly linked to the success of the insanely popular Underwood. And yet that's exactly what season 6's Gina Glocksen and season 7's Ramiele Malubay did in selecting ''Alone,'' the soaring Heart number that catapulted Carrie Underwood from reality show hopeful to musical superstar. Hey, maybe for an encore, Gina or Ramiele could rip the mic out of Aretha's hands midway through a rendition of ''Respect''? (Okay, okay, Allison Iraheta provided the exception to the rule in the season 8 semifinals, but The Rocker doesn't follow the EW playbook, she rewrites it!)
''I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),'' The Four Tops
Idol loves the Motown sound, and who are we to argue? But let's be honest: the phrase ''sugar pie honey bunch'' should be reserved for cereal commercials and golden oldies stations. Just ask R.J. Helton, Clay Aiken, and Scott Savol (pictured), none of whom benefited from attempting this woefully dated number.
''Rhythm Is Gonna Get You,'' Gloria Estefan
Let's be honest: The entire Gloria Estefan oeuvre should be strictly verboten for all future editions of Idol. But as season 3 star LaToya London and season 6 champ Jordin Sparks (pictured) will tell you, it's especially hard to sound cool when you're paired with a lyric about hiding beneath a blanket to escape the relentless pursuit of...the rhythm.
''My Girl,'' The Temptations
Unless you're at a Temptations' reunion concert, ''My Girl'' is best relegated to karaoke bars and wedding receptions. And yes, that is meant as an insult to Aaron Kelly (season 9), John Stevens (season 3, pictured), EJay Day (season 1), and Mark Scott (season 1 seminfinalist). Not to worry, I forgot that last dude, too.