by Lauren Piester | Wed., Jan. 6, 2016 4:43 PM
Tonight begins the end of an era.
American Idol's fifteenth and final season is about to premiere on Fox, and we've spent the past few months suffering from a serious case of nostalgia. We've pretty much watched Adam Lambert sing everything under the sun multiple times, and we've cried to at least four Kelly Clarkson songs as we remember what it was like to watch her win the very first season.
It's been a long road full of some truly incredible performances, and narrowing them down into a manageable list of the best ones was pretty much the hardest thing we've ever done.
You're definitely going to have some things to argue about, but that's what Twiter is for. So take a trip with us through 14 years of jaw-dropping performances, and be sure to let us know your thoughts!
20. Elliott Yamin, "A Song For You"
Smooth as hell, and we're talking about both the voice and the suit.
19. Bo Bice, "In A Dream"
Acapella is a risky move, but Bo pulled it off beautifully. Who needs a band anyway?
18. Jason Castro, "Hallelujah"
For a performance preceded by a sleepy story about how Jason once ripped off a dread during dinner on a date, this was kind of a surprising success. We don't remember a single other song Jason sang, but we will never forget this one.
17. Fantasia Barrino, "Summertime"
OK, we were not the biggest fans of Fantasia all the time but this performance was unequivocally gorgeous.
16. Kris Allen, "Heartless"
You don't usually look at a guy like Kris Allen and think he could truly kill a Kanye song, but that's exactly what he did, breathing new life into the whole concept of a white guy with a guitar.
15. Melinda Doolittle, "My Funny Valentine"
Melinda may not have been sure of her powerhouse voice, but we sure were, and we still are.
14. Haley Reinhart, "Bennie and the Jets"
Reinhart apparently needed to be born a few decades earlier for her raspy voice to be fully appreciated, since she only came in third in her season. We, however, could listen to this on repeat.
13. Clay Aiken, "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
This list includes a whole lot of runners up who definitely should have won, just FYI. Clay was the first, and this performance is just one reason why.
12. Quentin Alexander, "I Put a Spell on You"
Not going to lie, that amazing fur coat has a lot to do with our love of this performance, but it would still be a showstopper even without the coat.
11. David Cook, "Always Be My Baby"
David Cook was a master of taking well-known songs and turning them into something new and different. We're also big fans of his version of "Billie Jean," but his take on Mariah Carey was oddly life-changing.
10. Jena Irene, "Can't Help Falling in Love"
We were fans of Jena before this, but this simple, emotional piano rendition made us big fans.
9. Jennifer Hudson, "Circle of Life"
Don't even talk to us about how JHud only made it to 7th place in season 3, but do talk to us about how she took on The Lion King and won big in our hearts.
8. Chris Daughtry, "Hemorrhage"
Daughtry almost looks wrong on that stage, singing this by himself instead of at the front of a band. It may not have made sense when he was eliminated in fourth place that season, but this performance is all the evidence you need that he didn't really need the win anyway.
7. Blake Lewis, "You Give Love a Bad Name"
Part of us wants to say this is the greatest Idol performance of all time, because it's beatboxed Bon Jovi and it's actually incredible. Blake wasn't the best singer, but boy could he put on a show.
6. Katharine McPhee, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
A future on Broadway—even fake TV Broadway—was obvious for Katharine after this performance. The first time she sang it was great, but the second time was legendary.
5. Jessica Sanchez, "I Will Always Love You"
Girl's got a voice like butter, and she took on Whitney Houston like a true star.
4. Carrie Underwood, "Alone"
The hair? Unfortunate. The performance? Iconic, and made the hair irrelevant.
3. Candice Glover, "Love Song"
There was no doubt that Candice deserved the win after she delivered this chill-inducing rendition of a Cure song. Pure magic.
2. Adam Lambert, "Mad World"
Adam Lambert's loss is still one of the greatest injustices of reality TV, and his performance of "Mad World" is still one of the greatest performances on any singing competition.
1. Kelly Clarkson, "Moment Like This"
This may not have actually been one of the best performances or even Kelly's best performance, in terms of skill, but damn if it's not still the most important, tear-jerking moment in Idol history. Could you blow minds right after winning the biggest singing competition in the country? No, no you could not.
American Idol's final season debuts on Fox tonight at 8 p.m.
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