American Idol 2012: The Top 10 Performances of the Season

American Idol 2012 is winding down and while there’s still technically six performances left (Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips are singing three songs each tonight) we decided it was time to compile the Top 10 Performances of the season. The decisions made aren’t based solely on vocals. Other things like song choice, stage presence and audience connection were also considered.

In reverse order:

10. Vienna, Elise Testone (Top 10 Week). Billy Joel ween was mostly meh for most of the contestants, but Elise took on lesser-known “Vienna” by Billy Joel and came out on top. It was an emotional and connected performance and reminded people that Elise was a serious contender.

9. The Climb, Hollie Cavanagh (Top 6 Week). After weeks of bad critiques and trips to the Bottom 3, Hollie pulled out a version of this song that put the original artist to shame. Miley Cyrus could take some lessons from Hollie on this performance.

8. To Love Somebody, Joshua Ledet (Top 5 Week). Joshua had never heard of this song by the Bee Gees, but he took it on like it was one of his own. It was emotional and powerful and kind of surprising to some who didn’t know Joshua was going to blast his way to the Top 3.

7. Stay With Me, Skylar Laine (Top 24 Week). This was way back at Top 24/25 when we first learned that Skylar was full of spunk and energy. Little did we know she was going to command the stage for a number of weeks to come as one of the best overall performers of the season.

6. Piano Man, Colton Dixon (Top 10 Week). At this point in the game I think just about everyone thought Colton was going to sing his way all the way to finale. And when he pulled out this song during Billy Joel week, the deal seemed to be sealed. Of course he didn’t make all the way, but with performance like this one, he could have.

5. It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World, Joshua Ledet (Top 4 Week). I think just about anyone would check this performance as Joshua’s best of the season. I think if he had performed this one a week later, he might have ended up in the finale in place of Jessica or Phillip.

4. Wind Beneath My Wings, Skylar Laine (Top 8 Week). Skylar spent most of the season moving around the stage with her signature sass, but she surprised everybody when she slowed things down with this Bette Midler hit. I was actually surprised just how amazing it turned out, considering what a tacky, dated song that is today.

3. I Will Always Love You, Jessica Sanchez (Top 13 Week). This is the performance that put Jessica on the map. It made non-fans fans and made her fans love her even more. The timeliness of Whitney Houston’s death added to the emotion that Jessica was already delivering.

2. We’ve Got Tonight, Phillip Philips (Top 3 Week). It was hard not putting this one in the No. 1 spot. Phillip was out of his comfort zone on this song. He was vulnerable and it was beautiful. The emotional, connected performance coupled with the video of him crying during his Top 3 homecoming parade sent the performance over the top. Jimmy Iovine called it the best performance of the season. And while I agreed at the time, I remembered one that had everything we could ask for in an Idol performance. And that performance is …

1. Whole Lotta Love, Elise Testone (Top 9 Week). I’m probably going to get hate mail over not picking Jessica or Phillip for this spot, but if you really pull yourself back and evaluate this performance you might get it. Week after week, Elise picked the wrong songs. She was flailing and her days were numbered. Then she pulls this performance out. It was the perfect song for her at the perfect time. And it was a perfect performance. She did things with that song I’ve never seen on the American Idol stage. Pretty damn amazing.

What were your favorite performances of the season?