9 Southern American Idol Performances That Still Blow Us Away

Did y’all know that 11 of the 14 winners of FOX’s American Idol have been from the South? (Well, that is if you include Oklahoma, and I’m never sure if we do.) In fact, all four of the final contestants in the final season are all from the South.


There are a lot of theories about why Southerners dominate the hit show. Is it because more Southerners watch the show? Is it because Southerners are more likely to vote for a contestant strictly because they are Southern? Or is it just because the South tends to produce gosh darn talented people?


I’m going to go with the last one.


In honor of the finale celebration shows this week, we’ve gathered our favorite moments from Southern Idol contestants over the years.


9. Caleb Johnson – “Dazed and Confused” (Season 13)


Winner of the 13th season of American Idol, Caleb Johnson is an Asheville, NC native who boasts a powerhouse rocker voice. As one of only four people in Idol history who were granted permission to cover Led Zeppelin, Johnson delivered a passionate performance doing justice to one of rock’s greats.


8. Fantasia Barrino – “Summertime” (Season 3)


Some may think this is a simple performance, but Fantasia’s rendition of this classic was mesmerizing. The winner of the third season of American Idol hails from High Point, NC.



7. Bo Bice – “Whipping Post” (Season 4)


It’s hard to imagine how this longhaired troubadour almost beat Carrie Underwood in the 4th season, that is until you watch this performance. Bice’s cover of The Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post,” was hair-whipping and soulful at the same time, making this Huntsville, AL native a huge star in our books.



6. Candice Glover – "Lovesong" (season 12)


This Beaufort, SC native made us swoon with her performance of The Cure’s “Love Song” in the 12th season of Idol. Adele has a pretty good cover of the classic song, but we’d dare to say this Southern Idol’s is better.



5. Chris Daughtry – “Hemmorhage” (season 5)


Chris Daughtry’s raspy voice made audiences swoon in the 5th season of the show. This cover of Fuel’s “Hemorrhage” put him on the map and helped launch his career after Idol.


4. Kris Allen – “Heartless” (Season 8)


From a small town in Arkansas, Kris Allen was the antithesis of his opponent Adam Lambert. Many thought his choice to cover this Kanye West song was risky, but his performance was nothing short of magical. He captivated audiences with an acoustic rendition of a rap song, catapulting him to a season 8 win.


3. Phillip Phillips – “Volcano” (Season 11)


Hailing from Albany, GA, Phillip Phillips started the season on a low note with run-of-the-mill Dave Matthews covers and other frat-boy leanings. When we simplified his sound and got raw with this Irish tune, everyone stood up and took notice.


2. Carrie Underwood – “Alone” (Season 4)


We can’t mention an Idol tops list without mentioning Carrie Underwood. She is the single most successful Idol contestant in the history of the show. Throughout season 4, she was billed as the innocent country girl, but when she stepped out on the stage to perform this classic rock anthem, everyone new this star had arrived.


1. Kelly Clarkson – “Natural Woman” (Season 1)


No one beats the original Idol. Every season after Kelly’s first season win tried to top this superstar’s voice, but could never get to her level. She is the one and only true Idol. The proof is in her cover of Aretha Franklin’s amazing “Natural Woman.”



Be sure to watch the series finale of American Idol on FOX this Thursday at 8 p.m. Don’t miss the American Idol: American Dream special tonight on FOX, which will be a look back at the success of this cultural phenomenon. For a look at the local kid who captured our hearts on the show this season, pick up the latest issue of South out now!