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Songs

This section of the WhatNotToSing.com database is so dangerous it ought to come with a warning sticker. There are no shortage of ways to misinterpret the Song data we've compiled. For example, if you happen to have toothpaste for brains, and you looked at the table below, you might reason thusly:

"Hmm...'In A Dream', by Badlands. A 94.0 average, that's good. Only been performed once, for 5-stars. Looks like a pretty sweet choice. I'll try it!"

Thankfully, most contestants this dumb can't find the audition site in the first place, and the judges do a decent job of weeding out the ones that do. But beware, the Songs table provides plenty more rope with which to hang yourself. Here, then, are a few bits of friendly advice from the staff.

  • In all seriousness, do avoid songs that have already been showstoppers; the odds are not in your favor. Note how many songs have provided a 5-star performance (sort the Ratings Tab table by the rightmost column), then note how few have done so for two different contestants. It's difficult enough to be compared to a professional recording artist, but when you invite comparisons to previous excellent Idol moments as well, you're really asking for it.
  • Corollary: steer clear of commercial hit songs by a former Idol, unless your goal is to shout to the world, "Hey, look! I can't sing as well as someone you crowned champion a few years ago!"
  • In a similar vein, avoid songs associated with a previous disastrous performance. If your lifelong dream is to sing Crocodile Rock on the Idol stage, get over it.
  • Keep in mind that each song's numerical rating is of the performances of that song, not of the song itself. Always take the singers into account. The "X-Factor" column in the Extended Data tab is a great way to see whether a song has helped or hurt singers in the long run.

Which brings us to this final tidbit of advice. When faced with a choice between a song that has been performed previously on Idol (even if it wasn't a showstopper or a disaster) and a fresh one, all else being equal, go with the fresh one. We've found a clear downward trend on repeat and reprise performances, particularly in the later seasons.

[back to top] American Idol  Songs (1980s only)


Click on a column header to sort by that column.
# Song / Artist Average Rating #Pf Hi Lo σ 0-19 20-39 40-59 60-79 80-100
1
Could've Been0001Could've Been
87.0
 
1 87 87 11.0 0 0 0 0 1
2
Music Of The Night0001The Music Of The Night
From: The Phantom Of The Opera
87.0
 
1 87 87 15.0 0 0 0 0 1
3
Sharp Dressed Man0001Sharp Dressed Man
85.0
 
1 85 85 14.0 0 0 0 0 1
4
Billie Jean0001Billie Jean
84.5
 
2 95 74 15.5 0 0 0 1 1
5
Mad World0001Mad World
84.3
 
3 94 79 16.3 0 0 0 1 2
6
Still Of The Night0001Still Of The Night
84.0
 
1 84 84 15.0 0 0 0 0 1
7
This Womans Work0001This Woman's Work
83.0
 
2 86 80 20.5 0 0 0 0 2
8
Youve Got Another Thing Comin'0001You've Got Another Thing Comin'
83.0
 
1 83 83 15.0 0 0 0 0 1
9
Somewhere Out There0001Somewhere Out There
82.0
 
1 82 82 12.0 0 0 0 0 1
10
How Come U Dont Call Me Anymore0001How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore?
80.5
 
2 81 80 16.0 0 0 0 0 2
11
One Rock N Roll Too Many0001One Rock 'N' Roll Too Many
From: Starlight Express
79.0
 
1 79 79 19.0 0 0 0 1 0
12
Where Do Broken Hearts Go0001Where Do Broken Hearts Go
78.5
 
2 79 78 15.0 0 0 0 2 0
13
Dirty Diana0001Dirty Diana
78.0
 
1 78 78 23.0 0 0 0 1 0
14
Father Figure0001Father Figure
78.0
 
1 78 78 15.0 0 0 0 1 0
15
When Doves Cry0001When Doves Cry
77.0
 
1 77 77 17.0 0 0 0 1 0
16
Love Song Cure0001Lovesong
76.0
 
2 96 56 14.0 0 0 1 0 1
17
Never0001Never
75.0
 
1 75 75 14.0 0 0 0 1 0
18
Way You Make Me Feel0001The Way You Make Me Feel
75.0
 
1 75 75 15.0 0 0 0 1 0
19
I Drove All Night0001I Drove All Night
74.0
 
1 74 74 18.0 0 0 0 1 0
20
Tell Her About It0001Tell Her About It
73.0
 
1 73 73 16.0 0 0 0 1 0
21
Wicked Game0001Wicked Game
73.0
 
1 73 73 18.0 0 0 0 1 0
22
Always On My Mind0001Always On My Mind
72.8
 
5 86 60 20.4 0 0 0 4 1
23
Every Breath You Take0001Every Breath You Take
71.8
 
4 79 65 20.3 0 0 0 4 0
24
Boys Are Back In Town0001Boys Are Back In Town
71.0
 
1 71 71 17.0 0 0 0 1 0
25
Heavy Metal0001Heavy Metal
71.0
 
1 71 71 21.0 0 0 0 1 0
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