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As a new winner is crowned, look back at this season's high notes

Shaun Harrison
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1 of 14

Alexis Grace, "Dirty Diana" (Michael Jackson)

Alexis' early departure from the Top 13 is among the season’s biggest injustices. Although she proved she had a mature voice during the semifinals, it was this edgy rendition that showed that the tiny single mom could be "naughty."
2 of 14

Lil Rounds, "The Way You Make Me Feel" (Michael Jackson)

Lil never quite found her groove in the finals, and seemed desperate to follow any advice the judges gave her. This Week 1 performance, however, demonstrates the energy we learned to love during auditions, even if (and perhaps because) it didn't allow her to show off her belter’s pipes.
3 of 14

Matt Giraud, "So Small" (Carrie Underwood)

Soulful Matt manned the piano in many of his Idol performances, but never to greater effect than with this rearrangement of former Idol Carrie Underwood's hit. It was this night that we realized how talented he is as both a musician and a vocalist.
4 of 14

Megan Joy, "Walkin' After Midnight" (Patsy Cline)

Always a wild card, Megan managed to deliver a straightforward rendition of this classic that still allowed him to show off her own unique style. And mercifully, it didn't involve any cawing whatsoever
5 of 14

Anoop Desai, "Always on My Mind" (Brenda Lee)

After trying (unsuccessfully) to dazzle America with his upbeat R&B stylings, Anoop earned props with the smooth vocal chops of this pitch-perfect rendition of a classic country ballad. We'll take that over chest-thumping any day.
6 of 14

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Michael Sarver, "Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)" (Garth Brooks) Oil rigger Michael seemed right at home with this rapid-fire country tune, delivering one of his most commercially viable performances of the season. It's not really a singer's song, but his enthusiasm and good ol' boy smile charmed us.
7 of 14

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Allison Iraheta, "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (The Temptations) Like Alexis, Allison has a voice well beyond her teenage years, and this Motown Week performance perhaps highlighted it best. She paid respectful tribute to the funky original, while absolutely rocking the mic with her powerful vocals.
8 of 14

Allison Iraheta, "Don't Speak" (No Doubt)

Amidst several strong performances, this song tends to get lost in the mix, but we threw it in for several reasons: 1) She played the guitar like any rocker chick should, 2) This week, even more than Rock Week, showed off Allison's unique personality, and 3) to again scold the judges for critiquing Allison's outfit more than her singing.
9 of 14

Adam Lambert, "Mad World" (Tears for Fears)

Simon's been quoted as saying this is his favorite performance of the year. Taken from the year of Adam's birth (1982), this haunting, slowed-down rendition was a nice alternative from Adam’s tendency toward over-revved, screechy vocals.
10 of 14

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Kris Allen, "Falling Slowly" (Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova) The one shining moment of the Quentin Tarantino-mentored movie week. Kris' vulnerable and beautiful take on the Oscar-winning song from Once solidified him as a true contender in the competition. (It also made us swoon.)
11 of 14

Kris Allen, "She Works Hard for the Money" (Donna Summer)

Kris seemed the least equipped to tackle Disco Week. But armed with his trusty guitar and a funky Latin arrangement of this dance-floor classic, he provided not only one of the season's most memorable performances, but also a radio-ready hit for his debut album.
12 of 14

Danny Gokey, "Come Rain or Come Shine" (Ray Charles)

Danny shines during the big choruses, but with this song, he actually handled the verses of this standard with skill as well. Still, the "swagger" he brought on this night made us reconsider Danny after several weeks of just-average performances.
13 of 14

Adam Lambert, "Whole Lotta Love" (Led Zeppelin)

It was an intriguing idea: glam rocker Adam taking on the hard edges of a Led Zep classic. The other contestants, particularly Danny Gokey and his fate-sealing scream, shouldn't have even bothered trying to top him on this night. He was, as Kara suggested, a "rock god."
14 of 14

Kris Allen, "Heartless" (Kanye West)

Kris has managed week after week to make old songs sound current and fresh. But he proved himself as an artist when he was also able to strip down a current hit and give it his own side-mouth-singing style. His risks have been our rewards.