Mariah Carey – The American Idol Performances (VIDEO)

In honor of pop legend, Mariah Carey joining the American Idol judges panel I present to you her official FOX promo photo. That’s an interesting pose, Mimi!

You can find a list of Mariah songs covered on American Idol over the years at the official website. The list is surprisingly short, especially if you consider that 7 of the songs were performed during a Mimi themed- and-mentored week in Season 7.

Her songs ARE hard to sing. Not only is it hard to find covers, but it’s particularly difficult to find ones that were performed well.

Here are, in no particular order, five of those performances for your viewing pleasure:

Mimi told David Archuleta that she “wouldn’t be mad” at him if he went up into his falsetto for two seconds. David felt she gave him some really helpful advice.

Mariah’s “Hero” helped Danny Gokey advance to the Season 8 Top 13. He got a seal clap AND a standing ovation from Paula. She was so flummoxed she couldn’t count her words. “YOU GIVE US ALL HOPE” screamed Kara.

The version of “When You Believe” from Season 9 finalist, Siobhan Magnus, was slammed by the judges–well, except by Ellen DeGenerous who never slammed anybody. Listening back, although the performance was shaky in spots, it had some interesting phrasing.

Randy Jackson put his seal of approval on Syesha Mercado’s slightly pitchy performance of “Vanishing”. The season 7 finalist put her own diva-fied spin on the song. Mentor Mariah had no doubt Syesha could make the song her own.

When Mariah Carey mentored the Season 7 Top 7, fans assumed that the boys would be at a disadvantage. But the performance of the night easily went to David Cook who turned Mimi’s breezy ode to lost love into an angsty power ballad. “I thought he did something really different,” Mimi said of David’s version, “and it made me proud as a songwriter that it could stand the test of time.”


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  • Anonymous

    I love Mariah’s songs, but I can’t stand when people cover them. Mariah just has a swagger to carry her older songs off. When most people cover them, it comes off lame and corny.
    My only exception is David Cook’s incredible cover of Always Be My Baby.

  • Zach

    I’d like a bag of whatever she’s on in that photo.

  • BigNLiddle

    David Cook obviously pwns all ;-) 

  • Landon Cox

    No Kelly Without You? :(

  • Zach

     ya lol, how could they forget Kelly?

  • Anonymous

    Loved Cook, Archie and Syesha performances… Oh, the memories of how awesome season 7 was.

    Lol @ Simon’s comment on Danny Gokey’s performance. Even when he wasn’t at his best, Simon was still entertaining

  • Anonymous

     Without You was a cover song from Mariah not an original.

  • Anonymous

    Ohhh its S7 all up in heyah! lol. I really enjoyed all those performances. Will be interesting to see if anyone chooses to take on a Mariah song next season with her judging them.

    Mariah is a beautiful woman. That promo photo is…rather unfortunate.

  • Anonymous

    They included Joshua’s version but not Kelly’s on that list, which is weird. 

    I consider “Without You” a Badfinger song. But to younger folks, Mariah’s version may be the only one they’ve ever heard.

  • Lori

    David Cook’s “Always Be My Baby” has got to go down in Idol history as one of the best interpretations of any song in it’s 11 year history thus far. The vocal was powerful and heartfelt as well. Great all around performance. Thanks for posting. It’s been awhile.

  • Anonymous

    Cookie – Loved ya then, love ya now.  Who’s Mariah?  

  • Anonymous

    I really dislike Cook’s version of ABMB. That song has always been my jam and I hate what he did to it.

  • hayes

    Probably because when Joshua did it, the theme was “the year they were born”, so they had to say that he covered Mariah, although it was a cover of a cover. Same with Carly, being Mariah week and all.

    I didn’t think the list was that short. Always Be My Baby is my favorite one out of that list.

  • Karen C

    I absolutely love David Cook’s version of Always Be My Baby, and his version really has stood the test of time also. I think he brought something different to the song, and it is one of the songs he did on the show that kind of showed his songwriting in a way, it fits in with some of his music. 

  • Sassycatz

    Cook’s version of Always Be My Baby is still going strong in Asia. Tweeted about constantly. Here’s the duet he did of the song with the Indonesian Idol winner, Regina Ivanova, during his recent concert tour. It’s a nice video, professionally shot and aired on a special program devoted to their Idol winners.

  • Danny Latham

    David Cook’s version of Always Be My Baby will always be a standard to which all Idols are judged for originality. Sure, Hello and Billie Jean were awesome, but when you take a pop diva like Mariah and make it truly your own, you become an Idol legend. 

  • fuzzywuzzy

    ABMB was my favorite Cook performance that season.

  • buffynut2001

    Always Be My Baby was my favorite performance of David’s. :)

  • fuzzywuzzy

    jinx!  :)

  • Anonymous

    I just completely LOLed at that photo.  I really can’t wait to see this craziness at the judges’ table.

  • Anonymous

    Obviously that was one of David Cook’s big moments on the show; I thought he did an awesome interpretation of that song.

    I do think that Syesha definitely had an underrated but really great performance as well of “Vanishing.” I remember that I was happy that she didn’t pick one of the big recognizable songs (which she did basically every other week with “I Will Always Love You,” “I Believe,” “Proud Mary,” etc…) She has a great set of pipes and I thought that was one of her best performances.

    And of course Kelly’s “Without You” was awesome.

  • Anonymous

    Always Be My Baby is one of my favorite of David Cook’s performances. It’s just incredible.

  • Karen C

    I thought Syesha did a good job on Vanishing,  I always liked that song.  I knew it, and I remember Mariah Carey doing it on SNL also, I think it was from her first album. I liked her first album, and the Unplugged album,  kind of didn’t like her later albums that were more hip hop, though.

  • Stavros

    I always liked Brooke White’s rendition of Hero even if the judges didn’t.  Also, Kristy Lee Cook’s performance of “Forever” was one of her best performances of the entire season (even if nobody knows the song).

  • V Jemmy

    I…. really don’t like that promo pic.

  • DoesMonaKnow

    What an odd promo photo.

  • Anonymous

    Love Archie’s When You Believe. His conviction resonates with this usually cynical cynic, lol.

  • Itsonlyidol

    David Cook is an amazing singer.  Seeing him sing ABMB on AI7 and in Indonesia with Regina showed he hit all the notes effortlessly, not an easy thing to do, and with feeling.  Truly an amazing singer.

  • Anonymous

    Really enjoyed and enjoy David Archuleta’s version of When You Believe as did all of the Judges.  His recording of it was also fabulous. 

    Loved Season 7.  They all did well.

  • Enough already!

    This is not only an unusual publicity picture, but somewhat unusual as any type of picture.   What is she trying to say?  

  • Anonymous

    Love David Archuleta’s When You Believe.. he looks so young there!  Also thought Mariah was spot on with her advice too.

  • Anonymous

    I think Mariah is saying “My armpit itches and I have a cramp in my side.” And also “ORANGE!” 

  • steph6449

    That photo of Mariah is a step up for me from her usual. She looks cartoony and a little silly. 

    Where usually after she went toward the “enhancements” and OTT image I’ve felt her look has run between blowsy/unkempt to outright trashy.

    Should be interesting to watch on AI. JLo was always going for a fashion look, but the trainwreck potential really moved down after Paula lol.

    The video didn’t embed for some reason but nice to see Danny’s Hero on the list of songs. That was one of his better AI performances IMO, and still pretty listenable.

  • djafan

    David Archuleta’s When You Believe blew me away that night.  To think he was all of 17 tackling Mariah and Witney, what a gift.

  • Anonymous

    And also “BOOBS”

  • Anonymous

    We always get a few artists who are belters in the Mariah, Whitney, Celine school of singing so it promises to be super intimidating when the diva herself is up there.  There’s never been a singer approaching her vocal talent on the judges panel (beyond a guest judge).  And she had some good things to say as a mentor (potentially heavily edited).

    Love love that publicity pic!  So completely hysterical and so completely Mimi!  I hope she’ll bring the cray cray to Idol!   

  • hillstreetblooz

    Archie’s When You Believe hands down the best. He listened to her advice, sang the snot out of that song. Liked Cook’s ABMB, It just didn’t hit the sweet spot in my ears like Archie did. None of the other versions by alums resonated with me.

  • Anonymous

    Nice to walk down memory lane. I agree that Mariahs songs are hard to do justice to, Danny did a nice job with Hero and latter attempts by others did not fare as well. lol

  • Anonymous

    I really like Cook’s ABMB but I think my absolute fave Idol performance of his was Billie Jean. I’ve still got that puppy on my ipod four years later! lol

    I think someone next year should sing Emotions. And they’re required to sing it straight up. ;)

  • Anonymous

    This brings back some great memories. I loved Syesha and Archie’s performances, but Cook’s ABMB blew my mind. It was an emotional night for him with his brother there in the audience, and his own health scare just the week before, so his vocal wasn’t ansolutely perfect, but it was a fantastic rearrangent and a moving performance. The studio track is even better, although I miss the strings.

  • Whiteshirt

    Can’t wait to hear what Mrs. Cannon has to say about the new potential idols.

    Here’s hoping Nick makes a guest appearance — love him. Love her too.

    And just no to all of the covers.

  • Anonymous

    David Archuleta showed such beautiful vocals when he sang “When You Believe”. He showed his enormous range and his ability to take a suggestion and own it. 

  • Incipit

    Thanks, mj – Cool to watch the Mariah covers, even though I am not a fan of her music. Some of them I’ve never even seen. I was also interested to see how few there were. Maybe people really did listen to Randy when he warned them not to sing Mariah? Heh. Unless the show made you do it. Then it didn’t count.

    David Cook’s version of ABMB is the only one that took on a life outside AI – and it’s still going strong in many Indo/Asian countries – the interviews from DC’s latest visit there always had mention of the song, and even a few new crumbs about the creation of the arrangement.

    I watched the five part youtube of the Top 7 – the whole show – I wanted to be reminded how Mariah approached each of the different talents from that season – even understanding that it was edited, she seemed to pay attention to each one, and tailor her comments to what would be useful to them. Makes me interested to see what she has to say now, as a judge.

    Just as an aside – when Randy said on the DavidC  segment “I’ve never stood up yet this season” – it really brought home the devaluation of the Standing O in recent memory. IMO. Of Course.

  • Anonymous

    That pic is hilarious, her right hand is DRAWN from wrist down and her left hand looks like there were a sixth finger amputated between her thumb and index finger. Also the unrealistic boobs/pelvis width ratio goes without saying, as the magical shadow/no shadow that her hands got going on. 

    Great job, re-toucher! *thumbs up*

    .. and this is an official promo pic? 

  • Sassycatz

    and even a few new crumbs about the creation of the arrangement.

    Oh, you reminded me! I couldn’t understand what he was saying in that video about his work on the ABMB rearrangement. What I *thought* he was saying was something like, he was noodling around with it in the apt. he was sharing with Michael Johns & Jason Castro and they liked what he came up with?

    I don’t know, I just remember their names coming up.

  • Leandro

    Danny Gokey! LOL. His haters were so obnoxious that I even liked him ;)

  • Anonymous

    I like David Cook, but I thought that performance was awful. I understand it was a tough night for him. But I thought he sounded really bad on that.

    ETA: Mimi’s pic to me says D.I.V.A. – lol – Bring it on girl! (I think I liked her best when she was married to Tommy Mottola and was not allowed to talk – smerk)

  • Incipit

    “I thought that performance was awful.”


    That’s OK, roarpen. Everyone is entitled to their own preferences.

    I thought the original was awful, and couldn’t imagine what David would do with it. *chuckle* That haunting minor chord rearrangement that removed the decoration and revealed there was more than melisma to the song was a welcome surprise!

    Now it’s turned into a revenue stream for David, ever since the Remix was registered with ASCAP. (reported here 7/07/2008) “David’s arrangement of ABMB qualifies him as a composer who is entitled to be paid royalties by ASCAP from the ITunes single and the dance remix (because his arrangement is being used for both). This explains why David Cook’s name is there along with the other writers and composers who worked on the song, and why these recordings are registered with ASCAP. He’s getting paid as a composer/arranger by ASCAP.”

    Considering how long the song was #1 in the Philippines, (almost a year!) and how much his arrangement is still being used four years later, as a google search reveals, everyone involved has likely made a nice piece of change from ABMB, the Remix – and continues to do so.

    Works for me. *wink*

  • hillstreetblooz

     Heh – I was glad when she finally found the courage to kick that little insecure misogynist jerk Mottola to the curb. He’s never gotten over it or forgiven her, even going so far as to marry a virtual lookalike and budding music star in Thalia. Haven’t heard much from her or her career since marrying Mottola, so I assume his ‘Under My Thumb’ tendencies are still alive and kicking. Mimi bid him deuces and hasn’t looked back. “The Emancipation of Mimi”, indeed…

  • hillstreetblooz

    I’ll give him his chump change for his ‘remix’, to use that word loosely. It’s still Mariah’s version that is bringing in the motherload of royalties, her version people most remember when mentioning the song.  It’s amusing how some think Cook did some fantastical magical thing covering or reworking that song. For my money, Blake Lewis should get far more credit than he does for taking songs, rearranging them and giving them fresh and new spins, making you reimagine them in ways you never thought. ABMB more than likely appears to be Cook’s peak – nothing he has sung since seems to have been as interesting or resonant. I’ve always been of the mind that he sounds better singing covers  than he does his own material. Glad to know that Mariah’s composition helped a brother out, giving him a high point careerwise.

  • Incipit

    ” For my money, Blake Lewis should get far more credit than he does for taking songs, rearranging them and giving them fresh and new spins, making you reimagine them in ways you never thought.”

    He probably ought to, hillstreetblooz. If as many people had become interested, he probably would have. But that’s the unpredictable factor – if someone knew ahead of time what would catch on big, all our Special Snowflakes would be Stars, all the time!

    The long term success of “ABMB the Remix” (ASCAP’s wording, not mine)  was completely unexpected, but it caught on, and there it is – and it keeps on making “Chump Change” for everyone involved with the song, including Mariah. I doubt she turns up her nose at a revenue stream, either, no matter how small. They all add up. Heh.

    And yeah, some people liked it then, some people still do. Some people still talk about it. Just like some people like DC’s music, and some don’t. There’s just no accounting for tastes…KWIM? *chuckle*

  • hillstreetblooz

    My special snowflake, Mariah, has been a star, all the time, from her 1st song out the box – so anybody else the largesse of her musical legacy could help out, like Cook, is all good.  I consider it her way of giving back. Maybe now that Cook is kind of in transition careerwise, he should revisit her catalogue to see if there’s anything else he could ‘rework’ to see if lightning can strike twice. Mimi has got songs up the yingyang, so helping the brother out again would be no problem.

  • Incipit

    That’s a sweet thought, hillstreetblooz. I wouldn’t give any odds at all on it ever happening, but it’s definitely a sweet thought.

    You must be so interested in what your Special Snowflake will do on Idol – I know I am. Mariah made a good mentor, IMO –  from the edited clips we were shown. And I don’t have to like her music to respect her talents and accomplishments. That would be kinda silly of me. IMO. Of Course.

    What she will be like as judge when the Live episodes begin has a lot of people curious. Even, dare I say, hopeful? I hope they fill out the panel with other competent and well spoken judges – I may watch the show live, if that happens.

  • hillstreetblooz

     Idol will win some viewers, lose some I’m sure in their search to regain some momentum. Perhaps those bidding adieu will be replaced by those tuning in because Mariah is there – I hope so, because Idol could use an infusion of ‘new blood’ in its viewing audience/demographic, kwim?  Idol has shed viewers before and managed to keep on keeping on. Those not inclined to watch this season have lots of other options out there now to choose from. *shrugs* All one can do is say c’est la vie and happy trails.

  • Indigobunting

    How funny ;)

    That is exactly how I started paying attention to him-Was casually watching Ai that year and I was  impressed by this performance.  After looking him up I was so mystified and astounded by the online piling on of the guy that I liked him more, lol.

  • Cory ??

    None of these even get close to touching Jessica’s “My All” performance. 

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Thanks for posting those videos of Mariah mentoring, MJ. It reminded me that she was a good mentor and seemed to really listen to the singing, personalizing her critiques and suggestions for each contestant. I have a feeling that she could be a very good judge, but I’m cautious in my optimism because clearly her appointment is timed to maximize the promotional benefit for the new music that she will be releasing, so it will be interesting to see how candid she will be.

  • Anonymous

    Well Mariah thought Cook’s version was impressive so I guess that says something.

  • Pam

    I saw this post was up last night and didn’t get a chance to comment on it.  I’m glad you put this up mj.  It brings back some good memories of some very good memorable performances.  Archie did a wonderful performance of “When You Believe”.  imo, that was one of his flawless performances but my favorite was Dave’s ABMB.  That was probably of my favorite AI performance of all time.  With all that was going on with his brother Adam’s condition at the time, it made for an extremely moving and emotional performance from him.  The best part about the performance was the fact that Dave tried not to embarrass his brother in any way by bringing too much attention to it.  In fact, that was his behavior through the entire season. 

    I agree with mj about Without You.  Most kids won’t have knowledge of the Nilsson version of the song.  Until I was a little bit older, I have to admit I didn’t. 

    Thanks for bringing back some great memories mj.

  • Tiffany

    First pic of seen of her with her boobs covered so give her that but Im surprised she let them use that pic.  She usually photographs really well and that one just says halloween lol and thats all.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, my special snowflake, Danny Gokey!  I get chills when I hear the Gokey Growl on “soul/sorrow.”  “If you reach into your SOUL / and the SORROW that you know will melt away . . .”

    It’s okay, Leandro.  I like James Durbin too.  Second fav Idol CD, right behind my special snowflake (and not far behind either).  Glad James never sang Mariah, though.  Not that he couldn’t — he’s a lot more flexible as a singer than people credit — but it is so not him.

  • Anonymous

    David Cook’s “ABMB The Remix” doesn’t really do much for me, although I agree that he is very good at changing up covers and making them his own.  (Looks to be a good live performer, too, at least from concert vids.)  Very interesting, Incipit, about the ASCAP and royalties.

    For me, David Cook’s original material has been a mixed bag, but there is no denying his talent.  He has a voice that, at its best, is capable of producing chills.  I really, really hope he finds his way in the music biz.  Too much talent to waste.

    FWIIW, I liked (and bought) David C’s first CD, but didn’t like (and didn’t buy) the second.  I did, however, buy one track — “Goodbye to the Girl.”  I get chills listening to his voice on that song.

  • Anonymous

    For my money, Blake Lewis should get far more credit than he does for
    taking songs, rearranging them and giving them fresh and new spins,
    making you reimagine them in ways you never thought.

    I agree that Blake brought something different to Idol, however in my opinion his vocals were so weak that it rather diminished his accomplishments. David Cook was able to rearrange songs as well as sing the hell out of them, so for me there is no comparison.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, Cook’s ABMB is probably my his favorite AI preformance too (or at least top two, or three – LOL).
    My second favorite of that night was Jason Castro’s I Don’t Wanna Cry
    both studio versions are still on rotation in my iPod, so many years later.

  • lovesickheroine

    That fox promo pic is just odd. It looks more like a profile picture for

  • LJR

    David Cook’s interpretation of Mariah’s song was amazing. I love it so.