What Songs Lead to the Most American Idol Eliminations?

What Songs Lead to the Most American Idol Eliminations? article feature image


Action Network put together an analysis of the songs and artists that have historically led to the most eliminations (and advancements) in American Idol ahead of its 21st season. After analyzing 20 years worth of data, and nearly 3,000 performances since the competition’s inception in 2002, here are the songs and artists that account for the most American Idol eliminations.

Songs With the Most Eliminations

“Feeling Good”, originally sung by Cy Grant, and popularized by Nina Simone, is the song that has led to the most eliminations in the past 20 seasons – specifically, 3 eliminations and one bottom two placement.

“I Can’t Help Myself” by The Four Tops, “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge ,“True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper and “The Way You Look Tonight” by Fred Astairetie for second place when it comes to the songs that lead to the most eliminations.

"Safest" American Idol Songs

“Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, “Come Together” by The Beatles & “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith are the “safest” songs to sing since they have led to the most advancements to the next rounds of the competition – each of them did so 8 times. 

“I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston and “Piece of My Heart” by Erma Franklin / Janis Joplin tie for second place, leading to safety 7 times.

Artists Account for the Most Eliminations on American Idol

Stevie Wonder songs have led to the most overall eliminations – 21, followed by Elton John – 19 and Whitney Houston – 15. However, Stevie Wonder is also the most covered artist on American Idol – his songs have been covered 71 times, which is followed by The Beatles (66 covers) & Elton John (55 covers). 

If the percentages are taken into consideration 21 times out of 71, Wonder’s songs ended up leading to an elimination – 29.57%

The Beatles’ songs were eliminated 14 out of 65 times – 21.21%. 

Elton John songs were eliminated 19 out of 55 times performed – 34.55% – which makes his songs the most likely to get a contestant eliminated out of the top 3 most covered artists, percentage-wise.

Most Popular Songs by Number of Covers

“I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston is the overall most covered song – it has been covered staggering 12 times. 

“Come Together” by The Beatles and “Piece of My Heart” by Erma Franklin / Janis Joplin tie for second place; both have been covered 9 times. 

Whitney Houston is the most covered female artist on the show – her songs have been covered 50 times.


  • The analysis includes all of the songs covered on the past 20 seasons of American Idol. The analysis begins with showstopper rounds / semi-finals, continuing with live shows, and ending with the finale.
  • Nearly 3000 performances have been analyzed since 2002
  • Since the rules and terminology have changed throughout the years, any type of advancement in the competition following its performance (terms: safety, advanced, judge’s save…) was counted as a “safe” advancement in the competition. Eliminations, “not chosen” and bottom two/bottom three were all counted as one count for a song leading to an elimination
  • For the overall most covered songs, duets/trios were counted only once if multiple contestants sang them together. The values for eliminations and safety were counted separately since at times, one contestant from the duo advanced while the other was sent home.
  • Unless it was specifically noted what version of the song was covered, the artist who popularized the song was counted as the singer whose songs was covered.
  • The data was collected from the official website of American Idol and the Wikipedia pages of its respective seasons.

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