This is part four of my look at 2010 in review, the year in American Idol.
Today, a look at my picks for the top 10 Idol songs of 2010. The only requirement: That the song was first released this year, on an album, EP or as a single.
In other words, singles released from albums released in 2009 aren’t eligible for the list.
If you disagree with the selections below or have other favorites, feel free to comment below.
1. “Farmer’s Daughter,” Crystal Bowersox:
The song that convinced me that Crystal should be a favorite in season nine, before she ever appeared on an Idol episode. You only get this kind of emotion when a singer is performing a song he or she wrote and experienced. One of the best Idol tracks ever. It might not be a hit; it’s awfully bleak for release around Christmas. But kudos to 19 for allowing its release as Crystal’s first single.
2. “Falling in Love Tonight,” Fantasia:
Love this playful dance tune off Fantasia’s 2010 “Back to Me” album, complete with a little giggle at the beginning and even a touch of auto-tune midway through. Yet another example of why she’s one of the best vocalists ever to graduate from American Idol.
3. “That’s What I’m Here For,” Jason Castro:
I was a big fan of the season seven Idol cast. I wasn’t a big fan of Jason Castro. But match this guy with the right song, and there’s no denying his talent. It happens three or four times on his self-titled debut album, never better than here, though. And, don’t forget, Jason is coming to Lancaster in February.
4. “You Take Yourself with You,” Bo Bice:
An excellent album-closer for Bo’s excellent third album. There’s a clear reference to his days on Idol in the second verse. And a nice message to boot. Bo shares writing credits for the song with D. Scott Miller.
5. “Desperate Girls and Stupid Boys,” Kimberly Caldwell:
You might not have heard this one. If not, check it out. The song is as good as the title. And it comes from a season two contestant who is promising the release of her long-awaited first CD in the spring. Hopefully, it includes more tunes like this one.
6. “Sleep Well, My Angel,” CarlySmithson:
Wow, listen to Carly Smithson. She never sounded this good on American Idol. A beautiful ballad off an underappreciated first album from We Are the Fallen. Here’s hoping there’s a second.
7. “Speak Now,” Crystal Bowersox:
The other Crystal Bowersox song from “Farmer’s Daughter” that I can listen to over and over. Not coincidentally, it’s also another Crystal original. And that album version is even better than this live version.
8. “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me,” Danny Gokey:
When it comes to first singles, Danny was clearly the winner among the season eight Idols. Fitting song for a guy who lost his wife just before Idol, then wound up finishing third and embarking on a country music career. Here’s an acoustic version of the song. If Danny had written the song, I’d rank it higher.
9. “Say Goodbye,” Katharine McPhee:
Kat released her second album back in January. It wasn’t a big hit. Nor was this song. But in my opinion, it’s Kat’s best original song yet. Great treatment of a heartfelt song.
10. “The Other Side of Down,” David Archuleta:
David had more of a hand in writing material for his second album, and the title tune is one of his co-writes. Not to mention a nice reminder of his vocal talent. And with the upbeat message you’d expect from David.
Honorable Mention: “Princess,” Lee DeWyze: Funny, but Lee seemed to want to distance himself from his pre-Idol music when he reached the finals. It’s a shame he didn’t follow Crystal’s example and include new treatments of a couple of his best pre-Idol songs — like this one — on his post-Idol debut.