8. William Hung Who can forget when charmingly clueless college student William Hung walked into the 2004 Idol auditions and gave a hilarious rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs." We're not sure what was worse — his toddler dance moves or his terrible singing. After William finished his awkward performance, Simon Cowell remarked, "You can't sing, you can't dance. So, what do you want me to say?" But William, bless his heart, said, "Um, I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all."
5. Danny Gokey Let's face it. Sometimes the most memorable thing about an Idol contestant isn't their music, but their sad story. We've heard a lot of sob stories over the years, but none is quite as heart-breaking as Season 8 contestant Danny Gokey's tragic love story. Danny's 27-year-old wife Sophia died a month before his audition while undergoing surgery for congenital heart disease. The loss of his wife was still raw when Danny competed on Idol, and we often wished we could reach through the TV screen and give him a big hug.
10. General Larry Platt "Pants on the ground, pants on the ground, lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground… " Admit it. Those lyrics were stuck in your head too after General Larry Platt, who was way past the Idol age limit, showed up to Idol's Season 9 auditions to perform his catchy rap song about guys who need to pull their pants up. Larry's performance (mind-boggling split included) seemed to win over Simon, Kara, and Randy. Unfortunately, 62-year-old rappers aren't allowed to compete on the show.
3. Clay Aiken Everyone loves watching the ugly duckling transform into the beautiful swan they were always meant to be. In Season 2, the ugly duckling was Clay Aiken. When Clay first auditioned for the show, he was a geeky college student who shocked the judges with his soulful voice. And by the end of the competition, Clay "the nerd" had turned into an unlikely heartthrob with his own group of devoted fans — the Claymates!
7. Sanjaya Malakar Maybe it was the hair, which changed just about every week. Or maybe it was the big, somewhat creepy smile that never seemed to fade. It definitely wasn't talent that kept Sanjaya Malakar on Season 6 of American Idol for more weeks than most of us could understand. After he delivered one entertainingly bad performance after the other, and after he rocked a "pony-hawk" during one show, Simon told Sanjaya, "I don't think it matters anymore what we say... I think you are in your own universe and if people like you, good luck."
This is not a list of American Idol winners. This is a list of memorably bad acts like William Hung, annoying singers like Tatiana Del Torro, and popular finalists who didn't win the Idol title. Here are 10 American Idol contestants whose names we'll always remember.
1. Adam Lambert From his bold guy-liner to the crazy high notes he dared to belt out each week, there was not a thing that was forgettable about Season 8 runner-up Adam Lambert. Adam brought his unique style to the American Idol stage every week, wowing the judges with performances like "It's a Mad World" and "Play that Funky Music White Boy." His performance of Smokey Robinson's "Tracks of My Tears" even earned a standing ovation from Mr. Smokey himself! Adam Lambert is arguably the most exciting contestant to ever hit the Idol stage.
9. Tatiana Del Toro Annoying. Desperate. Emotionally unstable. These are just a few of the words that aptly describe Season 8 semifinalist Tatiana Del Toro. When she wasn't laughing uncontrollably, she was crying inconsolably or begging the judges to give her another chance. We can also add another adjective for this drama queen: repetitive. She sang the same song, Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love For You," twice during her short run on the show.
4. Kellie Pickler We appreciate that Kelly Pickler brought a bit of comedy to American Idol's fifth season. Let's just say the country cutie, who was once dubbed the female Forrest Gump, wasn't the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. For example, when Simon Cowell called her "ballsy and sexy," Kellie sweetly replied, "What's a ballsy?" Gotta love her!
6. Justin Guarini You remember Justin Guarini right? Of course you do! He's the guy with the big mop of curly hair who lost to Kelly Clarkson during the first season of American Idol. Whenever we think back to Idol's first season finale, we can picture Justin standing there with while Kelly got the news that launched her career. Justin Guarini is a part of American Idol history.
2. Chris Daughtry When Chris Daughtry was voted off American Idol's fifth season much earlier than expected (he left the competition in fourth place), his biggest fans vowed that they would never watch the show again. Chris's elimination was the big American Idol shocker everyone was talking about the next day… and the day after that, and the day after that. Why the uproar? To put it simply, Chris Daughtry rocks! As proof, he is now one of the most successful Idol contestants — ever!