Talent is never in short supply on "American Idol," but the true talent doesn't always win.
In the first five seasons of "American Idol," three of the five winners deserve to make the All-Time Top 10 American Idol list. Two of the winners -- Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks -- don't even crack the Top 10.
Of all the singers who have graced the Kodak Theatre stage in the last five seasons, these are the best of the best:
10. Tamyra Gray
It's incredible that Gray finished fourth in Season 1, especially since the marginally talented Justin Guarini was one of those ahead of her. Gray became one of the early favorites, especially with show-stopping efforts like Burt Bacharach's "A House is Not a Home." Gray went on to make a name for herself starring in "Boston Public," which gave her a forum to showcase her vocal talent.
9. Carrie Underwood
America's sweetheart. Winner of Season 4 and a proven commercial success. Her debut album, "Some Hearts," went quadruple platinum and is the fastest-ever selling female country album. Week after week Underwood consistently delivered stellar performances, most notably Roy Orbison's "Cryin' " and Heart's "Alone." She was never in the bottom 3. Always passionate, emotional and professional but never over the top.
8. Kimberley Locke
Powerful, determined and not what you'd expect of an American Idol. Locke broke the mold that looking good in a belly shirt was a requirement to advance. The full-figured diva could really turn it on when she wanted and finished third in Season 2, despite landing in the bottom 3 several times early in the season. Blessed with a wonderful alto voice, Locke was by far the best of the girls, finishing third to Studdard and Clay Aiken.
7. Bo Bice
Despite coming off as a "good 'ol boy" at first glance, Bice was one of the best talents to grace the stage. His versatility and charming personality were welcome attributes for a show that routinely features big egos and shallow perspectives. Bice soared through Season 4, finishing runner-up to Underwood. Memorable moments included his covers of Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle," the Ides of March's "Vehicle" and The Allman Brothers' "Whipping Post." Bice gracefully cut across genres and created his own lyrical spirit.
6. Katharine McPhee
Her "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" was one of the show's most memorable moments. How she finished second to Taylor Hicks in Season 5 is beyond comprehension. Just off a recent tour with Andrea Bocelli, McPhee is releasing her debut album next month. Her powerful, breathtaking vocals and charismatic stage presence (including the wardrobe malfunction) perked ears and turned heads week after week.
5. LaToya London
Ms. Automatic from Season 3. Perhaps there has been no contestant with the week-in, week-out consistency of London. She never had a bad performance and her singing was terrific. She had an uncanny sense of dynamics, and was clinically professional with each song. Despite her talent, she only finished fourth. It may have been her low-key personality that hurt her chances. Her version of "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" is one of the show's all-time best performances.
4. Chris Daughtry
Cut from the cloth of powerful angst-rock singers, Daughtry followed in Bice's footsteps as a promoter of rock music on what had pretty much been an all-pop show. Daughtry was all-business-all-the-time, ignoring a safe approach by choosing songs like Queen's "Innuendo" and "Styx's "Renegade." His version of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" was highly original. Despite his talent, Daughtry only finished fourth. He just released his debut album after turning down an offer to front the band Fuel.
3. Fantasia Barrino
Season 3's winner arguably holds the show's best performance with her version of "Summertime." Week after week Barrino wowed America and the judges, consistently putting in the evening's top performance. Once London was voted off, it was inevitable that Barrino ("just call me Fantasia") would be crowned. Barrino's power, range and personality played well together. Of the five seasons, she was probably the only "lock" to win it all from the outset. She was that good.
2. Kelly Clarkson
America's darling. She holds a special place as the singer who propelled "American Idol" to what it is today. Because she was the first winner, Clarkson holds classic status. Her powerful voice, commanding stage presence and ability to connect are qualities of a superstar. With a Grammy in her pocket and two multi-platinum albums, Clarkson's victory was a harbinger of things to come.
1. Clay Aiken
The best singer to ever stand in front of Randy, Paula and Simon, period. Aiken's unique voice is unmatched. Invited back as a wildcard, Aiken wowed America with his version of Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and never faltered thereafter. Week after week he towered above the competition, but somehow lost to Studdard in the Season 2 finale. He was one of three contestants never to appear in the bottom 3 (Clarkson and Underwood are the others). What makes Aiken No. 1 is that he's an original. Simply put, there are no comparisons.