“American Idol’s” Most Memorable Hair Do’s & Don’ts

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks (New)

Hair and "American Idol" have been so closely braided during the show's 11-season run, Fox might actually want to consider picking up "Shear Genius" next season, too. From "Idol's" long line of interchangeable fuchsia-coiffed ladies to long-haired dudes like Bo Bice, Constantine Maroulis, and Casey James, follicle folly has always been a major component of many contestants' appeal. And this season is no different, since this week's most talked-about moment was no doubt the makeover of top 10 contestant Erika Van Pelt, who upon in-house "Idol" stylist Tommy Hilfiger's advice underwent a drastic transformation from blonde and bobbed to raven-haired and pixie-cropped.

And so, without further ado (or should I say, without further hairdo?), here in alphabetical order are "American Idol's" most memorable other hair idols. Consider the subtitle of this article to be "The Good, The Bad, And The Sanjaya."

Adam Lambert - Almost three years after his season of "Idol" ended, Adam's hair, both on his head and on his face. remains the hot topic of much online debate. Elvis hair or emo hair? Blue Manic Panic stripe or Vanilla Ice stripes? Clip-on ponytail or no? Goatee or beard-free? There was even one time when he tweeted a photo of the side his head freshly shaved, and Twitter basically exploded. Regardless of his fans' wildly differing opinions about his many coifs, Adam's ever-evolving wild tresses are clearly a big part of his shapeshifting appeal.

Alex Lambert - He only made the top 16 semifinals in Season 9, but Alex's modified mullet will never, ever be forgotten. If only he'd lasted long enough on the show to have the chance to sing some Billy Ray Cyrus...

Allison Iraheta - Nikki McKibbin, Vanessa Olivarez, Amy Adams, Gina Glocksen, Alexis Grace, and Lacey Brown have all rocked various shades of Crayola-box pink (Fantasia even tried it out for a while), but it was Season 8's Allison who rocked it best, even if she's since moved on to a sleek brunette bob.

Amanda Overmyer - A skunk-striped biker chick with a heart of gold and mouth of gargled glass, Season 7's answer to Joan Jett rocked a jet-black helmet head with a strategically bleached Cruella DeVille streak. Conveniently, this distinctive two-tone 'do made her easily caricatureable when Vote For The Worst chose her as that season's postergirl.

Blake Lewis - Speaking of skunk stripes, this stripey, streaky Season 6 beatboxer, who came around long before Colton Dixon, was one of the first male Idols to really go out of the box (or into the dye box) with creative coifs. The night he memorably performed his groundbreaking Bon Jovi cover, this former blonde also debuted a new blue-black dye job...and he's kept fans guessing ever since with his constantly morphing looks.

Crystal Bowersox - This Toledo troubadour made it all the way to the Season 9 finale, and while I am sure her talent was the main reason that she prevailed while all other Season 9 females failed, I do wonder if her distinctive locks helped her stand, literally head and shoulders, above the competition.

Danny Noriega - This Season 7 boy toy's attitude was fierce, and his hair was even fiercer. When he executed his patented head-snap, his perfect emo shag snapped right along, adding needed emphasis as he sassed back to the toothbrush-bristle-haired Simon Cowell. Did the "H" in Danny's catchphrase "TMTH!" really stand for "hair"?

David Cook - This Season 7 champ was so well-known for his perfectly pomaded, piecey shag, it became the subject of a famous "Best Week Ever" skit. The effect was called "Cookified," and mousse-OD'ing rocker boys across the nation wanted that look. Why didn't David ever get a hair product endorsement deal?

Jason Castro - Before Crystal Bowersox came along, the phrase "dreadheaded Idol" was synonymous with this Marley-loving folkster from Season 7. Years later, he remains one of "Idol's" most instantly recognizable runners-up due to his nearly waist-length braids. Incidentally, Jason's brother Michael, who has auditioned for "Idol" twice, has also flaunted some memorable looks in hues of pink and blue.

Justin Guarini - This Season 1 runner-up's mushroom-cloud Afro was so massive, it practically had its own voting number. At this point, he is probably remembered as much for his Sideshow Bob-esque mass of wild curls as he is for any of his actual "Idol" performances. Even now, any time a similarly pouffy-topped contestant auditions for "Idol," from Chris Sligh to Chris Golightly, Justin's name is evoked--although these days, Justin wears a much subtler hairstyle.

Katharine McPhee - Before she underwent the most ill-advised hair makeover since "Felicity" and chopped/peroxided her hair into oblivion, this naturally brunette Season 5 finalist had gorgeous shampoo-commercial hair--the kind of hair that earned her multipage photo spreads in salon magazines and was often the target of the type of "real or fake?" media speculation usually reserved for more salacious gossip about celebrities' allegedly-surgically-enhanced body parts. Is it any wonder the "Smash" star eventually went back to her brown roots?

Sanjaya Malakar - Okay, this Season 6 dude had the best (or is that worst?) hair in "Idol" history. Whether it was long and loose in lush David Cassidy-style waves, impeccably flat-ironed to his skull, or, most famously, inventively sculpted into a gravity-defying fauxhawk, Sanjaya's hair is what probably kept him in the competition weeks longer than many viewers felt was deserved. Sanjaya was obviously well aware of the mythology surrounding his 'do, because when he finally got eliminated, he adlibbed this line in his Bonnie Raitt exit song "Something To Talk About": "Let's give them something to talk about...other than hair, hair, hair!" But Sanjaya's hair is still what gets discussed most whenever he makes the scene.

Skii Bo Ski - This character didn't make it past Hollywood Week in Season 9, but the fond memories of the shaved "AI" logo on the side of his head remain shaved into diehard viewers' collective psyche. I was surprised I didn't see similarly stenciled designs on the craniums of "Idol" superfans at that year's finale.

Taylor Hicks - In the normal pop market, this Soul Patroller's prematurely gray hair would have been a detriment to his career; you don't exactly see Justin Bieber rocking the grandpa look these days, after all. But in "Idol" land, normal pop rules don't always apply, and so Taylor's hair made him a silver fox among admirers. After he won "Idol" in Season 5, Taylor did undergo a sort of makeover--he slimmed down, got a better haircut, and enlisted the help of a purple-jacket-eschewing stylist--but he wisely never applied any Grecian Formula to his trademark tresses.

Tim Urban - Perhaps no "Idol" contestant ever had a lovelier head of hair than this Season 9 heartthrob. Tim's tresses even had their own Twitter handle @timurbanshair. It still has almost 900 followers!

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