Natasha Vargas-Cooper writes:

After seven seasons, we all know that it doesn’t really matter who wins – just as long as they make it to the finals. Past finalists have won Oscars, conquered song charts, and stormed Broadway, while winners like Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks are belting power ballads at country fairs.

Cooper hit the bulls-eye with that statement. And while it’s a tough break for Studdard who definitely has talent, do you think maybe Taylor Hicks never caught on because he’s really, really creepy?

So who are Vargas-Cooper’s choices for the Top 9 “Idol” finalists who didn’t win? Her pick for number one is certainly no surprise.

Sanjaya Malakar (season six): What if a unicorn could gallop into the Idoldome, stand upright, highlight his bangs, and hold a microphone? Would he be jaw-droppingly amazing as Sanjaya? Unlikely.

I think I just felt my blood-sugar spike about a hundred points.

The other singers on the list include some fan favorites:

David Archuleta (season seven): You could wear a purity ring on each finger, but you’d still never come near the soft-spoken innocence and eerie fragility of this little man-angel. Watching him sing was so pure and beautiful it was like a butterfly landing on a baby’s face.

Urp. Anyone else sensing a pattern here?

Nods are also given to really talented contestants who got the axe:

Jennifer Hudson (season three): Hudson proves our E! Theory of Idol Finalists, that contestants are better off lost. Since her sixth-round elimination, Hudson, an undeniable talent, has racked up more praise and awards than any B-list celebrity judge could ever dream of.

Speaking of B-list celebrity judges, former Guns ‘N Roses guitarist Slash, who’s playing the role of – cough – elder statesman for this week’s rock performances, twittered last weekend he thought the “Idol” finalists, especially Lambert, could sing their butts off.

So what do you think? Which non-winning “Idol” contestants were robbed? And which ones got way higher up the ladder than they ever should have?

Read E!Online’s complete rundown of the best “Idol” finalists who didn’t win here.

Tuesday, May 5
Simon Cowell, Black Eyed Peas – “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”
Billy Gardell, Brad Wollack – “Chelsea Lately”
Kara DioGuardi – “The Bonnie Hunt Show”
Franz Ferdinand – “Late Show with David Letterman”
Howie Mandel, Robert Randolph and The Clark Sisters – “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”
Colin Quinn, Yusuf Islam – “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
Jenny Lewis – “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”
Lily Allen – “Last Call with Carson Daly”

Wednesday, May 6
Matt Giraud – “Live with Regis and Kelly”
Jo Koy, Natasha Leggero – “Chelsea Lately”
Ben Harper & Relentless7 – “Late Show with David Letterman”
Van Morrison – “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”
The National – “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
Black Eyed Peas – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Zac Brown Band – “Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson”
Bobby Ray – “Last Call with Carson Daly”

Thursday, May 7
Jen Kirkman, Randy Sklar, Jason Sklar – “Chelsea Lately”
Faryl Smith – “The Bonnie Hunt Show”
Norm MacDonald, Animal Collective – “Late Show with David Letterman”
Ben Harper & Relentless7 – “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
Flo Rida – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Black Kids – “Last Call with Carson Daly”

Friday, May 8
Whitney Cummings, Kevin Hart – “Chelsea Lately” – rerun
Diana Krall, Lewis Black – “The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos”
Brian Regan, Chris Cornell – “Late Show with David Letterman”
Jewel – “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”
Joan Rivers – “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”
Scott Weiland – “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Ida Maria – “Last Call with Carson Daly”

Saturday, May 9
Lyle Lovett, John Hiatt, Guy Clark, Joe Ely – “Austin City Limits” – rerun
Justin Timberlake, Ciara – “Saturday Night Live”