Editor’s note: Former “American Idol” contestant Carmen Rasmusen Herbert writes about her favorite entertainers in her column “What I Love About … ” Read her weekly blog online at DeseretNews.com. One of the most frequent questions I get as a former “American Idol” contestant is, “Do you still keep in touch with other contestants who were on the show?” The answer is, yes and no. I don’t really call any of my “Idol” friends on a regular basis, but between attending “Idol finales” in Los Angeles, doing shows in Branson, Mo., “Idol” camps in Maine, and appearing on several entertainment shows every now and again, I see lots of other top 10 finalists whom I’ve become acquainted with. And even though we don’t sit at each other’s houses and chat for hours (although I have with some), I’ve formed a special bond with these people — the only ones in the world who know what it’s like to be emotionally slashed by Simon Cowell. So, in anticipation of the 10th season of “American Idol,” which starts Jan. 19, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite fellow “Idols” from seasons past.

9 Season 9

I have to be honest: Season 9 was the one and only season I didn’t watch. At all. So I can’t call it here, although I’ve watched several interviews with Lee DeWyze, and he seems like a good guy.

8 Season 8: Adam Lambert

I was thoroughly entertained by Adam every week. I was impressed by not only his vocal range (which, let’s be honest, was about the same as Hudson’s) but by his arranging and musical skills, as well.

As the years wore on, and the “Idol” numbers got bigger, the contestants were allowed more freedom to help arrange the songs and work with a live band to perform them exactly how they wanted — a far cry from the pre-recorded karaoke tracks we had during Season 2. I thought Adam would be the one to win it all.

7 Season 7: How can I not say David Archuleta?

David came to see me when I was on the show four years earlier. At that time he was a cute, quiet boy with a big voice. Come to think of it, he still is!

Besides both being from the good ol’ Beehive State, David A. and I were taught by the same vocal coach, Dean Kaelin.

David is, I believe, the Donny Osmond of this generation. And the great thing is, he is exactly who he seems to be. If anyone out there is hoping David stays as sweet and genuine as he seems right now, don’t worry. He will.

6 Season 6: Blake Lewis

I loved Blake. I loved his style, his performances, his personality, his looks … everything. I thought he was extremely talented and cutting edge.

He was different — at that point there had never been a beat-boxer to make the top 10.

I really thought he was going to be the one to win it all, and I was a little disappointed when Jordin Sparks took the crown, although she was certainly deserving.

5 Season 5: Chris Daughtry

Who can forget the shocking results show that revealed Daughty received the lowest number of votes, failing to make the top three?

I met Chris at the after-party of Season 5, and as I stretched forth my hand to introduce myself, he said “... Rasmusen. I remember you!” I was both shocked and, to be honest, slightly embarrassed. Was that a good or bad thing, I wondered.

Never mind his early dismissal from the show — Daughtry has gone on to sell more than 6 million albums, which, once again, proves you don’t have to win “Idol” to have a successful career.

4 Season 4: Carrie Underwood and Vonzell Soloman

I’ve had the opportunity to meet Carrie several times, one of which was last year at Provo’s Stadium of Fire.

While always courteous and polite, Carrie never really warmed up to me. And while you can’t argue with Carrie’s amazing track record and multi-platinum albums, I have to say that Vonzell is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

I think her talent went unappreciated during Season 4, and after spending several months living in Branson with her and some other “Idol” finalists while we did a show, I’ve come to really admire “Baby V.”

3 Season 3: Jennifer Hudson

OK, Simon. Can you honestly say you didn’t think this girl could go places?

If ever Cowell had a wrong prediction about someone, it was about Jennifer Hudson, who only made it to the top seven that season.

Not only did she go on to star in several motion pictures (such as “Dreamgirls,” for which she won an Academy Award for her role as Effie), Hudson also recently became the new gorgeous “Weight Watchers” spokeswoman who now struts a taut and trim size 6 — half of what she was before.

It seems she’s got it all: mad vocals, acting talent and performing skills. Jennifer’s on fire.

2 Season 2: Clay Aiken

(I’d probably have to consider myself a close second, though.)

This season was a tough one, as I truly came to love everyone as family. But if I base my opinion on the person whom I got to know the most, the person I felt was the biggest “star,” it would have to be Clay.

And let’s just get this out in the open now: No, we were never an “item,” although it did create quite a media frenzy when we’d go out in public holding hands or kiss each other goodbye. And while it’s now quite obvious as to why, I have to admit that it was sort of fun being paired up with Clay, even if it was just for those 15 minutes.

1 Season 1: Kelly Clarkson

I first met Kelly at a rehearsal finale for Season 2.

I remember she was wearing a pair of faded jean overalls with her hair in a high ponytail. She sat cross-legged on the stage in front of us and asked us all what we thought of the whole “Idol” experience.

I couldn’t help but think how incredibly down to earth she was, how very sweet and Southern she seemed. She has an easy Texas drawl that instantly draws you in and a vocal range that is out of this world.

Always, always true to herself, in times of critical acclaim and disdain, Kelly will always hold the original “American Idol” title.