Summary of American Idol Season 1-10- DVD Box Set
The first season of American Idol debuted as a summer replacement show in June 2002 on the Fox network. It was co-hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman.
In the audition rounds, 121 contestants were selected from around 10,000 who attended the auditions. These were cut to 30 for the semifinal, with ten going on to the finals. One semifinalist, Delano Cagnolati, was disqualified for lying to escape the show's age cutoff. One of the early favorites to win the show, Tamyra Gray, was eliminated at the top four, the first of several such shock eliminations that were to be repeated in later seasons. Christina Christian was hospitalized before the top six result show due to chest pains and palpitations, and she was eliminated while she was in the hospital. Jim Verraros was the first openly gay contestant on the show; his sexual orientation was revealed in his online journal, however it was removed during the competition after a request from the show producers over concerns that it might be unfairly influencing votes.
The final showdown was between Justin Guarini, one of the favorites, and Kelly Clarkson. Clarkson was not initially thought of as a contender, but impressed the judges with some good performances in the final rounds, such as her performance of Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman", and Betty Hutton's "Stuff Like That There", and eventually won the crown on September 4, 2002.
In what was to become a tradition, Clarkson performed the coronation song during the finale, and released the song immediately after the season ended. The single, "A Moment Like This", went on to break a 38-year-old record held by The Beatles for the biggest leap to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Justin Guarini did not release any song immediately after the show and remains the only runner-up not to do so. Both Clarkson and Guarini made a musical film, From Justin to Kelly, which was released in 2003 but was widely panned. Clarkson has since become the most successful Idol contestant around the world, with worldwide album sales of more than 23 million.
Starting September 30, 2006, this season was repackaged as "American Idol Rewind" and syndicated directly to stations in the US.
Following the success of season one, the second season was moved up to air in January 2003. The number of episodes increased, as did the show's budget and the charge for commercial spots. Dunkleman left the show, leaving Seacrest as the lone host. Kristin Adams was originally announced as a co-host, but her role was reduced to special correspondent upon airing.
Corey Clark was disqualified during the finals for having an undisclosed police record, however, he later alleged that he and Paula Abdul had an affair while on the show and that this contributed to his expulsion. Clark also claimed that Abdul gave him preferential treatment on the show due to their affair. The allegations were dismissed by Fox after an independent investigation. Two semi-finalists were also disqualified that year – Jaered Andrews for an arrest on an assault charge, and Frenchie Davis for having previously modelled for an adult website.
Ruben Studdard emerged as the winner, beating Clay Aiken by a small margin. Out of a total of 24 million votes, Studdard finished just 134,000 votes ahead of Clay Aiken. This slim margin was controversial due to the large number of calls that failed to get through. In an interview prior to season five, exe cutive producer Nigel Lythgoe indicated that Aiken had led the fan voting from the wildcard week onward until the finale.
Both finalists were successful after the show, but Clay Aiken out-performed Ruben's coronation song "Flying Without Wings" with his single release from the show "This Is the Night", as well as in their subsequent album releases. The fourth-place finisher Josh Gracin also enjoyed some success as a country singer.
Season three premiered on January 19, 2004. One of the most talked-about contestants during the audition process was William Hung whose off-key rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" received widespread attention. His exposure on Idol landed him a record deal and surprisingly he became the third best-selling singer from that season.
Much media attention on the season had been focused on the three African American singers, Fantasia Barrino, LaToya London, and Jennifer Hudson, dubbed the Three Divas. All three unexpectedly landed on the bottom three on the top seven result show, with Jennifer Hudson controversially eliminated. Elton John, who was one of the mentors that season, called the results of the votes "incredibly racist." The prolonged stays of John Stevens and Jasmine Trias in the finals, despite negative comments from the judges, had aroused resentment, so much so that John Stevens reportedly received a death threat, which he dismissed as a joke 'blown out of proportion'.
The performance of "Summertime" by Fantasia Barrino, later known simply as "Fantasia", at Top 8 was widely praised, and Simon Cowell considered it as his favorite Idol moment in the nine seasons he was on the show. Fantasia and Diana DeGarmo were the last two finalists remaining at the finale, and Fantasia was crowned as the winner. Fantasia released as her coronation single "I Believe", a song co-written by season one finalist Tamyra Gray, and Diana DeGarmo released "Dreams". Fantasia went on to gain some successes as a recording artist, whilst Jennifer Hudson, who placed seventh became the only Idol-contestant so far to win both an Academy Award and a Grammy.
Season four premiered on January 18, 2005; this was the first season of the series to be aired in high definition, although the finale of season three was also aired in high definition. The number of those attending the auditions by now had increased to over 100,000 from the 10,000 of the first season. The age limit was raised to 28 in this season, among those who benefited from this new rule were Constantine Maroulis and Bo Bice, "the two rockers" of the show. The presence of more rock-oriented contestants inspired more rock musicians to audition in later seasons, such as Chris Daughtry in season five.
The top 12 finalists originally included Mario Vazquez, but he dropped out citing 'personal reasons' and was replaced by Nikko Smith. Later, an employee of Freemantle Media which produces the show sued the company for wrongful termination, claiming that he was dismissed after complaining about lewd behavior by Mario Vazquez toward him during the show.
At top 11, due to a mix-up with the contestants' telephone number, voting was repeated on what was normally the result night, with the result reveal postponed until the following night.
In May 2005, Carrie Underwood was announced to be the winner, with Bo Bice the runner-up. Both Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice released the coronation song "Inside Your Heaven". Carrie Underwood has since become the most successful Idol contestant in the U.S. in terms of album sales, selling over 12 million units.
Season five began on January 17, 2006. It remains the highest-rated season in the show's run so far. Two of the more prominent contestants during the Hollywood round were the Brittenum twins who were later disqualified for identity theft.
Chris Daughtry's performance of Fuel's "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)" on the show was widely praised and led to an invitation to join the band as Fuel's new lead singer, an invitation he declined. His performance of Live's version of "I Walk the Line" was well-received by the judges but later criticized in some quarters for not crediting the arrangement to Live. He was eliminated at the top four in a shock result.
On May 30, 2006, Taylor Hicks was named American Idol, with Katharine McPhee the runner-up. "Do I Make You Proud" was released as Taylor Hicks' first single and "My Destiny" Katharine McPhee's. Katherine McPhee is currently starring in the TV series Smash.
Other contestants from this season, such as Bucky Covington, Mandisa, Kellie Pickler, and Elliott Yamin have had varying levels of success, but Chris Daughtry/a.k.a. Daughtry has had the most success in the recording industry. This season remains the most productive in the number of successful recording artists it generated.
Season six began on Tuesday, January 16, 2007. The premiere drew a massive audience of 37.3 million viewers, peaking in the last half hour with more than 41 million viewers.
Teenager Sanjaya Malakar was the season's most talked-about contestant for his unusual hairdo, and for managing to survive elimination for many weeks due in part to the weblog Vote for the Worst and satellite radio personality Howard Stern, who both encouraged fans to vote for him. However, on April 18, Sanjaya was voted off. Semi-finalist Antonella Barba also drew some attention due to racy photographs of her which emerged during the show.
This season saw the first ever Idol Gives Back telethon-inspired event, which raised more than $76 million in corporate and viewer donations. No contestant was eliminated that week, but two, Phil Stacey and Chris Richardson, were eliminated the next. Melinda Doolittle, an early favorite, was eliminated on top three.
On the May 23, 2007, season finale, Jordin Sparks was declared the winner against runner-up Blake Lewis. Sparks has enjoyed some success as a recording artist post-Idol.
This season also saw the launch of the American Idol Songwriter contest which allowed fans to vote for the "coronation song". Thousands of recordings of original songs were submitted by songwriters, and 20 entries selected for the public vote. The winning song, "This Is My Now", was performed by both finalists during the finale and released by the winner Jordin Sparks on May 24, 2007.
Season seven premiered on January 15, 2008, for a two-day, four-hour premiere. The media focused on the professional status of the season seven contestants, the so-called 'ringers', many of whom had prior records deals, such as Kristy Lee Cook, Brooke White, Michael Johns, and in particular Carly Smithson. Contestant David Hernandez also attracted some attention due to his past working as a stripper.
For the finals, American Idol debuted a new state-of-the-art set and stage on March 11, 2008, along with a new on-air look. David Cook's performance of "Billie Jean" on top ten night was lauded by the judges, but provoked controversy when they apparently mistook the Chris Cornell arrangement to be David Cook's own even though the performance was introduced as Cornell's version. Cornell himself said he was 'flattered' and praised David Cook's performance. David Cook was taken to the hospital after the top nine performance show due to heart palpitations and high blood pressure.
David Archuleta's performance of John Lennon's "Imagine" was considered by many as one of the best of the season. Jennifer Lopez, who was brought in as a judge in season ten, cited it as a beautiful-song moment that she will never forget. Jason Castro's semi-final performance of "Hallelujah" also received considerable attention, and it propelled Jeff Buckley's version of the song to the top of the Billboard digital song chart. This is the first season whereby contestants' recordings were released onto iTunes after their performances, and although sales information were not released so as not to prejudice the contest, leaked information indicated contestants' songs frequently reached the top of iTunes sales chart.
Idol Gives Back returned on April 9, 2008, and raised $64 million for charity. The finalists were David Cook and David Archuleta, the first time in the show's history where neither of the top two were ever in the bottom three. David Cook was announced the winner of American Idol season seven on May 21, 2008, the first 'rocker' to win the show.
The American Idol Songwriter contest was also held this season. From ten of the most popular submissions, each of the final two contestants chose a song to perform, although neither of their selections was used as the "coronation song". The winning song, "The Time of My Life", was recorded by David Cook and released on May 22, 2008, and is the best-selling of all coronation songs to date. Both David Cook and David Archuleta are successful as recording artists.
Season eight began on January 13, 2009. Mike Darnell, the president of alternative programming for Fox, stated that the season would focus more on the contestants' reality and emotional state, much early attention on the show was therefore focused on the widowerhood of Danny Gokey as well as characters like Tatiana Del Toro and Nick Mitchell.
In the first major change to the judging panel, a fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, was introduced; Paula Abdul, however, left the show after the season ended. This was also the first season without ex ecutive producer Nigel Lythgoe who left to focus on the international versions of his show So You Think You Can Dance. The Hollywood round was moved to the Kodak Theatre for 2009 and was also extended to two weeks. Idol Gives Back was cancelled for this season due to the global recession at the time.
There were 13 finalists this season, but two were eliminated in its first result show of the finals. A new feature introduced was the "Judges' Save", and Matt Giraud was saved from elimination at the top seven by the judges when he received the fewest votes. The next week, Lil Rounds and Anoop Desai were eliminated.
The two finalists were Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, both of whom had previously landed in the bottom three at the top five. Kris Allen won the contest in the most controversial voting result since season two. It was claimed, later retracted, that 38 million of the 100 million votes cast on the night came from Kris Allen's home state of Arkansas alone, and that AT&T employees unfairly influenced the votes by giving lessons on power-texting at viewing parties in Arkansas.
Both Kris Allen and Adam Lambert released the coronation song, "No Boundaries" which was co-written by DioGuardi. Both also enjoyed some success as recording artists, although this is the first season in which the winner has failed to achieve gold album status, and none from that season achieved platinum album status in the US.
Season nine premiered on January 12, 2010. The upheaval at the judging panel continued. Ellen DeGeneres joined as a judge to replace Paula Abdul at the start of Hollywood Week, however, she left after the season finished, as did Simon Cowell who left to launch the US version of The X Factor. Kara DioGuardi's contract was not renewed for the next season.
One of the most prominent auditioners that season was General Larry Platt whose performance of "Pants on the Ground" became a viral hit song.
Crystal Bowersox, who has Type-I diabetes, fell ill due to diabetic ketoacidosis on the morning of the girls performance night for the top 20 week and was hospitalized. The schedule was rearranged so the boys performed first and she could perform the following night instead; she later revealed that Ken Warwick, the show producer, wanted to disqualify her but she begged to be allowed to stay on the show.
Michael Lynche was the lowest vote getter at top nine and was given the Judges' Save. The next week Katie Stevens and Andrew Garcia were eliminated. That week Adam Lambert was invited back to be a mentor, the first Idol alum to do so. Idol Gives Back returned this season on April 21, 2010, and raised 45 million.
A special tribute to Simon Cowell was presented in the finale for his final season with the show. Many figures from the show's past, including Paula Abdul, made an appearance.
This was the second season where neither of the final two contestants, Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox, had been in the bottom two or three. Lee DeWyze was declared the winner during the May 26 finale. No new song was used as coronation song this year; instead, the two finalists each released a cover song – Lee DeWyze chose U2's "Beautiful Day", and Crystal Bowersox chose Patty Griffin's "Up to the Mountain". This is the first season where neither finalist achieved significant album sales.
Season ten of the series premiered on January 19, 2011, on Fox. Many changes were introduced this season, from the format to the personnel of the show. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler joined Randy Jackson as judges, while Nigel Lythgoe returned as e xecutive producer. Jimmy Iovine, chairman of the Interscope Geffen A&M Records group, the new partner of American Idol, acted as the in-house mentor in place of weekly guest mentors, although in later episode special guest mentors such as Beyoncé, will.i.am and Lady Gaga were brought in.
Season ten is the first to include online auditions where contestants could submit a forty second video audition via Myspace. Karen Rodriguez was one such auditioner and reached the final rounds.
One of the more prominent contestants this year was Chris Medina, whose story of caring for his brain-damaged fiancée received widespread coverage. Casey Abrams, who suffers from ulcerative colitis, was hospitalized twice and missed the Top thirteen result show. He had the fewest votes at Top eleven but was saved by the judges, and as a result, the season 10 was the first season to have eleven finalists go on tour instead of ten.
Pia Toscano, one of the presumed favorites to advance far in the season, was unexpectedly eliminated on April 7, 2011, finishing in ninth place. Her elimination drew criticism from some former Idol contestants, as well as actor Tom Hanks.
The two finalists in 2011 were Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery, both teenage country singers. Scotty McCreery won the competition on May 25, 2011, being the youngest male winner and the fourth male in a row to win American Idol. McCreery released his first single, "I Love You This Big", as his coronation song, and Alaina released "Like My Mother Does". McCreery's debut album, Clear as Day, became the first debut album by an Idol winner to reach number one on the US Billboard 200 since Ruben Studdard's Soulful in 2003.