American Idol

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American Idol Finalists
(with dates of elimination)
Season 1 (2002)
Kelly Clarksonwinner
Justin GuariniSeptember 4
Nikki McKibbinAugust 28
Tamyra GrayAugust 21
RJ HeltonAugust 14
Christina ChristianAugust 7
Ryan StarrJuly 31
A.J. GilJuly 24
EJay DayJuly 17
Jim VerrarosJuly 17
Season 2 (2003)
Ruben Studdardwinner
Clay AikenMay 21
Kimberley LockeMay 14
Joshua GracinMay 7
TrenyceApril 30
Carmen RasmusenApril 23
Kimberly CaldwellApril 16
Rickey SmithApril 9
Corey Clarkdisqualified,
April 1
Julia DeMatoMarch 26
Charles GrigsbyMarch 19
Vanessa OlivarezMarch 12
Season 3 (2004)
Fantasia Barrinowinner
Diana DeGarmoMay 26
Jasmine TriasMay 19
LaToya LondonMay 12
George HuffMay 5
John StevensApril 28
Jennifer HudsonApril 21
Jon Peter LewisApril 15
Camile VelascoApril 7
Amy AdamsMarch 31
Matthew RogersMarch 24
Leah LaBelleMarch 17

American Idol is a television show on the Fox Network, based on the popular British show Pop Idol. The show is a contest to determine the best young singer in the United States.

Overview

In the show, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, people first audition before three judges (Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson) in cities across the United States. One of the most popular portions of each season are initial episodes showcasing auditions of American Idol hopefuls auditioning before the panel of judges. Poor singers often face intense and humbling criticism from the judges, and especially from Cowell, who can be harsh and blunt in his criticism. Some poor performances have attained notoriety on their own; these have included season two's performance of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" by Keith Beukelaer and season three's rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" by William Hung.

The three judges narrow the initial field down to thirty-two semi-finalists who are invited to Hollywood to perform on the show.

During the semifinal phase, the 32 semifinalists are divided into four groups. Each contestant performs live (in the eastern and central time zones), in primetime, a song of their choice, and receives critiques from the judges, who, from this point on, serve only in an advisory capacity, with no direct influence of the results. On the following night's episode the results of the nationwide vote are announced, and the top two vote-getters advance to the finals.

Viewers have two hours following the broadcast of the show in their time zone to phone in their votes for their favorite contestant. Callers are allowed to vote as many times as they like for any number of contestants.

When all the semifinal shows have been completed, there is a wildcard phase. Each judge chooses one semifinalist to advance to the final round, and a studio audience vote determines the final wildcard spot, rounding out the field of twelve finalists.

In the finals, which lasts eleven weeks, each finalist performs live in primetime a song from a weekly theme (two songs in later rounds). Themes have included disco, big band music, and Billboard #1 hits. Some themes are based on music recorded by a particular artist, and the finalists have a chance to work with that artist in preparing their performances. Artists around whom themes have been based include Barry Manilow, Gloria Estefan, and Elton John.

When there are three finalists remaining, themes are no longer used. Instead, each contestant sings three songs: one of their own choice, one chosen by the judges, and one chosen by record executive Clive Davis.

On the following night's episode (live again), the contestant with the fewest votes is sent home. This process is repeated until the one remaining contestant is declared the winner.

Spin-offs

A spin-off series called American Juniors premiered on June 3, 2003. Following the success of the Idol franchise, Canada received its own version in August-September 2003, called Canadian Idol, hosted by Ben Mulroney.

In December 2003, winners of eleven different national Idol competitions were collected for a World Idol competition in London. Kelly Clarkson came in second after Norway's Kurt Nilsen.

Season synopses

Season one

In the first season the show was co-hosted by Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman. Kelly Clarkson won, with Justin Guarini coming in second. Numerous television specials starring the ten finalists followed, as well as a movie entitled From Justin to Kelly.

Season two

In season two with Seacrest as the lone host, Ruben Studdard was the winner with Clay Aiken as runner up. Out of 24 million votes cast, Studdard finished just 130,000 votes ahead of Aiken, although there remains controversy over the validity of the reported results. Despite Studdard's win, Aiken has enjoyed more widespread popularity.

Date Theme Guest Judge(s) Bottom Three
March 11 Motown Lamont Dozier Vanessa Olivarez Kimberley Locke Julia DeMato
March 18 Movie Songs Gladys Knight Charles Grigsby Julia DeMato (2) Corey Clark
March 25 Country Music Olivia Newton-John Julia DeMato (3) Kimberly Caldwell Rickey Smith
April 1 Disco Verdine White Corey Clark (eliminated)
April 8 Billboard #1 Hits Lionel Richie Rickey Smith (2) Kimberly Caldwell (2) Kimberley Locke (2)
April 15 Billy Joel Smokey Robinson Kimberly Caldwell (3) Carmen Rasmusen Trenyce
April 22 Diane Warren songs Diane Warren Carmen Rasmusen (2) Trenyce (2) Joshua Gracin
April 29 Neil Sedaka songs Neil Sedaka Trenyce (3) Ruben Studdard
May 6 Bee Gees Songs Robin Gibb Joshua Gracin (2) Kimberley Locke (3)
May 13 Kimberley Locke (4)
May 20 Paul Anka Ruben Studdard Clay Aiken

Season three

The third season of American Idol premiered on January 19, 2004. After a nationwide vote of more than 65 million votes in total, Fantasia Barrino was voted the next American Idol. Diana DeGarmo came in second.

Date Theme Guest Judge(s) Bottom Three
March 17 Soul Leah Labelle Amy Adams Jennifer Hudson
March 24 Country Matthew Rogers Camile Velasco Diana DeGarmo
March 31 Motown Nick Ashford,
Valerie Simpson
Amy Adams (2) Jennifer Hudson (2) LaToya London
April 7 Elton John Jasmine Trias Camile Velasco (2) Diana DeGarmo (2)
April 15 Movies Quentin Tarantino Jon Peter Lewis Diana DeGarmo (3) John Stevens
April 21 Barry Manilow Barry Manilow Fantasia Barrino LaToya London (2) Jennifer Hudson (3)
April 28 Gloria Estefan Gloria Estefan John Stevens (2) Jasmine Trias (2) George Huff
May 5 Big Band George Huff (2) Jasmine Trias (3)
May 12 Disco Donna Summer Fantasia Barrino (2) LaToya London (3)
May 19 Clive Davis Jasmine Trias (4)
May 26 Paul Anka Fantasia Barrino Diana DeGarmo

Season four

The fourth season of American Idol will premiere in January 2005.

Related topics

Releases

  • American Idol Greatest Moments (2002)
  • American Idol Season 2: All Time Classic American Love Songs (2003)
  • American Idol: The Great Holiday Classics (2003)
  • "God Bless The U.S.A." (single) (2003)
  • "What the World Needs Now" (single)(2003)
  • American Idol Season 3: Greatest Soul Classics (2004)

External links