American Idol, is an American television series. It is part of the Idol series, originating from the UK show Pop Idol, a singing talent contest to determine the best "undiscovered" young singer in the country. In recent years it has become one of the most highly publicized music competitions in the world, reaching the status of a phenomenon.
American Idol is screened on the Fox Network in the United States and on CTV in Canada. It was created by Simon Fuller (manager of the Spice Girls and S Club 7) and developed by Simon Jones of Thames Television. The directors are Bruce Gowers (director of Queen's original "Bohemian Rhapsody" video), Nigel Lythgoe (a judge on So You Think You Can Dance), Simon Fuller (creator) and Ken Warwick (Gladiators and Grudge Match).
In the show, hosted by Ryan Seacrest, hopeful contestants are screened by preliminary panels to be selected for singing talent or humorous potential and human interest. The audition process is often long, beginning with thousands of candidates strategically interviewed and eliminated before being individually auditioned by show producers Ken Warwick and Nigel Lythgoe (often slide shows of humorously terrible candidates are shown from this interview). They then audition before the three main judges - Simon Cowell (one of the judges from Pop Idol and The X Factor), Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson - in selected cities across the United States. Sometimes a celebrity fourth judge may be added. These are generally held at large convention centers where thousands of people wait in line for auditions. Past audition cities have included; New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, New Orleans, Chicago, Greensboro, Washington, D.C., Houston, Honolulu, Denver, Detroit, St. Louis, Boston, Las Vegas, Orlando, Nashville, Memphis, Dallas, Cleveland, Birmingham, San Antonio and Austin. (Contestants from the Season 5 Austin auditions were flown to San Francisco, California to audition before the judges due to the effect of Hurricane Katrina evacuees on New Orleans, Louisiana.)
In order to be eligible, the contestants are not permitted to have any current recording or talent management agreements (but may have had one at some point in the past). Based on turnout and availability, producers select a certain number from the crowd to audition before the three judges (this usually takes 2-4 rounds). Contestants are required to sing a cappella. Those who impress the majority of the judges move on to the second round auditions which take place in Hollywood (typically only several dozen out of the thousands in each city move on). The contestants selected despite lack of singing talent for appearance before the panel provide a major attraction to the viewing audience as they simultaneously proclaim their talent while turning out gut-wrenching performances which are ridiculed by the judges.
Much like the original Pop Idol version, one of the most popular portions of each season are initial episodes showcasing American Idol hopefuls auditioning before the panel of judges. These early episodes focus mainly on the poorest performances from contestants who often appear oblivious to their lack of star talent. These "contestants" have been selected by the preliminary panels in a negative sense; a typical combination is lack of singing ability combined with vanity regarding their "talent." Others are selected for human interest potential: the 2005 auditions featured a "cannibal" who had sampled human flesh in an anthropology class and an aspiring female prize fighter. Other examples include a man dressed in pajamas with no shoes (whose comments made Cowell explode with laughter) and a transvestite who kisses Cowell on the cheek after her audition wraps up. Poor singers often face intense and humbling criticism from the judges, and especially from Cowell, who can be harsh and blunt in his rejections. Typically the judges express disgust or dismay or suppressed laughter. Some poor performances have attained notoriety on their own; these have included Season 1's portrayal of Lady Marmalade, Season 2's performance of Madonna's Like a Virgin by Keith Beukelaer and Season 3's rendition of Ricky Martin's She Bangs by William Hung.
Contestants must be U.S. citizens eligible to work full-time and, for the first three seasons, had to be 16 to 24 years of age on October 19 of the year of audition. For the fourth season, the upper age limit was raised to 28 with an earlier cutoff date, August 4, to attract more mature and diverse contestants. In early 2003, a 50-year-old college professor named Drew Cummings filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging the show with age discrimination because producers denied him an audition due to his age. His case was not taken up by the EEOC. Auditioning contestants must bring with them to the audition a valid proof of age (and citizenship) such as a birth certificate, driver's license, and a passport, and minors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. All auditioning contestants are required to sign on to the Web at www.americanidol.com and print out a copy of the release form to fill out and turn in at the audition in order to grant permission to be seen and heard by the producers' cameras. Contestants who were found out to have given false information are disqualified.
Those who are ineligible are: those who have current talent representation or a recording contract; have made it to a top 30 on Season 1, top 32 on Seasons 2 and 3, or top 24 on Seasons 4 and 5; or are affiliated with Fox, Fremantle, 19, its sponsors, its affiliates, its subsidiaries and parent companies; anyone whose age is not in the required age range; and non-US citizens. Even if a person is eligible, he or she may not have a chance to audition or be seen because the show can see only a limited number of people in each city.The show usually airs on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and has millions of viewers.
Once in Hollywood, the three judges narrow the initial field of a few hundred down to a group of 24 semi-finalists (30 in Season 1 and 32 in Seasons 2 and 3) (complete list). In Season 1, the 30 semi-finalists were split into three groups of ten and the top three in each group advanced to the final ten. Three groups of three yielded nine finalists, so the tenth was chosen in a wild card show consisting of five previously-eliminated performers the judges felt deserved a second chance. In Seasons 2 and 3, the 32 semi-finalists were split into four groups of eight, from which the top two performers in each group earned a slot in the finals. Four groups of two yielded eight finalists out of twelve slots. The last four finalists were chosen in a wildcard competition, with each judge selecting one performer to advance to the finals and one performer chosen by audience voting. Beginning with the fourth season, the semi-finalists were split into two groups separating the male contestants from the female contestants, promoting an equal number of each gender to the finals. For three consecutive weeks, the male semifinalists compete only against the other men, and the female semifinalists compete only against the other women. Each contestant performs a song of his or her choice live (in the eastern and central time zones), in prime time and receives critiques from the judges, who, from this point on, serve almost entirely in an advisory capacity, with no direct influence on the results. This format has since been used on other Idol series.
Viewers have two hours following the broadcast of the show in their time zone to phone in votes for their favorite contestant by calling a toll-free number. Viewers with Cingular Wireless cell phones may also send text messages to vote. Callers are allowed to vote as many times as they like for any number of contestants, as long as they vote within the voting window for the time zone assigned to their phone's area code. (Cell phone voters who have tried voting while traveling in other time zones have reported on various fan forums that their votes were rejected if they tried to vote outside the time zone assigned to their home area codes.) On the following night's episode the results of the nationwide vote are announced, and the bottom two vote-getters are eliminated each week. At the end of the semifinal rounds, the six men and six women who remain advance to the finals.
Semi-finalists (and in some cases, other contestants as well) must submit to background checks and may be summarily disqualified for past behavior deemed undesirable, such as an arrest record. Several finalists have been disqualified for revelations that surfaced late in the competition. Semi-finalists are also subjected to drug tests, in order to avoid scandals involving drug usage. Contestants who failed the test have not been allowed to proceed in the competition.
Under terms of the personal release contract, contestants agree to be "conclaved" from the outside world. Contestants may not use cell phones (unless between family members or during an emergency), or the World Wide Web (especially chatting and message boards). They also may not leave the Hollywood jurisdiction, and may not leave their apartments without consent. Furthermore, they may not communicate with third-parties, watch television (especially news and sports), listen to radio stations, or read newspapers during their duration in the competition.
In the finals, which last eleven weeks, each finalist performs a song live in prime time from a weekly theme (two songs in later rounds) at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, California in front of a live studio audience. Themes have included Motown, 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 Billy Joel, Neil Sedaka, The Bee Gees, Barry Manilow, Rod Stewart, Gloria Estefan, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Queen and Elvis Presley. Once in the top 5, the contestants sing two songs each.
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. However in Season 2, in the final three, one song was chosen randomly from a bowl, with one chosen by the performer and one by the judges.
In any case, each week on the following night's live "results" episode, the contestant with the fewest votes is sent home. The bottom three vote-getters (bottom two in final four, five or, from Season 5 onwards, six) are separated from the remaining contestants. Over the course of the episode, two of the bottom group (one in final four, five or six) are revealed as being "safe" for the week, and the reject is sent home after performing one final song to end the episode. This process is repeated each week until the Top 3. There is no bottom 2 in the Top 3; instead the eliminated contestant's name is announced. Then in the finale, one remaining contestant is declared the winner. The stage is moved to the Kodak Theatre for the finale showdown, where the two remaining contestants perform for an audience of at least 3,400. The winner is announced at the end of the show.
The winner receives a one million (US) dollar record deal with a major label, and is managed by American Idol-related 19 Management. In some cases, non-winners have also been signed by the show's management company (who has first option to sign finalists) and received record deals with its major label partner. Individual post-Idol promotion/appearances for winners and non-winners have varied, however, from season to season, as have stipulations in contracts signed by contestants at the beginning of each season.
In general, immediately post-finale the winner's single of the coronation song written specifically for the season finale is released for sale and to radio. Soon afterward, a video for the song is released. The winner also makes the rounds of interview/performance appearances. With the exception of Season One runner-up Justin Guarini, runners-up have also released a single of the second song created for their season's finales, with accompanying promotional appearances/performances, etc.. In Season One, the winner Kelly Clarkson released both finale songs with accompanying promotion. In subsequent seasons, as project restrictions for non-winners signed by 19 Management lessened significantly, some non-winners even released debut albums prior to the winner's, two examples being Season Two runner-up Clay Aiken debuting prior to winner Ruben Studdard, and Season Five finalists Kellie Pickler and Chris Daughtry debuting before both winner Taylor Hicks and runner-up Katharine McPhee.
Each season a compilation album with the top twelve finalists (top ten for Season One) is also released. Other compilations, such as a Christmas album, have also been released. Top ten finalists participate in a post-season American Idol promotional concert tour. Tour lengths and large-size venue locations vary from season to season. Prior to the Season One American Idol Tour, the entire top forty finalists performed in a televised Las Vegas concert. The venture has not been repeated for subsequent seasons.
The first season of American Idol debuted without hype as a summer replacement show in June 2002 on the Fox Broadcasting Company after being rejected by numerous other networks. The show's co-hosts were Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman. Through word of mouth generated by the appeal of its contestants and the presence of acid-tongued British judge Simon Cowell, the show grew into a phenomenon ending with a finale viewed by an estimated fifty million viewers in September 2002. Following such a success, the second season was moved to air the upcoming January during the higher profile 2003 fall schedule. The number of episodes increased, as did the show's budget and the charge for commercial spots.
Winner Kelly Clarkson signed with RCA Records the label in partnership with American Idol's 19 Management. Immediately post-finale, Clarkson released two singles, most notably the coronation song "A Moment Like This" which debuted at #52, but marked the biggest jump in Billboard history when it shot to #1, breaking a record set by The Beatles. As part of the promotion planned for the show's first winner, the song had been pre-recorded ready to air on radio stations the day after the finale. Appearances on numerous entertainment/news shows followed, as did videos for the singles that began airing on MTV's TRL. Clarkson has subsequently had two successful albums, Thankful and Breakaway, and several hit singles mostly from her more successful second album Breakaway. While her first album failed to sell outside of North America, her second was a global success and garnered two Grammy Awards in 2006.
The show inspired a 2003 musical film, From Justin to Kelly, featuring Kelly Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini. The musical love story, produced by American Idol's Simon Fuller, was filmed in Miami, Florida over a period of six weeks shortly after the season ended. Released several months later in June 2003, the film failed to make back its budget during its short run in theatres. A DVD with additional footage was released and the movie airs periodically in the U.S. and other countries.
Besides Clarkson and Guarini, also signed were Nikki McKibbin (3rd), Tamyra Gray (4th), and Christina Christian (6th). It is the only year the runner-up did not release a single following the show's finale.
Runner-up Justin Guarini also signed with RCA Records. Contract restrictions required him to reject outside offers received and delay solo projects following the season finale, eventually debuting an album in 2003 after the conclusion of Season 2. RCA dropped him shortly after its debut. Guarini formed his own entertainment company and independently released a second album in 2005, with a third album and an independent movie scheduled for release in 2006. Nikki McKibbin signed with RCA, but was dropped when she refused to record a country album. She has since made appearances on various Reality TV shows, and is finishing her debut album. Tamyra Gray was signed to RCA, but was dropped when she demanded to write the album. She then signed with American Idol's Simon Fuller's new label 19 Entertainment, and her self-written debut album was released in 2004. She was dropped by the label in 2005. She had a supporting role in the 2005 movie The Gospel. RJ Helton released a Christian album, but sales were lackluster. Ryan Starr had trouble getting out of her contract with RCA Records, but independently released a single My Religion, which sold 360,000 downloads via iTunes. She is expected to release her debut album in 2006 or 2007. Jim Verraros, who came out of the closet after being voted off American Idol, starred in an indie film and released a dance-pop album, charting a dance hit on Billboard. Christina Christian, EJay Day (tenth), and AJ Gil (eighth) have had little success after the show.
The first season of American Idol are being syndicated on select T.V stations in United States called American Idol: Rewind. The rewind episodes started on September 2006.
In Season 2, Seacrest surfaced as the lone host, since Dunkleman reportedly hated working on the show, and the studio was dissatisfied with his performance. Kristin Holt was a special correspondent. This time, Ruben Studdard emerged as the winner with Clay Aiken as runner-up. Out of 24 million votes recorded, Studdard finished just 130,000 votes ahead of Aiken, although there remains controversy over the accuracy of the reported results.There was much discussion in the communication industry about the phone system being overloaded, and that more than 150 million votes were dropped, making the voting invalid. Since then the voting methods have been modified to avoid this problem.
In an interview prior to the start of the fifth season, executive producer Nigel Lythgoe revealed for the first time that Aiken had led the fan voting from the wild card week onward until the finale. Despite Studdard's victory, Aiken has enjoyed more widespread popularity, emerging as one of the season's true breakout stars. He became the first American Idol contestant to have a U.S. Hot 100 number one with This is The Night, written by British songwriter Chris Braide with Gary burr and Aldo Nova. Ruben and Clay both released albums in the fall of 2006. Kimberley Locke has also enjoyed radio success after American Idol with her debut album, One Love. Her next album is also rumored to be released early in 2007.
Fourth-place finisher and former Marine Josh Gracin has had huge success as a country artist, signing with Lyric Street Records, and his first album spawned three hit singles, including a number one song, Nothing to Lose."
One contestant, Frenchie Davis, was disqualified and removed from the competition after topless photos of her surfaced on the Internet. She later appeared in the Broadway musical Rent.
During the course of the contest Ruben became known for wearing 205 Flava jerseys representing his area code. Shortly after the end of the contest, Ruben sued 205 Flava, Inc for $2 million for using his image for promotional purposes. Flava responded by alleging that Ruben had accepted over $10,000 in return for wearing 205 shirts, and produced 8 cashed checks to validate their claim. The allegations, if true, indicate a clear violation of the American Idol rules. The lawsuit was settled out of court.
The rumor mills were buzzing once again in 2005 when Season 2 contestant Corey Clark, who was kicked off the show because of a police record he had not disclosed earlier, alleged that he had an affair with judge Paula Abdul. Clark also alleged that Abdul gave him preferential treatment on the show because of their alleged romance. A subsequent investigation by Fox found no evidence to support Clark's charges.
The third season of American Idol premiered on January 19, 2004. The winner of this season of American Idol was Fantasia Barrino, later known professionally as simply "Fantasia," and the runner-up was Diana Degarmo. This was also the season that Golden Globe Award-winning and Acadamy Award-nominated actress Jennifer Hudson was discovered.
The early part of the season introduced William Hung, a UC Berkeley student, who received widespread attention following his off-key rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs." His performance, as well as his positive attitude facing Simon's criticisms (a stark contrast to other contestants' confrontational, angry reactions), landed him a record deal with Koch Entertainment making over $500,000 in record sales.
During the season, controversy over the legitimacy of the contest increased as rocker Jon Peter Lewis and young crooner John Stevens stayed afloat while others were unexpectedly eliminated. Jasmine Trias, despite negative comments from Simon Cowell, survived elimination and took the third spot over Latoya London. Trias later released a CD and attracted fans in her home state of Hawaii, the Philippines, Singapore, Guam and other South East Asian countries. The third season was also shown in Australia on Network Ten about half a week after episodes were shown in the U.S.
After a nationwide vote of more than 65 million votes in total - more than the first two seasons combined - Fantasia Barrino won the American Idol title over runner-up Diana DeGarmo. She released her first single in June 2004 on the RCA record label. The single included "I Believe" – cowritten by former Idol contestant Tamyra Gray (who also sang backup) – which Fantasia performed on the finale of Idol, the Aretha Franklin hit "Chain of Fools" (released before on an American Idol compilation), and her signature version of "Summertime". The single entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #1 and held steady for 11 consecutive weeks (10 weeks in Canada), achieving the longest consecutive stay at #1 on that chart for an American Idol contestant. Fantasia's CD, I Believe, went on to become the top selling single of 2004 in the U.S and has since been certified double platinum by the CRIA and received 3 Billboard Awards. In 2006, she received 4 Grammy nominations for her double platinum debut album Free Yourself.
Sales of Diana DeGarmo's first CD, Blue Skies, suffered partly from a lack of promotion by RCA. DeGarmo eventually asked to be released from her RCA record contract. She has since received a role in the Broadway production of Hairspray, where she played the part of Penny Pingleton from February 7-May 21 to positive reviews. Currently, DeGarmo is starring with Melba Moore in the national tour of Brooklyn the Musical through mid-August. On September 8, she will return to the Broadway production of Hairspray to once again assume the role of Penny Pingleton for a six month period. DeGarmo is also working independently on a second album while performing in the musicals.
Runner-up Jasmine Trias signed with an independent label. Although she has failed to achieve commercial success in the mainland USA, she has become a major celebrity in other countries, such as the Philippines and Japan, where she is signed with Universal Records. Latoya London signed with Peak Records and released an album of slow jams, though album sales have been low. George Huff signed with Word Records to release a gospel album and has since had mild success in that genre. John Stevens landed a deal with Maverick Records, but was dropped due to low album sales.
Jennifer Hudson starred alongside Beyoncé Knowles and Jamie Foxx in the 2006 feature film Dreamgirls, and won several honors and awards, including a Golden Globe for her performance and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. The film, which also won the Golden Globe for Best Picture (Comedy or Musical), was released to preview audiences on December 15, 2006, in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, drawing sellout crowds. On its first day in wide release (Christmas Day 2006), Dreamgirls sold 8.8 million dollars worth of tickets to claim the top spot at the box office. It was the single highest daily gross for a musical in motion picture history. The soundtrack to Dreamgirls, featuring Hudson's acclaimed version of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," reached Number One on the Billboard Top 200 album chart on January 10, 2007, after five weeks in release. Hudson, who signed a recording contract with Clive Davis' Arista label in late 2006, is expected to release her debut album sometime in 2007. Camile Velasco returned to the Philippines in December 2004 after 17 years for a whirlwind tour of television appearances and a concert with Martin Nievera. In 2005, she signed to Motown Records, but left the label after a lack of promotion for her first single. Camile performed at several concerts in Hawaii, California and Illinois, maintaining her ambition to become an artist. In 2006, she appeared in a Black Eyed Peas video and performed in Hawaii, California, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and the Philippines. Camile is now writing and producing her own songs on UHype Records. Eleventh place contestant Matthew Rogers is now a TV personality, starring alongside Mikalah Gordon on American Idol Extra, which went behind the scenes of American Idol's fifth season.
In May 2005, Telescope announced that the third season had a total of approximately 360 million votes, in comparison to its succeeding season which jumped to about 500 million.
The season of American Idol premiered on January 18, 2005. It was the first season in which the age limit was raised to 28, in order to increase variety. All Season 4 contestants had to be between the ages of 16 and 28 on August 4, 2004, born on or between August 5, 1975 and August 4, 1988. Among those who benefited from this new rule were Constantine Maroulis (born September 17) and Bo Bice (born November 1), considered to be the eldest and somewhat most experienced of the season's Idol contestants. They were also constantly mentioned by Seacrest and in the media as "the two rockers", since their long hair and choice of rock songs made them stand out from conventional Idol standards. The presence of more rock-oriented contestants has continued with Chris Daughtry in Season 5, who was inspired to audition for the show by Bice.
This season also implemented new rules for the final portion of the contest. Instead of competing in semi-final heats in which the top vote-getters are promoted to the final round, 24 semi-finalists were named; 12 men and 12 women, who competed separately, with 2 of each gender being voted off each week until 12 finalists were left.
Mario Vazquez, who was originally one of the top 12, dropped out of the competition on March 11, just days before the top 12's first performance, citing "personal issues", opening a spot in the final 12 for Nikko Smith (son of Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith), who had been voted off in the semi-finals the previous week.
The winner was Carrie Underwood, a country singer, the first winner since Kelly Clarkson to not only win but avoid being in the bottom three for the entire competition. Carrie Underwood's first single, "Inside Your Heaven", was released on June 14, 2005. The single debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, with first-week sales of 170,000 copies, and briefly stopped Mariah Carey's run at #1 with "We Belong Together". One week later, runner-up Bo Bice released his version of the song, which debuted at #2. The B-side of Underwood's CD was "Independence Day", a cover of the Martina McBride hit. On November 15, 2005, Carrie released her debut album, Some Hearts, which peaked and debuted at #2 on Billboard. It has currently sold over 5 million copies, and has gone 5X platinum. Underwood's first single, Jesus, Take The Wheel was made available for radio airplay on October 18, 2005. It received so much airplay that it debuted at #39 on the Billboard Country Chart in its first week, setting a record. As it climbed, it finally reached #1 for 6 consecutive weeks, and was only two weeks shy of Connie Smith's record of an 8 week run back in 1964-1965. The single also debuted at #48 on the Billboard Hot 100 where it peaked at #20. Underwood's second single, "Don't Forget to Remember Me", peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Charts, as well as, #49 on the Billboard Hot 100. Underwood's third single "Before He Cheats" not only hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Country charts, but also peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Currently, Underwood has the most successful debut album sales out of the American Idol finalists. Some Hearts has sold over 5 million copies as of January 2007, beating the previous most sales 2nd place record held by Clay Aiken's Measure of a Man, which sold 2.7 million copies.
Bo Bice's first single "The Real Thing" has appeared on American Top 40 radio. Although Bice's sales did not match that of Underwood, he stands as the third-most successful recording artist to not win the American Idol title with RIAA platinum status. Third-place contestant Vonzell Solomon landed a role in a film, Still Green and a single on a Christmas album. Fourth-place contestant Anthony Fedorov has appeared in television shows such as Fear Factor, where he competed with Season 2 contestant Carmen Rasmusen, winning second place, and has finished taping several episodes for a new MTV show to air in the fall. Sixth-place contestant Constantine Maroulis has redone his rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" for a Queen tribute album, and his first solo debut will come out in early 2007. Since August 2006, Maroulis has appeared in the Broadway musical The Wedding Singer. Beginning January 9, 2007 he will appear in the off-broadway play Jacques Brel is alive and well and living in Paris. Seventh-place contestant Anwar Robinson has released his self-titled EP on an independent label. Twelfth-place contestant Lindsey Cardinale's first single, "Nothing Like A Dream", was released in March 2006.
In May 2005, Telescope announced that the fourth season had a total of approximately 500 million votes.
The fifth season of American Idol began on January 17, 2006; this was the first season of the series to be aired in high definition. Auditions were in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver and San Francisco, with Greensboro, North Carolina and Las Vegas, Nevada included after the cancellation of the Memphis auditions due to Hurricane Katrina. The season used the same rules as Season 4. Contestants had to be between the ages of 16 and 28 on August 15, 2005, being born on or between August 16, 1976 and August 15, 1989.
Although this season had little controversy in comparison to the four prior seasons, various troubles emerged. Derrell and Terrell Brittenum were twins who auditioned together in Chicago. Derrell had threatened to, and did quit when he had mistakenly heard his brother was cut. After realizing his error, Derrell pleaded to the judges to let him reclaim his spot in the competition, much to their consternation. They gave Derrell and his brother another chance, but the twins were later disqualified in January 2006 due to a prior arrest for identity theft.
Finalist Bucky Covington also had prior troubles with the law. Coincidentally, Covington's crimes involved himself and his twin brother, Rocky. The two had allegedly switched spots in 1998 to confuse the police. However, this prior crime had no effect on Covington's time on American Idol, and he was voted off on April 12.
The winner of the season was Taylor Hicks, with Katharine McPhee finishing as his runner-up. Taylor Hicks joined Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood as the only winners of American Idol to never be in the bottom three or two. Hicks was named American Idol on May 24, 2006 at 9:56 PM (EDT). On May 30, 2006, Telescope announced that a total of 63.5 million votes were cast in the finale round. A total of 580 million votes were cast in the entire season. Taylor Hicks is the second American Idol winner from the city of Birmingham, Alabama (the first being Ruben Studdard), and the fourth finalist with close ties to the city. The finale was seen by some as the best yet, with surprise performances from stars such as Live, Mary J. Blige, and Toni Braxton singing duets with the members of the final 12. In the words of Ryan Seacrest, the much loved living song legend & diva Dionne Warwick added a touch of veteran glamour to the finale. An additional performance by Prince was generally seen as a statement of Idol's acceptance in the music world.
The introduction of the Golden Idol awards brought back memories from the auditions, such as the return of "Crazy Dave" and even the foul-mouthed Rhonetta Johnson (or at least a skilled impersonator), while providing comic relief in the midst of the suspense. For example, Michael Sandecki was an auditioner who closely resembled Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken at his original audition, but unlike Aiken, Sandecki was not a good enough singer to be accepted to Hollywood. He appeared on the finale to receive a Golden Idol for "Best Impersonation", and was asked to sing. He started to sing "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me", and much to his and Idol fans' joy and surprise, the real Clay Aiken came out on stage and finished the song with him.
American Idol Season 6 began on Tuesday, January 16, 2007. The premiere episode of the season drew a massive audience of 37.7 million viewers, peaking in the last half hour with more than 41 million viewers.
It has been reported that the 2006 British The X Factor winner Leona Lewis is scheduled to perform on an early episode of American Idol Season 6, thanks to the connection with Simon Cowell.
UK Broadcast of Season 6
For the UK broadcast on ITV2, which is shown 3 days after the US broadcast, So You Think You Can Dance? host Cat Deeley introduces the show and will be conducting exclusive interviews with contestants and celebrity guests. The show has also been cropped into widescreen (in the US, the show is widescreen when viewing in High Definition) and is sponsored by Chicago Town Pizzas.
In addition, the UK edition has featured some audition footage the US broadcast doesn't have. In a few weeks when the live show begins, the version presented by Cat Deeley is expected to resemble American Idol Extra.
American Idol is often noted for advertising its sponsors during the show's runtime. Being the number one rated show in the United States, it costs around $705,000 for a 30-second commercial.
Coca-Cola is a major sponsor in the U.S., and all the judges, hosts, and contestants are seen consuming beverages out of cups bearing the Coca-Cola logo, while contestants and host Ryan Seacrest gathering for a Keeping it Real segment between songs in the Coca-Cola Red Room, the show's equivalent to the traditional green room. (During rebroadcast on ITV in the UK, the Coca-Cola logo is obscured in the shots.) In seasons 1 through 4, after every Wednesday results show, the remaining contestants and host meet in the Coca-Cola Red Room to discuss next week's theme; the footage of this meeting is shown at the start of the following Tuesday's performance show.
Voting is made possible by Cingular Wireless, and viewers who cast votes on Cingular Wireless cellular telephones benefit from lower billing costs.
Kellogg and Pop-Tarts are also two major sponsors, especially of the cast tour that follows the end of every season.
Products from the Ford Motor Company also receive prominent product placement; contestants appear in Ford commercials on the results shows, and the final two of Seasons 4 and 5 each won free Mustangs. In addition, the American Idol logo strongly resembles the Ford Motor Company logo (both are blue ovals featuring cursive script). Previous contestants Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Hicks have also been taped to do commercials for Ford.
Contestants will occasionally don Old Navy clothing during performances, and celebrity stylist Steven Cojocaru appeared in two previous seasons to assist contestants with picking out wardrobe pieces from Old Navy. Clairol hair care products also sponsors the show, with contestants usually getting Clairol-guided hair makeovers after the first two or three episodes during the round of 12.
* American Idol has come under fire for maintaining what some claim to be total control of the careers of the winners of the contest. Former co-host Brian Dunkleman referred to the show as "owning" the winning contestants, noting that winners sign contracts to only record with companies owned by the show's producers and to allow related agencies to manage their careers.
* The show is known for encouraging favoritism within the contestants and having viewers vote for their "favorite" contestant rather than the most talented. Critics claim that this treatment places social status above musical aesthetics.
* Former contestant Corey Clark told reporters in April 2005 that he and Idol judge Paula Abdul had a "secret affair" prompting an internal inconclusive Idol investigation.
* During season three, some sections of the public leveled accusations of racism at the voting public following the surprise elimination of contestants LaToya London and Jennifer Hudson, both of African American heritage. It must be noted, however, that the selfsame voting public soon crowned fellow African American, Fantasia Barrino, winner of the series.
* Season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino included a controversial song on her first album titled "Baby Mama" about single motherhood that has received widespread criticism. Although the song has been thought of and labeled by Fantasia herself as an inspirational anthem for single mothers everywhere by many, others see the song as an example of poor "family values".
* Since the 2004 season, American Idol producers have battled online community services such as the weblogs DialIdol.com, Worldsentiment.com, and VotefortheWorst.com. DialIdol predicts the winner of each week's contest based on how often an automatic dialer encounters a busy signal for each contestant; Worldsentiment uses very large samplings and algorithms to predict the outcome of the vote-off; and VotefortheWorst exhorts viewers to vote for what the site deems to be the worst contestant, rather than the best. Some in the media have implied that Las Vegas odds makers exert behind-the-scenes influence in protecting the services.
American Idol does not have a ranking for the 2001-2002 season because it aired in the summer of 2002. If it had aired within the official 2001-2002 U.S. television season, the Wednesday results show would have ranked #25 and the Tuesday performance show would have ranked #30, assuming it would have had the same rating as it did in the summer.
American Idol has bucked the trend of most successful television programs, past and present, by growing in audience numbers in its fifth season. According to the overnight ratings for May 24, 2006, an average of 42.94 million viewers tuned in to the final half-hour of the fifth season finale when Taylor Hicks was announced as the 2006 American Idol.
American Idol is broadcast to over 100 nations outside of the United States, including many with their own version of Idol; however, it is not a live broadcast and may be tape delayed by several days or weeks (excluding India, Israel, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the United Arab Emirates in which it is also aired live).
International networks broadcasting American Idol
* In Argentina, the show screens on Sony.
* In Australia, the show screens on Network Ten.
* In Brazil, the show screens on Sony.
* In Canada, the show screens on CTV.
* In Colombia, the show screens on Sony.
* In Czech Republic, the show screens on TV Nova.
* In Denmark, the show screens on TV3.
* In Estonia, the show will screen on TV3.
* In Finland, the show screens on Subtv.
* In Germany, a local version of the show screens on RTL Television.
* In Ghana, the show screens on Metro TV.
* In Hong Kong, it airs live on Star World.
* In India it airs live on Star World.
* In Indonesia, the show screens on RCTI,Global TV as well as on Star World live satellite feed.
* In Ireland, the show screens on TV3 Ireland.
* In Israel, the show screens on IBA-channel 1, IBA-Channel 33, as well as on Star World.
* In Italy, the show screens on Fox Life.
* In Japan, the show screened from the 5th season on FOX TV Japan.
* In Latin America, the show screens on Sony Entertainment Television.
* In Malaysia, the show screens on 8TV as well as on Star World live satellite feed.
* In New Zealand, the show screens on Television New Zealand (TV2)
* In Norway, the show screens on TV2 Zebra.
* In Pakistan, the show airs live on Star World.
* In the Philippines, the show screens on Associated Broadcasting Company as well as on Star World live satellite feed.
* In Singapore, the show screens on Channel 5, as well as on Star World.
* In Slovakia, the show screens on Jednotka.
* In Slovenia, the show screens on TV3.
* In South Africa, the show screens on M-Net Series.
* In South Korea, the show screens on On Style.
* In Sri Lanka, the show screens on ETV.
* In Sweden, the show screens on TV4.
* In Thailand, the show airs live on Star World.
* In Turkey, the show screens on e2.
* In the United Arab Emirates, the show airs LIVE on Star World.
* In the United Kingdom, the show screens on the digital channel ITV2, with Cat Deeley hosting extra British-orientated programming (and linking material on the regular editions) as of season six. The show has more recently occasionally been repeated on ITV1
* In Venezuela, the show screens on Sony Entertainment Television. The same channel screens the show for the rest of Latin America.
* In Vietnam it airs live on Star World.
In addition to major album sales, alumni have won major music awards such as the Grammy Award (Kelly Clarkson) and the Country Music Association Award (Female Vocalist of the Year, Carrie Underwood), or been nominated for Grammy Awards (Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood). Although her debut album has not yet been released, Jennifer Hudson has received many nominations for critics' awards for her role in Dreamgirls, and won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture, as well as an Oscar nomination, and is the current frontrunner to win the coveted prize. She is the first Idol contestant to be nominated for either a Golden Globe or an Oscar. *See individual Wikipedia biographies for details.
For details on compilation albums, see American Idol Compilation Series. For detailed information about all contestants' solo albums, single releases, and other music-related projects see the List of American Idol contestants for individual biographies.
The following Idol songs charted either on the Billboard Hot 100 charts or the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles charts. Of the 40 songs that have made the Hot 100, Kelly Clarkson has the most charted hits, with 8 (plus 1 bubbling-under hit). She also has the most Hot 100 top 20 and top 10 hits with 7 and 6 respectively. Contestants from the second season have produced the most hits (10), followed by each season four (8), season one (8), and season five (8), with season three producing the least amount of hits (6). Overall 40 hits have been produced by contestants from all five seasons (plus two more sung by the finalists).