American Idol was and is that one show in American television that totally revolutionized the face of reality television. The search for America's superstar began in the year 2002 and keeps getting better with each passing year. The show has seen immense talent that only seems to grow with every progressive season.
Created by Simon Fuller and airing on Fox, this show garners prime time viewership and is probably one of the most popular reality TV shows in history. Glamor, high voltage drama, humor, disappointment, joy, excitement, and of course, some truly astounding music; that's what this show has been and is still about. In this article, we'll give you a brief look ar all the young and not so young winners of this coveted title, along with a little bit of their background history, their stay on Idol and their journey therefrom.
"You are going to Hollywood", yes it was with this same sentence that Paula, Simon and Randy might have invited many a face to compete for the title of America's best singer, but it was only 10 special people who have made it so far! Although we keep on hearing the lame "everyone's a winner" and "winning doesn't matter" bits at any competition, a winner remains to be the only one to grab the winning trophy (not to mention the hefty prize amount and coveted music contracts) and has the biggest smile on his face as he/she waves to the group of audience and supporters.
Yes there have been ten winners of the ten seasons of American Idol, each winner with a charming voice and a unique style. Here is an attempt to refresh your memories and take you on a trip down memory lane to visit all the American Idol winners. Just click on each Idol's name to read about them.
|Kelly Clarkson (2002)|
On 4th September 2002, as millions of people sat glued to their television sets waiting nervously to find out who would win the title of America's best singer, Justin Guarini or Kelly Clarkson, Kelly walked her way to glory and became the first American Idol as she won 58% votes. With tears of joy Kelly performed a ballad - A moment like this, which was a song written for the American Idol winner and which shortly featured in Kelly's debut album - Thankful. Shortly, when the song was released as a single it was a major hit as it rose from number fifty to the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. After American Idol, Kelly also tried her hand at movies as she featured with her fellow runner-up Justin Guarini in a movie From Justin to Kelly which was poorly received by the critics as well as the audience. In April 2003, Kelly managed to release her first full-fledged album - Thankful. The album was quite a success and sold over three million copies worldwide. Her song Miss Independent earned her a Grammy nomination for the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Her second album Breakaway released in 2004 gave the audience as many as five US top ten singles and won tow Grammies for her. The single releases from Breakaway garnered huge success and hence made it the fourth album to stay in the Billboard 200 Top 20 for a consecutive year. Also the album was certified five-times platinum in the U.S. on January 18, 2006, due to the humongous sales
|Christopher Ruben Studdard (2003)|
Also affectionately called the 'Teddy Bear', Ruben Studdard, rose to fame as winner of the second season of the American Idol. Life after winning Idol was a dream come true for Studdard who released his first single - a cover of Westlife's Flying Without Wings, produced by the Underdogs and Face, a month later in June 2003 and it debuted at the second position on the Billboard Hot 100. In December 2003, advance orders for Ruben's album Soulful crossed the 1 million mark even before it was released into stores. The album was a major hit and debuted at the number one position on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling over 400,000 copies in its first week. Further, Studdard released his gospel album I Need an Angel on November 23, 2004. The title track and first single of this album I Need an Angel was a cover of a single performed by R&B singer Daniel DeBourg in the year 2002. The gospel album sold over 96,000 copies in its first week and entered the Gospel charts at number position on the Billboard 200 chart. I Need an Angel was also placed on the number one position on the 2005 Billboard Year-End Gospel Albums Chart. His third album, The Return was released in October 2006 and sold 71,000 copies in its first week to open at number eight on the Billboard 200 album chart. The records till June 2007 say that Studdard is the fifth-best selling American Idol performer with more than 2.4 million albums sold in the U.S.
|Fantasia Monique Barrino (2004)|
Fantasia, the girl with a mesmerizing voice won accolades for her performances from the audience and managed to earn many a compliment from the toughest of the judges including Simon. Fantasia rose to fame as the winner of the third season in 2004. In June 2004, she released her debut single I Believe which was at the number-one position on the Billboard Hot 100. The single, I Believe also went on to become the top selling single of 2004 in the U.S., was certified double platinum and also won three Billboard Awards. Fantasia's first album Free Yourself was not only certified double platinum but received four Grammy nominations as well. The second album, Fantasia was certified gold and received three Grammy nominations. It also featured the number one Billboard Hot R&B hit When I See U. In April 10, 2007, Fantasia made her stage debut as Celie in the Broadway musical The Color Purple. She won the 2007 Theater World Award owing to her marvelous stage debut performance.
|Carrie Marie Underwood (2005)|
The most popular and most successful Carrie Underwood was crowned as the winner of American Idol in May 2005. It is an interesting fact that judge Simon Cowell had once predicted on the show that Underwood would not only win the competition, but would outsell all previous Idol winners. After winning the title, Carrie has become a multi-platinum selling recording artist. Her debut album Some Hearts was certified 6x platinum and is touted as the fastest selling debut country album in Nielsen SoundScan history. Not only that, Underwood is also the first winner to win all three major music awards in the same awards show season, including four American Music Awards, thirteen Billboard Music Awards, and two Grammy Awards, including the award for the Best New Artist. Her debut album Some Hearts has as many as five number one hits that feature in many lists till date. These hits are Inside Your Heaven, Jesus, Take the Wheel, Don't Forget to Remember Me, Wasted, and her biggest hit, Before He Cheats. Underwood created another Top 10 Billboard hit with her charity single, I'll Stand by You. Underwood's second album, Carnival Ride , which is certified 2x Platinum was released on October 23, 2007. Carnival Ride became Underwood's first number one album and has so far sold over two million copies in the U.S. alone. The second album has already produced a number one country hit, So Small. Carrie's Christmas single, Do You Hear What I Hear? has scaled to the number two position on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts. On February 11, 2007, Carrie Underwood became the first American Idol winner to sweep all three major music awards including American Music, Billboard, and Grammy Awards in a single season.
|Taylor Reuben Hicks (2006)|
Yes, make way for the Soul Patrol. Taylor Hicks who started as an underdog on the show often found himself at the receiving end of unpleasant comments and reviews especially from Simon Cowell. However, on May 24, 2006, Taylor won the title. Thereafter he was signed by Arista Records, under which he released his debut single Do I Make You Proud. His major label debut Taylor Hicks was released on December 12, 2006 and was at the number two position on the Billboard 200 charts. The album was certified platinum in the year 2007. Taylor's vivacious stage performances and his influences derived from classic soul music have fetched him a humongous following of devout fans that are dubbed as the Soul Patrol.
|Jordin Brianna Sparks (2007)|
The youngest one of all. At the young age of 17 Jordin was the youngest winner in the history of American Idol. On May 23, 2007, Jordin was declared as the winner of the sixth season. Not many people know that Jordin had first auditioned for American Idol in Los Angeles California and was rejected. Yes, thereafter she competed in the Fox-affiliate sponsored Arizona Idol which she won and thus got a second chance to audition in American Idol since the Arizona Idol winner was guaranteed an audition with the producers of American Idol. Although Simon criticized her for being too cute, all the three judges were impressed with her singing and thus she was invited to Hollywood. In August 2007, Jordin has signed up with 19 Recordings/Jive Records/Zomba Label group which made her the first Idol winner to join the label group.
|David Roland Cook (2008)|
Make way for the latest and undoubtedly one of the cutest American Idol winner - David Cook. David Cook who was born in Texas (December 20th, 1982) is an American singer as well as a songwriter who became the seventh American Idol. He won the contest on May 21, 2008. He received as many as 56% of the votes during the Finale, which gave him a lead over co-contestant David Archuleta. After winning, Cook sang the song The Time of My Life, which was in fact the winning song of the American Idol Songwriter's Competition in 2008. After a week after his victory, Cook broke several Billboard chart records and had as many as eleven songs debut on the Hot 100 list. He broke Miley Cyrus' record of six songs. His single The Time of My Life ranked at number three on the hot hundred list. Not many people know that before American Idol, Cook has released an album called Analog Heart. His first self-titled album released in June 2011.
|Kristopher Neil Allen (2009)|
Popularly known as Kris Allen, he won the 8th season of Idol, and prior to that he had an album titled Brand New Shoes. Self-trained in playing the guitar, this young man went on to win the competition and many a heart with his singing. Innovation was his key and a well planned mesh of originals with other acclaimed songs earned him a lot of praise and adulation from the judges. Even Simon went on to give him a, "Kris, you were brilliant", for his rendition of 'Falling Slowly' from the movie Once. What really gave him the major boost in the competition was his version of Kanye West's 'Heartless'. From then on, there was no looking back, he went on to win the competition after beginning as more of an underdog.
|Leon James DeWyze (2010)|
Lee formed his own band called the DeWyze Band prior to Idol. He worked as a paint salesman prior to auditioning for American Idol. Already having two albums prior to Idol, his talent was backed by the store where he worked. At Idol, he auditioned from Chicago and was one of only 13 people who got through. The show saw him grow as a person and as an artist, by shedding his inhibitions and evolving into a confident performer. He never got in the last three positions throughout season 9 which he eventually won.
|Scott Cooke McCreery (2011)|
This 18 year old country singer continues the winning streak of male American Idols. Performing popular country songs for judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson he won everyone over with his charm and teenage disposition. While Lauren Alaina was a fitting opponent, Scotty's voice was what America loved the most. The tenth season finale brought in a whopping 122 million plus votes, showing just how seriously people take their Idols. On winning, he sang his coronation song, his original 'I Love You This Big', which he also released as his debut album post winning American Idol Season 10.
With the new year comes a brand new season. Scheduled to air on the 18th of January, let's see if it's as promising as all the others have been. Auditions are on, so check out the official website for more details!