During the summer of 2002 karaoke came to national television, and things haven’t been the same since. “American Idol,” presented by FOX as a summer fill-in show quickly became a national phenomenon. Based on the British show Pop Idol created by Simon Fuller, which was in turn inspired by the New Zealand television singing competition Popstars, Idol has produced some of the biggest names in the music industry.
Los Angeles disc jockey Ryan Seacrest has hosted the show from the beginning. (along with Brian Dunkelman in Year One) and has risen to the status of entertainment mogul and 21st Century Dick Clark as a result.
The judges’ chairs have been filled with entertainment luminaries. British music producer Simon Cowell, former “Journey” member and music producer Randy Jackson, and 80s pop sensation Paula Abdul were the original judges. Cowell’s blunt style became a much-discussed aspect of the show’s early appeal. Jackson’s pet expressions “In it to win it,” and “Dawg” became a recognised canon of the American Idol experience.
Photo (right): t: f11photo / Shutterstock.com
Photo Associated Press: From left, judges Mariah Carey, Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban appear at the “American Idol” finale at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live on Thursday, May 16, 2013, in Los Angeles.
Eleven judges have been on the show, in addition to occasional guest judges at the table for one-shot appearances. Judges to stay longer than one season include Kara DiGuardi and Steven Tyler, along with current judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick Jr. Nicky Minaj and Mariah Carey joined the show for one season though their personal differences made it seem like they were aboard for much longer.
The original American Idol was Kelly Clarkson. The Ft. Worth, Texas native was barely 20 years old when she won. Clarkson is the second most successful Idol in terms of record sales. She has 11 platinum albums and has sold over 13.6 million records.
Season Two produced a close race between eventual winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken. Studdard was notable for the shirts he wore championing his native Alabama’s 205 Area Code. Studdard has sold almost 3,000,000 records. His 2009 release “SoulfuL was certified platinum. Aiken was the more successful post-Idol singer. The former North Carolina high school baseball player has sold over 5,000,000 records and has three platinum releases to his credit.
Photo Ruben Studdard: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com
Season Three saw Fantasia Barrino win the big prize. From just down the road from Clay Aiken’s hometown, the High Point, NC. single (at the time) mother was the first African-American female to win. Ms. Barrino has sold almost 3.7 million records and has one platinum to her credit.
Photo Fantasia Barrino: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com
Photo Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest: Photo: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
Season Five sent Taylor Hicks home with the top spot. The native of Birmingham, Ala. was the first Idol to fail to sell a million records. His self-titled debut album peaked at Number Two. Fourth place finisher Chris Daughtry (recording under the name “Daughtry”) justified the shocked reaction his departure from Idol caused his fans. Daughtry has sold over 7,000,000 records, good for third place in the American Idol Alumni Standings. Fifth place finisher Kellie Pickler has also outsold Hicks.
Photo Jordin Sparks: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com
Photo David Cook: DFree / Shutterstock.com