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A Fresh Look
After season 9, rumors speculated about who would replace the sharp-tongued Simon Cowell and what the future of Idol would be. A star-studded new panel was brought in for season 10 to join Randy Jackson, the last remaining original judge. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have both brought their distinctive perspective of the music industry to the still highly rated show.
Men On Top
A more recent Idol shock was Lee Dewyze’s win over Crystal Bowersox. His win led many to wonder, can a girl ever take the Idol title again? The last female to win was Jordin Sparks in season 6. Lee’s win was overshadowed by the departure of judge Simon Cowell.
After season 8, Paula Abdul announced on Twitter she would not return for the next season. In her place came talk show host Ellen Degeneres, who only lasted one season. Ellen stated she found it too hard to be critical of young upcoming talent and Abdul’s infectious enthusiasm for the contestants proved irreplaceable
The completely opposite roommates and final Idol two contestants remaining on the ninth season, Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, raised eyebrows when Allen was declared the winner over Lambert. Lambert’s over-the-top style made him a talking point of that season, so audiences were surprised to see the quieter Allen win. Both have gone on to have hit songs in their respective genres.
Contestants aren’t the only people who surprised the Idol audiences. Producers decided the judging panel needed something extra and brought in songwriter Kara DioGuardi. She has written hits for Ashlee Simpson, and Idol winners Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. DioGuardi would only go on to last two years on the panel.
May The Best David Win
The two Davids battled it our for the American Idol title in season 7. During the performances, Simon had declared it a knockout win for David Archuleta but the voters disagreed. David Cook took home the big win, shocking everyone.
In the same season, rocker Carly Smithson was eliminated after her best performance. Fellow contestant Brook White, who flubbed her lyrics the night before and had to redo the song, was safe early on.
Fan favorite and Australian Michael Johns found himself in the bottom three the night after Idol’s second “Idols Give Back” event. The year before, producers decided no elimination would take place after the charitable performances. But in season 7, Johns was shockingly let go after a strong performance the previous night.
Simon Cowell was visibly upset when Melinda Doolittle received the news she would not be making it to the Kodak theatre for the season 6 finale. Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks went on to duel it out, with Sparks taking home the big win.
Many thought Chris Daughtry would easily take the Idol crown. With two weeks left to the finale, voters chose Katherine McPhee to stay over Daughtry. Another example of a bounce-back: Daughtry is the most successful contestant from his season.
Fan favorite Constantine Maroulis was voted off season 4, causing booing and screams from the live audience that night. Paula Abdul was extremely emotional after the results, hardly being able to speak to Maroulis. Like Hudson, Maroulis proved you don’t need to be the winner to find success, as he was nominated for a Tony award for his role in Rock of Ages the musical.
From Idol to Oscar Gold
Arguably one of the most talked about eliminations was Jennifer Hudson’s in season 3. Hudson bounced back quickly though, scoring the role of Effie in 'Dreamgirls', a role Fantasia Barrino also auditioned for. Hudson may not have been named the American Idol, but she’s the only contestant that can call herself an Academy Award winner.
The Three Divas
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Race issues came up in season 3, when Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia Barrino and LaToya London were left in the bottom three while their competitors shined at the top. Elton John even spoke out after Jennifer Hudson’s shocking elimination, suggesting that racism was coming into play.
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Clay Aiken fans are definitely some of the most loyal Idol followers, even coining the name “Claymates.” The season 2 finale came down to Aiken and eventual winner Ruben Studdard. While many believe Aiken deserved to win, there were clearly no hard feelings as the two remain friends and continue to perform together to this day.
The First Shock
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While Kelly Clarkson is one of the most successful Idol winners to-date, season one’s Tamyra Gray was a clear frontrunner to join Clarkson in the finale. Viewers were shocked when she was eliminated and landed in 4th place.
Peace Out Pia
All season long, the judges complimented Pia Toscano on her impressive pipes, even comparing her to Celine Dion. Viewers thought Pia was a shoe-in for the finale, but the votes disagreed. Pia was sent home, leaving her other 8 competitors behind to battle it out on season 12.