The highs and lows of 14 years of American Idol – in pictures

newslide 1 The original Idol A 20-year-old waitress from Texas, Kelly Clarkson was not considered a major contender, until a spirited performance of Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman during the top-eight show won over America. Clarkson remains the most successful Idol contestant, in terms of worldwide record sales. newslide 2 […]

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1 The original Idol

A 20-year-old waitress from Texas, Kelly Clarkson was not considered a major contender, until a spirited performance of Aretha Franklin’s (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman during the top-eight show won over America. Clarkson remains the most successful Idol contestant, in terms of worldwide record sales.

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2 The magic of Fantasia 

Season three’s Fantasia Barrino had a firecracker of a voice – and stunned viewers with a nuanced, tear-stained take on George Gershwin’s classic, Summertime, during the top-eight show. It remains arguably the most astonishing American Idol performance. 

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3 Idol’s first controversy

Season three’s front-runners – African-Americans Fantasia Barrino, Jennifer Hudson and LaToya London – shockingly received the fewest votes during the top-seven show, leading to Hudson’s controversial elimination. Elton John slammed the results as “incredibly racist”. Hudson went on to become the only Idol contestant to win both an Oscar and a Grammy. 

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4 Joke contestants

You may not remember the names of most of the unsuccessful Idol contenders – but you probably know William Hung, one of the show’s most talked-about contestants. His rendition of Ricky Martin’s She Bangs was so spectacularly woeful. The exposure landed him a record deal – and he became the third-best-selling singer from his season.

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5 Country superstar

Season four’s small-town girl Carrie Underwood became the show’s first big country superstar. Now a Nashville hitmaker, she is the best-selling Idol contestant in the US and has won seven Grammys, the most for an Idol alumnus. 

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6 A vote for the worst

During season six, 17-year-old Indian-American contestant Sanjaya Malakar was at the centre of a controversy after managing to survive elimination for weeks, thanks to a campaign by the website Vote for the Worst and radio personality Howard Stern to rally behind the judges’ most-hated contestant. Malakar finished seventh. The press speculated that Idol would have been cancelled had Malakar won.

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7 The WGWG fan base

For five consecutive seasons – from season seven to 11 – a white male who played the guitar won the Idol crown. Critics dubbed it the “WGWG” (white guy with guitar) phenomenon, with the winners owing their success to tween girls and elderly females – the show’s dominant voting demographics.

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8 Master showman 

Adam Lambert remains one of Idol‘s most polished and entertaining performers. He was operatic, weird and exciting – and always put on a show. He lost out to WGWG Kris Allen who, upon winning, said: “Adam deserved this.” 

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9 Sanchez sizzles

Another powerhouse singer who lost out to a charming male crooner in the final, 16-year-old Filipino-American Jessica Sanchez is one of the show’s most impressive belters. During the season 11 final, the octave-defying Sanchez sung And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going with Jennifer Holliday. It’s probably the most exhilarating performance ever on Idol – watch it on YouTube now.

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10 Diva versus diva

Season 12 proved to be memorable for all the wrong reasons, thanks to a lacklustre slate of contenders and a ­season-long feud between judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj, who could not get along. After clashing during the early audition rounds, Carey and Minaj refused to interact or even look at each other throughout the season. “I’ve invited them back to the finale to sing That’s What Friends Are For,” said the show’s producer, Nigel ­Lythgoe. 

artslife@thenational.ae


Source: art & life

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