Total Episodes: 566
Creators: Simon Fuller
First Air Date: Jun 11, 2002
Recent Air Date: Apr 7, 2016
Run Time: m
In Production: No
Original Language: English
Age Rating: NR
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Each year, hopeful singers from all over the country audition to be part of one of the biggest shows in American television history. Who will become the new American Idol?
2002 | 25 episodes
The first season of American Idol premiered on June 11, 2002 and continued until September 4, 2002. It was won by Kelly Clarkson. This season was co-hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman, the latter of whom left the show after this season. The winner, Kelly Clarkson, signed with RCA Records, the label in partnership with American Idol's 19 Entertainment. Immediately post-finale, Clarkson released two singles, including the coronation song, "A Moment Like This". "A Moment Like This" went on to break a thirty-eight-year-old record held by The Beatles for a song's biggest leap to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It jumped up from number fifty-two to number one in just one week. She held that record for five years but she reclaimed that record back in 2009 with her hit single My Life Would Suck Without You when it jumped up from number ninety-seven to number one. Clarkson has enjoyed a successful recording career since winning, with multiple-platinum albums, a number of Top 10 hit singles and three Grammy Awards. Runner-up Justin Guarini also signed with RCA Records, eventually debuting an album in 2003 after the conclusion of season 2. RCA dropped him shortly after its debut. In addition to Clarkson and Guarini, also signed were Nikki McKibbin, Tamyra Gray, R. J. Helton, and Christina Christian.
2003 | 39 episodes
The second season of American Idol premiered on January 21, 2003 and continued until May 21, 2003. The title of show was shortened from American Idol: The Search for a Superstar of Season 1 to just American Idol. Brian Dunkleman quit after the first season, and Seacrest therefore became the lone host in Season 2 as well as all subsequent seasons. Kristin Holt was a special correspondent. It was won by Ruben Studdard. It was the first season to crown a male winner, and the first season to have a finale with two male contestants, Studdard and Clay Aiken, being followed by the seventh season with David Archuleta and David Cook, and then the eighth season with Adam Lambert and Kris Allen. Studdard released his coronation song "Flying Without Wings" after the show and reached number two in U.S. Hot 100. Aiken also released a single with "This Is the Night", written by Chris Braide, Aldo Nova and Gary Burr. It became the first non-winning contestant to have a Billboard Hot 100 number-one It was the biggest US single of 2003, selling over one million copies and reaching six times platinum status in Canada as well as number 1 in New Zealand. In addition to Studdard and Aiken, Kimberley Locke, Josh Gracin, Kimberly Caldwell, and Carmen Rasmusen have signed with various record labels.
2004 | 45 episodes
The third season of American Idol premiered on Monday, January 19, 2004 and continued until May 26, 2004. The third season was won by Fantasia Barrino, who defeated Diana DeGarmo by an approximate margin of 2%; the vote total was the highest recorded vote total in the show's history until the May 23, 2007 finale of the sixth season. This season also featured Jennifer Hudson, who would subsequently win the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Season 3 is the first season where both the winner and the runner-up had been in the bottom 2 or 3 prior to the finale, being followed by the eighth and twelfth seasons. It is the first season to have a finale with two female contestants, followed by the twelfth season; while the second, seventh and eighth seasons had a finale with two male contestants. It is also the first season where a Wild Card contestant, Leah LaBelle, is eliminated in the first episode of the finals. It is the first season to have a gender imbalance among the finalists, followed by season 8, each having eight finalists of the dominant gender. Season 3 has eight female finalists, whereas the eighth season had eight male finalists.
2005 | 42 episodes
The fourth season of American Idol premiered on January 18, 2005 and continued until May 25, 2005. It was hosted by Ryan Seacrest. Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell also returned to judge. Carrie Underwood won the season with approximately 500 million votes cast in the season and 37 million for the finale. Underwood has since gone on to become a six-time Grammy-winning country megastar. This is the last season to be aired in standard definition.
2006 | 41 episodes
The fifth season of American Idol began on January 17, 2006, and concluded on May 24, 2006. Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell returned to judge, and Ryan Seacrest returned to host. It is the most successful season to date ratings-wise and also with 18 contestants getting record deals – nine of them with major labels. It is the first season with a male winner and a female runner-up, the second being season 9, the third being season 10, and the fourth being season 11. It was also the first season of the series to be aired in high definition.
2007 | 41 episodes
The sixth season of American Idol premiered on the Fox Broadcasting Company as a two-night, four-hour premiere special on January 16 and January 17, and ran until May 23, 2007. Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson returned to judge once again, and Ryan Seacrest returned as host. A new record of 74 million votes were cast in the finale round, and a new record of 609 million votes were cast in the entire season. Jordin Sparks won the competition with Blake Lewis as the first runner-up and Melinda Doolittle finishing third. Jordin Sparks is also the youngest winner of the competition, winning at age 17, as well as the first winner from outside the Southern United States. Sparks remained the last female winner until the twelfth season.