American Idol

From ArticleWorld

American Idol is a talent contest in which contestants sing each week and viewers call in a vote for their favorite singer. The best undiscovered talent at the end of the season wins a recording contract. In addition, many of the runners up end up signing record deals as well because of the attention they received on the show.

Early auditions

Auditions are held in cities throughout the country usually in large venues. Hopefuls are chosen to audition based on the turn out and time constraints. Those chosen get to audition a cappella before a panel of three judges: Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. Sometimes a fourth celebrity judge sits in on the audition. If two out of the three judges see potential in the singer, they are allowed to move on to the second round of judging. In order to be considered for the audition, contestants must not have any current recording contracts or talent management agreements. In addition, during seasons 1-3, contestants had to be between 16 and 24 years old thought the age limit was raised to 28 during the fourth and fifth seasons.


The second round of auditions are held in Hollywood, California. Currently, the field of contestants is then narrowed down to 24. In season one, there were 30 finalists and in seasons two and three, 32 finalists were chosen. Once the field is narrowed down, the third round of auditions begin. In the third round of voting, the viewer is able to call in and vote for whom they like best.

Each week the contestants sing live and for two hours after the show ends, the phone lines are opened for voting. This round goes on for three weeks with men competing against men and the female singers competing against female singers. Every week the contestants with the lowest amount of votes his sent home until there are 12 remaining.

Final twelve

The competition finals last eleven weeks. Each finalist performs a song live based on a theme. Some past themes have included Motown, disco, Billboard #1 hits and big band music. It is the responsibility of each contestant to choose a song to sing that fits into that night's theme. Sometimes, however, the theme is based on a particular performer and the contestants get to work with the particular performer for the week. Past performers that have bee highlighted include, Elton John, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow and the Bee Gees.

After the show, the viewers vote for their favorite and the participant with the lowest number of votes is sent home. This goes on until there are three contestants left. With the final three, the song selection process changes. Contestants sing one song of their own choosing, one chosen by the judges and one picked by record executive Clive Davis. The following week, after one of the three is eliminated, the contestants go head to head and one is chosen to be the next American Idol.

Previous Idol winners from season 1-4 are listed below:

  • Season 1 - Kelly Clarkson
  • Season 2 - Ruben Studdard
  • Season 3 - Fantasia Barino
  • Season 4 - Carrie Underwood