AMERICAN IDOL: How the Game is Played, Winners, and the Last Season
American Idol is a singing competition TV series created by Simon Fuller and produced by Fremantle media North America and 19 Entertainment. It has turned out to be one of the most successful reality television series in the history of America.
The show which originated in the United States has had 15 seasons and 555 episodes. The first episode debuted on June 11, 2002 the last episode was on April 7, 2016.
American Idol contestants compete to receive a record deal with a major label, which may be for up to six albums, and to secure a management contract with American Idol-affiliated 19 Management as well as various lucrative contracts.
American Idol winners prior to season nine reportedly earned at least $1 million in their first year as winners.
The television series either in its performance or result show has been ranked no.1 in US television rating for eight consecutive years.
American Idol has produced superstars like Jordan Sparks, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard among others.
Unlike other reality television shows where the judges form part of those who decide the winner, viewers, through telephones, Internet and SMS text vote who emerges winner of American Idol in each season.
How Many Are Watching American Idol
The first season of American Idol had 9.9 million viewers which gave FOX an edge over other television networks.
The show got to its peak in season five with the number of viewers rising to an average of 30.6 million per episode and this season remains the highest-rated season.
But over the years, the number of viewers continued to depreciate that the fourteenth-season finale turned out to be the lowest- rated finale ever, with an average of 8.03 million viewers.
As the number of viewers continued to go down, on May 11, 2015, before the fourteenth-season finale, FOX announced that the fifteenth season of American Idol would be the last.
However, before a winner finally emerges out of myriads of contestants, he/she is selected in a series of steps. The first qualification to be considered is the contestants’ eligibility.
The eligible age-range for contestants is fifteen to twenty-eight years old and they must be legal US residents and could not have advanced to particular stages of the competition in previous seasons.
Contestants must not have held a current recording or television representation contract by the semi-final stage.
How the game is played
Contestants pass through at least three stages- a brief audition with a few other contestants in front of selectors which may include one of the show’s producers.
Meanwhile, auditions are held in various cities of America and despite the huge turnout of participants, only a few make it past the preliminary round of the audition.
Those who made it through this stage will now sing in front of producers where more people will still be eliminated. Thereafter, the contestants move to audition in front of judges which is the only audition stage shown on television.
Those selected by judges are sent to Hollywood, note that only 10-60 people may make it to Hollywood
At Hollywood, contestants perform individually or in groups in a series of rounds. Until season ten, there were usually three rounds of eliminations in Hollywood.
In the first round, the contestants emerge in groups but perform individually. For the next round, the contestants put themselves in small groups and performed a song together. In the final round, the contestants performed solo with a song of their choice, acapella or accompanied by a band depending on the season.
At the end of this stage of the competition, 24 to 36 contestants are selected to move on to the semi-final stage. The fate of the contestants are from henceforth decided by public vote.
At the semi-finals, there will be a display of the contestant’s performance and also a recap. Thereafter, a toll-free telephone number for each contestant will be displayed on the screen. For a two-hour period after the episode ends.
Viewers are expected to call or send a text message to their preferred contestant’s telephone number at this point and each call or text message is registered as a vote for that contestant.
While viewers are allowed to vote as many times as they can within the two-hour voting window.
Any contestant who made it to this stage proceeds to the finals.
At the finals, they perform songs based on a weekly theme. These themes may be a musical genre such as Motown, disco, or big band. The songs could also have been done by artists such as Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley or The Beatles. Or may be more general themes such as Billboard Number 1 hits or songs from the contestant’s year of birth.
Contestants usually work with a celebrity mentor related to the theme, and the contestants with the fewest votes will be revealed and eliminated from the competition. While a winner will emerge at this stage.
American Idol Winners
Kelly Clarkson (2002)
Ruben Studdard (2003)
Fantasia Barrino (2004)
Carrie Underwood (2005)
Taylor Hicks (2006)
Jordin Sparks (2007)
David Cook (2008)
Kris Allen (2009)
Lee DeWyze (2010)
Scotty McCreery (2011)
Phillip Phillips (2012)
Candice Glover (2013)
Caleb Johnson (2014)
Nick Fradiani (2015)
Trent Harmon (2016)
However, hopes are high that American Idol will come back for 2017 despite FOX leaving the show in 2016.
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