American Idol history is steeped in the traditions of the talent show genre. Talent shows were popular long before the invention of television and were used as the basis for many of the first TV shows ever made.
The exact talent show model used for American Idol was a spin-off of the 2001 British show Pop Idol. On June 11, 2002, Simon Fuller, the British entertainment executive and producer behind Pop Idol, introduced a new American show on the Fox network called American Idol: The Search for a Superstar. The show quickly became a huge hit; by the second season the name was shortened to American Idol.
The genius behind American Idol is that it lets viewers participate in the judging process for the singing-based talent show. Viewers can call or text to special numbers that register a vote for their favorite performer during a two-hour voting period after the end of each show.
The judges cast for the actual American Idol program offer reviews, critiques and advice to help viewers pick contestants, but the show judges do not select the final winner. The final winner is always chosen according to viewer votes.
American Idol Cast
The first season of American Idol started with an impressive cast that has changed little over the many years the show has run. The sharp-tongued, music executive and producer Simon Cowell became the first judge. Singer, dancer and choreographer Paula Abdul was chosen as the second judge. Musical director, producer and musician Randy Jackson was chosen as the third judge.
Ryan Seacrest, a radio and television personality, was picked as the American Idol host. Comedian Brian Dunkleman co-hosted the first season with Seacrest, but Seacrest proved he could hold his own and has hosted solo ever since.
In 2008 an additional judge was added to the show. Singer, songwriter and producer Kara DioGuardi was chosen as the fourth judge for the 2009 season. Though Cowell, Jackson and Seacrest have done every season of American Idol, Abdul left the show in 2009. Comedian, actress and host, Ellen DeGeneres was chosen to replace Abdul for the 2010 season.
American Idol Winners
The winner of American Idol not only receives immediate fame, they are also signed to the show's production company for a $1 million record deal. Kelly Clarkson was the first winner of American Idol in 2002. Ruben Studdard won in 2003, Fantasia Barrino in 2004, Carrie Underwood in 2005, Taylor Hicks in 2006, Jordin Sparks in 2007, David Cook in 2008 and Kris Allen in 2009.
American Idol Awards
American Idol won a variety of Emmy Awards in 2007, 2008 and 2009. It has had received Emmy nominations every year it's been on the air. The show has also won several ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards, Image Awards, USA Kids Choice Awards, USA People's Choice Awards and Teen Choice Awards.
From Kelly Clarkson to Jennifer Hudson, a list of American Idol winners and losers feature names that have topped Billboard charts and Broadway marquees. Even the Academy has honored an Idol alum.
Knowing how to sign up for American Idol will do you little good if you cannot be physically present at the sign-up location. If you think you could be the next Carrie Underwood or Kris Allen, you'd better be ready to show up and show off.