Exclusive: 'American Idol' Retrospective and 10 of Our Favorite Moments in 'Idol' History
by Hilary Rothing, posted Jan 18th 2011 3:30PM
Before we dive head first into the tenth and easily most controversial season of 'American Idol' yet (premiering Wed., Jan. 19, 8PM ET on Fox), let's take stock of where the greatest talent competition in television has been this last decade.
In this exclusive official retrospective video, 'American Idol' winners describing their incredible journeys, from their first auditions to their crowning moments to post-show stardom.
Then continue on for our favorite moments in 'Idol' history. The inspirational stories, the heartbreaking eliminations, the laughs, the tears, the pitchyness, Sanjaya and that dude who said he slept with Paula, it's all there.
1. Adam Lambert Lets Us Into His 'Mad World'
There's setting the bar high and then there's just smashing it over your knee and breaking it in half. That's exactly what a glammed-down Adam Lambert, bathed in a haunting, icy blue light, did with his rendition of the Tears for Fears hit 'Mad World.' The performance bought Simon to his feet, which is perhaps harder to do than actually winning 'American Idol.' It also established Adam Lambert as not just a formidable talent, but as an artist capable of making each performance uniquely his own.
2. Hi Ellen, Bye Ellen!
What business did a comedian known for her good-natured persona and silly antics have on a show where the job description reads "dream crusher," anyway? In all seriousness, we love Ellen (heck it's practically illegal not to), but on 'Idol' she was all wrong -- and she knew it. Which is why Ellen's attempt to fill Paula Abdul's "silly shoes" only lasted one season.
3. Chris Daughtry Goes, Taylor Hicks Stays?!
Any talent competition decided by the "folks at home" is going to have the occasional surprise upset but the elimination of rock-solid rocker and fan favorite, Chris Daughtry, in season 5 was more than just a bit surprising to both fans, the judges and the bald bad boy, himself. Cries of conspiracy against Daughtry were heard across the 'Idol'-verse but in the end, the vote stood. No matter though, as Daughtry went on to sell albums and winner Taylor Hicks went on to get dropped by his label.
4. Sanjaya Reduces 13-Year-Old to Tears
Look, Sanjaya made us cry, too, with his extended season 6 stay, but we suspect for different reasons. But little Ashley Ferl didn't just lose it over Sanjaya; she also shed tears for several other season 6-ers, including Melinda Doolittle and winner, Jordin Sparks. Ferl even continued the schtick in season 7, getting a little more than misty-eyed over Jason Castro and his dreamy dreadlocks. At age 16, she attempted to cross over to the other side last season but sadly, didn't make it to Hollywood. Cue tears.
5. Speaking of Sanjaya...
Anyone who thinks Simon Cowell had the final say on who stuck around on 'Idol' need only recall the indomitable Sanjaya Malakar and his seemingly endless season 6 reign of terror, thanks in large part to the emergence of VotefortheWorst.com. Simon so despised Sanjaya and his "pony hawk," he threatened to quit 'Idol' had the seventh-place finisher gone on to win. As we head into season 10, let us solemnly recall that J.Lo was a "Fanjaya," during her season 6 guest judge stint. God help us.
6. Paula Breaks Up with America
Much like her relationships with Emilio Estevez, Arsenio Hall and MC Skat Cat, Paula was not to be forever 'American Idol's' girl. Paula says she her departure was not about money but rather "standing on principle" -- that principle valued at an estimated $20 million. Her decision to leave the show that brought her back from '80s oblivion may not be on par with Brian Dunkleman's disasterous depature but we'll see where 'Live to Dance' is 10 seasons from now.
7. William Hung Paves the Way for 'Pants on the Ground'
We know William Hung is so season 3 but if it weren't for Hung and his dare-to-be-great rendition of Ricky Martin's 'She Bangs,' where would "General" Larry Platt and his 'Pants on the Ground' be today? We maintain that William Hung's 'American Idol' legacy and influence is even more profound that those of esteemed winners like Ruben Studdard, David Cook and Lee Dewyze. Which is exactly why he was invited back to perform with "The General" last season, to the delight of fans and of course, Simon.
8. Paula's Alleged "Behind the Scenes" Affair with this Guy
OK, this may not be the best picture of Corey Clark but aside from claiming to have had an affair with Paula Abdul, Clark has had several run-ins with the law over the years, most notably a food fight with his management team and dancers in a hotel. As for his alleged affair with Paula, both she and Fox have denied and moved past the allegations but you can read Corey's side of the story in his e-book, 'They Told Me to Tell the Truth, So ... The Sex, Lies and Paulatics of One of America's Idols.'
9. Kara DioGuardi vs. Bikini Girl
Although most viewers had never heard of her before 'American Idol,' Kara DioGuardi was a music industry powerhouse, having penned and produced a slew of hits for the likes of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Pink. But it's kind of hard to take an award winning songwriter/producer and Duke University graduate seriously when she's feuding with someone known as "Bikini Girl." The bad blood between these two came to a boil in the season 8 finale, when the two engaged in a surprise bikini contest followed by a Mariah Carey duet. And you just know Mariah thinks she looks better than both these two.
10. Simon Leaves the Building
What is 'American Idol' without its British bulldog, Simon Cowell? We're about to find out, as season 10 commences Simon-free. After nine ear-splitting seasons on the judges' bench, no amount of money could keep Simon's eye for building pop culture empires from wandering. While skepticism is running high on 'Idol's' future, keep in mind those series in the history of television that survived when their big name stars moved on. 'Idol' made it through eight seasons without Brian Dunkleman, Simon should be no sweat.
What are your favorite moments or stories from the 10 years of 'American Idol'?
Plus: 'Idol' Across America, a biodiesel-fueled mobile experience tour across the country, is giving fans the chance to win a trip to Hollywood and share the stage with Ryan Seacrest. Enter now!