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American Idol (2002– )
"American Idol: The Search for a Superstar" (original title)

TV Series  |  TV-PG  |   |  Game-Show, Music, Reality-TV

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Twelve finalists and/or future singers (six men and six women) who were selected from America, compete in a talent contest in which they were asked to sing any song they like on this "Star ... See full summary »


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Won 8 Primetime Emmys. Another 40 wins & 124 nominations. See more awards »
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Series cast summary:
Mark Thompson ...
 Announcer (492 episodes, 2002-2015)
 Himself - Host (471 episodes, 2002-2015)
 Himself - Judge / ... (433 episodes, 2002-2015)
 Himself - Judge / ... (317 episodes, 2002-2010)
 Herself - Judge / ... (277 episodes, 2002-2015)


Twelve finalists and/or future singers (six men and six women) who were selected from America, compete in a talent contest in which they were asked to sing any song they like on this "Star Search" clone. After each song that was sung, the judges, Abdul, Jackson and Cowell, then critique that finalist's chosen song. After each show's ending, America must vote for a finalist to whom they really think their performance is good using this AT&T (now Cingular Wireless) or any other cellular phone to cast votes with. Once the votes are locked in, the judges and America decides who has the most and the least amount of votes, and the contestant with the least amount of votes is eliminated, and it goes on each week's show until the winner is crowned as "American Idol," where he/she wins a recording contract worth up to $1,000,000. The rest of the other finalists to whom they have been voted off before (the runner-up) also get recording contracts, too. Written by Gary Richard Collins II (gcollinsii@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Thousands audition... Millions vote.... One wins. See more »


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 June 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American Idol  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Nikki McKibbin from Season 1 and Syesha Mercado from Season 7 have both tied for most times appearing in the Bottom 3 (six times). They both placed 3rd on the show. See more »


[says this catchphrase everytime before the intro credits begin]
Ryan Seacrest: This... is "American Idol"!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Production will have in place weekly monitoring procedures designed to prevent individuals from unfairly influencing the outcome of the voting by generating significant blocks of votes using technical enhancements. The producers reserve the right to remove any identified "power dialing" votes. See more »


Referenced in The Apprentice: Hero Worship (2012) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Elegant proof that the RIAA still does not get "it"...
5 May 2007 | by (Southern Hemisphere) – See all my reviews

The basic premise behind American Idol, a talent show in which a large number of contestants battle it out to get a recording contract, is one that has inspired a number of films and television shows. The problem is that the idea is one rooted firmly in the 1960s, when the Recording Industry Assocation of America was relevant, people's tastes were so underdeveloped that one genre would capture most of the world's attention, and the so-called top ten actually reflected what people were buying. But the revelations of the past twenty or so years have turned that entire notion on its head. No longer do we believe that the top ten is actually a reflection of our tastes (in fact many articles have been published to the effect that the pop charts are rigged), and the RIAA no longer has sole control over how we hear artists. In fact, independent, underground recording labels have seen their business explode tenfold since the MP3 revolution, and for the first time in history, the advertising of recording artists has truly become a level playing field.

All of this translates into increasing irrelevance for talent quests like American Idol. Much of the commentary I hear about the show revolves around the three judges, who are in essence the real stars. Do not look at them, however, they are not the reason the show is entirely irrelevant. In fact, they are about the only connection the show really has to the present-day market for music. Paula Abdul reflects the overly optimistic approach that many of the RIAA's marketeers suffer from, Randy Jackson highlights the irrelevance, and Simon Cowell repeats exactly what the more intelligent section of the buying public is thinking. Indeed, for all the complaints about Cowell's cruelty, he is about the only thing worth watching the show for because of his unflinching ability to slap hopefuls in the face with reality. To quote his comments to William Hung, you cannot sing, you cannot dance, so what do you want us to say? Ironically, aside from one contestant, Hung has achieved far more recognition and fame due to his uncynical, earnest attitude than anyone else who has appeared on the show.

Which brings me to the contestants themselves. To partly quote Alexei Sayle, I might be stupid like, but I happen to know that butchering the material of other people is never going to give a fair indication of how much ability an artist has. Although Kelly Clarkson's post-Idol material is irrelevant to me, it also demonstrates she has enjoyed the most success of the lot because she can create something of her own. Covers of top-forty filler songs that were not even relevant to the audience back then will prove very little. Even the selection of songs is so tepid as to be monotonous. Once you have heard one talentless pretty face cover Whitney Houston, you have heard them all. At least on the versus albums released by the black metal underground, they challenged each other to cover each other's songs, as well as songs by an artist that they would otherwise not normally play, such as GGFH or Frank Zappa. Even something as straightforward as Glenn Danzig would baffle the imagination-challenged idiots of Idol.

The scary thing is that after nine out of ten finalists fail to get so much as a mention after their term on the show is over, the powers behind it still want to blame piracy for ailing record sales. They fail to understand something that the independents and underground long ago incorporated into their market strategy. You see, as much as I disparage the Beatles or their ilk for being the original boy bands, they made it big when they did because at that time, nobody had heard anything like them. They had the right combination of novelty and semi-solid songwriting that also propelled bands like Black Sabbath or Bathory to notoriety. Kelly Clarkson, Justin Gaurini, and everyone that has followed after them, just have nothing to offer that is exceptional or unique. Twenty-five years ago, when radio fare was not nearly so narrow or limited, acts like Devo created a stir because they pushed envelopes. Funk-punk, electronica, and punk-pop had observers that were of the same age then as Cowell is now asking what was next.

So when I say that the present crop of pop musicians that shows like Idol attempt to promote as if they are the hottest thing since tofu are little more than a damp squib, I want you to understand my full meaning. As I stated differently in my comments about Metallicrap's recent aping of Spinal Tap, the world has moved on from this kind of thing. Maybe it is time that Simon Fuller and his cronies realised this, because I am kind of certain that Simon Cowell and to a lesser extent Paula Abdul have realised it. Indeed, as I sit here listening to Danzig, a man who has more creativity in his fingernails than every single contestant who has been on every iteration of Idol worldwide would have in their collective bodies, I find something is quite rotten in the state of the music industry. While I wish Clarkson the best in her efforts to exploit the fame that Idol brought her, I really just wish these people would raise their bar concurrently with the way the ears of the wider world have raised theirs. At the very least, we could get Red Symons of Skyhooks fame to judge a few shows. With him and Cowell on the same panel, contestants might spontaneously combust from the ego-checks.

American Idol is a two out of ten show. Nobody on the show save Cowell seems to know a thing.

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