Tonight is the last night for American Idol and after 15 years they have definitely left their mark on pop culture. I didn’t watch every season but it was the kind of show you could watch with the family and provided some fun competition. They also made a dent in social media and marketing, by engaging the audience to participate via phones, smartphones, Twitter and downloading from iTunes.
Paul Kai’s Slidely by Slidely Slideshow
American Idol engaged their audience in channels that hadn’t been used before. Voting through your phone and texting was unique and some uncharted territories. Conversations happened online during the live shows.
Text messaging was inspired by Idol.
The show’s original lineup featured cohosts Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman and a panel of judges consisting of former pop star Paula Abdul, music producer Randy Jackson, and British music executiveSimon Cowell. During the auditions the judges critiqued the performers in a predictable manner: Abdul’s comments were typically sympathetic, Jackson’s humorous, and Cowell’s biting.
The show’s eighth season (2009) saw a number of other changes to the show’s formula, most notably the addition of a fourth judge, songwriter Kara DioGuardi. Judges were also given the power to directly influence the final rounds of competition with the “judges’ save rule,” which allowed the panel to override the votes of the viewing public once per season to give a deserving contestant a second chance. In August 2009 Abdul left the show when contract negotiations with American Idol producers broke down, and she was replaced by Ellen DeGeneres.
At the conclusion of the ninth season, in May 2010, Cowell left the program, and both DeGeneres and DioGuardi departed later that year. In later seasons Jackson was joined on the judging panel by such musicians as Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler (of Aerosmith), Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj, and Harry Connick, Jr. In 2014, his last year on the show, Jackson moved into a mentorship role, leaving the judging to Urban, Lopez, and Connick. In 2015 it was announced that the show would end with its 15th season.
Several winners of the contest became recording sensations, most notably Kelly Clarkson, the winner of season one, and Carrie Underwood, the winner of season four. Other winners included Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, and Kris Allen. Proving that success on the show was not necessarily a prerequisite to success in show business, Jennifer Hudson was voted off in season three but went on to win an Academy Award for her performance in Dreamgirls (2006), and Chris Daughtry, a finalist in season five, scored multiplatinum success with his hard rock band Daughtry. Adam Lambert, the runner-up in season eight, had success as a solo artist and also collaborated with the British rock band Queen, replacing deceased singer Freddie Mercury when the group performed live (as Queen + Adam Lambert).