- American Idol
▪ American television showAmerican television reality series in which aspiring singers compete for a recording contract and a shot at wealth and fame. Since its debut on the Fox Network in 2002, American Idol has become one of the most-watched shows in the United States and has produced numerous imitations.The American Idol format was imported from England, where it aired as Pop Idol and was the creation of music and television executive Simon Fuller. Both shows follow the same premise: judges travel throughout the country in search of its most talented singer. In the U.S. version a series of auditions narrows the candidates to a top few, who compete against each other on a studio set in Hollywood. In the contest's final stages, the home audience (rather than the judges) vote via telephone or text message and decide the winner. The series is hosted by Ryan Seacrest and judged by former pop star Paula Abdul, music producer Randy Jackson, and British music executive Simon Cowell. During the auditions the judges critique the performers in a predictable manner: Abdul's comments are typically sympathetic, Jackson's humorous, and Cowell's biting. A fourth judge, songwriter Kara DioGuardi, joined the show in 2009 for its eighth season. The early auditions tend to focus on the spectacle offered by tone-deaf and disillusioned contestants warbling before the judges. As the field of candidates narrows, the show becomes a more stylized showcase for talented contestants. The performers sing well-known pieces, which usually correspond to a set theme that can vary from season to season. Celebrity guests routinely make appearances on the show.Several winners of the contest have become music industry sensations, most notably Kelly Clarkson (Clarkson, Kelly), the winner of season one. Other winners have included Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, and David Cook.
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