Auditions were held in Washington, DC, St. Louis, Missouri, New Orleans, Louisiana, Las Vegas, Nevada, Cleveland, Ohio, Orlando, Florida and San Francisco, California. There was originally supposed to be an audition held in Anchorage, Alaska, but that was changed about a month before so they could go to Orlando, Florida. Auditions were held from August to October 2004. While in the past seasons celebrity guest judges have been invited to participate during the competition, this was the first season where guest judges were invited to participate in the auditions. The music celebrities featured were:
It is also the first season in which the age limit was raised to 28, in order to increase variety. Among those who benefitted from this new rule were Constantine Maroulis and Bo Bice, considered to be the eldest (and most experienced) of Idol contestants. They were also constantly mentioned by Ryan Seacrest and in the media as "the two rockers", since their long hair and choice of songs made them stand out from conventional Idol standards.
The most notable contestant in the early episodes was Mary Roach, who auditioned in Washington D.C. Her rendition of Carole King's "I Feel The Earth Move", as well as her comments to the judges that followed her audition, brought considerable negative attention (including false rumors of mental illness) and comparisons to William Hung.Mary later admitted on her now-defunct website that she was playing it up and acting out a character in order to get as much television exposure as possible.
Also noted was Leroy Wells from Grand Bay, Alabama who auditioned in New Orleans singing Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Got Your Money". He acquired mild fame by repeatedly yelling, "Can you dig it?" to the judges and for the inability of the judges (except for Jackson) to fully understand him. Wells did not seem to audition for the sake of singing, but to entertain the masses with his sense of humor and to appear on television. He does not speak proper English and instead speaks Crunk. An extended audition of Leroy Wells is also available on The Worst of American Idol DVD, in which he improvised "I Feel Good". Leroy was incarcerated at the time the episode aired, but was allowed to watch the show.
Joseph Land auditioned in Las Vegas and claimed that he was 28 years old, the maximum age allowed for the competition. All the judges, however, were skeptical of Land's claim, because he appeared to be much older than 28. The Chyron graphics displaying his stats even showed his age as "28" (including the quote marks). After his audition received unanimous negative feedback from the judges, Land finally admitted to being 44 years old.
The Maynard triplets – Mandy, Missy and Erin Maynard were also noted for their televised audition. They were 18 years old and auditioned in St. Louis. Maynard Triplets official website
Comedian Chris Wylde aka Christopher Noll auditioned as a rapping nanny. Many fans of the show recognized Wylde from his various television appearances, but the show itself never indicated that Wylde was anything other than a serious audition. This led to widespread speculation on newsgroups and forums devoted to the show that the audition process, and in particular the really bad auditions, were largely staged. Wylde's audition was also included on The Worst of American Idol DVD, again with no acknowledgement that the audition was a prank.
Hollywood Round One
A total of 193 contestants made it to Hollywood. 96 were cut at this point, a few of which include:
Regina Brooks was noted for selling an expensive engagement ring in order to afford the airfare to fly to the audition.
Briana Davis, who stood out with her blue hair and gothic looks, performed the theme of the Phantom of the Opera in an operatic soprano in her first audition.
Rich Molfetta auditioned with his twin brother, J.P. J.P. did not make the Hollywood round.
Emily Neves first performed Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun", and was commented by the judges for being highly energetic. She had to sing a second song, "Different Drum" before getting the green light to Hollywood.
Hollywood Round Two
97 contestants remained at this point, where the contestants were put into groups. 22 were cut, including:
Aaron Kelly was one of the boys portrayed as a rocker in his group.
Elizabeth Pha (nee Chandara), born in Cambodia, entered the audition wearing a fishnet tube dress. The judges were a bit put off by the dress, but her voice won them over. During the second Hollywood round, she did not get along with her group members, claiming that they ostracized her. They countered that she was uncooperative. During the group performances, Pha did not sing the lyrics she was to learn (their song was "Where Did Our Love Go), but merely harmonized with the music. All the judges called her out on this; Simon Cowell even asked, "How difficult can it be to learn, 'baby, baby, where did your love go'?" After she was cut, she cried that the whole experience had been unfair. Pha has since released an independent album. Official site
Hollywood Round Three
75 contestants remained at this point (including Marlea Stroman who left the competition, see below). 30 were cut, including:
Sharon Galvez was known as a cocktail waitress who had plenty of experience in the clubs in Las Vegas.
Angel Higgs was a music teacher from Knoxville, Tennessee.
Aa'Shia Jackson was a 16-year-old rapper who performed an original composition for her initial audition.
Rashida Johnson lost her voice early in the Hollywood round and struggled with it; but managed to perservere.
Dezmond Meeks was known for his acrobatic moves in the audition and split the judges. He sang "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)". Dezmond Meeks was much supported in the early rounds of the competition by Paula Abdul, whose support subsequently wavered.
Shunta Warthen was shown having got on the wrong bus when the 193 Hollywood contestants split up on the first day in Hollywood; she had to find every which way back - which she did.
Ross Williams became well known as one of several crooners in Season 4.
Carrie Zaruba was one of the group members at odds with Elizabeth Pha in the previous round.
Marlea Stroman was the first contestant to ever drop out of the Hollywood round on his or her own decision; in her case it was due to the health of her young son, who was sick at the time of the tapings.
New for this season, the final cuts were taken several weeks after the Hollywood rounds, cutting 44 down to 24 without benefit of any new performances from the competitors. Those cut then include:
Jaclyn Crum, at 16, was the youngest contestant to make it to Hollywood, and had to deal with her mother being sent to the hospital midway through the Hollywood round for a severe case of food poisoning. She was the last contestant to be eliminated in Hollywood before Amanda Avila (who got the last spot in the top 24).
Jamie Paul Koehler
John Zisa, whose father was the mayor of Hackensack, New Jersey.
Because of the highly unbalanced finals in Series 3 where female contestants took a clear supermajority of the Final 12, rules were changed to prevent a similar incident from happening again.
This season also implemented new rules for the final portion of the contest. Instead of competing in semifinal heats in which the top vote-getters are promoted to the final round, 24 semifinalists were named -- 12 men and 12 women, who competed separately, with 2 of each gender being voted off each week until 12 finalists were left.
The semi-finalists who were eliminated:
Haley Amanda Avila (69458) was 22 years old when she auditioned in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is also her hometown. Before Idol, she graduated from a performing arts high school. She was voted off on March 9, 2005. Amanda is now a correspondent for the Fox Reality Channel's Reality Remix.
"How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" (Laura Branigan, 1983)
Aloha Mischeaux (15368) was 18 years old when she auditioned in St. Louis, Missouri, which is also her hometown. She wore a flower in her hair when performing and was known for her exuberant personality and gospel singing style. She was voted off on March 2, 2005.
"Work It Out" (Beyonce Knowles)
"You Don't Know My Name" (Alicia Keys) - Eliminated 3/2/05
Aloha Mischeaux's Idol profile
Celena Rae Batchelor (3231) was 28 years old when she auditioned in Cleveland, Ohio. She is from Fort Worth, Texas and plays piano and clarinet. She first started singing in elementary school. Her vocal coach was Linda Septien, whom she hired for one year before auditioning on the show. She was voted off on March 2, 2005.
"I Will Love Again" (Lara Fabian)
"When the Lights Go Down" (Faith Hill) - Eliminated 3/2/05
Celena Rae's Idol profile
Celena Rae's official website
Celena's official Myspace profile
Melinda Lira (91018) was 18 years old when she auditioned in San Francisco, California. She is from Hanford. She started singing when she was 5. She was the first to be voted off on February 23, 2005.
"The Power of Love" (Jennifer Rush/Celine Dion) - Eliminated 2/23/05
Melinda Lira's Idol profile
Melinda Lira's MySpace profile
Sarah Mather (31018) was 21 years old when she auditioned in Washington, D.C. She is from Wilmington, North Carolina. She started singing when she was 5. She had a vocal coach for 5 months and was singing in bands/ensembles when she was 7. She writes in a journal. Because she seemed upset during the results show at the way she was informed, she had difficulty with her farewell performance. She was voted off on February 23, 2005.
"Get Ready" (The Temptations) - Eliminated 2/23/05
Sarah Mather's Idol profile
Sarah Mather's MySpace profile
Sarah Mather's Official Website
Travis Tucker (25918) was 21 years old when he auditioned in Washington, D.C. He is from Manassas, Virginia and co-founded the a capella group at the University of Virginia. He was voted off on March 9, 2005.
Joseph Murena (73998) was 26 years old when he auditioned in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is from Smithtown, New York. He first started singing when he was 16, to record a song for his mother's birthday. He has acted in local theaters and studies jujitsu. He was hypnotized to overcome his stage fright. He was voted off on March 2, 2005.
"How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" (Laura Branigan/Michael Bolton)
David Brown (50349) was 20 years old when he auditioned in New Orleans, Louisiana, his hometown. He started singing when he was 4 years old. He got professional training when he attended a performing arts school. He was voted off on March 2, 2005.
Jared Yates (20068) was 18 years old when he auditioned in St. Louis, Missouri. He is from Fort Walton Beach, Florida and moved to Danville, Illinois. He started singing when he was 14 while playing with his aunt's karaoke machine. He lives on a farm. He used to work at a mortuary. His house burned down on January 2, 2005. He was voted off on February 23, 2005.
Judd Harris (51885) was 27 years old when he auditioned in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is from New York City. He studied singing in high school and college, particularly "speech level singing" a technique created by his vocal coach Seth Riggs. He also studied acting and dance. He plays piano, guitar and kazoo. He is a graduate of New York University. He was voted off on February 23, 2005.
Mario Vazquez (69200) was 26 years old when he auditioned in Las Vegas. He is from New York City. He was originally one of the top 12, but dropped out of the competition on March 11, just days before the top 12's first performance, citing "personal issues," opening a spot in the final 12 for Nikko Smith, who had been voted off in the semi-finals the previous week.
Carrie Underwood (14887) was born and raised in rural Checotah, Oklahoma, her parents own a farm ranch. She was 21 years old when she auditioned in St. Louis, Missouri. She was a senior at Northeastern University and also plays piano. Was profiled on show as never leaving Oklahoma, but records show she had several local band gigs nationwide and a studio album. She won a peacock feather hat.
Anthony Fedorov (3674) was 19 years old when he auditioned in Cleveland, Ohio. He was a Bucks County Community College student. He is from Trevose, Pennsylvania. Widely known for his childhood health crisis. He was never trained professionally (vocally) and also stated in an interview that he plays piano; he "doesn't play professionally, but plays enough". His elimination is somewhat controversial due to the fact that his numbers were replaced with Carrie Underwood's on the performance night of his elimination. On the east coast the only correct number shown was the text voting one. Although FOX and the producers at 19 never mentioned or acknowledged this error, he was voted off one week after his 20th birthday on May 11.
"Everytime You Go Away" (Brian McKnight) - Bottom 3, Eliminated 5/4/05
Scott Savol's Idol profile
Scott Savol's MySpace profile
Scott Savol's official website
Constantine Maroulis (25483) was 28 years old when he auditioned in Washington, D.C. He is from New York City and attended the prestigious Boston Conservatory (as well as Berklee College of Music) in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the lead singer of the rock band Pray for the Soul of Betty and auditioned without telling his family and bandmates. He was voted off on April 27, 2005.
"Kiss From a Rose" (Seal)
"Hard to Handle" (The Black Crowes)
"Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" (The Police)
"You've Made Me So Very Happy" (Blood, Sweat & Tears)
Nikko Smith (13362) was 21 years old when he auditioned in St. Louis. His father is baseball legend Ozzie Smith, from which he received his birth name. Was originally eliminated in the semi-finals at the final cut on March 9, but was called back into the competition after Mario Vazquez dropped out when Smith's vote totals was the higher of the two eliminated male contestants. He was voted off the finals on April 6.
"Love Will Lead You Back" (Taylor Dayne) - Bottom 3, Eliminated 3/24/05
Mikalah Gordon's Idol profile
Mikalah Gordon's MySpace profile
Mikalah Gordon's official website
Lindsey Cardinale (52808) was 19 years old when she auditioned in New Orleans. She was a radiology-major student. She was born in Hammond and raised in Ponchatoula. She was voted off on March 16, 2005.
"Standing Right Next to Me" (Karla Bonoff)
"I Try to Think About Elvis" (Patty Loveless)
"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (Aerosmith)
"Knock On Wood" (Eddie Floyd) - Bottom 3, Eliminated 3/16/05
Lindsey Cardinale's Idol profile
For the May 18 show featuring the final three, a guest judge, legendary record producer Clive Davis was added. He chose the first song each performer would sing. Davis had produced some of these songs previously in his career. The second song was "performer's choice" and could be any song from any era. In an unprecedented move, Bo Bice performed his choice completely a cappella. For the third and final song of the night, one of the standard judges (Jackson, Abdul or Cowell) chose each contestant's selection. Vonzell Solomon was the 10th contestant voted off the Top 12 on Wednesday May 18th.
Final 2: Grand Finale
Final 3: Three songs per contestant
Contestant's choice, Judge's choice and Clive Davis's choice
Final 4: Country/Gamble & Huff
Final 5: Leiber & Stoller/Billboard Top 40
Final 6: Songs of the 21st Century
Final 7: 1970s dance music
Final 8: Songs from the contestant's year of birth
Final 9: Songs from Broadway musicals
Final 10: Songs from the 1990s
Final 11: Billboard #1's
Final 12: Songs from the 1960s
Performances on results shows
Final 2: "Up Were We Belong"
Final 3: "United We Stand"
Final 4: "Islands In The Stream"
Final 5: "Bridged Over Troubled Water"
Final 6: "Emotion" (original artist: The Bee Gees)
Final 7: "You Can Shine"
Final 10: "Everything Is Beautiful"
Final 11: "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"
Final 12: "When You Tell Me That You Love Me" (original artist: Dolly Parton)
The fourth season finale featuring Bo Bice and Carrie Underwood aired May 24-May 25, and 37 million votes were cast. It featured appearances by former auditioners, and celebrity cameos by Kenny G, Rascal Flatts, David Hasselhoff, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, George Benson, Billy Preston, Babyface and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The winner of the competition was Carrie Underwood.
In a nod to the "Diana knew she'd been eliminated by the performance order" controversy of AI3, neither contestant sang the winner's single, "Inside Your Heaven", before the results were announced.
Note: Bottom 2 indicates that the contestant was 'saved' last. This may or may not indicate his or her actual vote rank.
1Nikko was originally eliminated in a semi-finals results show, He was called back after Mario Vazquez dropped out of American Idol and he replaced Mario on the final 12.
2Mario was originally joined in the top 12. A few days later, he dropped out of American Idol for personal reasons.
Nothing Like A Dream/Drive (Lindsey Cardinale) - single
The computer program DialIdol was in development during season 4. It was finished by week 6 and was used to predict the voting results from the top 6 to top 2.
However, it was not made available to the general public until season 5.
This season brought attention to the alleged Corey Clark and Paula Abdul "sex scandal". The finale show included a parody segment spoofing the alleged scandal.
Votefortheworst.com, of Survivor Sucks, made headlines when Scott Savol received the most votes and made it into the final five.
Simon Cowell said on the fifth season of Idol that he didn't like "last year's winner" as much as Kellie Pickler, a top12 Season 5 finalist. He has since said that it was a heat of the moment thing, as Carrie had performed on the show the week before.