American Idol 7 (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
The seventh season of American Idol, the annual reality show and singing competition, began on January 15, 2008 and concluded on May 21, 2008. Ryan Seacrest continued to host the show with Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson returning as judges. David Cook was announced the winner of the competition on May 21, 2008, defeating runner-up David Archuleta by a margin of roughly 12 million votes out of over 97 million, which was at that time the highest recorded vote total ever recorded in the show's history. The split was 56 percent to 44 percent.
The seventh season was the first season during which neither the winner nor the runner-up was ever in the bottom group during any week before the finale on May 21, 2008, with the second being the ninth season. It was also the second season during which both the winner and the runner-up were male contestants, with the second season being the first and the third being the eighth season.
Changes from past seasons
Prior to the start of season 7, Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe admitted that season 6 had placed more focus on the guest mentors than the contestants. Changes were planned for season 7 designed to return attention to the contestants by providing more information on their backgrounds and families.
A major change for the seventh season was allowing contestants to play musical instruments, an element that originated on Australian Idol and can also be seen on Norway's Idol and Canadian Idol. A brand new set was built, and a new introduction credit sequence created. The season finale also moved from the Kodak Theatre to the larger Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.
For Season 7, auditions began in San Diego, California on July 30, 2007, and continued in the following cities:
Episode Air Date
First Audition Venue
January 15, 2008
August 27, 2007
September 1-2, 2007
January 16, 2008
August 6, 2007
September 20-23, 2007
W Hotel Dallas Victory
January 22, 2008
San Diego, California
July 30, 2007
September 12-13, 2007
Rancho Bernardo Inn
January 23, 2008
Charleston, South Carolina
August 18, 2007
North Charleston Coliseum
September 6-7, 2007
Charleston Area Convention Center
January 29, 2008
August 10, 2007
Qwest Center Omaha
October 5-6, 2007
Qwest Convention Center
January 30, 2008
August 22, 2007
American Airlines Arena
September 29-30, 2007
JW Marriott Hotel
February 5, 2008
August 14, 2007
October 8-10, 2007
Georgia International Convention Center
Total Tickets to Hollywood
Contestants were required to be between the ages of 16 and 28 on July 28, 2007, and eligible to work in the United States. Those ineligible include former contestants who had previously reached the semifinal of Season 1 - 3 or the last phase of Hollywood round of Season 4 -6 (top 44 of Season 4 and 5, top 40 of Season 6), those holding recording or management contracts, or those who were not US citizens or landed immigrants (i.e. permanent residents).
One auditioner this year Alexis Cohen gained media attention due to her outraged reaction and profuse profanities after the judges rejected her in the Philadelphia audition. She also returned in Season 8 to audition in New York and her audition was featured. She was later found dead in a hit-and-run accident.
Another auditioner who gained some public attention was Renaldo Lapuz who sang his own composition "We're Brothers Forever" which he wrote for Simon Cowell. He was later asked to return to perform in the finale.
The Hollywood week took place at the Pasadena Civic Center in Pasadena, California, over a period of five days. A total of 164 contestants were invited from the seven audition cities. This year the process was altered slightly to ensure that no talent would be prematurely dismissed. The contestants were allowed two performances before elimination, and the group round was removed.
The first round of individual performance lasted two days. For the first time ever, contestants had the option of either being accompanied by the band or playing an instrument themselves. Some were shown playing the keyboard, guitar, or even the drums. If the judges approved of the contestant's performance, they received a "free pass" to the third and final round of performances, and 48 contestants were given this "free pass". Unlike previous seasons, contestants whose performances not considered good enough were given a second chance in the second round. They lined up on stage in groups of 10 and each sang a short segment of a song "a cappella." After each group had finished, the judges cut those they felt not talented enough. Almost 100 were eliminated in this round.
In the final round, all the remaining contestants performed individually a song chosen from a large list of songs provided accompanied by the band and three backup singers. After each performance, the judges decided whether or not to cut the contestant. By the end of the day, only 50 contestants remained. The judges then deliberated further on who should be in the Top 24, and their decision was revealed the next day in the Green Mile episode.
One of the more prominent contestants during the Hollywood week was Josiah Leming whose unhappiness with the backing band resulted in him dismissing the band. He was cut in the Green Mile episode. Another piece of drama involved contestant Kyle Ensley when Simon Cowell voiced strong objection over him not being selected for the semifinals. It was later revealed that his non-selection resulted in serious rift between Simon Cowell and the show producer Nigel Lythgoe.
Daniel 'Danny' Anthony Noriega (born September 29, 1989 in Azusa, California) is a 22-year-old (18 at the time of the show) who auditioned in San Diego. He previously auditioned for Idol in season 6 and made it to Hollywood week but was cut in the first round. His elimination song was Soft Cell's version of "Tainted Love". Shortly following his elimination, Noriega received an offer from Rosie O'Donnell to perform on her cruise. Danny is working on his debut album and has just released his debut single, "Poisonous Cure", on February 15. In 2012, Noriega unveiled his drag persona "Adore Delano" in an online contest for a spot on RuPaul's Drag Race, coming in 2nd place and ultimately not making the cast.
Luke Menard (born December 1, 1978 in Crawfordsville, Indiana) is a 33-year-old (29 at the time of the show) who auditioned in Omaha with "Bend and Break" by Keane. In Hollywood, he sang "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" by Christopher Cross and "Grace Kelly" by Mika. Previously, he auditioned for the sixth season in Memphis and sang "How Deep Is Your Love" but did not make it to Hollywood. Prior to Season 7 of Idol, he was a member of the a cappella group Chapter 6 and has toured with them for the past 6 years, as well as appearing on their albums and DVD. After leaving Idol, Menard was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. He successfully went through chemotherapy and will soon be undergoing radiation therapy. He was declared cancer free on December 18, 2008.
Robert "Robbie" Carrico (born November 13, 1981 in Beckley, West Virginia) is a 30-year-old (26 at the time of the show) from Melbourne, Florida who auditioned for the show in Miami. His professional singing career prior to American Idol includes being a member of the pop group Boyz N Girlz United, which opened for Britney Spears during her "...Baby One More Time" tour in 1999. The band's song "Messed Around" was written and produced by JC Chasez from *NSYNC.
Jason Curtis Yeager (born August 26, 1979) is a 32-year-old (28 at the time of the show) from Grand Prairie, Texas who auditioned in Dallas. He appeared and was a finalist on the first season of Making the Band, the MTV reality show that led to the formation of boy band O-Town. He released a Christian album called The Heart of Me in 2008
Colton Berry (born October 11, 1989) is a 22-year-old (18 at the time of the show) from Staunton, Virginia who auditioned in Charleston.
Garrett Haley (born August 1, 1990) is a 21-year-old (17 at the time of the show) from Elida, Ohio, who auditioned in San Diego.
Asia'h Epperson (born August 20, 1988) is a 23-year-old (19 at the time of the show) from Joplin, Missouri who auditioned in Atlanta singing "How Do I Live." Two days before the auditions, her father died in a car accident. Her elimination song was "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston. She currently has a few songs of her own on her MySpace page, including a cover of "Can't Buy Me Love". She now lives in Atlanta, GA and is working on her new album. She was arrested August 12, 2010 for assaulting a club goer. In January 2011, she became a part of the original cast of the musical Hair Show starring Chaka Khan. Promotional material for the musical revealed that she is now a protégé of Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds.
Kady Malloy (born May 9, 1989) is a 22-year old (18 at the time of the show) from Houston, Texas who auditioned in Dallas. She became known on the show for her impersonation of Britney Spears and can also impersonate several other artists. Malloy is trained in opera singing. Her elimination song was "Who Wants to Live Forever" by Queen. She has released several songs to her MySpace and shot a video for a cover of "Time After Time" with Colton Berry. Simon's comment after her audition was: "Out of all of the people we have seen during this season you are the best." Kady is currently in a pop-country duo with Nashville musician Andrea Young. The pair began writing and recording in early 2010 and perform across the country.
Alaina Whitaker (born February 21, 1991) is a 21-year-old (17 at the time of the show) contestant from Tulsa, Oklahoma who auditioned in Dallas. She was a member of the female country group Della Rose along with Andrea Young and Erin James. Before the show, she and her sister won a talent competition in Tulsa, beating one of David Cook's bands, Midwest Kings. Whether or not Cook was in the band at the time is unknown. Her group Della Rose was working on their debut album in Nashville before they disbanded. The group has opened up for numerous major country acts including Travis Tritt, and Keith Anderson, who was also known as the groups Mentor. Whitaker is currently working on a solo album and now resides in Nashville.
Alexandréa Lushington (born February 13, 1991) is a 21-year-old (17 at the time of the show) from Douglasville, Georgia who auditioned in Atlanta. In 2004, she sang against fellow Idol semi-finalist David Archuleta on an episode of the television show Star Search.
Joanne Borgella (born May 29, 1982) is a 29-year-old (25 at the time of the show) model from Hoboken, New Jersey who auditioned in Philadelphia. Before auditioning for Idol, she appeared in and won Mo'Nique's Fat Chance.
Amy Davis (born June 19, 1982) is a 29-year-old (25 at the time of the show) professional model from Lowell, Indiana. She auditioned in Dallas.
Top 24 - 1960s
Song (original artist)
Song (original artist)
"In the Midnight Hour" (Wilson Pickett)
Kristy Lee Cook
"Rescue Me" (Fontella Bass)
"More Today Than Yesterday" (The Spiral Starecase)
"I Say a Little Prayer" (Dionne Warwick)
"Happy Together" (The Turtles)
"More Today Than Yesterday" (The Spiral Starecase)
David Cook (born December 20, 1982 in Houston, Texas, 24 at the time of the auditions and 25 at the time of the show) is a native of Blue Springs, Missouri who auditioned in Omaha, Nebraska with Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer". Cook's interest in music began early in life; he received his first guitar at the age of 2. He formed a band while still at high school called Axium which was chosen as the best band in Kansas City in 2004. He later joined Midwest Kings in Tulsa, but left to pursue a solo project where he released an album titled Analog Heart. Prior to Idol he worked as a bartender at the "Blank Slate" in Tulsa, where he would also occasionally play shows. He enjoys doing crossword puzzles in his spare time and calls himself a "word nerd." His Hollywood performance of Bryan Adams's "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" did not impress Simon Cowell but did so with his second performance Edwin McCain's "I'll Be". He wore an orange wristband to support a seven-year-old fan with leukemia from Top 12 week onwards. He was never in the "bottom three". On May 21, 2008, he was declared the winner. He was signed to RCA Records and released a self-titled album on November 18, 2008, that was certified platinum in January 2009.
David Archuleta (born December 28, 1990 in Miami, Florida, 16 at the time of the auditions and 17 at the time of the show) is from Murray, Utah who auditioned in San Diego with John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change". In 2003, at the age of 12, he sang on several episodes of the television show Star Search and went on to win the season finale and the $100,000 grand prize. In one episode, he competed against Alexandréa Lushington, who was a fellow semi-finalist this season. He suffered from vocal paralysis after that show which affected one of his vocal cords. He impressed the judges with his performance of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and Bryan Adams's "Heaven" during the Hollywood round. He was never in the "bottom three" in American Idol and finished as the Season 7 runner-up. He was signed to Jive Records and has since released a number of albums.
Syesha Mercado (born January 2, 1987 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, 21 at the time of the show) is from Sarasota, Florida who auditioned in Miami with Aretha Franklin's "Think". She is a student at Florida International University and has been singing and dancing since she was a child. During Hollywood week, she became ill and almost completely lost her voice. In preparation for her final Hollywood performance with Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools", she went on voice rest and wrote down everything she had to say on a pad of paper. Prior to American Idol, she appeared on the short-lived US version of Star Academy (known as The One: Making a Music Star when it aired on ABC in July 2006 for two weeks). Kara DioGuardi, who was one of the coaches on the Endemol franchise, joined Idol for Season 8. She was voted off as a third-place finisher and has since pursued a career in musical theatre.
Jason Castro (born March 25, 1987, 20 at the time of the show) Rockwall, Texas auditioned in Dallas with Keith Urban's Once in a Lifetime and Ray LaMontagne's version of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy. He started in music playing the drums. In high school, he played for a band, Keeping Lions, which has since disbanded. In 2006, he appeared on Cheyenne Kimball's MTV reality TV series, as her real-life dating interest. Castro is the first person in his family, which is originally from Colombia, to be born in the United States. He is a student at Texas A&M University, with a construction science major and music minor. He began growing his hair out for dreadlocks during his senior year of high school. He exited the competition in fourth place. He has since been signed to Atlantic Records and released a number of albums and EPs.
Brooke White (born June 2, 1983 in Mesa, Arizona, 24 at time of show) was a nanny from Van Nuys, California auditioned in Philadelphia with Corinne Bailey Rae's Like a Star. During her audition, she admitted to never having seen an R-rated movie, prompting Cowell to state that the show will "bring her over to the dark side." In 2005, she released an album titled Songs from the Attic under New Millennium Records. She performed Carole King's "Beautiful" on Hollywood week. She finished in fifth place on Idol. After the contest, she started her own record label "June Baby Records" with Randy Jackson, and released an album, High Hopes & Heartbreak.
Carly Smithson (born September 12, 1983 in Dublin, Ireland, 24 at the time of that show) is a professional singer and bartender/waitress from San Diego, California, where she has been living for the past three years. Smithson previously signed a recording contract with major USA label MCA Records and released an album in 2001 entitled Ultimate High under her birth name, Carly Hennessy. The album sold approximately 300 copies in the first three months following its release. Smithson was originally auditioned in Las Vegas during season five, but was dropped from the show due to a problem with her visa. She auditioned in San Diego with Whitney Houston's I'm Every Woman, and performed Leo Sayer's version of "When I Need You" and Heart's version of "Alone" in the Hollywood rounds. She finished sixth in the show. She later teamed up with former members of Evanescence and formed a new band We Are The Fallen as its lead singer.
Kristy Lee Cook (born January 18, 1984, 24 at the time of that show) is a horse trainer from Selma, Oregon. She sold her prized horse in order to afford the trip to audition in Philadelphia where she auditioned with Amazing Grace, a song she also performed during the Hollywood week. In 2001, she was signed to a major label, Arista Nashville. Cook also signed with Britney Spears' production company, and Spears herself was supposed to have a cameo in Cook's first video. At the time of signing, she was managed by the former manager of LeAnn Rimes. In 2005, she released a CD called Devoted with Ren-Hen Records. Since appearing on the show, Kristy Lee Cook has released an album entitled "Why Wait", which peaked on number eight on the Billboard country charts. The album contained a single, "15 Minutes of Shame", which peaked in the Top 30 on the Billboard country charts. As of December 2008, she has been dropped from Arista Nashville.
Michael Johns (born as Michael Lee on October 20, 1978 in Perth, Western Australia, 29 at the time of that show) auditioned in San Diego with Otis Redding's I've Been Loving You Too Long. He is Australian and moved to the United States from Australia in 1998 and lived in Buckhead (Atlanta) for six years, performing at local venues solo and with local band Film. He has since lived in Los Angeles, California. After recording a demo and traveling to Los Angeles to showcase for a number of labels in 2001, he signed with Maverick Records and formed a rock band called The Rising.
Before focusing on his singing career, he was a sportsman, winning a tennis scholarship and playing Australian rules football for the USAFL club Atlanta Kookaburras. During the Hollywood round, he performed The Doors' "Light My Fire" but it was his performance of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody that was one of the highlights of that week. He was surprisingly eliminated on April 10, 2008 and finished in eighth place. He released an album independently Hold Back My Heart in 2009.
Ramiele Malubay (born September 6, 1987 in Saudi Arabia, 20 at the time of that show) Filipino-American from Miramar, Florida auditioned in Miami with Aretha Franklin's Natural Woman. Prior to auditioning on Idol, she was a nursing student at Broward Community College and worked part-time at a sushi restaurant. She started Polynesian Dancing when she was in the first grade and started singing at the age of twelve. Since the age of 12, Ramiele has sung at various Filipino-American events. She performed Aretha Franklin's Until You Come Back to Me and The Kiki Dee Band's "I've Got The Music In Me" at the Hollywood rounds. She was eliminated as a ninth place finisher.
Chikezie (born Chikezie Eze on September 11, 1985 in Inglewood, California, 22 at the time of that show) is a Nigerian American from Inglewood, California who auditioned in San Diego with Luther Vandross's version of "All the Woman I Need". During the competition, he dropped using his last name because it was so frequently mispronounced ('eh-zee' and not 'EE-zee'). He previously auditioned for the show's sixth season, and made it into the Hollywood Round, where he was cut before the top 44. Before auditioning for Idol, he worked as a TSA officer at Los Angeles International Airport.
Amanda Overmyer (born October 26, 1984, 23 at the time of that show) Harley-riding nurse is from Mulberry, Indiana who auditioned in Atlanta with Janis Joplin's Turtle Blues and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Travelin' Band". She received a nursing degree from Ivy Tech Community College and deals predominantly in respiratory issues. She has been the lead singer of several local hard rock bands, including Steeleto and Ruinaces. A week before the Hollywood week, she was injured in a serious car accident. She performed The Doors' "Light My Fire" at the Hollywood rounds. After the season ended she married her fiancé Casey Taylor. Since her elimination, she has played at The Whisky a Go Go bar in West Hollywood and various venues. Since appearing on the show, Amanda has released a rock album entitled "Solidify". The album is only available on the official Amanda Overmyer website as of January 3, 2009.
David Hernandez (born May 31, 1983 in Glendale, Arizona, 24 at the time of that show) is from Glendale, Arizona and auditioned with The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg". He was a student at Arizona State University with a major in Broadcast Journalism. He gave up his apartment to move to Hollywood. Until September 30, 2007, Hernandez worked as a male stripper named "Caden" at Dick's Cabaret in Phoenix, Arizona, performing fully nude and giving lap dances to male patrons. This did not prevent him from being on the show. He performed Stephen Stills's Love the One You're With on Hollywood week. He was voted off in twelfth place soon after his stripper past was publicized by Vote for the Worst.
1 Due to the Idol Gives Back special airing on the show's regular Wednesday results night, the results show was moved to Thursday. 2 From this point forward, neither the bottom 3 nor bottom 2 contestants were explicitly identified.
Results night performances
During the Hollywood weeks, "Hollywood's Not America" by Ferras played when contestants were eliminated, while "Best Days" by Graham Colton was the elimination song for the semi-finals round. For the finals, season 2 winner Ruben Studdard remade Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home" as the exit song.
The contestants also performed medleys of songs from that week's theme.
Top 24: A medley of songs from the 1960s, including "Needles and Pins" and "When You Walk in the Room" by The Searchers, "Spanish Harlem" by Ben E. King, and "Bend Me, Shape Me" by The American Breed.
Top 20: A medley of songs from the 1970s, including "I Saw the Light" by Todd Rundgren, "It's a Heartache" by Bonnie Tyler, "The Things We Do for Love" by 10cc, and "I Feel the Earth Move" by Carole King.
Top 12: A medley of songs by The Beatles including "All My Loving," "I Feel Fine," "Can't Buy Me Love," and "Help!."
Top 11: A second medley of Beatles songs including "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Here, There and Everywhere," "Because," and "The End."
Top 10: "Right Back Where We Started From" by Maxine Nightingale.
Guest artists may perform songs to promote their work or the show itself, or for charitable purpose. Most performed on the result shows, except for Ruben Studdard at the end of the Top 2 performance show and those on the Idol Gives Back special. Included is a list of those songs with the impact of performance on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Digital Songs chart for the week. See Idol Gives Back for the list of performances in that special episode.