American Idol (season 8) (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
The eighth season of American Idol premiered on January 13, 2009, and concluded on May 20, 2009. Judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson continued to judge the show's contestants, along with Ryan Seacrest as host. The season introduced Kara DioGuardi as the fourth judge on the Idol panel. It was also Abdul's final season as a judge. Kris Allen, a native of Conway, Arkansas, was announced the winner of the competition on May 20, 2009, defeating runner-up Adam Lambert after nearly 100 million votes. Kris Allen is the only married winner of the competition at the time of his victory. This was the second season where both of the final 2 contestants had been in the bottom 3 or 2 at least once before the finale, with the first being season 3.
The eighth season saw numerous changes to the format of the show. There were 36 semi-finalists instead of 24, and thirteen finalists instead of twelve, nine contestants chosen by the public and four by the judges in a wild card round. Another addition was the "save," which was used on the top seven results show to veto Matt Giraud's elimination.
Several changes were planned for season 8. Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly stated that Idol would feature fewer "William Hung-like" contestants and "funny auditions," and would quickly move its focus to the potential singers during the earlier stages of the competition, thus moving the season at a faster pace. Mike Darnell, president of Fox's alternative programming, said the contestants would be more emotional and that viewers would learn more about them and their pasts than they had in the previous season.
Songwriter and record producer Kara DioGuardi was added as a fourth judge on the panel. She had previously collaborated with Celine Dion, Hilary Duff, Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias, Leona Lewis and Christina Aguilera, and produced several Top 40 hits. As a songwriter, she had already worked with several American Idol alumni and winners, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, David Archuleta and David Cook. Meanwhile, Ken Warwick became the new executive producer, as Nigel Lythgoe had left the show to focus on So You Think You Can Dance and his new show with Simon Fuller, Superstars of Dance.
Idol Gives Back was canceled for season 8, as the ongoing economic crisis and recession, left Idol officials uncomfortable asking financially struggling viewers to donate.
The semifinals saw the biggest change as the wild card round returned for the first time since the third season. After voters picked three finalists from each of three groups of 12 semi-finalists, the judges selected eight of the previously eliminated 27 semifinalists to return and perform a song on the March 5, 2009, show. They were judged by the panel, instead of a vote by the viewers, with four advancing to the finals. Although the finals had been billed from the beginning of the season as a set of 12 contestants, the judges announced at the last minute that they would be advancing a fourth wild card/thirteenth contestant, Anoop Desai, as well. The eighth season also marked the first time that auditions were conducted outside the United States, when the show traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico to screen potential contestants. Several people from Puerto Rico were eventually selected for the semi-final rounds of the show.
Another change in the Idol format is judges' save, an element previously used in France's Nouvelle Star (French Idol). The judges were given the power to exercise a veto on one eliminated contestant in the finals and spare them from elimination for that particular week. This can only be invoked up until the Final 5. The following week two contestants will be eliminated if the save is used because nobody is eliminated on the week that the save is used, except in season 11 where one only contestant was eliminated. The save can only be used once per season and it must be unanimous. The new format change was revealed on March 11, 2009. The first recipient of the Judges' Save is Matt Giraud.
Auditions began July 17 the previous year, and were held in the following cities:
Episode Air Date
First Audition Venue
January 13, 2009
July 25, 2008
Jobing.com Arena, Glendale
The Boulders, Scottsdale
January 14, 2009
Kansas City, Missouri
August 8, 2008
October 5, 2008
January 20, 2009
San Francisco, California
July 17, 2008
September 13, 2008
Westin St. Francis
January 21, 2009
July 21, 2008
September 7-8, 2008
January 27, 2009
August 13, 2008
Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
September 3, 2008
Amelia Island Plantation
January 28, 2009
Salt Lake City, Utah
July 29, 2008
September 18-19, 2008
Wells Fargo Center
January 29, 2009
New York, New York
August 19, 2008
Izod Center, East Rutherford
August 26, 2008
Chelsea Piers, New York
San Juan, Puerto Rico
August 2, 2008
Coliseo de Puerto Rico
Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza
Total Tickets to Hollywood
Contestants were required to be between the ages 16 and 28 on July 15, 2008 and eligible to work in the United States. Contestants were ineligible if they had previously reached the semifinal in Season 1-3 and 7, or the top 44 from season 4 and 5, or top 40 from season 6. They were also ineligible if they held then current recording or management contracts or if they were not U.S. citizens or landed immigrants (i.e. temporary residents).
One auditioner who received widespread publicity was Katrina Darrell, also known as "Bikini Girl", for auditioning in her bikini. She reached the Hollywood stage but was cut in the group round.
For this season, the Hollywood round moved from the Orpheum Theatre to the Kodak Theatre, which was previously used for the finale in seasons 1 and 3-6. In addition, the Hollywood round was extended to two weeks.
In the first round, the 147 contestants each sang a short solo a cappella performance of any song. The next round had the remaining 107 contestants performing in groups of three or four. Group rounds had returned since season 6. The 72 contestants that passed group day performed one more solo song, this time accompanied by a band, before being narrowed down to 54. The final 54 then went to the "judges' mansion" in Los Angeles for the final results, and the Top 36 were announced. Some contestants had a sing-off to determine who would enter the top 36. Lacey Brown, who lost in a sing-off with 9th placer Megan Joy, later made the following season's Top 12 where she became the first finalist voted out.
The top 36 were announced in a special two-hour broadcast on Wednesday, February 11, 2009.
All 36 contestants, performing in three groups of twelve, sang songs that were Billboard Hot 100 Hits.
Below are the three semi-final groups with contestants listed in their performance order. In each group, three people advanced to the next round, based on votes by the viewers. The top male and female recipient advanced, along with the next highest vote recipient of the remaining ten contestants in each group. Each week two males advanced however it was never revealed who was the highest voted and which advanced through the non-gender specific slot. Following those nine singers advancing, eight of the remaining 27 semi-finalists were selected by the judges to compete in the Wild Card round. Following another performance by each Wild Card contender, the judges selected four contestants to advance to the final group of 13.
Kris Allen (born June 21, 1985 in Jacksonville, Arkansas, 23 years at the time of the show) is from Conway, Arkansas and auditioned in Louisville, Kentucky with Leon Russell's A Song For You. Allen's interest in music began at an early age; he taught himself how to play guitar at the age of 13, as well as numerous other instruments. Prior to Idol, he worked as a worship leader at New Life Church in Maumelle, Arkansas, and is a member of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries at the University of Central Arkansas, where he is a business major. Allen was announced the winner of the eighth season of American Idol on May 20, 2009. He went on to release his first official single, No Boundaries, which was written by Idol judge Kara DioGuardi. As a part of winning Idol, Allen was signed by Jive Records and 19 Entertainment. His first official album under the new label released November 17, 2009.
Adam Lambert (born January 29, 1982 in Indianapolis, Indiana, 26 years at the time of his audition) is from San Diego, California and auditioned in San Francisco, California with Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. Lambert grew up in Rancho Peñasquitos, San Diego, California and attended Deer Canyon Elementary School, Mesa Verde Middle School, and Mt. Carmel High School, where he was in theater, choir, and also performed with the school's jazz band. Lambert has been a stage actor since the age of ten, performing in such productions as You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Wicked. He joined a band The Citizen Vein briefly. He also worked as a demo singer and his recordings was released after his appearance on American Idol in an album Take One. Lambert roomed with Kris Allen during the show. Lambert was announced as the runner-up for the eighth season of American Idol on May 20, 2009. He was signed to RCA Records after the show and released his debut album For Your Entertainment.
Danny Gokey (born April 24, 1980, 28 years at the time of his audition) is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and auditioned in Kansas City, Missouri. Gokey first began singing in church with his family, and has been a worship leader for his church in Milwaukee, Faith Builders International Ministries, for several years. Four weeks before Gokey auditioned for American Idol, in July 2008, his wife Sophia underwent surgery due to congenital heart disease. She later died from complications regarding the extensive surgery. He was eliminated from the Top 3 on May 13, 2009.
Allison Iraheta (born April 27, 1992 in Glendale, California, 16 years at the time of her audition) is from Los Angeles and auditioned in San Francisco, California. Iraheta began singing at an early age, performing at small venues for her family and friends. In 2006, Iraheta won the Telemundo television series Quinceañera, where she won $50,000 and a recording contract, where only the prize money was granted. She was eliminated from the Top 4 on May 6, 2009. She has been the youngest finalist as a 16 year-old turning 17 during Top 5 week. Her debut album, Just Like You was released on December 1, 2009 to positive reviews, with the single Friday I'll Be Over U.
Matt Giraud (born May 11, 1985 in Dearborn, Michigan, 23 years at his time of the show) is from Kalamazoo, Michigan and auditioned in Louisville, Kentucky with Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want to Be". Giraud grew up in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he graduated from Lincoln High School in 2003. Initially eliminated from the Top 13, Giraud was chosen by the judges to rejoin the competition during the Wild Card round. Giraud was the lowest vote-getter during the Top 7, but was saved by the judges and eventually eliminated in Top 5. He released an album called Perspective in 2003 and another in 2006 called Mind Body and Soul.
Anoop Desai (born December 20, 1986 in Cary, North Carolina, 22 years at the time of the show) is from Chapel Hill, North Carolina and auditioned in Kansas City, Missouri. Desai is an only child, whose father was born in India and mother was born in South Africa. Beginning his career as an actor for the television station WRAL-TV in Raleigh in a local television series entitled "CentralXpress.com", and played the character "Raj." Desai attended Carnage Middle School and Phillips Middle School, then later went on to attend East Chapel Hill High School, graduating in 2004. Desai"s performance as a soloist on the song "She Has No Time" was included on the 2007 iteration of the annual BOCA (Best of College A Cappella) compilation album. Desai has credited his decision to audition for American Idol to the death of a friend, Eve Carson, who was murdered. Initially eliminated from the Top 13, he was chosen by the judges to rejoin the competition during the Wild Card round. His advancement to the finals made American Idol history, making it a top 13.
Lil Rounds (born October 20, 1984, 24 years at the time of the show) is from Memphis, Tennessee and auditioned in Kansas City, Missouri with Stevie Wonder's "All I Do" . Shortly before her audition on Idol, a tornado hit Memphis, forcing Rounds to temporarily live in a motel. Her grandfather once worked with the music legend B.B. King. Her performance of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" in the Hollywood round impressed the judges, however she failed to impress the judges in the finals and was eliminated in joint-seventh place with Anoop Desai.
Scott MacIntyre (born June 22, 1985, 23 years at the time of the show) is from Scottsdale, Arizona and auditioned in Phoenix, Arizona. MacIntyre is the first legally blind person to audition for American Idol. MacIntyre began practicing music at the age of six. Home-schooled until the age of fourteen, he later attended Arizona State University's Barrett Honors College and Herberger College of the Arts soon afterwards. In 2005, USA Today named him one of its twenty College Academic All-Stars. He obtained his masters degree at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Royal College of Music, where he studied on a Marshall Scholarship. MacIntyre produced his first CD when he was eleven, and has recorded five more CDs since then. He was accepted to both Oxford University and Cambridge University for further graduate-level education.
Megan Joy (born September 18, 1985, 23 years at the time of the show) is a single mother from Sandy, Utah and auditioned in Salt Lake City, Utah with Helen Morgan's "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man". Initially eliminated from the Top 13, Joy was chosen by the judges to rejoin the competition during the Wild Card round. In high school, Joy unsuccessfully tried out for numerous performance groups, including choir, and never had any singing lessons before her audition on Idol. Joy graduated from Taylorsville High School in Taylorsville, Utah in 2003. She has one son named Ryder.
Michael Sarver (born March 28, 1981 in Sulphur, Louisiana, 27 years at the time of the show) is from Jasper, Texas and auditioned in Phoenix, Arizona with Boyz II Men's "Thank You". Sarver, an oil rig worker, began singing at the age of twelve, and has written over 890 songs for himself since that time. Sarver graduated from Sulphur High School in 1998. Sarver is married to his wife Tiffany, and has two children.
Alexis Grace (born June 9, 1987, 21 years at the time of the show) is from Memphis, Tennessee and auditioned in Kansas City, Missouri with Aretha Franklin's Dr Feelgood. She gave birth to her daughter when she was nineteen. Grace began singing at an early age . She performed Aretha Franklin's "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" and Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" in the Hollywood rounds.
Jorge Núñez (born October 1, 1987 in Cidra, Puerto Rico, 21 years at the time of the show) is from Carolina, Puerto Rico and auditioned in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For the audition he sang My Way in Spanish and Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World in English. Núñez speaks three languages fluently, English, Spanish and French. After he sang during the third semi-finals week, many people were amazed by his big voice including, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, who had stated they wanted to perform with him. He performed Jon Secada's "Angel" during the Hollywood round. Of the Top 13, Núñez was the only contestant who auditioned in Puerto Rico. He was the eliminated from the Top 13 in the first week of the finals, along with Jasmine Murray.
Jasmine Murray (born March 14, 1992, in Columbus, Mississippi, 16 years at the time of the show) is from Starkville, Mississippi and auditioned in Jacksonville, Florida. Initially eliminated from the Top 13, Murray was chosen by the judges to rejoin the competition during the Wild Card round. In addition to competing on Idol, she also competed in the Miss America's Outstanding Teen pageant in 2007. She was eliminated from the Top 13 in the first week of the finals, along with Jorge Núñez.
Note 1: With no elimination the previous week, there was a second "Top 7" week and two people were eliminated. It was never revealed who, between Anoop Desai and Lil Rounds, received the lowest amount of votes, however Rounds's elimination was announced first with Desai being the second eliminee.
1 Due to the 2009 Speech to the Joint Session of the United States Congress on Tuesday, February 24, 2009, the performance show was moved to Wednesday, February 25 and the results show was moved to Thursday, February 26. 2 Ryan never specifically said who the bottom three or four was, but Megan Joy was brought up with Jasmine Murray and Anoop Desai with Jorge Nuñez for dramatic effect. Jasmine Murray was announced as the first to leave, followed by Jorge Nuñez. 3 Due to the White House Press Conference on Tuesday, March 24, 2009, the performance show was moved to Wednesday, March 25 and the results show was moved to Thursday, March 26. 4 Due to the judges using their one save, in order to save Matt Giraud, the Top 7 remained intact for another week. 5 The bottom two were eliminated on April 22. It was never announced who received the lowest number of votes, although Lil Rounds was announced as the first to leave, followed by Anoop Desai. 6 It was only announced that Allison Iraheta received the lowest number of votes this week. The other member(s) of the bottom two or three were never revealed, and the safe contestants were announced in random order.
Top 2: Top 13 performed "So What" by Pink and Top 2 performed Queen's "We Are The Champions" who were guest performers
In addition, songs are played during the elimination night to promote an artist, single, album, or the show itself. Included is a list of those songs with their Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Digital Songs reactions.