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nce upon a time, before DVRs, binge-watching and Hulu, “American Idol” was appointment television. It was the Death Star of network TV.
More than 38 million Americans tuned in — myself and my family included — to watch Ruben Studdard narrowly defeat Clay Aiken in the season two finale. I can remember the smug self-importance I felt when I turned to my mom, a bonafide Claymate, and rubbed it in her face. She vowed to never watch “American Idol” again (she didn’t), and I continued watching faithfully for seven more seasons.
Now, “American Idol” is nothing more than a ghost of its former self. So it’s not that surprising that Fox has decided to pull the plug on it after its 15th season.
“American Idol” not only launched a bevy of reality competition shows — token “mean” British judges included — but it also gave us a number of pop stars, Grammy winners, country icons, TV stars and even an Oscar winner. So without further ado, click play on the video below, and read our list of 11 reasons we’re eternally grateful for “American Idol,” despite its faults.
Part publicity stunt, part actual beef, Carey and Minaj’s very public feud was the most entertaining part of the show’s 12th season. At the start of production, rumors swirled that Carey wasn’t pleased with Minaj joining the show, and later, video emerged of the two divas in a heated backstage argument. “American Idol” cameras even captured the visible tension throughout the season. Honestly, we can’t even tell you who won this season — oh wait, it was Mariah Carey’s career.
Adam Lambert’s chilling cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” is regarded as one of the best performances in the show’s 14-year history. It even earned Lambert a rare standing ovation from Simon Cowell. We’re getting ~ chills ~ just thinking about it.
Who said “American Idol” winners were the only success stories? Despite blowing us away in season three, J.Hud incredulously came in seventh place. Hudson, however, had the last laugh when she won a freakin’ Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2007 for her memorable performance, opposite Beyoncé, in “Dreamgirls.”
Fade in on a girl… named Katharine McPhee. One could argue that the success of “American Idol” inspired Ryan Murphy’s FOX comedy “Glee,” which as a result, inspired NBC’s ill-fated answer to “Glee” — “Smash.” Starring “American Idol” alum Katharine McPhee, “Smash” was a hot-mess from start to finish, but the trainwreck was oh-so-much-fun to watch.
“American Idol” has staged some pretty incredible performances over the years, and season eight winner Kris Allen’s reinterpretation of Kanye West’s “Heartless” was one of its best. Yes, Allen’s win came at time when “Idol” was plagued by WGWG (“white guys with guitars”), but this performance proved that he could be something more.