Forgotten American Idol Contestants

Tonight is the final singoff of this, the 97th season of American Idol. It is now down to one young girl who sings songs versus another young girl who sings songs. If you hadn’t guessed already, I am part of the reason that American Idol ratings have plunged so drastically in the past several years.

Lo, those 11 years ago, I waited with bated breath to find out whether Kelly Clarkson or Justin Guarini would take home the prize. I boasted a mini-crush on Guarini, and may have brushed away a few (okay, a flood) of happy tears as Clarkson belted “A Moment Like This.” “It’s really true!” I cried in my 15-year-old heart. “Some people really DO wait a lifetime for a moment like this!”

It’s hard to say when things started to change for me. Maybe it was the shakeup in the judges panel. Maybe it was when I realized that I didn’t have 2-12 hours a week to devote to the show (for real, the episodes are SO LONG and SO FREQUENT, it’s almost the exact opposite of my workout schedule). Or, maybe it was when I realized that for every Kelly Clarkson, there was a Lee DeWyze.

I’m not even going to get into the people who were voted off after one episode.  I’m limiting this to folks who at least made the top five, because otherwise it’s just not fair and also those guys aren’t on Wikipedia. All of these folks made it fairly far into the show, maybe even to the finale. But unless you’re a mega fan, or a friend or relative, you probably haven’t given them a second thought for years:

Season One:

Wikipedia Count (number of finalists boasting their own Wikipedia page in 2013. If you aren’t on Wikipedia, you may as well not exist. NB: I do not exist): 8/30

Oh yeah… him of the year: Justin Guarini

Guarini was appealing, in an innocuous, Raggedy Andy way. His most recent credit was a 2012 Radio Play of It’s A Wonderful Life. This makes me wonder whether  the reason Guarini has been absent from the pop culture landscape is because he has time-travelled to 1932. Personally, I think he’d be GREAT in talkies.

Are there people who are more forgotten than Guarini from Season 1? Sure. (Christina Christian, anyone?). But with a piss-poor Wikipedia rate, the pickings are slim.

Season Two:

Wikipedia Count: 12/32

Oh yeah… her of the year: Trenyce.

Somebody tried to tell me fashion hasn’t changed much since the early 2000s. To them, I offer this photo.

I could have gotten real obscure (Grimsby), but it didn’t seem fair so I limited myself to the top 5. I remember the name Trenyce but not the person. Since leaving AI, her theater credits include The Vagina Monologues, a credit probably also shared with That One Girl From Your Dorm Freshman Year Who Was Really Into Women’s Studies. Judgment aside, she’s stayed out of the spotlight but, per Wikipedia, has built a pretty solid theater career for herself. I still don’t think that means she gets to go by a mononym, though.

Season Three

Wikipedia Count: 10/32

Oh yeah… him of the year:George Huff.

Huff is notable as the only top-5 contestant to make it through after another contestant was DQ’ed for a drunk driving arrest. On looking up his photo, I did think he was cute at the time and liked his old-school crooner style. I’m only able to get to 2011 with this guy, when he was singing backup for Jennifer Hudson. Those AI types like to stick together, you know. If you’re wondering who you do remember from Season Three, he didn’t even make it past the audition round. William Hung. Remember him, a little? That was shameful for all of us.

Season Four

Wikipedia Count: 12/24

Oh yeah… him of the year:Scott Savol.

Yeah, exactly. If you remember anything, it’s that there was a controversy because before competing, he was arrested for beating his girlfriend. However, Wikipedia also notes that he received a strong vote from the Christian contingent because he often thanked God after his performances. America, you’re embarrassing yourself.

He played the Cowardly Lion in Lubbock.

Season Five

Wikipedia Count: 11/24

Oh yeah… her of the year:Paris Bennett. Paris was adorable, heiress to a singing legacy, and has been off the face of the planet for the past 4 years, I guess. She now has a baby, also adorable.

This season also featured Daughtry. When I was at a small-town Wal-Mart, I had to spell my last name. “Oh, that’s kind of close to Daughtry!”, the teenage cashier said. “Yeah, I suppose,” I answered. She continued: “You must get, like, a lot of publicity for it.” So, hey, Daughtry and season 5 of AI as a whole, THANKS FOR ALL THE PUBLICITY.

Season Six

I don’t recognize a single one of these people.

Wikipedia Count: 14/24

Oh yeah… him of the year:Phil Stacey.

I remember nothing about Stacey, but evidently he served in the Navy so maybe that upped his vote count? He’s signed to a Christian label so, who knows, maybe he’s really big in church.

Remember Sanjaya? That happened this season, too.

Season Seven

What I remember of this season: a guy I knew had a crush on David Archuleta, and I was all, that’s weird how you like BABIES.

Wikipedia Count: 14/24

Oh yeah… her of the year:Brooke White.

If it helps, she played the piano. Like 70% of Idol contestants, she released a Christmas album at one point.

Season 8

Wikipedia Count: 14/36

Oh yeah… her of the year:Allison Iraheta.

She had brightly dyed hair, so maybe that jogs your memory. Prior to AI, she competed on a reality show called Quincenera on Telmundo, which I definitely watched a few times (up there with Mira Quien Baila!)

Season 9

Wikipedia Count: 12/24

Oh yeah… him of the year: Casey James

Blonde hair, played guitar, was once in a car accident? My other choice for Oh yeah… him of Season 9 was Michael Lynche, but his wife had a baby during the season and that sort of rang a bell.

Season 10

Wikipedia Count: 12/24

Oh yeah… him of the year: Like the entire list, I swear to God. Haley Reinhart? James Durbin? Jacob Lusk? You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone you barely remember. I could probably swing a dead cat in my office right now, potentially hit one of these people, and STILL not realize that they’d been on American Idol.

Season 11

Wikipedia Count: 13/24

Oh yeah… her of the year:Skylar Laine. Though she has plenty of time to make an impression in the future, as evidently girlfriend was born in 1994. 1994! I have nailpolish I’ve had since then. She’s working on a nursing degree, which seems wise. Atta girl!

Season 12

Wikipedia Count: 11/20

Oh yeah… him of the year: Sorry, I didn’t watch this season.


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