Adios American Idol, Hello All-Stars Edition?

Well it finally happened. Fox execs finally cut the cord on American Idol, and they announced on Monday that the show that brought you everyone from Kelly Clarkson to the Pants on the Ground guy, will be ending next year at the end of its 15th season. FIFTEENTH. Over the past few years, AI has been one of those shows that when you hear about it, you might be like, ‘That show is still on??’ I admit that I fall into the other category, because I’ve more or less watched every single season since the beginning.

American Idol debuted the summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school, and that summer just so happened to be the same summer that I visited some family members in Los Angeles. Since it was still the first season, I got tickets to the live show fairly easily, and long story short, I was in the audience for the Top 7 performances, I made a sign for *justin*, I was briefly on TV, and I met Mario Lopez (yes, AC Slater). I had to dig deep for this video footage from 13 years ago, but here it is. You’re welcome, Internet.


started from the bottom… still at the bottom but maybe a little higher (and we’re here)

Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that I have a long history with the show, and I used to be a hardcore fan who knew all the contestants’ names and hometowns and went to their concerts and bought the CDs and made YouTube playlists of everyone that’s sung I Have Nothing. I drank the Idol Kool-Aid. That fangirl turned into someone who kept stating to people, ‘I’m not going to watch this season because everyone sucks!’, but still do anyways (this season is actually really good, y’all). So next season will be bittersweet in a way, even though I’m not quite as crazy as I used to be.

Fox bosses said that next year will be a “season-long celebration”, hinting at surprises and appearances by former judges and contestants. To me, that seems like a good deal. One last hurrah and Idol is off to reality TV heaven with The Swan and Temptation Island. But the mention of former contestants got me thinking – there are plenty of aspiring singers who I was rooting for but never made it to the top. Where are they now, and can they get a second chance? While I 100% know this would never happen, maybe a decade from now, Fox can use this idea for an American Idol: All-Star edition and bring back the folks who were so close to winning, but never did. Also to clarify, the people on this list are Idol alums who deserve a second chance at stardom, I.E. you won’t see Chris Daughtry or Jennifer Hudson on this list. Also not on the list: Justin Guarini. While I bet a bunch of Idol losers still eligible to audition will return for the fifteenth and final season, here are some that won’t get to make the cut, but one can only dream.

Kimberly Caldwell

{season 2 – seventh place}

Ok, so with these early contestants, you have to consider their talent with a grain of salt. Production was shotty, people still didn’t know what they were auditioning for, and most times the performance ended up being too *karaoke*. But back in season two, Kimberly Caldwell was better than most. She had a deep, raspy voice that wasn’t as belty as third-place finisher Kimberley Locke’s, but she had that blonde, ‘stylish’ look that would be admired in a pop star. Speaking of which, note Paula’s critique: ‘Your hair, your whole outfit, right on the money’, WHICH TO BE FAIR, PROBABLY WAS IN 2003.

Jasmine Trias

{season 3 – third place}

As a young Filipino girl growing up in Western New York I didn’t really recall seeing many people like me on TV (#RepresentationIsImportant). Jasmine, a Filipina, was a big deal not only in my house, but for the Filipino community in her native Hawaii and back home in the Philippines. Which is probably why her voice is more suited to be an Idol back there and not in America.

Mario Vasquez

{season 4 – top twelve/withdrew from competition}

Mario Vasquez was kind of controversial. Not Corey Clark controversial, but controversial in the sense that he was considered a frontrunner, then quit during Top 12 week, citing “personal family issues” as the reason for his departure. He later admitted that he wanted more artistic freedom than what he would’ve been given as winner of Idol, and that’s why he signed a deal with J Records shortly after leaving – the same label of Fantasia and Ruben Studdard. He had like one or two mediocre singles after the show, but whatever really went down, IDC. He had a great voice and for better or worse, he knew it.

Elliott Yamin

{season 5 – third place}

Ah. Elliott Yamin. While the majority of American Idol voters like ‘White Guys With Guitars’ (I enjoy them as well), my personal favorite sub-genre of singers is ‘White Guys With Soul/Could Be Black’. I was actually studying abroad during this season, so I only watched a variety of clips on YouTube, but I did watch every single video of Elliot’s. I get why he didn’t win (I still don’t get why Taylor Hicks did), but gosh, does Elliott have some pipes on him.

Chris Sligh

{season 6 – tenth place}

Chris Sligh had me at hello. Once he made a reference to David Hasselhoff crying in the previous year’s season finale, I knew I was going to like him. Then he started singing and I was a fan for the rest of the contest. Like a lot of contestants, Chris unfortunately peaked early, especially during the infamous Hollywood Week, when he and three others had one of the best group performances ever. EVER.

Matt Giraud

{season 8 – fifth place}

I’m gonna be honest with you. Part of the reason I even decided to do this post was because of Matt Giraud. He is ‘The One That Got Away’ in terms of my relationship with Idol. He also falls under the category of ‘White Guy With Soul’, so you might be noticing a trend here. Whenever I think of Idol contestants who should’ve been more successful/won the show, he is at the top of my list. He can sing saaang, play piano, saaang and play piano well at the same time, and has a great personality. Although Matt was the recipient of the first ever Idol Judges’ save, it couldn’t save him on elimination night when it was down to him and Adam Lambert. But no bitterness here. Just enjoy all the videos of Matt Giraud instead. Like him singing Part-Time Lover, or another unforgettable Hollywood Week group song with winner Kris Allen, or the time he sang Let’s Get It On on Ellen and she laid on the piano while I swooned at home.

Andrew Garcia

{season 9 – eighth place}

Andrew Garcia, a YouTube star who, like Chris Sligh before him, peaked early and got a little too adventurous for the judges’ tastes with his reimagining of pop songs. This was and still is one of the best covers on the show. Too bad Paula wasn’t there to dance and clap along to it.

Didi Benami

{season 9 – tenth place}

Didi didn’t have the conventional pop star/belter voice like a lot of other contestants who go through the Idol bootcamp. Her soft tone was destined for her not to win, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t go far or make her mark. Again, my favorite performance of hers comes during Hollywood Week, when she covered a song written by judge Kara Dioguardi (remember her??), and later sung better, IMO, by S5 runner-up, Katherine McPhee.

Johnny Keyser

{season 11 + 12}

Johnny tried out for Idol season 11, which is when I became obsessed with this audition. I remember making a big deal out of him and he promptly got eliminated. Then he came back season 12… and got eliminated again. He kinda came across as cocky on TV (both seasons), but there’s no denying his audition is pretty hot. And gave J Lo the goosies.

Michael Simeon

{season 14 – top 24}

To me, Michael was poised to be the resident ‘WGWG/heartthrob’ of the season, but like the Chris Slighs and Johnny Keysers before him, he used his best material for the audition, as seen in this clip in which he serenades J Lo with Sam Smith while they slow dance and Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. serve as his backing band. It’s probably for the best that he didn’t make it, because this season proved to be chock full of talent. When the winner is crowned on Wednesday, the other two runners-up will automatically be added to this list. Because they’re all just that good. Seriously. And even one of them is a White Guy With Soul AND White Guy With Guitar!


The ever dramatic Tatiana Del Toro, American Juniors ‘winner’ Danielle White (still listen to this song from time to time), season one host Brian Dunkleman in a face-off with Seacrest, just for funsies.


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