So tonight kicks off American Idol’s farewell season and I have watched since season one. I remember Simon, Paula and Randy behind that table telling contestants that they should fire their singing coaches or that they were awesome. I remember a girl at the Dallas auditions standing in front of the judges wearing a dress made of her jeans singing “At Last” and switching seats with Randy to judge him before running out of the room to tell Ryan to change his hair. I followed season to season. Ruben. Fantasia. Carrie. I watched singers that did not win but went on to accomplish amazing things, looking at you Jennifer Hudson. I watched singers that did win but fade quickly, looking at you…..hmmm…looking for you?
There have been judges who have been unforgettable for the right reasons, Simon Cowell and those who’ve been unforgettable because they spent the entire season making everyone uncomfortable….Nicki Minaji and Mariah Carey. I loved Ellen even though I was never sure why she was a judge and I thought that Kara DioGuardi was simply underrated and had so much to offer. The current judges: Harry Connick Jr., Keith Urban and Jennifer Lopez are terrific. They’re funny and it’s obvious they love what they’re doing which makes the show even better.
So in honor of the last season, here were some of my favorite moments from that first season.
So much good here! That note she hit when she sang, “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” was other worldly. Every performance was better than the next and when she finally won, that wave of her hand as she was crying made you cry with her. She had established herself as the true “girl next door” and quite honestly, she became the girl you wanted to be best friends with. She came across as genuine, sweet and humble. All she needed to do was open her mouth and sing…no explanation necessary. You knew as soon as she opened her mouth that you were dealing with a powerhouse who planned to stick around for awhile.
Side Note: I bet a friend of mine $20 that she would win over Justin Guarini. I still have not received my money. With accrued interest, this friend now owes me eight hundred bajillion dollars.
Tamyra Gray’s elimination
I remember this moment so vividly, sitting on my uncomfortable futon in my shoebox sized apartment. I was desperately trying to get a guy off the phone with me. We had a date coming up that I was dreading. I told him I’d call back, he asked what time. I cried on the inside and later, the outside. That was the first time there had ever been a “shocking elimination”. There would plenty of other “shocking eliminations” over the next fourteen seasons but this was truly the first. Fans were expecting a Kelly vs. Tamyra match up in the finale and when she went home, it was assumed that it cleared the way for Kelly Clarkson to win.
Nikki McKibbin’s Son and the Rose
Simon Cowell may have had issues with this moment but I loved it. Simon thought she was trying to get sympathy votes. I just loved that moment of her son gazing up at his mother, so filled with love and admiration for her. It was such a great moment. This poor girl had been raked over the coals so many times over that season that having her kid bring her the rose, humanized it. It reminded us all that she’s still a person, a mom, something that does get forgotten when people subject themselves to being judged on such a public platform. I also really still love her hair here and am slightly jealous that I could never pull it off.
Justin Guarini was not bad to look at and he sang well
So this is probably my favorite song of his during that season. Yes, I did bet against him in the finale but Justin has since said in interviews that he thought “A Moment Like This” –Kelly’s winning song–was for Kelly. Despite this, he was always fun to look at with his amazing hair that some people, not me, said looked like Side Show Bob, but it didn’t matter. He also had a little bit of cockiness that matched his supreme performances. I will never forget after one performance, which had been panned, he turned to the audience and asked them what they thought. It was amazing, no one had ever talked back to the judges but it showed he was confident in his abilities and he had no reason to worry and he was right.
I will say that I enjoyed her performance. She tried despite constantly being in the crosshairs of the judges. Her outfits were always insane in the best way and she was the underdog. I rooted for her because she was going up against people like Kelly Clarkson and Tamyra Gray and that had to have been tough. I have to give her credit her and I hope she still is making music. In a 2008 program called, Gimme my Reality Show, she states that she sometimes regrets doing Idol and blames Idol for the reason she doesn’t have a record deal. I’m not sure how much I agree with that when I look at people like Jennifer Hudson or Chris Daughtry or Kellie Pickler who did not win their seasons yet have done pretty well for themselves. It’s what you do with the cards you were given.
He was the co-host in season one, alongside Seacrest. He left the show saying he didn’t like how the kids were driven to tears. I kinda like the idea of two hosts and honestly thought he did a fine job. He admitted in a 2008 interview on Howard Stern that leaving Idol was a mistake. He has stated as well that his career was destroyed after he left the show. Although, he did appear on Celebrity Fit Club and he was in that episode of Friends where he trades engagement rings with Chandler which, to be honest, should be the highlight of anyone’s career. He does currently do stand up and really, Idol….what? I disagree with him saying it destroyed his career…it just took on a different path.
These are just a few of the moments I can recall from season one. There have been so many other wonderful moments over the years and I have held on to them for each season. I’ve seen the greatest auditions and the worst auditions. I was Team Kelly as well as Team Carrie Underwood. I picked Pickler even though Katharine McPhee lived in my neighborhood. Oh, poor Katharine McPhee, during her hometown visit, being driven down Ventura Boulevard and there were no crowds like all those small town home visits. Ooops…..
There was also the Battle of Davids in which I was firmly on David Cook’s team. Adam Lambert singing “Mad World”. Fantasia singing “Summertime”. Daughtry. I can never recall any memorable moments from The Voice, I really tune in to that show for the judges. Idol was different. It really was a place where a star could be born because many most certainly were…