Watch American Idol

The reality television show American Idol chronicles an annual singing competition from the initial auditions to the final selection of each seasons chosen winner. The show premiered in 2002 on the Fox network and has remained popular ever since. Winners get a recording contract. Some winners, like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, have become major stars after their wins.

Each season of American Idol begins with three weeks of auditions in various cities across the United States. Thousands of hopeful contestants come to these initial casting calls. Talent scouts and producers select those who will audition onscreen before the program's three celebrity judges, producer Randy Jackson, rock and roll icon Steven Tyler and actress and singer Jennifer Lopez.

The judges award golden tickets to worthy contestants who then progress to the next stage of the competition in Hollywood. In Hollywood, the contestants must sing in groups as well as individually. Over the course of several weeks, the judges eliminate contestants until they whittle the number down to 24 semi-finalists.

From this point on, the celebrity judges do not choose which contestants to eliminate. The public votes by calling a toll-free number, texting or going online. Millions of viewers select their favorites each week, and the 24 semi-finalists get reduced to 12 finalists. The 12 finalists then get reduced to two finalists and, after that, a single winner is chosen.

Themed weekly shows require the contestants to sing songs from a certain era, or perform the tunes of a certain pop star or singing group. Previous winners and guest stars make appearances also.

From the amusing auditions of some of the less talented contestants at the beginning of the season to the inspiring performances of the finalists, American Idol provides endless entertainment. It has become an American tradition and has jumpstarted the careers of numerous talented performers.

Wednesday & Thursday 8:00 PM et/pt on FOX
16 Seasons, 606 Episodes
January 8, 2009
Music, Reality
4.2/10
Cast: Ryan Seacrest, Mark Thompson, Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell
American Idol
Watch Episodes
News
Reviews

American Idol Full Episode Guide

  • In the second part of the series finale, the final winner is crowned.

  • In the first part of the series finale, the final three contestants perform in front of a live audience and hope to impress America and the judges.

  • Find out who must say goodbye and who has advanced to the Top 3.

  • Who will be eliminated following America's vote? Plus, the 4 remaining singers perform.

  • Find out who will move on and who has reached the end of the road. The Top 5 perform. Also, a special performance by Adam Lambert.

  • Find out who will move on and who has reached the end of the road. The Top 6 perform.

  • America has voted. Who will advance in the competition? The Top 8 perform.

  • In the first live show of the season, host Ryan Seacrest reveals the final two semi-finalists joining the Top 10. Then, the Top 10 singers will perform for America's vote.

  • Who will fill the final spots in this farewell season's Top 10?

  • IDOL fan favorites are back to mentor and perform, as the judges decide which five contestants will be going home.

  • The remaining 12 of the Top 24 perform hoping to impress the judges.

  • The second half of the Top 24 perform, hoping to impress America and the judges.

  • The first half of the Top 24 perform hoping to impress the judges and advance to the next round of the competition.

  • Watch who has survived Hollywood week and will advance to the Top 24.

  • The judges search for the Top 12 Male and Top 12 Female singers.

  • It's Hollywood Week! With hundreds of contestants, the judges do their best to file down the contestants.

  • It's Hollywood Week! With hundreds of contestants, the judges do their best to file down the contestants.

  • The auditions continue as the judges search for the next big superstar.

  • The auditions continue as the judges search for the next big superstar.

  • The auditions continue as the judges search for the next big superstar.

  • The auditions continue in Philadelphia.

  • The auditions continue in Little Rock, Arkansas and San Francisco, California.

  • In the final season premiere, judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr., join Ryan Seacrest as they hold auditions in Detroit and Atlanta.

  • As the show is about to come to an end, Ryan Seacrest hosts this 90-minute retrospective of American Idol - the cultural phenomenon - with former judges and contestants. Plus, some of the best Idol memories.

  • The Season 14 winner is announced.

  • The Top Two finalists are revealed and compete for America's vote.

  • One contestant is sent packing and the remaining three finalists perform live!

  • The Top 4 perform in hopes of impressing the judges and viewers at home.

  • The Top 5 perform in hopes of impressing the judges and viewers at home.

  • The Top 6 perform in hopes of impressing the judges and viewers at home.

  • The Top 7 perform in hopes of impressing the judges and viewers at home.

  • The Top 8 perform in hopes of impressing the judges and viewers at home.

  • After last week's save, two contestants will be sent packing. The 9 remaining finalists perform in front of a live audience.

  • The 11 remaining finalists perform LIVE for America's vote.

  • The Top 12 perform in front of a live audience.

  • America has voted and the Top 12 finalists will be revealed.

  • The 8 remaining female contestants perform.

  • The remaining 8 male contestants perform.

  • The 12 girls in the Top 24 perform for the first time in front of a live audience.

  • Now that the Top 24 have been chosen, the Top 12 boys perform first in front of a live audience.

  • The Top 24 are chosen.

  • The contestants have one last performance in a special showcase at the House of Blues.

  • Hollywood Week continues as the contestants perform for the judges in an attempt to advance to the group rounds.

  • Hollywood Week continues as the contestants perform solos for the judges in an attempt to advance to the group rounds.

  • Hollywood Week continues as the contestants perform for the judges in an attempt to advance to the group rounds.

  • Over 200 contestants arrive for Hollywood Week as the judges ask the singers to form lines of 10 and perform for them once again. Those who survive will move on to the group rounds.

  • The judges are in San Francisco holding auditions for the next big superstar.

  • The judges are in San Francisco holding auditions for the next big superstar.

  • The auditions continue in New Orleans.

  • The auditions continue in Minnesota.

  • The auditions continue in New York.

  • The auditions continue in Kansas City, Missouri.

  • The auditions continue in Nashville and Kansas City.

  • In the fourteenth season premiere, judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. join Ryan Seacrest as they hold auditions in Nashville.

American Idol News

Carrie Underwood and Her Bikini Go on Vacation

The 'American Idol' alum shared her swimsuit body with her Instagram followers this week.

Ryan Seacrest Returns to 'American Idol'

The host will join Katy Perry on the rebooted competition series.

'American Idol' Star Arrested

Haley Reinhart allegedly punched a bouncer.

Katy Perry Considered Naked Paddleboarding with Orlando Bloom

The pop star thought about stripping down for the now-infamous trip.

Is Ryan Seacrest Coming Back to 'American Idol' Or Not?

In the end, it all comes down to money.

Katy Perry Changes Song Lyrics to Be Nice to Taylor Swift

Perry claims 'Swish Swish' isn't about Swift, but her denials are less than convincing.

Who Was Katy Perry's Best Lover?

The pop star ranks her former boyfriends for James Corden.

Katy Perry Won't Let Go of Taylor Swift Feud

The 'American Idol' judge continues to hold a big grudge.

Katy Perry Part of Emotional Manchester Concert

The pop star delivered a heart-rending performance during the internationally televised benefit show.

Is Paula Abdul Coming Back to 'American Idol'?

The former judge lays out what she will and won't do for the series reboot.

Taylor Swift is Tired of the Katy Perry Drama

Perry is willing to keep talking about the feud, but Swift doesn't want to engage.

Who's the Bigger Star, Katy Perry or Ryan Seacrest?

It seems he thinks he should be making more than Katy Perry.

Katy Perry Making Serious Cash for 'American Idol' Gig

She's proud that she's making more than a man.

Nicki Minaj Rethinks Celibacy Vow for Nas

She won't admit dating him, but she's still thinking about it.

Katy Perry Keeps Taylor Swift Feud Alive

The new 'American Idol' judge still holds a grudge against her fellow pop star.

View More News View More Activity

Review American Idol