Season 10 - Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery - 2011
Before season 10 began, many predicted the demise of American Idol. However, with the addition of new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, the show came back with ratings on the rise. The big surprise of the season was that, for the very first time, American Idol had two country singers squaring off in the finale. It was also the first time a pair as young as these contestants were the final two. Lauren Alaina is 16 and Scotty McCreery is 17. At the end of the finale results show, Scotty McCreery was named 2010's American Idol.
Watch Scotty McCreery announced winner.
Season 9 - Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox - 2010
Many complaints were lodged during season 9 about the overall quality of American Idol contestants. However, few disputed that Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox deserved to be the pair to square off in the finale. There seemed a near consensus in the press that Crystal Bowersox dominated the final performances, but in the end Lee DeWyze emerged victorious. For the first time the lead single from an American Idol winner is a cover version. Lee DeWyze released his interpretation of U2's "Beautiful Day" as his first single.
Watch Lee DeWyze announced winner.
Season 8 - Kris Allen and Adam Lambert - 2009
Season 8's final pair are considered by many to be among the best final pairs in American Idol's history. Adam Lambert was favored by many to win the competition almost from the beginning of the season. However, Kris Allen slowly built his confidence and following as the show progressed resulting in a surprise victory on finale results night.
Watch Kris Allen announced winner.
Season 7 - David Cook and David Archuleta - 2008
Season seven was the first time since season two that two males were in the finale. It was also the first time that both contestants in the finale had the same first name. David Cook had regional success as a rock musician under his belt as well as past experience performing in musical productions in school that served him well when versatility counted on American Idol. David Archuleta appeared as an impressively talented teenager who won the junior division of TV's Star Search 2 at the age of 12. Both scored successfully on the pop charts with their first releases after American Idol's season seven.
Watch David Cook announced winner.
Season 6 - Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis - 2007
After American Idol's season six survived all of the controversy surrounding the questionable talent of contestant Sanjaya Malakar, the finale came down to Jordin Sparks, the first teenager in the finale since Diana DeGarmo, and American Idol's first beatboxer, singer-songwriter Blake Lewis. Jordin Sparks' post-American Idol success has included multiple top 10 pop singles. Blake Lewis continues to record music with a range of electronica and hip hop inspired artists and producers.
Watch Jordin Sparks announced winner.
Season 5 - Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee - 2006
Season five is frequently remembered as one of the most consistently entertaining seasons of American Idol. The ranks of the contestants seemed filled with personality and talent from naive country girl Kellie Pickler to the rocker on the edge of stardom, Chris Daughtry. The final pair included seasoned southern soul performer Taylor Hicks and aspiring singer and actress Katharine McPhee. Neither Hicks or McPhee has met with the same recording success as a number of other contestants eliminated earlier from season five.
Watch Taylor Hicks announced winner.
Season 4 - Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice - 2005
The finale of season four was a classic nail-biter. Carrie Underwood entered the finale never having ended up a week in the final three of voting. She was a college student who had a failed brush with major label recording. Underwood's preferred genre of singing is country music, but she ably demonstrated her versatility throughout season four. Bo Bice was the first rocker to make it to the finale. He was a veteran performer before entering American Idol with experience performing in multiple bands. Following the competition Carrie Underwood quickly became one of country music's top performers. Bo Bice has continued his career with a degree of success as a journeyman rocker.
Watch Carrie Underwood announced winner.
Season 3 - Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo - 2004
Fantasia Barrino came into the season three finale results show with accolades from judge Simon Cowell as unquestionably the best American Idol contestant over the first three seasons. Her performance of George Gershwin's "Summertime" is still widely celebrated as the best single performance ever on American Idol. At age 16 Diana DeGarmo was a seasoned stage veteran who had also been a finalist on NBC's America's Most Talented Kid. More votes were cast in the season three finale than the show's first two finales combined.
Watch Fantasia Barrino announced winner.
Season 2 - Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken - 2003
For season two, the runaway hit American Idol was moved to the winter and spring season of TV where it has stayed. The co-host format was dropped and Ryan Seacrest became sole host. The finale came down to soulful "velvet teddy bear" Ruben Studdard and "geeky" North Carolina college student with a huge voice Clay Aiken. Only 130,000 votes out of 24 million cast separated the pair. Both went on to future success. Ruben Studdard's success has been primarily in the gospel music market while Clay Aiken endeared himself to millions of fans as an adult contemporary artist and on Broadway in Spamalot.
Watch Ruben Studdard announced winner.
Season 1 - Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini - 2002
There was comparatively little fanfare when the first season of American Idol kicked off as a summer replacement show in 2002. However, by the end of the show's 13 weeks it had captured the public's imagination. The final pair in the competition were Texan Kelly Clarkson who had tried to kick off a musical career and a "frizzy haired kid" with some minor Broadway experience Justin Guarini. Despite the pair being rushed into a failed movie titled From Justin to Kelly, Kelly Clarkson has gone on to be the most commercially successful of all American Idol winners and one of today's top pop stars.
Watch Kelly Clarkson announced winner.