[Josh Hallett from Winter Haven, FL, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons]

June 11, 2002: The Biggest Singing Competition Ever Hits Our TVs

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On June 11, 2002, Fox changed the way people watch television by introducing a revolutionary show: American Idol. One of the most iconic and popular singing competition shows in history, the Idol quickly took root as a national phenomenon. The show also us to some of the biggest stars of a generation, both as judges and contestants and quickly made Simon Cowell, a churlish Brit known for his brutal honesty during auditions, a household name in the United States.

American Idol has its roots way back in Britain, or in Down Under depending on which you prefer.American Idol is based on the British series Pop Idol. Meanwhile, the inspiration behind Pop Idol was the New Zealand reality-based talent series Popstars, whose franchise also became popular in 50 countries, writes Mental Itch.

UK’s Pop Idol was created by entertainment entrepreneur Simon Fuller and produced by Nigel Lythgoe. It became really popular there, running for three seasons. And more importantly, Pop Idol was the seed of the phenomenally popular global franchise, and that includes American Idol.

After Fuller and Cowell failed in their initial attempt to bring the Pop Idol idea to the United States, Fox bought the show in 2002. The show was originally named American Idol: The Search for a Superstar, and debuted in the summer that year – it became an instant hit, and would go on to lord over the primetime ratings for the next eight straight seasons.

The mechanics of the show start with a panel of judges to select singers at the audition, allowing what they think were the best singers to advance to the subsequent rounds – the eliminations and semi-finals – until only two contestants are left, battling it out in finals to claim the title of the year’s American Idol. During the course of the competition up to the finals, the judges continue to give critique to the contestants. The show allows (as it always has) participation from the television audience to vote for their favorite contestants through telephone.

Another unique element of American Idol, the unfolding of some of the contestant’s real-life struggles and backstage dramas, has contributed to the success of the show.

Despite its ups and downs, American Idol has remained a staple of American television for almost 20 years. Its impact on the music industry and pop culture has become legendary, and it is sure to continue to entertain audiences for years to come.

American Idol is expected to be back soon. After fifteen seasons on FOX, running from 2002 to 2016, the show was revived by ABC, where it has run ever since. 

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