American Idol (season 8)

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American Idol
Season 8
Hosted by Ryan Seacrest
Judges Paula Abdul
Simon Cowell
Kara DioGuardi
Randy Jackson
Winner Kris Allen
Runner-up Adam Lambert
Finals venue Nokia Theatre L.A. Live
Original network Fox
Original releaseJanuary 13 (2009-01-13) 
May 20, 2009 (2009-05-20)
Season chronology
Season 7
Season 9
List of American Idol episodes

The eighth season of American Idol premiered on Tuesday, January 13, 2009, and concluded on May 20, 2009. Judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson continued to judge the show's contestants, along with Ryan Seacrest as host. The season introduced Kara DioGuardi as the fourth judge on the Idol panel. [1] It was also Abdul's final season as a judge. [2] Kris Allen, a native of Conway, Arkansas, was announced the winner of the competition on May 20, 2009, defeating runner-up Adam Lambert after nearly 100 million votes. This was the second season where both of the final two contestants had been in the bottom three or two at least once before the finale, with the first being season three.


The eighth season saw numerous changes to the format of the show. There were 36 semi-finalists instead of 24, and thirteen finalists instead of twelve, nine contestants chosen by the public and four by the judges in a wild card round. Another addition was the "save," which was used on the top seven results show to veto Matt Giraud's elimination.

Multiple contestants from this season were signed to record deals. This includes winner Kris Allen, who was then signed to 19 Entertainment/Jive Records, runner-up Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey, Allison Iraheta, Lil Rounds, Anoop Desai, Michael Sarver, and Mickey Guyton. [3]

Changes from previous seasons

Several changes were planned for season eight. Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly stated that Idol would feature fewer "William Hung-like" contestants and "funny auditions," and would quickly move its focus to the potential singers during the earlier stages of the competition, thus moving the season at a faster pace. [4] Mike Darnell, president of Fox's alternative programming, said the contestants would be more emotional and that viewers would learn more about them and their pasts than they had in the previous season. [5] Songwriter and record producer Kara DioGuardi was added as a fourth judge on the panel. She had previously collaborated with Celine Dion, Hilary Duff, Britney Spears, Enrique Iglesias, Leona Lewis and Christina Aguilera, and produced several Top 40 hits. As a songwriter, she had already worked with several American Idol alumni and winners, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, David Archuleta and David Cook. [6] Meanwhile, Ken Warwick became the new executive producer, as Nigel Lythgoe had left the show to focus on So You Think You Can Dance and his new show with Simon Fuller, Superstars of Dance . [7] Idol Gives Back was canceled for season 8, as the economic crisis and recession, left Idol officials uncomfortable asking financially struggling viewers to donate. [8] The semifinals saw the biggest change as the wild card round returned for the first time since the third season. After voters picked three finalists from each of three groups of 12 semi-finalists, the judges selected eight of the previously eliminated 27 semifinalists to return and perform a song on the March 5, 2009, show. They were judged by the panel, instead of a vote by the viewers, with four advancing to the finals. [9] [10] Although the finals had been billed from the beginning of the season as a set of 12 contestants, the judges announced at the last minute that they would be advancing a fourth wild card/thirteenth contestant, Anoop Desai, as well. The eighth season also marked the first time that auditions were conducted outside the continental United States, when the show traveled to U.S. territory San Juan, Puerto Rico to screen potential contestants.

Judges' Save

Another change in the Idol format is judges' save, an element previously used in France's Nouvelle Star (French Idol). [11] The judges were given the power to exercise a veto on one eliminated contestant in the finals and spare them from elimination for that particular week. This can only be invoked up until the Final 5 (Final 6 for the thirteenth and fourteenth seasons.) The following week two contestants will be eliminated if the save is used because nobody is eliminated on the week that the save is used, except in eleventh and thirteenth seasons when only one contestant was eliminated. The save can only be used once per season and it must be unanimous. The new format change was revealed on March 11, 2009. The first recipient of the Judges' Save was Matt Giraud and the last when the show was on Fox was Qaasim Middleton. The twelfth season is the only season the judges' save was not used. Placings of the recipients have ranged from eighth place to runner-up. The judges' save retired after the fifteenth season, but returned in the seventeenth season, when the judges saved Laci Kaye Booth.

Regional auditions

Auditions began July 17 the previous year, and were held in the following cities: [12]

Episode Air DateAudition CityDateFirst Audition VenueCallback DateCallback VenueGolden Tickets
January 13, 2009 Phoenix, Arizona July 25, 2008 Arena, Glendale September 2008The Boulders, Scottsdale 27
January 14, 2009 Kansas City, Missouri August 8, 2008 Kemper Arena October 5, 2008Firestone Building [13] 27
January 20, 2009 San Francisco, California July 17, 2008 Cow Palace [14] September 13, 2008 Westin St. Francis 12
January 21, 2009 Louisville, Kentucky July 21, 2008 Freedom Hall September 7–8, 2008 Churchill Downs [15] 19
January 27, 2009 Jacksonville, Florida August 13, 2008 Jacksonville Veterans
Memorial Arena
September 3, 2008 Amelia Island Plantation [16] 16
January 28, 2009 Salt Lake City, Utah July 29, 2008 EnergySolutions Arena September 18–19, 2008 Wells Fargo Center 13
January 29, 2009 New York City, New York August 19, 2008 Izod Center, East Rutherford August 26, 2008 Chelsea Piers, New York [17] 26
San Juan, Puerto Rico August 2, 2008 Coliseo de Puerto Rico September 2008Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza9
Total Tickets to Hollywood149

Contestants were required to be between the ages 16 and 28 on July 15, 2008 and eligible to work in the United States. Contestants were ineligible if they had previously reached the semifinal in Season 1-3 and 7, or the top 44 from season 4 and 5, or top 40 from season 6. They were also ineligible if they held then current recording or management contracts or if they were not U.S. citizens or landed immigrants (i.e. temporary residents).

One auditioner who received widespread publicity was Katrina Darrell, also known as "Bikini Girl", for auditioning in her bikini. She reached the Hollywood stage but was cut in the group round. [18]

Hollywood week

For this season, the Hollywood round moved from the Orpheum Theatre to the Kodak Theatre, which was previously used for the finale in seasons 1 and 3–6. In addition, the Hollywood round was extended to two weeks.

In the first round, the 147 contestants each sang a short solo a cappella performance of any song. The next round had the remaining 107 contestants performing in groups of three or four. Group rounds had returned since season 6. The 72 contestants that passed group day performed one more solo song, this time accompanied by a band, before being narrowed down to 54. The final 54 then went to the "judges' mansion" in Los Angeles for the final results, and the Top 36 were announced. Some contestants had a sing-off to determine who would enter the top 36. Lacey Brown, who lost in a sing-off with 9th placer Megan Joy, later made the following season's Top 12 where she became the first finalist voted out.


The 36 contestants performed in three groups of twelve and sang songs that were Billboard Hot 100 hits. In each group, three people advanced to the next round via a public vote, while the next highest vote recipient of the remaining ten contestants in each group. Each week two males advanced however it was never revealed who was the highest voted and which advanced through the non-gender specific slot.

Color key:

  Contestant was chosen by the public vote and moved on to the live shows
  Contestant was not chosen by the public and was left to perform again for the judges
  Contestant was chosen by the judges via wild card and moved on to the live shows
  Contestant was eliminated

Group 1

1 Jackie Tohn "A Little Less Conversation"Eliminated
2Ricky Braddy"A Song for You"Wild Card
3Alexis Grace"I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)"Advanced
4Brent Keith"Hicktown"Eliminated
5Stevie Wright"You Belong with Me"Eliminated
6 Anoop Desai "Angel of Mine"Wild Card
7 Casey Carlson "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic"Eliminated
8 Michael Sarver "I Don't Want to Be"Advanced
9Ann Marie Boskovich"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"Eliminated
10Stephen Fowler"Rock with You"Eliminated
11Tatiana Del Toro"Saving All My Love for You"Wild Card
12 Danny Gokey "Hero"Advanced
Non-competition performance
1.1Top 36 (group 1)"I'm Yours"
1.2 Carly Smithson and Michael Johns "The Letter"

Group 2

Due to the 2009 Speech to the Joint Session of the United States Congress that held on February 24, which falls on a Tuesday, the performance show was moved to Wednesday, February 25, and results on Thursday, February 26.

1 Jasmine Murray "Love Song"Wild Card
2 Matt Giraud "Viva la Vida"Wild Card
3Jeanine Vailes"This Love"Eliminated
4Nick Mitchell [lower-alpha 1] "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"Eliminated
5 Allison Iraheta "Alone"Advanced
6 Kris Allen "Man in the Mirror"Advanced
7 Megan Joy "Put Your Records On"Wild Card
8Matt Breitzke"If You Could Only See"Eliminated
9Jesse Langseth"Bette Davis Eyes"Wild Card
10Kai Kalama"What Becomes of the Brokenhearted"Eliminated
11Mishavonna Henson"Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)"Eliminated
12 Adam Lambert "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"Advanced
Non-competition performance
2.1Top 36 (group 2)"Closer"
2.2 Brooke White "Hold Up My Heart"

Group 3

1 Von Smith "You're All I Need to Get By"Wild Card
2Taylor Vaifanua"If I Ain't Got You"Eliminated
3Alex Wagner-Trugman"I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues"Eliminated
4 Arianna Afsar "The Winner Takes It All"Eliminated
5Ju'Not Joyner"Hey There Delilah"Eliminated
6Kristen McNamara"Give Me One Reason"Eliminated
7Nathaniel Marshall"I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"Eliminated
8 Felicia Barton [lower-alpha 2] "No One"Eliminated
9 Scott MacIntyre "Mandolin Rain"Advanced
10Kendall Beard"This One's for the Girls"Eliminated
11Jorge Núñez"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"Advanced
12 Lil Rounds "Be Without You"Advanced
Non-competition performance
3.1Top 36 (group 3)"Hot n Cold"

Wild Card

Following those nine singers advancing, judges pick eight of the remaining 27 semi-finalists to compete in the Wild Card round. Following another performance by each Wild Card contender, the judges selected four contestants to advance to the final group of 13.

1Jesse Langseth"Tell Me Something Good"Eliminated
2Matt Giraud"Who's Lovin' You"Advanced
3Megan Joy"Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"Advanced
4Von Smith"Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word"Eliminated
5Jasmine Murray"Reflection"Advanced
6Ricky Braddy"Superstition"Eliminated
7Tatiana Del Toro"Saving All My Love for You"Eliminated
8Anoop Desai"My Prerogative"Advanced
  1. Mitchell performed his song as his alter ego "Norman Gentle".
  2. Barton was initially eliminated prior to the semifinals. However, after the disqualification of Joanna Pacitti, she was invited back into the competition.


Kris Allen Kris Allen.jpg
Kris Allen

Kris Allen (born June 21, 1985 in Jacksonville, Arkansas, 23 years old at the time of the show) is from Conway, Arkansas and auditioned in Louisville, Kentucky with Leon Russell's "A Song For You". Allen's interest in music began at an early age; he taught himself how to play guitar at the age of 13, as well as numerous other instruments. [19] Prior to Idol, he worked as a worship leader at New Life Church in Maumelle, Arkansas, and is a member of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries at the University of Central Arkansas, where he is a business major. Allen was announced the winner on May 20. [20] He went on to release his first official single, "No Boundaries", which was written by Idol judge Kara DioGuardi. As a part of winning Idol, Allen was signed by Jive Records and 19 Entertainment. [21]

Adam Lambert Adam Lambert.jpg
Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert (born January 29, 1982 in Indianapolis, Indiana, 26 years at the time of his audition) is from San Diego, California and auditioned in San Francisco, California with Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". Lambert grew up in Rancho Peñasquitos, San Diego, California and attended Deer Canyon Elementary School, Mesa Verde Middle School, and Mt. Carmel High School, where he took part in theater and choir, and also performed with the school's jazz band. [22] Lambert has been a stage actor since the age of ten, performing in such productions as You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Wicked . [23] He joined the band The Citizen Vein briefly. He also worked as a demo singer, and those recordings were released after his appearance on Idol in the album Take One . Lambert roomed with Kris Allen during the show. [24] Lambert was the runner-up. [20] He was signed to RCA Records after the show and released his debut album For Your Entertainment .

Danny Gokey Danny Gokey.jpg
Danny Gokey

Danny Gokey (born April 24, 1980, 28 years at the time of his audition) is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and auditioned in Kansas City, Missouri. Gokey first began singing in church with his family, and has been a worship leader for his church in Milwaukee, Faith Builders International Ministries, for several years. [25] Four weeks before Gokey auditioned for American Idol, in July 2008, his wife Sophia underwent surgery due to congenital heart disease. She later died from complications regarding the extensive surgery. [26] [27] He was eliminated from the Top 3 on May 13, 2009. [20]

Allison Iraheta Allison Iraheta.jpg
Allison Iraheta

Allison Iraheta (born April 27, 1992 in Glendale, California, 16 years at the time of her audition) is from Los Angeles and auditioned in San Francisco, California. Iraheta began singing at an early age, performing at small venues for her family and friends. [28] In 2006, Iraheta won the Telemundo television series Quinceañera, where she won $50,000 and a recording contract, where only the prize money was granted. [29] She was eliminated from the Top 4 on May 6. In making the final she became the series' youngest finalist at sixteen and turned seventeen during the Top 5 week. Her debut album, Just Like You , was released on December 1, 2009, with the single "Friday I'll Be Over U".

Matt Giraud Matt Giraud in Kalamazoo, Michigan.jpg
Matt Giraud

Matt Giraud (born May 11, 1985 in Dearborn, Michigan, 23 years at his time of the show) is from Kalamazoo, Michigan and auditioned in Louisville, Kentucky with Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want to Be". Giraud grew up in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he graduated from Lincoln High School in 2003. [30] [31] Initially eliminated from the Top 13, Giraud was chosen by the judges to rejoin the competition during the Wild Card round. Giraud was the lowest vote-getter during the Top 7, but was saved by the judges and eventually eliminated in Top 5. He released an album called Perspective in 2003 and another in 2006 called Mind Body and Soul. [31]

Anoop Desai Anoop Desai.jpg
Anoop Desai

Anoop Desai (born December 20, 1986 in Cary, North Carolina, 22 years at the time of the show) is from Chapel Hill, North Carolina and auditioned in Kansas City, Missouri. Desai is an only child, [32] whose father was born in India and mother was born in South Africa. [33] He began his career as an actor for the television station WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina in a local television series entitled, and played the character "Raj". [34] Desai attended Carnage Middle School and Phillips Middle School, then later went on to attend East Chapel Hill High School, graduating in 2004. [35] Desai's performance as a soloist on the song "She Has No Time" was included on the 2007 iteration of the annual BOCA (Best of College A Cappella) compilation album. [36] Desai has credited his decision to audition for American Idol to the death of a friend, Eve Carson, [37] who was murdered. [37] Initially eliminated from the Top 13, he was chosen by the judges to rejoin the competition during the Wild Card round. His advancement to the finals made Idol history, making it a top 13.

Lil Rounds Lil Rounds.jpg
Lil Rounds

Lil Rounds (born October 20, 1984, 24 years at the time of the show) is from Memphis, Tennessee and auditioned in Kansas City, Missouri with Stevie Wonder's "All I Do" . Shortly before her audition on Idol, a tornado hit Memphis, forcing Rounds to temporarily live in a motel. [38] Her grandfather once worked with the musician B.B. King. Her performance of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" in the Hollywood round impressed the judges; however, she failed to impress the judges in the finals and was eliminated in joint-seventh place with Anoop Desai.

Scott MacIntyre (born June 22, 1985, 23 years at the time of the show) is from Scottsdale, Arizona and auditioned in Phoenix, Arizona. MacIntyre is the first legally blind person to audition for American Idol. [39] MacIntyre began practicing music at the age of six. [40] Home-schooled until the age of fourteen, [41] he later attended Arizona State University's Barrett Honors College and Herberger College of the Arts soon afterwards. [42] In 2005, USA Today named him one of its twenty College Academic All-Stars. [43] He obtained his master's degree at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Royal College of Music, where he studied on a Marshall Scholarship. MacIntyre produced his first CD when he was eleven, and has recorded five more CDs since then. He was accepted to both Oxford University and Cambridge University for further graduate-level education.

Megan Joy Megan Joy cropped.JPG
Megan Joy

Megan Joy (born September 18, 1985, 23 years at the time of the show) is a single mother from Sandy, Utah and auditioned in Salt Lake City, Utah with Helen Morgan's "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man". Initially eliminated from the Top 13, Joy was chosen by the judges to rejoin the competition during the Wild Card round. In high school, Joy unsuccessfully tried out for numerous performance groups, including choir, and never had any singing lessons before her audition on Idol. [44] Joy graduated from Taylorsville High School in Taylorsville, Utah in 2003. She has one son named Ryder. [45]

Michael Sarver Michael Sarver cropped.JPG
Michael Sarver

Michael Sarver (born March 28, 1981 in Sulphur, Louisiana, 27 years at the time of the show) is from Jasper, Texas and auditioned in Phoenix, Arizona with Boyz II Men's "Thank You". Sarver, an oil rig worker, began singing at the age of twelve, and has written over 890 songs for himself since that time. [46] Sarver graduated from Sulphur High School in 1998. [47]

Alexis Grace Alexis Grace.jpg
Alexis Grace

Alexis Grace (born August 14, 1987) 21 years at the time of the show) is from Memphis, Tennessee and auditioned in Louisville, Kentucky with Aretha Franklin's "Dr Feelgood". She gave birth to her daughter when she was nineteen. Grace began singing at an early age. [48] She performed Aretha Franklin's "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man" and Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" in the Hollywood rounds.

Jorge Núñez (born October 1, 1987 in Cidra, Puerto Rico, 21 years at the time of the show) is from Carolina, Puerto Rico, and auditioned in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For the audition, he sang "My Way" in Spanish and Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" in English. Núñez speaks three languages fluently, English, Spanish and French. [49] After he sang during the third semi-finals week, many people were amazed by his big voice, including Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, who had stated they wanted to perform with him. [50] [51] [52] He performed Jon Secada's "Angel" during the Hollywood round. Of the Top 13, Núñez was the only contestant who auditioned in Puerto Rico. He was the eliminated from the Top 13 in the first week of the finals, along with Jasmine Murray. [53]

Jasmine Murray Jasmine Murray, Miss Mississippi 2014.jpg
Jasmine Murray

Jasmine Murray (born March 14, 1992, in Columbus, Mississippi, 16 years old at the time of the show) is from Starkville, Mississippi and auditioned in Jacksonville, Florida. Initially eliminated from the Top 13, Murray was chosen by the judges to rejoin the competition during the Wild Card round. In addition to competing on Idol, she competed in the Miss America's Outstanding Teen pageant in 2007. [54] [55] She was eliminated from the Top 13 in the first week of the finals, along with Jorge Núñez.


There are 11 weeks of finals and 13 contestants compete and at least one finalist eliminated per week based on the American public's votes. New to this series is the "Judge's save", where the judges can veto the elimination for one contestant, making the week a non-elimination, but by doing so, the week after the save is used will become a double elimination. The first week of 'Top 13' is a double elimination, making it the first season in American Idol to have two double elimination weeks in the final phase.

Color key:

  Contestant was saved by America's vote
  Contestant was in the bottom three or two, but was saved by America's vote
  Contestant was initially eliminated, but was saved by Judges' save
  Contestant was eliminated
  Contestant won the season
  Contestant finished as the runner-up
  Contestant finished in 3rd place

Top 13 – Michael Jackson

During the first week, Alexis Grace's phone number was temporarily replaced from 1-866-IDOLS-13 to 1-866-IDOLS-36 as the former number was not owned by the program (see telephone number controversy below).

This episode reran on June 29, 2009, in a tribute to the death of Michael Jackson on June 25. To date, this became the only episode of the show to by Fox. [56]

1Lil Rounds"The Way You Make Me Feel"Safe
2Scott MacIntyre"Keep the Faith"Safe
3Danny Gokey"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"Safe
4Michael Sarver"You Are Not Alone"Safe
5Jasmine Murray"I'll Be There"Eliminated
6Kris Allen"Remember the Time"Safe
7Allison Iraheta"Give In to Me"Safe
8Anoop Desai"Beat It"Safe
9Jorge Núñez"Never Can Say Goodbye"Eliminated
10Megan Joy"Rockin' Robin"Safe
11Adam Lambert"Black or White"Safe
12Matt Giraud"Human Nature"Safe
13Alexis Grace"Dirty Diana"Safe
Non-competition performance
1.1Top 13"I Want You Back / ABC Medley"
1.2 Kanye West "Heartless"
1.3 Kelly Clarkson "My Life Would Suck Without You"

Top 11 – Grand Ole Opry

Contestants performed songs based on the country music concert, Grand Ole Opry, for this week. Country singer Randy Travis served as the guest mentor this week.

1Michael Sarver"Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)"Bottom two
2Allison Iraheta"Blame It on Your Heart"Bottom three
3Kris Allen"Make You Feel My Love"Safe
4Lil Rounds"Independence Day"Safe
5Adam Lambert"Ring of Fire"Safe
6Scott MacIntyre"Wild Angels"Safe
7Alexis Grace"Jolene"Eliminated
8Danny Gokey"Jesus, Take the Wheel"Safe
9Anoop Desai"Always on My Mind"Safe
10Megan Joy"Walkin' After Midnight"Safe
11Matt Giraud"So Small"Safe
Non-competition performance
2.1Top 11"T-R-O-U-B-L-E"
2.2 Brad Paisley "Then"
2.3 Carrie Underwood and Randy Travis "I Told You So"

Top 10 – Motown

Smokey Robinson served as the guest mentor this week. The show aired on a Wednesday/Thursday, March 25 and 26, as the Tuesday was pre-empted by the White House Press Conference.

1Matt Giraud"Let's Get It On"Bottom two
2Kris Allen"How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)"Safe
3Scott MacIntyre"You Can't Hurry Love"Bottom three
4Megan Joy"For Once in My Life"Safe
5Anoop Desai"Ooo Baby Baby"Safe
6Michael Sarver"Ain't Too Proud to Beg"Eliminated
7Lil Rounds"(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave"Safe
8Adam Lambert"The Tracks of My Tears"Safe
9Danny Gokey"Get Ready"Safe
10Allison Iraheta"Papa Was a Rollin' Stone"Safe
Non-competition performance
3.1Top 10Motown medley
("You Keep Me Hangin' On" / "You're All I Need to Get By" / "Ain't No Mountain High Enough")
3.2 Ruben Studdard "Together"
3.3 Smokey Robinson and Joss Stone "You're the One for Me"
3.4 Stevie Wonder "My Chérie Amour" / "Superstition" / "Overjoyed" / "All About the Love Again"

Contestants performed songs which they have charted high in their music streaming library iTunes.

1Anoop Desai"Caught Up"Bottom two
2Megan Joy"Turn Your Lights Down Low"Eliminated
3Danny Gokey"What Hurts the Most"Safe
4Allison Iraheta"Don't Speak"Bottom three
5Scott MacIntyre"Just the Way You Are"Safe
6Matt Giraud"You Found Me"Safe
7Lil Rounds"I Surrender"Safe
8Adam Lambert"Play That Funky Music"Safe
9Kris Allen"Ain't No Sunshine"Safe
Non-competition performance
4.1Top 9"Don't Stop Believin'"
4.2 David Cook "Come Back to Me"
4.3 Lady Gaga "Poker Face"

Top 8 – Year They Were Born

1Danny Gokey"Stand By Me"1961Safe
2Kris Allen"All She Wants to Do Is Dance"1985Safe
3Lil Rounds"What's Love Got to Do with It"1984Bottom three
4Anoop Desai"True Colors"1986Bottom two
5Scott MacIntyre"The Search Is Over"1985Eliminated
6Allison Iraheta"I Can't Make You Love Me"1991Safe
7Matt Giraud"Part-Time Lover"1985Safe
8Adam Lambert"Mad World"1982Safe
Non-competition performance
5.1Top 8"Can't Get You Out of My Head"
5.2 Frankie Avalon "Venus"
5.3 Flo Rida
Wynter Gordon
"Right Round"
5.4 Kellie Pickler "Best Days of Your Life"

Top 7 (first week) – Songs of the Cinema

Film actor/director Quentin Tarantino served as the guest mentor this week.

OrderContestantSongFeatured filmResult
1Allison Iraheta"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" Armageddon Safe
2Anoop Desai"(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Bottom three
3Adam Lambert"Born to Be Wild" Easy Rider Safe
4Matt Giraud"Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" Don Juan DeMarco Judge's Save
5Danny Gokey"Endless Love" Endless Love Safe
6Kris Allen"Falling Slowly" Once Safe
7Lil Rounds"The Rose" The Rose Bottom two
Non-competition performance
6.1Top 7"Maniac"
6.2 Jennifer Hudson "If This Isn't Love"
6.3 Miley Cyrus "The Climb"

Top 7 (second week) – Disco

1Lil Rounds"I'm Every Woman"Eliminated
2Kris Allen"She Works Hard for the Money"Safe
3Danny Gokey"September"Safe
4Allison Iraheta"Hot Stuff"Bottom three
5Adam Lambert"If I Can't Have You"Safe
6Matt Giraud"Stayin' Alive"Safe
7Anoop Desai"Dim All the Lights"Eliminated
Non-competition performance
7.1Top 7"Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)"
7.2 David Archuleta "Touch My Hand"
7.3 Freda Payne, Thelma Houston and KC Band of Gold" / "Don't Leave Me This Way" / "Get Down Tonight"

Top 5 – Rat Pack Standards

The contestants sang one song from an entertainer. Entertainer and comedian Jamie Foxx served as the guest mentor this week.

1Kris Allen"The Way You Look Tonight"Bottom three
2Allison Iraheta"Someone to Watch Over Me"Safe
3Matt Giraud"My Funny Valentine"Eliminated
4Danny Gokey"Come Rain or Come Shine"Safe
5Adam Lambert"Feeling Good"Bottom two
Non-competition performance
8.1Top 5"It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" / "I Got Rhythm"
8.2 Natalie Cole "Something's Gotta Give"
8.3 Taylor Hicks "Seven Mile Breakdown"
8.4 Jamie Foxx "Blame It"

Top 4 – Rock music

For the first time this season, each contestant performed two songs: a solo and one duet with a fellow contestant. Slash served as the guest mentor this week.

ContestantOrderSolo songOrderDuet partnerDuet songResult
Adam Lambert1"Whole Lotta Love"6Allison Iraheta"Slow Ride"Safe
Allison Iraheta2"Cry Baby"6Adam Lambert"Slow Ride"Eliminated
Kris Allen4"Come Together"3Danny Gokey"Renegade"Safe
Danny Gokey5"Dream On"3Kris Allen"Renegade"Safe
Non-competition performance
9.1Top 4"School's Out"
9.2 Paula Abdul "I'm Just Here for the Music"
9.3 No Doubt "Just a Girl"
9.4 Daughtry "No Surprise"

Top 3 – Judges' choice and Contestants' choice

Each contestant sang two songs, each chosen by the judges and the contestant itself.

ContestantOrderJudge's choiceChosen byOrderContestant's choiceResult
Danny Gokey1"Dance Little Sister"Paula Abdul4"You Are So Beautiful"Third place
Kris Allen2"Apologize"Randy Jackson & Kara DioGuardi5 Heartless"Safe
Adam Lambert3"One"Simon Cowell6"Cryin'"Safe
Non-competition performance
10.1Noah Mushimiyimana"I'm the World's Greatest"
10.2 Jordin Sparks "Battlefield"
10.3 Katy Perry "Waking Up in Vegas"

Top 2 – Contestant's choice, Simon Fuller's choice & Winner's single

Each contestant sang three songs, chosen by the contestant, the mentor Fuller, and one song for their debut single, "No Boundaries".

ContestantOrderContestant's choiceOrderMentor's choiceOrderWinner's singleResult
Adam Lambert1"Mad World"3"A Change is Gonna Come"5"No Boundaries"Runner up
Kris Allen2"Ain't No Sunshine"4"What's Going On"6"No Boundaries"Winner
Non-competition performance
11a.1 Carrie Underwood "Home Sweet Home"
11b.1Top 13"So What"
11b.2 David Cook "Permanent"
11b.3Queen Latifah and Lil Rounds"Cue the Rain"
11b.4Jason Mraz, Anoop Desai and Alexis Grace (and later Top 13)"I'm Yours"
11b.5Keith Urban and Kris Allen"Kiss a Girl"
11b.6Top 13 females"Glamorous"
11b.7 Fergie
(with Top 13 females)
"Big Girls Don't Cry"
11b.8 The Black Eyed Peas "Boom Boom Pow"
11b.9 Cyndi Lauper and Alison Iraheta"Time After Time"
11b.10Danny Gokey"Hello"
11b.11 Lionel Richie and Danny Gokey"Just Go" / "All Night Long"
11b.12Adam Lambert"Beth"
11b.13 KISS and Adam Lambert"Detroit Rock City" / "Rock and Roll All Night"
11b.14 Carlos Santana and Matt Giraud"Black Magic Woman"
11b.15Carlos Santana and Top 13"Smooth"
11b.16Megan Joy, Michael Sarver and Steve Marti"Pretty Flowers"
11b.17Top 13 males"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?"
11b.18 Rod Stewart "Maggie May"
11b.19Top 2"We Are The Champions"
11b.20Kris Allen"No Boundaries"

Elimination chart

Color key:

  Female contestant
  Male contestant
  Not chosen by the public
  Saved by the public
  Saved by the judges
  Saved by Judges' Save
  Bottom three/two
Results per stage
PlaceContestantTop 36 (Gr. 1)Top 36 (Gr. 2)Top 36 (Gr. 3)Wild CardTop 13Top 11Top 10Top 9Top 8Top 7 [lower-alpha 1] Top 5Top 4Top 3Finale
2/182/26 [lower-alpha 2] 3/43/53/113/183/26 [lower-alpha 2] 4/14/84/154/224/295/65/135/20
1 Kris Allen N/ASafeN/AImmuneSafeSafeSafeSafeSafeSafeSafeBottom threeSafeSafeWinner
2 Adam Lambert N/ASafeN/AImmuneSafeSafeSafeSafeSafeSafeSafeBottom twoSafeSafeRunner-up
3 Danny Gokey SafeN/AN/AImmuneSafeSafeSafeSafeSafeSafeSafeSafeSafeEliminated
4 Allison Iraheta N/ASafeN/AImmuneSafeBottom threeSafeBottom threeSafeSafeBottom threeSafeEliminated
5 Matt Giraud N/ANot ChosenN/ASafeSafeSafeBottom twoSafeSafeJudges' save [lower-alpha 1] SafeEliminated
6–7 Anoop Desai Not ChosenN/AN/ASafeSafeSafeSafeBottom twoBottom twoBottom threeEliminated
Lil Rounds N/AN/ASafeImmuneSafeSafeSafeSafeBottom threeBottom two
8 Scott MacIntyre N/AN/ASafeImmuneSafeSafeBottom threeSafeEliminated
9 Megan Joy N/ANot ChosenN/ASafeSafeSafeSafeEliminated
10 Michael Sarver SafeN/AN/AImmuneSafeBottom twoEliminated
11Alexis GraceSafeN/AN/AImmuneSafeEliminated
12–13Jorge NúñezN/AN/ASafeImmuneEliminated
Jasmine Murray N/ANot ChosenN/ASafe
14–17Ricky BraddyNot ChosenN/AN/AEliminated
Tatiana Del ToroNot ChosenN/AN/A
Jesse LangsethN/ANot ChosenN/A
Von Smith N/AN/ANot Chosen
18–36 Arianna Afsar N/AN/AEliminated
Felicia Barton N/AN/A
Kendall BeardN/AN/A
Ju'Not JoynerN/AN/A
Nathaniel MarshallN/AN/A
Kristen McNamaraN/AN/A
Taylor VaifanuaN/AN/A
Alex Wagner-TrugmanN/AN/A
Matt BreitzkeN/AEliminated
Mishavonna HensonN/A
Kai KalamaN/A
Nick MitchellN/A
Jeanine VailesN/A
Ann Marie BoskovichEliminated
Casey Carlson
Stephen Fowler
Brent Keith
Jackie Tohn
Stevie Wright
  1. 1 2 Due to the judges using their one 'Judges' Save' per season, in order to save Giraud, the 'Top 7' remained intact for another week.
  2. 1 2 Two weeks were aired on a Wednesday/Thursday instead of a Tuesday/Wednesday schedule due to a preemption. The first week was on the second week of Top 36 (due to the 2009 Speech to the Joint Session of the United States Congress) and another was in the 'Top 10' week (White House Press Conference).

Other performances

Group song

Guest performances

In addition, songs are played during the elimination night to promote an artist, single, album, or the show itself. Included is a list of those songs with their Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Digital Songs reactions.

WeekPerformer(s)TitleHot 100
Hot Digital Songs
Top 36/
Group 1
Carly Smithson
Michael Johns
"The Letter"Ineligible to chart
(No legal digital release)
live performance
Top 36/
Group 2
Brooke White "Hold Up My Heart"47 (debut)27 (51,171 +999%)live performance
Top 36/
Group 3
No performer
Top 13 Kanye West "Heartless"7 (+1)13 (95,223 +18%)pre-recorded [57]
Kelly Clarkson "My Life Would Suck Without You"5 (+4)6 (141,167 +38%)live performance
Top 11 Brad Paisley "Then"35 (debut)18 (64,127 +999%)live performance
Carrie Underwood
Randy Travis
"I Told You So"9 (+48)4 (125,806 +701%)pre-recorded [58]
Top 10 Ruben Studdard "Together"did not debutN/Apre-recorded [59]
Smokey Robinson
Joss Stone
"You're the One for Me"did not debutN/Alive performance
Stevie Wonder "My Chérie Amour"/"Superstition"/
"Overjoyed"/"All About the Love Again"
ineligible to re-enterN/Alive performance
Top 9 David Cook "Come Back to Me"63 (debut)40 (39,430 +498%)pre-recorded
Lady Gaga "Poker Face"2 (+1)2 (228,799 +11%)live performance
Top 8 Frankie Avalon "Venus"N/AN/Alive performance
Flo Rida
Wynter Gordon
"Right Round"3 (=)4 (179,913 +9%)live performance
Kellie Pickler "Best Days of Your Life"50 (+53)34 (46,825 +257%)live performance
Top 7
(week 1)
Jennifer Hudson "If This Isn't Love"63 (+23)86 (19,112 +172%)live performance
Miley Cyrus "The Climb"4 (+4)2 (189,566 +0%)pre-recorded
Top 7
(week 2)
David Archuleta "Touch My Hand" [60] did not debut107 (12,875 +558%)live performance

Freda Payne
Thelma Houston
Medley of
"Band of Gold"
"Don't Leave Me This Way"
"Get Down Tonight."
ineligible to re-enterN/Alive performance
Top 5 Natalie Cole "Something's Gotta Give"did not debutN/Alive performance
Taylor Hicks Seven Mile Breakdowndid not debutN/Alive performance
Jamie Foxx "Blame It"2 (+2)4(+6)live performance
Top 4 Paula Abdul "I'm Just Here for the Music"87 (debut)61(24,615 +999%)pre-recorded [61]
No Doubt "Just a Girl"ineligible to re-enterTBApre-recorded
Daughtry "No Surprise"15 (debut)7 (103,593 +999%)live performance
Top 3Noah Mushimiyimana"I'm the World's Greatest"NANAlive performance
Jordin Sparks "Battlefield"32 (debut)12 (75,007 +999%)live performance
Katy Perry "Waking Up in Vegas"13 (+38)5 (103,921) +180%live performance
Top 2 Carrie Underwood "Home Sweet Home"79 (re-entry)TBAlive performance on May 19, 2009


The finale took place at the Nokia Theatre on May 20, 2009.

Musical Performances:

"So What" (Pink) - Top 13

"Permanent" (David Cook) - David Cook

"Cue the Rain" (Queen Latifah) - Queen Latifah & Lil Rounds

"I'm Yours" (Jason Mraz) - Jason Mraz, Anoop Desai & Alexis Grace (the rest of the top 13 minus Kris & Adam joined at the end of the song)

"Kiss a Girl" (Keith Urban) - Keith Urban & Kris Allen

"Glamorous" (Fergie) - Top 13 girls (Alison Iraheta, Lil Rounds, Megan Joy, Alexis Grace & Jasmine Murray)

"Big Girls Don't Cry" (Fergie) - Fergie with Top 13 girls

"Boom Boom Pow" (The Black Eyed Peas) - The Black Eyed Peas

"Time After Time" (Cyndi Lauper) - Cyndi Lauper & Alison Iraheta

"Hello" (Lionel Richie) - Danny Gokey

"Just Go" (Lionel Richie) - Lionel Richie & Danny Gokey

"All Night Long" (Lionel Richie) - Lionel Richie & Danny Gokey

"Beth" (KISS) - Adam Lambert

"Detroit Rock City" (KISS) - KISS & Adam Lambert

"Rock and Roll All Night" (KISS) - KISS & Adam Lambert

"Black Magic Woman" (Santana) - Carlos Santana & Matt Giraud

"Smooth" (Santana) - Carlos Santana & Top 13

"Pretty Flowers" (Steve Martin) - Megan Joy, Michael Sarver with Steve Martin playing banjo

"Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" (Rod Stewart) - Top 13 guys (Kris Allen, Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey, Matt Giraud, Annop Desai, Scott MacIntyre, Michael Sarver, Jorge Nunez)

"Maggie May" (Rod Stewart) - Rod Stewart

"We Are the Champions" (Queen) - Queen, Kris Allen & Adam Lambert (later joined by the rest of the top 13)

"No Boundaries" (Kris Allen) - Kris Allen

Idol Awards:

Outstanding Male - Nick Mitchell (as Norman Gentle) "And I'm Not Going" (Dreamgirls)

Best Attitude Katrina Derrel (bikini girl) "Vision of Love" with Kara DioGuardi

Outstanding Female - Tatiana Del Toro "Saving All My Love"


Joanna Pacitti

Joanna Pacitti, who was originally selected as a semi-finalist, created controversy due to her being previously signed to A&M and Geffen Records. Later, she was found to have been having a "private relationship" with 19 Management. She was later disqualified and replaced by Felicia Barton. [62]

Telephone number

In the Top 13, the expected phone number for contestant Alexis Grace, 1-866-IDOLS-13, was not owned by American Idol, but by a company called Intimate Encounters, who used it as a phone sex line. [63] Although host Ryan Seacrest mentioned the replacement phone number, 1-866-IDOLS-36, several times, some commentators feared that the phone number confusion could lead to Grace being inadvertently voted off the show. [64] However, Grace was not voted off that week.


After the Top 11 program, Justin Guarini, while hosting Idol Wrap on TV Guide channel, asserted that the show's group performances were being lip-synced. [65] Soon after Guarini's assertion was aired, a spokesperson for the producers of American Idol said, "The Idols don't lip-sync, period." [65] The following day, the same spokesperson said that "due to extensive choreography and to balance their voices with open mics against a screaming audience, the Idols do sing along to their own prerecorded vocal track during the group performances only." [65] [66] The spokesperson maintained that the performers sing their solo songs live, but their performances available to download through iTunes are recorded prior to airing. [65]

Finale vote

Kris Allen's win over Adam Lambert resulted in controversy about the voting process, prompted by a claim that of the nearly 100 million votes cast, [67] as many as "38 million" votes may have come from Arkansas, Kris's home state, [68] a state with only 2.86 million people. Although the claim was later retracted, [69] it resulted in allegations that AT&T may have influenced the results. [70] Fox had previously denied these claims as baseless, stating that the network has no preference on who the winner might be. [71] AT&T meanwhile said in a statement that the vote tally above was based on incorrect information and apologized by saying that "AT&T does not divulge or confirm how many votes were cast in any state." [72] On May 27, 2009, the producers of the show stated that they "stand by the outcome" and are "absolutely certain" that "without a doubt Kris Allen is the American Idol." [73] [74] [75]

Awards and nominations

Primetime Emmy Awards

YearCategoryNominee(s) [76] EpisodeResult
2009 Outstanding Reality Show or Reality Competition American Idol Nominated
Outstanding Directing For a Variety, Music Or Comedy SpecialBruce GowersShow 833 (The Final Three)Won
Outstanding Host for a Reality-Competition Program Ryan Seacrest Nominated

Teen Choice Awards

2009 Choice Male Reality/Variety Star Kris Allen Nominated
Adam Lambert Won
Choice Summer TourAmerican Idol Top 10Nominated

U.S. Nielsen ratings

Season eight was the top show for the 2008–09 broadcast primetime season and took the top two spots for its Tuesday and Wednesday episodes. The viewers number for the Wednesday episodes averaged 25.527 million, while the Tuesday episodes averaged 24.741 million. [77] The ratings were down from season seven, with the finale dropping 13% in the 18–49 demo and 9% in total viewers number. [78]

Episode list
ShowEpisodeAir dateWeek
1"Phoenix Auditions" [79] January 13, 2009215.8 / 2311.7 / 2830.424
2"Kansas City Auditions" [79] January 14, 2009316.4 / 2511.8 / 3030.322
3"San Francisco Auditions" [80] January 20, 2009212.1 / 189.0 / 2222.773
4"Louisville Auditions" [80] January 21, 2009114.3 / 229.8 / 2425.897
5"Jacksonville Auditions" [81] January 27, 2009413.7 / 209.6 / 2425.539
6"Salt Lake City Auditions" [81] January 28, 2009315.0 / 2310.1 / 2527.364
7"New York & San Juan Auditions" [81] January 29, 2009513.6 / 219.3 / 2524.613
8"Hollywood Round, Part 1" [82] February 3, 2009114.7 / 2210.0 / 2526.601
9"Hollywood Round, Part 2" [82] February 4, 2009214.8 / 239.9 / 2726.384
10"Hollywood Round, Part 3" [83] February 10, 2009213.9 / 219.224.941
11"Hollywood Round, Part 4" [83] February 11, 2009114.0 / 229.524.825
12"Group 1 Semi-finalists Perform" [84] February 17, 2009214.3 / 219.625.374
13"Group 1 Results Show" [84] February 18, 2009314.1 / 229.0 / 2424.790
14"Group 2 Semi-finalists Perform" [85] February 25, 2009113.8 / 219.124.541
15"Group 2 Results Show" [85] February 26, 2009211.9 / 197.1 / 1920.889
16"Group 3 Semi-finalists Perform" [86] March 3, 2009113.8 / 219.024.309
17"Group 3 Results Show" [86] March 4, 2009213.1 / 217.8 / 2222.776
18"Wild Card Round" [86] March 5, 2009312.2 / 197.6 / 2021.498
19"Top 13 Perform" [87] March 10, 2009114.6 / 239.525.767
20"Top 13 Results"" [87] March 11, 2009214.6 / 229.1 / 2225.547
21"Top 11 Perform" [88] March 17, 2009212.3 / 198.1 / 2121.886
22"Top 11 Results" [88] March 18, 2009113.7 / 218.723.705
23"Top 10 Perform" [89] March 25, 2009114.7 / 239.326.025
24"Top 10 Results" [89] March 26, 2009213.2 / 217.723.102
25"Top 9 Perform" [90] March 31, 2009113.7 / 218.924.410
26"Top 9 Results" [90] April 1, 2009214.2 / 228.4 / 2024.342
27"Top 8 Perform" [91] April 7, 2009213.1 / 218.1 / 2222.813
28"Top 8 Results" [91] April 8, 2009113.4 / 218.0 / 2022.976
29"Top 7 Perform" [92] April 14, 2009113.8 / 218.2 / 2324.378
30"Top 7 Results" [92] April 15, 2009214.0 / 228.0 / 2024.114
31"Top 7 Redux" [93] April 21, 2009113.9 / 228.223.963
32"Top 7 Redux Results" [93] April 22, 2009214.0 / 228.323.947
33"Top 5 Perform" [94] April 28, 2009113.5 / 218.123.261
34"Top 5 Results" [94] April 29, 2009213.2 / 207.7 / 1922.369
35"Top 4 Perform" [95] May 5, 2009113.4 / 218.323.414
36"Top 4 Results" [95] May 6, 2009213.7 / 218.3 / 2023.574
37"Top 3 Perform" [96] May 12, 2009213.0 / 228.022.712
38"Top 3 Results" [96] May 13, 2009114.0 / 218.7 / 2124.670
39"Top 2 Perform" [97] May 19, 2009213.5 / 218.623.822
40"Season 8 Finale" [97] May 20, 2009116.1 / 2710.028.838

See also

Related Research Articles

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