By the time most American Idol
seasons come to a close, fans have
completely forgotten about all the audition episodes and they might not
even remember the first time they saw the winner.
You might think all the singers who went on to win had show-stopping auditions and were praised as the best singers ever by the judges. This was not the case. In reality, while the judges typically enjoyed them, there was a little constructive criticism that proved winners don't start off as winners.
Let's look back at the eight winners' first auditions to find out what it takes to end up the next American Idol
.Kelly Clarkson, Season 1American Idol
was still an experiment in its first season, so this was a bit atypical. There was actually just one audition episode, one Hollywood week episode, and then the competition began in week 2, but luckily the recently syndicated American Idol Rewind
has shown us Kelly's original audition. Kelly was fun enough, playing around with the judges and even swapping seats with Randy Jackson at one point, and while she got three yeses, there was little praise beyond that.Ruben Studdard, Season 2
All three judges told him he had a good voice, but there was absolutely no other critique beyond that before putting him through to Hollywood. He didn't blow the doors off the place, he was just good.Fantasia Barrino, Season 3
The one stand-out audition of the American Idol
winners, Fantasia walked in and got Simon Cowell to call her one of the best they'd seen. However, even with that praise, Simon hedged his bets, unsure that her singular style would be able to grow over the course of a season.Carrie Underwood, Season 4
The judges mostly enjoyed that she was a country singer, but Simon did criticize her performance abilities, trying to get her to be less awkward and uncomfortable performing.Taylor Hicks, Season 5
Easily the worst audition of the winners, Simon not only said "No" to Hollywood, but he assured Taylor that he would never make it to the audience voting and he would never win. The season proved Simon wrong, but I think history has proven him right.Jordin Sparks, Season 6
Another good performance, but not without criticism. Simon found her way too sweet and sugary.David Cook, Season 7
Oddly enough, his audition was very similar to Carrie Underwood's, in that Simon told him that he needed to work on his stage presence.Kris Allen, Season 8
An exception to the basic rule that all eventual winners get their own audition segment that lasts more than one and a half minutes, Kris was only seen briefly for about 10 seconds during a good singers montage.The Lesson:
If Simon Cowell thinks you're a good singer, but still finds some area of constructive criticism, it's a very good sign. You don't want him to fall in love with you completely, but you want him to become interested in your potential to grow. Being good, but not great, during your first audition is the best possible way to make it to the finale.
(Images courtesy of FOX)