American Idol (season 7)

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American Idol
Season 7
American Idol logo.png
Hosted byRyan Seacrest
JudgesPaula Abdul
Simon Cowell
Randy Jackson
WinnerDavid Cook
Runner-upDavid Archuleta
Finals venueNokia Theatre L.A. Live
Original networkFox
Original releaseJanuary 15 (2008-01-15) –
May 21, 2008 (2008-05-21)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 6
Next →
Season 8
List of episodes

The seventh season of American Idol, the annual reality show and singing competition, began on January 15, 2008, and concluded on May 21, 2008. Ryan Seacrest continued to host the show with Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson returning as judges. David Cook was announced the winner of the competition on May 21, 2008, defeating runner-up David Archuleta by a margin of roughly 12 million votes out of over 97 million, which was at that time the highest recorded vote total in the show's history. The split was 56 to 44%.

The seventh season was the first season during which neither the winner nor the runner-up was ever in the bottom group during any week before the finale on May 21, 2008. It was also the second season during which both the winner and the runner-up were male contestants, with the second season being the first.

Changes from past seasons[edit]

Prior to the start of the seventh season, Executive Producer Nigel Lythgoe admitted that the sixth season had placed more focus on the guest mentors than the contestants.[1] Changes were planned for the seventh season designed to return attention to the contestants by providing more information on their backgrounds and families.

A major change for the seventh season was allowing contestants to play musical instruments,[2][3] an element that originated on Australian Idol and can also be seen on Norway's Idol and Canadian Idol. A brand new set was built, and a new introduction credit sequence was created. The season finale also moved from the Kodak Theatre to the larger Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, which would be the venue for the live series finale for the next six years.

Regional auditions[edit]

For the seventh season, auditions began in San Diego, California, on July 30, 2007, and continued in these cities:[4]

Episode air date Audition city Date First audition venue Callback date Callback venue Golden tickets
January 15, 2008 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania[5] August 27, 2007 Wachovia Center September 1–2, 2007 Hyatt Regency[6] 29
January 16, 2008 Dallas, Texas[7] August 6, 2007 Texas Stadium September 20–23, 2007 W Hotel Dallas Victory[8] 24
January 22, 2008 San Diego, California[9] July 30, 2007 Qualcomm Stadium September 12–13, 2007 Rancho Bernardo Inn[10] 31
January 23, 2008 Charleston, South Carolina[11] August 18, 2007 North Charleston Coliseum September 6–7, 2007 Charleston Area Convention Center[12] 23
January 29, 2008 Omaha, Nebraska[13] August 10, 2007 Qwest Center Omaha October 5–6, 2007 Qwest Convention Center[14] 19
January 30, 2008 Miami, Florida[15] August 22, 2007 American Airlines Arena September 29–30, 2007 JW Marriott Hotel[16] 17
February 5, 2008 Atlanta, Georgia[17] August 14, 2007 Georgia Dome October 8–10, 2007 Georgia International Convention Center[18][19] 21
Total Tickets to Hollywood 164

Contestants were required to be between the ages of 16 and 28 on July 28, 2007, and eligible to work in the United States. Those ineligible include former contestants who had previously reached the semifinal of the first through third seasons, or the last phase of Hollywood round of fourth through sixth seasons (top 44 of the fourth and fifth seasons, top 40 of the sixth season), those holding recording or management contracts, or those who were not US citizens or landed immigrants (i.e. permanent residents).

One auditioner this year, Alexis Cohen, gained media attention due to her outraged reaction and profuse profanities after the judges rejected her in the Philadelphia audition.[20] She also returned in season eight to audition in New York and her audition was featured. She was later found dead in a hit-and-run accident.[21]

Another auditioner who gained some public attention was Renaldo Lapuz, who sang his own composition "We're Brothers Forever", which he wrote for Simon Cowell. He was later asked to return to perform in the finale.

Hollywood week[edit]

The Hollywood week took place at the Pasadena Civic Center in Pasadena, California, over a period of five days. A total of 164 contestants were invited from the seven audition cities. This year, the process was altered slightly to ensure that no talent would be prematurely dismissed, and there are no group stages. The contestants performed at least two songs during this round.

The first round of individual performances lasted two days. For the first time ever, contestants had the option of either being accompanied by the band or playing an instrument themselves, such as a keyboard, guitar, or drums. If the judges approved of the contestants performances, they received a "free pass", exempting the contestant from performing the second round, and 48 contestants were awarded. Unlike previous seasons, contestants whose performances are not considered good enough may award them a second chance in the second round rather than elimination. They lined up on stage in groups of 10 and each sang a short segment of a song a cappella. After each group had performed, the judges eliminated about 100 contestants.

In the final round, all the remaining contestants performed individually a song chosen from a large list of songs provided, accompanied by the band and three backup singers. After each performance, the judges decide the contestant's fate by advancing or to be sent home; 50 contestants emerged after the round ended. The judges then deliberated further on who should be in the top 24, and their decision was revealed the next day in the "Green Mile" episode.

One of the more prominent contestants during the Hollywood week was Josiah Leming, whose unhappiness with the backing band resulted in him dismissing the band. He was eliminated in the "Green Mile" episode. Another piece of drama involved contestant Kyle Ensley when Cowell voiced strong objection over him not being selected for the semifinals. His non-selection was later revealed to have resulted in serious rift between Cowell and the show producer Nigel Lythgoe.[22]


  • Daniel 'Danny' Noriega (born September 29, 1989, in Azusa, California, 18 at the time of the show) auditioned in San Diego. He previously auditioned for Idol in the sixth season and made it to Hollywood week, but was cut in the first round. His elimination song was Soft Cell's version of "Tainted Love". Shortly following his elimination, Noriega received an offer from Rosie O'Donnell to perform on her cruise.[23]
  • Luke Menard (29 at the time of the show) auditioned in Omaha with "Bend and Break" by Keane. In Hollywood, he sang "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" by Christopher Cross and "Grace Kelly" by Mika. He auditioned for the sixth season in Memphis and sang "How Deep Is Your Love", but did not make it to Hollywood. Prior to the seventh season of Idol, he was a member of the a cappella group Chapter 6.
  • Robert "Robbie" Carrico (26 at the time of the show) is from Melbourne, Florida, and auditioned for the show in Miami. His professional singing career prior to American Idol includes being a member of the pop group Boyz N Girlz United, which opened for Britney Spears during her "...Baby One More Time Tour" in 1999.[24][25]
  • Jason Yeager[26] (28 at the time of the show) is from Grand Prairie, Texas, and auditioned in Dallas. He appeared and was a finalist on the first season of Making the Band, the MTV reality show that led to the formation of boy band O-Town.
  • Colton Berry (18 at the time of the show) is from Staunton, Virginia. He auditioned in Charleston.
  • Garrett Haley (17 at the time of the show) is from Elida, Ohio.[27] He auditioned in San Diego.
  • Asia'h Epperson (19 at the time of the show) is from Joplin, Missouri, and auditioned in Atlanta singing "How Do I Live." Two days before the auditions, her father died in a car accident. Her elimination song was "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston.
  • Kady Malloy (18 at the time of the show) is from Houston, Texas, and auditioned in Dallas. She became known on the show for her impersonation of Britney Spears and can also impersonate several other artists. Malloy is trained in opera singing. Her elimination song was "Who Wants to Live Forever" by Queen. She has released several songs to her MySpace and shot a video for a cover of "Time After Time" with Colton Berry. Simon's comment after her audition was: "Out of all of the people we have seen during this season you are the best."
  • Alaina Whitaker (17 at the time of the show) is from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and auditioned in Dallas. She was a member of the female country group Della Rose along with Andrea Young and Erin James. Before the show, her sister and she won a talent competition in Tulsa. Her group Della Rose was working on their debut album in Nashville before they disbanded. The group has opened up for several major country acts including Travis Tritt, and Keith Anderson, who was also known as the group's mentor.
  • Alexandréa Lushington (17 at the time of the show) is from Douglasville, Georgia, and auditioned in Atlanta. In 2004, she sang against fellow Idol semifinalist David Archuleta on an episode of the television show Star Search.[25]
  • Joanne Borgella (25 at the time of the show) was a model from Hoboken, New Jersey, who auditioned in Philadelphia. Before auditioning for Idol, she appeared in and won Mo'Nique's Fat Chance.
  • Amy Davis (25 at the time of the show) is professional model from Lowell, Indiana, who auditioned in Dallas.


The semi-finals began on February 19. There were three shows each week for the three weeks of the semi-finals. The February 19 through May 21 shows originated from CBS Television City in Hollywood.

The live show portion of the semifinals began on February 19, 2008. Similar to previous seasons since season four, starting with 12 women and 12 men, the women and men perform on weekly separate shows and on the result shows, each performing a song from a given decade (sixties, seventies and eighties songs in order), and the bottom two contestants each night are eliminated from the competition. The semi-finals took place over three weeks, meaning that six from each gender will be eliminated over the course of the competition, leaving the other six to form the top 12. The males performed on the first night, followed by the females thereafter.

Color key:

  Contestant was chosen by the public vote and moved on to the live shows
  Contestant was chosen by the public vote and moved on to the next round
  Contestant was eliminated

Top 24 – 1960s[edit]

Order Males Females
Contestant Song (original artist) Result Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 David Hernandez "In the Midnight Hour" (Wilson Pickett) Safe Kristy Lee Cook "Rescue Me" (Fontella Bass) Safe
2 Chikezie "More Today Than Yesterday" (The Spiral Starecase) Safe Joanne Borgella "I Say a Little Prayer" (Dionne Warwick) Eliminated
3 David Cook "Happy Together" (The Turtles) Safe Alaina Whitaker "More Today Than Yesterday" (The Spiral Starecase) Safe
4 Jason Yeager "Moon River" (Andy Williams) Safe Amanda Overmyer "Baby, Please Don't Go" (Big Joe Williams) Safe
5 Robbie Carrico "One" (Harry Nilsson) Safe Amy Davis "Where the Boys Are" (Connie Francis) Eliminated
6 David Archuleta "Shop Around" (Smokey Robinson & the Miracles) Safe Brooke White "Happy Together" (The Turtles) Safe
7 Danny Noriega "Jailhouse Rock" (Elvis Presley) Safe Alexandréa Lushington "Spinning Wheel" (Blood, Sweat & Tears) Safe
8 Luke Menard "Everybody's Talkin'" (Fred Neil) Safe Kady Malloy "A Groovy Kind of Love" (The Mindbenders) Safe
9 Colton Berry "Suspicious Minds" (Mark James) Eliminated Asia'h Epperson "Piece of My Heart" (Erma Franklin) Safe
10 Garrett Haley "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" (Neil Sedaka) Eliminated Ramiele Malubay "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" (Dusty Springfield) Safe
11 Jason Castro "Daydream" (The Lovin' Spoonful) Safe Syesha Mercado "Tobacco Road" (John D. Loudermilk) Safe
12 Michael Johns "Light My Fire" (The Doors) Safe Carly Smithson "The Shadow of Your Smile" (Tony Bennett) Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
1.1 Top 24 Sixties medley
("Needles and Pins" / "When You Walk in the Room" / "Spanish Harlem" b/ "Bend Me, Shape Me")
1.2 Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow"

Top 20 – 1970s[edit]

Order Males Females
Contestant Song (original artist) Result Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Michael Johns "Go Your Own Way" (Fleetwood Mac) Safe Carly Smithson "Crazy on You" (Heart) Safe
2 Jason Castro "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" (Andy Gibb) Safe Syesha Mercado "Me and Mrs. Jones" (Billy Paul) Safe
3 Luke Menard "Killer Queen" (Queen) Safe Brooke White "You're So Vain" (Carly Simon) Safe
4 Robbie Carrico "Hot Blooded" (Foreigner) Eliminated Ramiele Malubay "Don't Leave Me This Way" (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes) Safe
5 Danny Noriega "Superstar" (Delaney & Bonnie) Safe Kristy Lee Cook "You're No Good" (Betty Everett) Safe
6 David Hernandez "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (The Undisputed Truth) Safe Amanda Overmyer "Carry On Wayward Son" (Kansas) Safe
7 Jason Yeager "Long Train Running" (The Doobie Brothers) Eliminated Alaina Whitaker "Hopelessly Devoted to You" (Olivia Newton-John) Eliminated
8 Chikezie "I Believe to My Soul" (Donny Hathaway) Safe Alexandréa Lushington "If You Leave Me Now" (Chicago) Eliminated
9 David Cook "All Right Now" (Free) Safe Kady Malloy "Magic Man" (Heart) Safe
10 David Archuleta "Imagine" (John Lennon) Safe Asia'h Epperson "All by Myself" (Eric Carmen) Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
2.1 Top 20 Seventies medley
("I Saw the Light" / "It's a Heartache" / "The Things We Do for Love" / "I Feel the Earth Move")

Top 16 – 1980s[edit]

Order Males Females
Contestant Song (original artist) Result Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Luke Menard "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (Wham!) Eliminated Asia'h Epperson "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" (Whitney Houston) Eliminated
2 David Archuleta "Another Day in Paradise" (Phil Collins) Advanced Kady Malloy "Who Wants to Live Forever" (Queen) Eliminated
3 Danny Noriega "Tainted Love" (Gloria Jones) Eliminated Amanda Overmyer "I Hate Myself for Loving You" (Joan Jett) Advanced
4 David Hernandez "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" (Pandora's Box) Advanced Carly Smithson "I Drove All Night" (Cyndi Lauper) Advanced
5 Michael Johns "Don't You (Forget About Me)" (Simple Minds) Advanced Kristy Lee Cook "Faithfully" (Journey) Advanced
6 David Cook "Hello" (Lionel Richie) Advanced Ramiele Malubay "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (Phil Collins) Advanced
7 Jason Castro "Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen) Advanced Brooke White "Love Is a Battlefield" (Pat Benatar) Advanced
8 Chikezie "All the Man That I Need" (Linda Clifford) Advanced Syesha Mercado "Saving All My Love for You" (Whitney Houston) Advanced
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
3.1 Blake Lewis "How Many Words"


David Cook

David Cook (born December 20, 1982, in Houston, Texas, 24 at the time of the auditions and 25 at the time of the show) is a native of Blue Springs, Missouri, who auditioned in Omaha with Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer". Cook's interest in music began early in life; he received his first guitar at the age of 2.[28] He formed a band while still at high school called Axium, which was chosen as the best band in Kansas City in 2004. He later joined Midwest Kings in Tulsa, but left to pursue a solo project where he released an album titled Analog Heart. Prior to Idol, he worked as a bartender at the "Blank Slate" in Tulsa, where he also occasionally played shows. He enjoys doing crossword puzzles in his spare time and calls himself a "word nerd".[28] His Hollywood performance of Bryan Adams's "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" did not impress Simon Cowell, but did so with his second performance, Edwin McCain's "I'll Be". He wore an orange wristband to support a seven-year-old fan with leukemia from top-12 week onward. He was never in the "bottom three". On May 21, 2008, he was declared the winner. He was signed to RCA Records and released a self-titled album on November 18, 2008.

David Archuleta

David Archuleta (born December 28, 1990, in Miami, Florida, 16 at the time of the auditions and 17 at the time of the show) is from Murray, Utah, who auditioned in San Diego with John Mayer's "Waiting on the World to Change". In 2003, at the age of 12, he sang on several episodes of the television show Star Search[25] and went on to win the season finale and the $100,000 grand prize.[29] In one episode, he competed against Alexandréa Lushington, who was a fellow semifinalist this season. He suffered from vocal paralysis after that show, which affected one of his vocal cords. He impressed the judges with his performance of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and Bryan Adams's "Heaven" during the Hollywood round. He was never in the "bottom three" and finished as the season-seven runner-up. He was signed to Jive Records.

Syesha Mercado

Syesha Mercado (born January 2, 1987, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, 21 at the time of the show) is from Sarasota, Florida, who auditioned in Miami with Aretha Franklin's "Think". She is a student at Florida International University and has been singing and dancing since she was a child. During Hollywood week, she became ill and almost completely lost her voice. In preparation for her final Hollywood performance with Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools", she went on voice rest and wrote down everything she had to say on a pad of paper. Prior to American Idol, she appeared on the short-lived US version of Star Academy (known as The One: Making a Music Star when it aired on ABC in July 2006 for two weeks). Kara DioGuardi, who was one of the coaches on the Endemol franchise, joined Idol for season eight.[30] She was voted off as a third-place finisher.

Jason Castro

Jason Castro (born March 25, 1987, 20 at the time of the show) from Rockwall, Texas auditioned in Dallas with Keith Urban's "Once in a Lifetime" and Ray LaMontagne's version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy". He started in music playing the drums. In high school, he played for a band, Keeping Lions, which has since disbanded.[31] In 2006, he appeared on Cheyenne Kimball's MTV reality TV series, as her real-life dating interest. Castro is the first person in his family, which is originally from Colombia, to be born in the United States. He is a student at Texas A&M University, with a construction science major and music minor. He began growing his hair out for dreadlocks during his senior year of high school. He exited the competition in fourth place.

Brooke White

Brooke White (born June 2, 1983, in Mesa, Arizona, 24 at time of the show) was a nanny from Van Nuys, California; she auditioned in Philadelphia with Corinne Bailey Rae's "Like a Star". During her audition, she admitted to never having seen an R-rated movie, prompting Cowell to state that the show will "bring her over to the dark side." In 2005, she released an album titled Songs from the Attic under New Millennium Records. She performed Carole King's "Beautiful" on Hollywood week. She finished in fifth place. After the contest, she started her own record label, June Baby Records, with Randy Jackson, and released an album, High Hopes & Heartbreak.

Carly Smithson

Carly Smithson (born as Carly Hennessy on September 12, 1983, in Dublin, Ireland, 24 at the time of the show) is a professional singer and bartender/waitress from San Diego, where she has been living for the past three years. Smithson previously signed a recording contract with major US label MCA Records and released an album in 2001 entitled Ultimate High under her birth name, Carly Hennessy. The album sold about 300 copies in the first three months following its release. Smithson was originally auditioned in Las Vegas during the fifth season, but was dropped from the show due to a problem with her visa. She auditioned in San Diego with Whitney Houston's "I'm Every Woman", and performed Leo Sayer's version of "When I Need You" and Heart's version of "Alone" in the Hollywood rounds. She finished sixth in the show.

Kristy Lee Cook

Kristy Lee Cook (born January 18, 1984, 24 at the time of the show) is a horse trainer from Selma, Oregon. She sold her prized horse to afford the trip to audition in Philadelphia, where she auditioned with "Amazing Grace", a song she also performed during the Hollywood week. In 2001, she was signed to a major label, Arista Nashville.[25][32] Cook also signed with Britney Spears' production company, and Spears herself was supposed to have a cameo in Cook's first video.[25][32] At the time of signing, she was managed by the former manager of LeAnn Rimes.[25][32]

Michael Johns

Michael Johns (October 20, 1978 – August 1, 2014, born as Michael Lee in Perth, Western Australia, aged 29 at the time of the show) auditioned in San Diego with Otis Redding's "I've Been Loving You Too Long". He moved to the U.S. from Australia in 1998 and lived in Buckhead, Atlanta for six years, performing at local venues solo and with local band Film. Afterwards, he lived in Los Angeles. After recording a demo and traveling to Los Angeles to showcase for a number of labels in 2001, he signed with Maverick Records and formed a rock band called The Rising.[33] Before focusing on his singing career, he was a sportsman, winning a tennis scholarship[34] and playing Australian rules football for the USAFL club Atlanta Kookaburras.[35] During the Hollywood round, he performed The Doors' "Light My Fire" but it was his performance of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody that was one of the highlights of that week. He was eliminated on April 10 and finished in eighth place. Johns died on August 1, 2014, making him the first American Idol finalist to die.[36]

Ramiele Malubay

Ramiele Malubay (born September 6, 1987, in Saudi Arabia,[37] 20 at the time of that show) Filipino-American from Miramar, Florida, auditioned in Miami with Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman". Prior to auditioning on Idol, she was a nursing student at Broward Community College and worked part-time at a sushi restaurant. She started Polynesian dancing when she was in the first grade and started singing at the age of 12. Since the age of 12, Ramiele has sung at various Filipino-American events.[38] She performed Aretha Franklin's "Until You Come Back to Me" and The Kiki Dee Band's "I've Got The Music In Me" at the Hollywood rounds. She was eliminated in ninth place.


Chikezie (born Chikezie Eze on September 11, 1985, in Inglewood, California, 22 at the time of that show) is a Nigerian American from Inglewood, California, who auditioned in San Diego with Luther Vandross's version of "All the Woman I Need". During the competition, he dropped using his last name because it was so frequently mispronounced ('eh-zee' and not 'EE-zee').[39] He previously auditioned for the show's sixth season, and made it into the Hollywood round, where he was cut before the top 44. Before auditioning for Idol, he worked as a Transportation Security Administration officer at Los Angeles International Airport.

Amanda Overmyer

Amanda Overmyer (born October 26, 1984, 23 at the time of that show) is a Harley-riding nurse is from Mulberry, Indiana, who auditioned in Atlanta with Janis Joplin's "Turtle Blues" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Travelin' Band". She received a nursing degree from Ivy Tech Community College and deals predominantly in respiratory issues. She has been the lead singer of several local hard rock bands, including Steeleto and Ruinaces. A week before the Hollywood week, she was injured in a serious car accident. She performed The Doors' "Light My Fire" at the Hollywood rounds. After the season ended, she married her fiancé Casey Taylor.

David Hernandez

David Hernandez (born May 31, 1983, in Glendale, Arizona, 24 at the time of that show) is from Glendale, Arizona, and auditioned with The Temptations' "Ain't Too Proud to Beg". He was a student at Arizona State University with a major in broadcast journalism. He gave up his apartment to move to Hollywood. Until September 30, 2007, Hernandez worked as a male stripper named "Caden" at Dick's Cabaret in Phoenix, Arizona, performing fully nude and giving lap dances to male patrons.[40] This did not prevent him from being on the show.[41][42] He performed Stephen Stills's "Love the One You're With" on Hollywood week. He was voted off in 12th place.


There are 11 weeks of finals and 12 contestants compete and one finalist eliminated per week based on the American public's votes.

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 eliminated
  Contestant won the season
  Contestant finished as the runner-up
  Contestant finished in 3rd place

Top 12 – Lennon–McCartney Songbook[edit]

Order Contestant Song Result
1 Syesha Mercado "Got to Get You into My Life" Bottom three
2 Chikezie "She's a Woman" Safe
3 Ramiele Malubay "In My Life" Safe
4 Jason Castro "If I Fell" Safe
5 Carly Smithson "Come Together" Safe
6 David Cook "Eleanor Rigby" Safe
7 Brooke White "Let It Be" Safe
8 David Hernandez "I Saw Her Standing There" Eliminated
9 Amanda Overmyer "You Can't Do That" Safe
10 Michael Johns "Across the Universe" Safe
11 Kristy Lee Cook "Eight Days a Week" Bottom two
12 David Archuleta "We Can Work It Out" Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
1.1 Top 12 The Beatles medley
("All My Loving" / "I Feel Fine" / "Can't Buy Me Love" / "Help!")
1.2 Katharine McPhee and David Foster (piano) "Something"

Top 11 – The Beatles[edit]

Order Contestant Song Result
1 Amanda Overmyer "Back in the U.S.S.R." Eliminated
2 Kristy Lee Cook "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" Bottom two
3 David Archuleta "The Long and Winding Road" Safe
4 Michael Johns "A Day in the Life" Safe
5 Brooke White "Here Comes the Sun" Safe
6 David Cook "Day Tripper" Safe
7 Carly Smithson "Blackbird" Bottom three
8 Jason Castro "Michelle" Safe
9 Syesha Mercado "Yesterday" Safe
10 Chikezie "I've Just Seen a Face" Safe
11 Ramiele Malubay "I Should Have Known Better" Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
2.1 Top 11 The Beatles medley
("While My Guitar Gently Weeps" / "Here, There and Everywhere" / "Because" / "The End")
2.2 Kellie Pickler "Red High Heels"

Top 10 – Year They Were Born[edit]

Order Contestant Song Year Result
1 Ramiele Malubay "Alone" 1987 Safe
2 Jason Castro "Fragile" 1987 Bottom three
3 Syesha Mercado "If I Were Your Woman" 1987 Bottom two
4 Chikezie "If Only for One Night" 1985 Eliminated
5 Brooke White "Every Breath You Take" 1983 Safe
6 Michael Johns "We Will Rock You" / "We Are the Champions" 1978 Safe
7 Carly Smithson "Total Eclipse of the Heart" 1983 Safe
8 David Archuleta "You're the Voice" 1990 Safe
9 Kristy Lee Cook "God Bless the USA" 1984 Safe
10 David Cook "Billie Jean" 1982 Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
3.1 Top 10 "Right Back Where We Started From"
3.2 Kimberley Locke "Fall"

Top 9 – Dolly Parton[edit]

Dolly Parton served as the guest mentor this week.

Order Contestant Song Result
1 Brooke White "Jolene" Bottom three
2 David Cook "Little Sparrow" Safe
3 Ramiele Malubay "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" Eliminated
4 Jason Castro "Travelin' Thru" Safe
5 Carly Smithson "Here You Come Again" Safe
6 David Archuleta "Smoky Mountain Memories" Safe
7 Kristy Lee Cook "Coat of Many Colors" Bottom two
8 Syesha Mercado "I Will Always Love You" Safe
9 Michael Johns "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right" Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
4.1 Top 9 "9 to 5"
4.2 The Clark Brothers "This Little Light of Mine"
4.3 Dolly Parton "Jesus and Gravity"

Top 8 – Inspirational Music[edit]

Order Contestant Song Result
1 Michael Johns "Dream On" Eliminated
2 Syesha Mercado "I Believe" Bottom three
3 Jason Castro "Over the Rainbow" Safe
4 Kristy Lee Cook "Anyway" Safe
5 David Cook "Innocent" Safe
6 Carly Smithson "The Show Must Go On" Bottom three
7 David Archuleta "Angels" Safe
8 Brooke White "You've Got a Friend" Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
5.1 Top 8 "Shout to the Lord"
5.2 Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown "No Air"

Top 7 – Mariah Carey[edit]

Mariah Carey served as the guest mentor this week,

Order Contestant Song Result
1 David Archuleta "When You Believe" Safe
2 Carly Smithson "Without You" Safe
3 Syesha Mercado "Vanishing" Bottom three
4 Brooke White "Hero" Bottom two
5 Kristy Lee Cook "Forever" Eliminated
6 David Cook "Always Be My Baby" Safe
7 Jason Castro "I Don't Wanna Cry" Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
6.1 Top 7 "One Sweet Day"
6.2 Elliott Yamin "Free"
6.3 Mariah Carey "Bye Bye"

Top 6 – Andrew Lloyd Webber[edit]

Contestants performed a song from a selection of musicals originated by Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was also this week's guest mentor.

Order Contestant Song Production/Play Result
1 Syesha Mercado "One Rock & Roll Too Many" Starlight Express Bottom two
2 Jason Castro "Memory" Cats Safe
3 Brooke White "You Must Love Me" Evita Safe
4 David Archuleta "Think of Me" The Phantom of the Opera Safe
5 Carly Smithson "Superstar" Jesus Christ Superstar Eliminated
6 David Cook "The Music of the Night" The Phantom of the Opera Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
7.1 Top 6 "All I Ask of You"
7.2 Leona Lewis "Bleeding Love"

Top 5 – Neil Diamond[edit]

For the first time this season, each contestant sang two songs. Neil Diamond served as the mentor this week.

Contestant Order Song 1 Order Song 2 Result
Jason Castro 1 "Forever in Blue Jeans" 6 "September Morn" Safe
David Cook 2 "I'm Alive" 7 "All I Really Need Is You" Safe
Brooke White 3 "I'm a Believer" 8 "I Am...I Said" Eliminated
David Archuleta 4 "Sweet Caroline" 9 "America" Safe
Syesha Mercado 5 "Hello Again" 10 "Thank the Lord for the Night Time" Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
8.1 Top 5 Neil Diamond medley
("Cracklin' Rosie" / "Song Sung Blue" / "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show")
8.2 Natasha Bedingfield "Pocketful of Sunshine"
8.3 Neil Diamond "Pretty Amazing Grace"

Top 4 – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame[edit]

Contestant Order Song 1 Order Song 2 Result
David Cook 1 "Hungry Like the Wolf" 5 "Baba O'Riley" Safe
Syesha Mercado 2 "Proud Mary" 6 "A Change Is Gonna Come" Safe
Jason Castro 3 "I Shot the Sheriff" 7 "Mr. Tambourine Man" Eliminated
David Archuleta 4 "Stand by Me" 8 "Love Me Tender" Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
9.1 Top 4 "Reelin' in the Years"
9.2 Maroon 5 "If I Never See Your Face Again"
9.3 Bo Bice "Witness"

Top 3 – Judges' choice, Contestant's choice & Producer's Choice[edit]

Each contestant sang three songs, with the choices decided by one of the three judges, the contestant itself, and the producers.

Contestant Order Judge's choice Chosen by Order Contestant's choice Order Producer's choice Result
David Archuleta 1 "And So It Goes" Paula Abdul 4 "With You" 7 "Longer" Safe
Syesha Mercado 2 "If I Ain't Got You" Randy Jackson 5 "Fever" 8 "Hit Me Up Third place
David Cook 3 "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" Simon Cowell 6 "Dare You to Move" 9 "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" Safe
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
10.1 Top 3 "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now"
10.2 Fantasia "Bore Me (Yawn)"

Finale – Clive Davis' choice, New Song & Contestant's Choice[edit]

Each contestant sang three songs, a song from Clive Davis, a winner's single, and a contestant's chosen song.

Contestant Order Clive Davis's song Order Winner's song Order Contestant's song Result
David Cook 1 "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" 3 "Dream Big" 5 "The World I Know" Winner
David Archuleta 2 "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" 4 "In This Moment" 6 "Imagine" Runner-Up
Non-competition performance
Order Performers Song
11a.1 Ruben Studdard "Celebrate Me Home"
11b.1 Top 12 "Get Ready"
11b.2 Top 2 "Hero"
11b.3 Top 2 with Guru Pikta Guru Pitka
11b.4 Seal and Syesha Mercado "Waiting For You"
11b.5 Jason Castro "Hallelujah"
11b.6 Top 12 females Donna Summer medley
("She Works Hard for the Money" / "Hot Stuff")
11b.7 Donna Summer with Top 12 females "Stamp Your Feet" / "Last Dance"
11b.8 Carly Smithson and Michael Johns "The Letter"
11b.9 Jimmy Kimmel
11b.10 Top 12 males Bryan Adams medley
("Summer of '69" / "Heaven")
11b.11 Bryan Adams and Top 12 males "I Thought I'd Seen Everything" / "Somebody"
11b.12 ZZ Top and David Cook "Sharp Dressed Man"
11b.13 Graham Nash and Brooke White "Teach Your Children"
11b.14 Jonas Brothers "SOS"
11b.15 Renaldo Lapuz "We're Brothers Forever"
11b.16 OneRepublic and David Archuleta "Apologize"
11b.17 Jordin Sparks "One Step at a Time"
11b.18 Gladys Knight
(with Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr. as the Pips)
"Midnight Train to Georgia"
11b.19 Carrie Underwood "Last Name"
11b.20 Top 12 George Michael medley
("Faith" / "Father Figure" / "Freedom")
11b.21 George Michael "Praying for Time"
11b.22 David Cook "The Time of My Life"

Elimination chart[edit]

Color key:

  Female contestant
  Male contestant
  Saved by the public
  Bottom three/two
Results per stage
Place Contestant Semi-finals (Top 24) Top 12 Top 11 Top 10 Top 9 Top 8 Top 7 Top 6 Top 5 Top 4 Top 3 Finale
2/21 2/28 3/6 3/13 3/20 3/27 4/2 4/10[a] 4/16 4/23 4/30 5/7 5/14 5/21
1 David Cook Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Winner
2 David Archuleta Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Runner-Up
3 Syesha Mercado Safe Safe Safe Bottom three Safe Bottom two Safe Bottom three Bottom three Bottom two Safe Safe Eliminated
4 Jason Castro Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Bottom three Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Eliminated
5 Brooke White Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Bottom three Safe Bottom two Safe Eliminated
6 Carly Smithson Safe Safe Safe Safe Bottom three Safe Safe Bottom three Safe Eliminated
7 Kristy Lee Cook Safe Safe Safe Bottom two Bottom two Safe Bottom two Safe Eliminated
8 Michael Johns Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Eliminated
9 Ramiele Malubay Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Eliminated
10 Chikezie Safe Safe Safe Safe Safe Eliminated
11 Amanda Overmyer Safe Safe Safe Safe Eliminated
12 David Hernandez Safe Safe Safe Eliminated
13–16 Asia'h Epperson Safe Safe Eliminated
Kady Malloy Safe Safe
Luke Menard Safe Safe
Danny Noriega Safe Safe
17–20 Robbie Carrico Safe Eliminated
Alexandréa Lushington Safe
Alaina Whitaker Safe
Jason Yeager Safe
21–24 Colton Berry Eliminated
Joanne Borgella
Amy Davis
Garrett Haley
  1. ^ The 'Top 8' results show was moved to Thursday nights, April 10, due to the Idol Gives Back special airing on the show's regular Wednesday results night, which was April 9.

Results night performances[edit]

During the Hollywood weeks, "Hollywood's Not America" by Ferras played when contestants were eliminated, while "Best Days" by Graham Colton was the elimination song for the semi-finals round. For the finals, season 2 winner Ruben Studdard remade Kenny Loggins' "Celebrate Me Home" as the exit song.

Group song[edit]

The contestants also performed medleys of songs from that week's theme.


Other performances[edit]

Guest artists may perform songs to promote their work or the show itself, or for charitable purpose. Most performed on the result shows, except for Ruben Studdard at the end of the Top 2 performance show and those on the Idol Gives Back special. Included is a list of those songs with the impact of performance on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Digital Songs chart for the week. See Idol Gives Back for the list of performances in that special episode.

Week Performer(s) Title Hot 100 Reaction
(chart position)
Hot Digital Songs Reaction[43]
(chart position, sales for week)
Top 24 Paula Abdul
Randy Jackson
"Dance Like There's No Tomorrow"
(video premiere)
62 (+18 – new peak) 36 – 32,215 (+559%)
Top 20 No guest performer
Top 16 Blake Lewis "How Many Words" 128 – 10,182 (+999%)
Top 12 Katharine McPhee
David Foster (piano)
"Something" No legal digital release
Top 11 Kellie Pickler "Red High Heels" Ineligible to re-enter
Top 10 Kimberley Locke "Fall"
Top 9 The Clark Brothers "This Little Light of Mine"
Dolly Parton "Jesus and Gravity"
Top 8 Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown "No Air" 3 (+4 – new peak) 4 – 153,648 (+34%)
Top 7 Elliott Yamin "Free"
Mariah Carey "Bye Bye" 23 (debut) 11 – 60,037 (+999%)
Top 6 Leona Lewis "Bleeding Love" 1 (4th week as number 1) 1 – 235,880 (+30%)
Top 5 Natasha Bedingfield "Pocketful of Sunshine" 8 (+11 – new peak) 4 – 134,830 (+110%)
Neil Diamond "Pretty Amazing Grace"
Top 4 Maroon 5 "If I Never See Your Face Again" 57 (debut) 21 – 42,983 (+999%)
Bo Bice "Witness"
Top 3 Fantasia "Bore Me (Yawn)" No legal digital release
Top 2 Ruben Studdard "Celebrate Me Home" —*
"—" denotes songs that did not chart

*"Celebrate Me Home" was removed from iTunes the day after it was performed. It reached the top 60 before it was removed.

Idol Gives Back[edit]

The "Idol Gives Back" initiative returned on April 9 for a second year, with a special start time of 7:30 p.m. ET, running for 150 minutes. Again, proceeds will go to children's charities in Africa and the United States. Unlike "Idol Gives Back 2007" when no finalist was eliminated (and two were eliminated in the following week), Michael Johns was eliminated during "Idol Gives Back 2008."


  • Season 7 contestant Carly Smithson stirred up controversy due to a prior major label record deal she had with MCA Records. It has been reported[citation needed] that MCA spent over 2 million dollars promoting Smithson's previous album "Ultimate High," which she made under the name Carly Hennessy. The album only sold 378 copies but is now available on iTunes. To further complicate things, Randy Jackson worked for MCA during the same period of time that Smithson was signed. The media noted that several of the other season 7 semi-finalists had previously also had record deals, including Kristy Lee Cook, Brooke White, and Michael Johns (David Cook released an independent solo album and had finished recording a follow-up prior to his audition for the show, but he was never involved with a record label or contract). According to a poll conducted by AOL Television, 63 percent of those polled believed that contestants who have already had record deals should not be contestants on American Idol.[44] However, Idol rules state that contestants are eligible as long as they are no longer under contract when Idol begins, regardless of any past contracts.
  • David Hernandez was revealed by to have worked as a stripper in Phoenix, AZ. According to the owner of Dick's Cabaret, David's job included a routine featuring full nudity and performing lap dances for male clientele.[45]
  • On the show of April 29, the five remaining contestants each sang two songs. Diverting from their usual format, due to time constraints, the judges' critiques after each performance were instead to be bundled until after both songs were performed. However, after the first round had finished, host Ryan Seacrest asked for comments, and judge Paula Abdul, in discussing Jason Castro, delivered feedback on his second song before he had performed it. This has led to speculation that the show is scripted or rigged.[46] The next day, Abdul claimed on Seacrest's radio show that she listened to the performance in rehearsal and in the rushed atmosphere of the show was confused and thought she was supposed to critique both.[47]
  • The presence of David Archuleta's father was a matter of some discussion and he was banned from providing his son with musical input during his song preparation.[48]



During Season 7, American Idol partnered with iTunes to make available for sale exclusive performance videos, live performance singles of the semi-finalists and full-length studio recordings of the songs that contestants performed on the show. In order to keep the competition fair, these singles were not allowed to appear on iTunes sales charts until after the finale. The contestants' performances during the season were removed from sale soon after the finale.

The winning song, "The Time of My Life", was recorded by David Cook and released on May 22, 2008. The song was certified platinum by the RIAA on December 12, 2008.[49] It was the first winner's song not to be performed during the competition as the Top 2 each selected a different song from a list of 10 entries in song-writing competition to perform instead. Cook performed "The Time of My Life" after Ryan Seacrest announced him as the winner of Season 7.


David Cook's debut album was released on November 18, 2008, on 19 Recordings / RCA Records and was certified platinum by the RIAA on January 22, 2009.[49] Cook teamed with Grammy winning producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Kid Rock) on the album. A single from the album, "Light On", was released and peaked at 20 on the billboard top 100 list.[50] His sophomore album, This Loud Morning, was released on June 28, 2011.

David Archuleta signed with Jive Records and his self-titled debut album was released on November 11, 2008, and debuted at number two. Archuleta's album certified gold. Archuleta's first single, "Crush", debuted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Hot Digital Songs chart, giving it the highest single debut of 2008 and the highest single debut in 18 months. The song has sold 1.9 million copies as of January 2009.[51]


Personal/Individual Albums


David Cook

David Archuleta

  • "Crush"
  • "A Little Too Not Over You"
  • "Touch My Hand"
  • "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" ft. Charice
  • "Something 'Bout Love"
  • "Elevator"
  • "Falling Stars"
  • "Everything And More"
  • "Wait"

Kristy Lee Cook

Brooke White

  • "Hold Up My Heart"
  • "Radio Radio"
  • "Double Trouble"
  • "Night After Night"

Jason Castro

  • "Let's Just Fall In Love Again"

U.S. Nielsen ratings[edit]

Season 7 of American Idol overall was the most watched primetime program in the United States for the fourth consecutive year, during the conclusion of the 2007–2008 television season. The Tuesday episode viewership averaged 27.665 million while the Wednesday episode averaged 26.843 million, taking the top 2 spots for the season.[52] The show helped Fox become the most watched overall television network in the U.S. for the first time in its history (as well as a record first for a non-Big Three major network in American television history), and lead the 18–49 demographic ratings with still-standing largest ever margin since the introduction of the people meter technology in the Nielsen nationwide television tallies during the 1985–1986 television season.[53]

Episode list
Show Episode Air date Week
Rating/Share 18–49
1 "Philadelphia Auditions"[54] January 15, 2008 3 17.7 / 26 13.8 / 32 33.415
2 "Dallas Auditions"[54] January 16, 2008 4 16.7 / 25 12.6 / 30 30.437
3 "San Diego Auditions"[55] January 22, 2008 1 16.2 / 24 11.8 / 29 29.274
4 "Charleston Auditions"[55] January 23, 2008 2 15.1 / 23 10.9 / 28 27.091
5 "Omaha Auditions"[56] January 29, 2008 4 15.7 / 24 11.1 / 28 28.223
6 "Miami Auditions"[56] January 30, 2008 5 14.4 / 22 10.1 / 26 25.573
7 "Atlanta Auditions"[57] February 5, 2008 1 15.7 / 23 11.2 / 28 27.914
8 "Best of the Rest"[57] February 6, 2008 2 14.6 / 23 10.5 / 26 26.278
9 "Hollywood Round, Part 1"[58] February 12, 2008 1 16.6 / 25 12.3 / 29 29.962
10 "Hollywood Round, Part 2"[58] February 13, 2008 2 14.3 / 22 9.8 / 26 24.752
11 "Top 12 Men Perform"[59] February 19, 2008 2 16.4 / 25 11.3 / 27 29.006
12 "Top 12 Women Perform"[59] February 20, 2008 3 16.1 / 24 11.2 / 27 28.885
13 "Top 24 Results"[59] February 21, 2008 4 13.4 / 21 8.5 / 22 23.374
14 "Top 10 Men Perform"[60] February 26, 2008 1 16.0 / 24 11.1 / 27 28.592
15 "Top 10 Women Perform"[60] February 27, 2008 2 15.7 / 24 10.5 / 27 27.553
16 "Top 20 Results"[60] February 28, 2008 3 14.9 / 23 9.1 / 24 26.232
17 "Top 8 Men Perform"[61] March 4, 2008 1 15.9 / 24 10.6 / 26 28.463
18 "Top 8 Women Perform"[61] March 5, 2008 2 16.0 / 25 10.4 / 27 28.324
19 "Top 12 Revealed"[61] March 6, 2008 3 15.0 / 23 9.4 / 24 26.502
20 "Top 12 Perform"[62] March 11, 2008 1 16.9 / 26 11.0 / 28 29.884
21 "Top 12 Results"[62] March 12, 2008 2 15.8 / 24 10.3 / 26 27.127
22 "Top 11 Perform"[63] March 18, 2008 1 15.2 / 23 10.4 / 26 27.338
23 "Top 11 Results"[63] March 19, 2008 2 15.3 / 24 9.8 / 25 26.078
24 "Top 10 Perform"[64] March 25, 2008 2 14.0 / 21 9.7 / 25 24.758
25 "Top 10 Results"[64] March 26, 2008 1 15.2 / 24 9.8 / 25 25.742
26 "Top 9 Perform"[65] April 1, 2008 1 14.7 / 23 9.6 / 26 26.117
27 "Top 9 Results"[65] April 2, 2008 2 14.8 / 22 9.4 / 23 24.839
28 "Top 8 Perform"[66] April 8, 2008 1 14.2 / 22 9.2 / 24 24.668
29 "Idol Gives Back"[66] April 9, 2008 6 10.4 / 16 6.8 / 18 17.751
30 "Top 8 Results"[66] April 10, 2008 2 12.0 / 19 7.0 / 19 20.133
31 "Top 7 Perform"[67] April 15, 2008 1 13.9 / 22 8.8 / 23 23.646
32 "Top 7 Results"[67] April 16, 2008 2 13.4 / 21 8.8 / 22 23.339
33 Top 6 Perform"[68] April 22, 2008 1 14.2 / 22 9.0 / 25 24.740
34 "Top 6 Results"[68] April 23, 2008 2 13.7 / 21 8.6 / 21 23.196
35 "Top 5 Perform"[69] April 29, 2008 1 14.5 / 23 9.0 / 24 25.094
36 "Top 5 Results"[69] April 30, 2008 2 13.6 / 21 8.4 / 21 22.800
37 "Top 4 Perform"[70] May 6, 2008 2 12.6 / 20 8.4 / 23 21.755
38 "Top 4 Results"[70] May 7, 2008 1 13.9 / 21 8.2 / 21 22.867
39 "Top 3 Perform"[71] May 13, 2008 2 14.4 / 23 9.0 / 25 24.772
40 "Top 3 Results"[71] May 14, 2008 1 14.6 / 22 9.2 / 22 24.863
41 "Top 2 Perform"[72] May 20, 2008 2 15.1 / 24 10.1 / 28 27.061
42 Season 7 Finale"[72] May 21, 2008 1 17.7 / 28 11.4 / 30 31.661

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]