American Idol (season 8)

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American Idol
Season 8
Hosted byRyan Seacrest
JudgesPaula Abdul
Simon Cowell
Kara DioGuardi
Randy Jackson
WinnerKris Allen
Runner-upAdam Lambert
Finals venueNokia Theatre L.A. Live
Original networkFox
Original releaseJanuary 13 (2009-01-13) –
May 20, 2009 (2009-05-20)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 7
Next →
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 season[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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

Episode Air Date Audition City Date First Audition Venue Callback Date Callback Venue Golden Tickets
January 13, 2009 Phoenix, Arizona July 25, 2008 Arena, Glendale September 2008 The Boulders, Scottsdale 27
January 14, 2009 Kansas City, Missouri August 8, 2008 Kemper Arena October 5, 2008 Firestone 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 2008 Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza 9
Total Tickets to Hollywood 149

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[edit]

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, based on votes by the viewers. The top male and female recipient advanced, along with 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. Following those nine singers advancing, eight of the remaining 27 semi-finalists were selected by the judges 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.

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[edit]

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Jackie Tohn "A Little Less Conversation" (Elvis Presley) Eliminated
2 Ricky Braddy "A Song for You" (Leon Russell) Wild Card
3 Alexis Grace "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" (Aretha Franklin) Advanced
4 Brent Keith "Hicktown" (Jason Aldean) Eliminated
5 Stevie Wright "You Belong with Me" (Taylor Swift) Eliminated
6 Anoop Desai "Angel of Mine" (Eternal) Wild Card
7 Casey Carlson "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" (The Police) Eliminated
8 Michael Sarver "I Don't Want to Be" (Gavin DeGraw) Advanced
9 Ann Marie Boskovich "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" (Aretha Franklin) Eliminated
10 Stephen Fowler "Rock with You" (Michael Jackson) Eliminated
11 Tatiana Del Toro "Saving All My Love for You" (Marilyn McCoo) Wild Card
12 Danny Gokey "Hero" (Mariah Carey) Advanced

Group 2[edit]

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Jasmine Murray "Love Song" (Sara Bareilles) Wild Card
2 Matt Giraud "Viva la Vida" (Coldplay) Wild Card
3 Jeanine Vailes "This Love" (Maroon 5) Eliminated
4 Nick Mitchell[a] "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" (Jennifer Holliday) Eliminated
5 Allison Iraheta "Alone" (i-TEN) Advanced
6 Kris Allen "Man in the Mirror" (Michael Jackson) Advanced
7 Megan Joy "Put Your Records On" (Corinne Bailey Rae) Wild Card
8 Matt Breitzke "If You Could Only See" (Tonic) Eliminated
9 Jesse Langseth "Bette Davis Eyes" (Jackie DeShannon) Wild Card
10 Kai Kalama "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" (Jimmy Ruffin) Eliminated
11 Mishavonna Henson "Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)" (Train) Eliminated
12 Adam Lambert "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (The Rolling Stones) Advanced

Group 3[edit]

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Von Smith "You're All I Need to Get By" (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell) Wild Card
2 Taylor Vaifanua "If I Ain't Got You" (Alicia Keys) Eliminated
3 Alex Wagner-Trugman "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" (Elton John) Eliminated
4 Arianna Afsar "The Winner Takes It All" (ABBA) Eliminated
5 Ju'Not Joyner "Hey There Delilah" (Plain White T's) Eliminated
6 Kristen McNamara "Give Me One Reason" (Tracy Chapman) Eliminated
7 Nathaniel Marshall "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" (Meat Loaf) Eliminated
8 Felicia Barton[b] "No One" (Alicia Keys) Eliminated
9 Scott MacIntyre "Mandolin Rain" (Bruce Hornsby and the Range) Advanced
10 Kendall Beard "This One's for the Girls" (Martina McBride) Eliminated
11 Jorge Núñez "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (Elton John) Advanced
12 Lil Rounds "Be Without You" (Mary J. Blige) Advanced

Wild Card[edit]

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Jesse Langseth "Tell Me Something Good" (Rufus and Chaka Khan) Eliminated
2 Matt Giraud "Who's Lovin' You" (The Miracles) Advanced
3 Megan Joy "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" (KT Tunstall) Advanced
4 Von Smith "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" (Elton John) Eliminated
5 Jasmine Murray "Reflection" (Christina Aguilera) Advanced
6 Ricky Braddy "Superstition" (Stevie Wonder) Eliminated
7 Tatiana Del Toro "Saving All My Love for You" (Marilyn McCoo) Eliminated
8 Anoop Desai "My Prerogative" (Bobby Brown) 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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (born June 9, 1987, 21 years at the time of the show) is from Memphis, Tennessee and auditioned in Kansas City, Missouri 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 (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.


Top 13 – Michael Jackson[edit]

This episode was re-aired on June 29, 2009, in a tribute to the death of Michael Jackson on June 25. This makes it the only episode of the show to be re-aired by Fox.[56]

Order Contestant Song (original artist when applicable) Result
1 Lil Rounds "The Way You Make Me Feel" Safe
2 Scott MacIntyre "Keep the Faith" Safe
3 Danny Gokey "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" Safe
4 Michael Sarver "You Are Not Alone" Safe
5 Jasmine Murray "I'll Be There" (The Jackson 5) Eliminated1
6 Kris Allen "Remember the Time" Safe
7 Allison Iraheta "Give In to Me" Safe
8 Anoop Desai "Beat It" Safe
9 Jorge Núñez "Never Can Say Goodbye" (The Jackson 5) Eliminated1
10 Megan Joy "Rockin' Robin" (Bobby Day) Safe
11 Adam Lambert "Black or White" Safe
12 Matt Giraud "Human Nature" Safe
132 Alexis Grace "Dirty Diana" Safe
  • Note 1: It was never revealed, between Jasmine Murray and Jorge Núñez, who received the fewest votes even though Jasmine was eliminated first.
  • Note 2: See IDOLS-13 controversy below.

Top 11 – Grand Ole Opry[edit]

Mentor: Randy Travis

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Michael Sarver "Ain't Goin' Down ('Til the Sun Comes Up)" (Garth Brooks) Bottom 2
2 Allison Iraheta "Blame It on Your Heart" (Patty Loveless) Bottom 3
3 Kris Allen "Make You Feel My Love" (Bob Dylan) Safe
4 Lil Rounds "Independence Day" (Martina McBride) Safe
5 Adam Lambert "Ring of Fire" (Anita Carter) Safe
6 Scott MacIntyre "Wild Angels" (Martina McBride) Safe
7 Alexis Grace "Jolene" (Dolly Parton) Eliminated
8 Danny Gokey "Jesus, Take the Wheel" (Carrie Underwood) Safe
9 Anoop Desai "Always on My Mind" (Brenda Lee) Safe
10 Megan Joy "Walkin' After Midnight" (Patsy Cline) Safe
11 Matt Giraud "So Small" (Carrie Underwood) Safe

Top 10 – Motown[edit]

Mentor: Smokey Robinson

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Matt Giraud "Let's Get It On" (Marvin Gaye) Bottom 2
2 Kris Allen "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" (Marvin Gaye) Safe
3 Scott MacIntyre "You Can't Hurry Love" (The Supremes) Bottom 3
4 Megan Joy "For Once in My Life" (Jean DuShon) Safe
5 Anoop Desai "Ooo Baby Baby" (The Miracles) Safe
6 Michael Sarver "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" (The Temptations) Eliminated
7 Lil Rounds "(Love Is Like A) Heat Wave" (Martha and the Vandellas) Safe
8 Adam Lambert "The Tracks of My Tears" (The Miracles) Safe
9 Danny Gokey "Get Ready" (The Temptations) Safe
10 Allison Iraheta "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" (The Undisputed Truth) Safe

Top 9 – Popular iTunes Downloads[edit]

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Anoop Desai "Caught Up" (Usher) Bottom 2
2 Megan Joy "Turn Your Lights Down Low" (Bob Marley) Eliminated
3 Danny Gokey "What Hurts the Most" (Mark Wills) Safe
4 Allison Iraheta "Don't Speak" (No Doubt) Bottom 3
5 Scott MacIntyre "Just the Way You Are" (Billy Joel) Safe
6 Matt Giraud "You Found Me" (The Fray) Safe
7 Lil Rounds "I Surrender" (Celine Dion) Safe
8 Adam Lambert "Play That Funky Music" (Wild Cherry) Safe
9 Kris Allen "Ain't No Sunshine" (Bill Withers) Safe

Top 8 – Year They Were Born[edit]

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Danny Gokey "Stand By Me" (Ben E. King) Safe
2 Kris Allen "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" (Don Henley) Safe
3 Lil Rounds "What's Love Got to Do with It" (Tina Turner) Bottom 3
4 Anoop Desai "True Colors" (Cyndi Lauper) Bottom 2
5 Scott MacIntyre "The Search Is Over" (Survivor) Eliminated
6 Allison Iraheta "I Can't Make You Love Me" (Bonnie Raitt) Safe
7 Matt Giraud "Part-Time Lover" (Stevie Wonder) Safe
8 Adam Lambert "Mad World" (Tears for Fears) Safe

Top 7 (first week) – Songs of the Cinema[edit]

Mentor: Quentin Tarantino

Order Contestant Song (original artist) — Film Result
1 Allison Iraheta "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (Aerosmith) — Armageddon Safe
2 Anoop Desai "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You" (Bryan Adams) — Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Bottom 3
3 Adam Lambert "Born to Be Wild" (Steppenwolf) — Easy Rider Safe
4 Matt Giraud "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" (Bryan Adams) — Don Juan DeMarco Saved1
5 Danny Gokey "Endless Love" (Lionel Richie & Diana Ross) — Endless Love Safe
6 Kris Allen "Falling Slowly" (Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová) — Once Safe
7 Lil Rounds "The Rose" (Bette Midler) — The Rose Bottom 2
  • Note 1: Matt Giraud received the lowest number of votes but the judges decided to use their save on him and was not eliminated.

Top 7 (second week) – Disco[edit]

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Lil Rounds "I'm Every Woman" (Chaka Khan) Eliminated1
2 Kris Allen "She Works Hard for the Money" (Donna Summer) Safe
3 Danny Gokey "September" (Earth, Wind & Fire) Safe
4 Allison Iraheta "Hot Stuff" (Donna Summer) Bottom 3
5 Adam Lambert "If I Can't Have You" (Yvonne Elliman) Safe
6 Matt Giraud "Stayin' Alive" (The Bee Gees) Safe
7 Anoop Desai "Dim All the Lights" (Donna Summer) Eliminated1
  • Note 1: With no elimination the previous week, there was a second "Top 7" week and two people were eliminated. It was never revealed who, between Anoop Desai and Lil Rounds, received the fewest votes, however Rounds's elimination was announced first with Desai being the second eliminee.

Top 5 – Rat Pack Standards[edit]

Mentor: Jamie Foxx

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Kris Allen "The Way You Look Tonight" (Fred Astaire) Bottom 3
2 Allison Iraheta "Someone to Watch Over Me" (Gertrude Lawrence) Safe
3 Matt Giraud "My Funny Valentine" (Mitzi Green) Eliminated
4 Danny Gokey "Come Rain or Come Shine" (Sy Oliver with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra) Safe
5 Adam Lambert "Feeling Good" (Cy Grant) Bottom 2

Top 4 – Rock music[edit]

Mentor: Slash

Each contestant sang one solo and one duet with a fellow contestant.

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Adam Lambert "Whole Lotta Love" (Led Zeppelin) Safe
2 Allison Iraheta "Cry Baby" (Garnet Mimms and the Enchanters) Eliminated
3 Kris Allen & Danny Gokey "Renegade" (Styx) N/A
4 Kris Allen "Come Together" (The Beatles) Safe
5 Danny Gokey "Dream On" (Aerosmith) Safe
6 Adam Lambert & Allison Iraheta "Slow Ride" (Foghat) N/A

Top 3 – Judges' choice and Contestants' choice[edit]

Each contestant sang two songs.

Order Contestant Song (original artist) — Judge Result
1 Danny Gokey "Dance Little Sister" (Terence Trent D'Arby) — Paula Abdul Eliminated
2 Kris Allen "Apologize" (OneRepublic) — Randy Jackson & Kara DioGuardi Safe
3 Adam Lambert "One" (U2) — Simon Cowell Safe
4 Danny Gokey "You Are So Beautiful" (Billy Preston) Eliminated
5 Kris Allen "Heartless" (Kanye West) Safe
6 Adam Lambert "Cryin'" (Aerosmith) Safe

Top 2 – Contestant’s choice, Simon Fuller’s choice & the winner’s single[edit]

Each contestant sang three songs.

Order Contestant Song (original artist) Result
1 Adam Lambert "Mad World" (Tears for Fears) Runner up
2 Kris Allen "Ain't No Sunshine" (Bill Withers) Winner
3 Adam Lambert "A Change is Gonna Come" (Sam Cooke) Runner up
4 Kris Allen "What's Going On" (Marvin Gaye) Winner
5 Adam Lambert "No Boundaries" Runner up
6 Kris Allen "No Boundaries" Winner

Elimination chart[edit]

Female Male Top 36 Wild Card Top 13 Winner
Did Not Perform Safe Safe First Safe Last Eliminated Judges' Save
Stage: Semi Finals Wild Card Finals
Week: 2/18 2/26[a] 3/4 3/5 3/11[b] 3/18 3/26[c] 4/1 4/8 4/15[d] 4/22[e] 4/29 5/6[f] 5/13 5/20
Place Contestant Result
1 Kris Allen Top 13 Bottom 3 Final 2 Winner
2 Adam Lambert Top 13 Bottom 2 Final 2 Runner-up
3 Danny Gokey Top 13 Elim
4 Allison Iraheta Top 13 Bottom 3 Bottom 3 Bottom 3 Elim
5 Matt Giraud Wild Card Top 13 Bottom 2 Saved Elim
6–7 Anoop Desai Wild Card Top 13 Bottom 2 Bottom 2 Bottom 3 Elim
Lil Rounds Top 13 Bottom 3 Bottom 2
8 Scott MacIntyre Top 13 Bottom 3 Elim
9 Megan Joy Wild Card Top 13 Elim
10 Michael Sarver Top 13 Bottom 2 Elim
11 Alexis Grace Top 13 Elim
12–13 Jorge Núñez Top 13 Elim
Jasmine Murray Wild Card Top 13
14–17 Ricky Braddy Wild Card Elim
Tatiana Del Toro Wild Card
Jesse Langseth Wild Card
Von Smith Wild Card
18–36 Arianna Afsar Elim
Felicia Barton
Kendall Beard
Ju'Not Joyner
Nathaniel Marshall
Kristen McNamara
Taylor Vaifanua
Alex Wagner-Trugman
Matt Breitzke Elim
Mishavonna Henson
Kai Kalama
Nick Mitchell
Jeanine Vailes
Ann Marie Boskovich Elim
Casey Carlson
Stephen Fowler
Brent Keith
Jackie Tohn
Stevie Wright
  1. ^ Due to the 2009 Speech to the Joint Session of the United States Congress on Tuesday, February 24, 2009, the performance show was moved to Wednesday, February 25 and the results show was moved to Thursday, February 26.
  2. ^ Ryan never specifically said who the bottom three or four was, but Megan Joy was brought up with Jasmine Murray and Anoop Desai with Jorge Nuñez for dramatic effect. Jasmine Murray was announced as the first to leave, followed by Jorge Nuñez.
  3. ^ Due to the White House Press Conference on Tuesday, March 24, 2009, the performance show was moved to Wednesday, March 25 and the results show was moved to Thursday, March 26.
  4. ^ Due to the judges using their one save, in order to save Matt Giraud, the Top 7 remained intact for another week.
  5. ^ The bottom two were eliminated on April 22. It was never announced who received the lowest number of votes, although Lil Rounds was announced as the first to leave, followed by Anoop Desai.
  6. ^ It was only announced that Allison Iraheta received the lowest number of votes this week. The other member(s) of the bottom two or three were never revealed, and the safe contestants were announced in random order.

Other performances[edit]

Group song[edit]

Guest performances[edit]

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.

Week Performer(s) Title Hot 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 debut N/A pre-recorded[59]
Smokey Robinson
Joss Stone
"You're the One for Me" did not debut N/A live performance
Stevie Wonder "My Chérie Amour"/"Superstition"/
"Overjoyed"/"All About the Love Again"
ineligible to re-enter N/A live 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/A N/A live 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 debut 107 (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-enter N/A live performance
Top 5 Natalie Cole "Something's Gotta Give" did not debut N/A live performance
Taylor Hicks Seven Mile Breakdown did not debut N/A live 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-enter TBA pre-recorded
Daughtry "No Surprise" 15 (debut) 7 (103,593 +999%) live performance
Top 3 Noah Mushimiyimana "I'm the World's Greatest" NA NA live 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) TBA live 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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

Primetime Emmy Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominee(s)[76] Episode Result
2009 Outstanding Reality Show or Reality Competition American Idol Nominated
Outstanding Directing For a Variety, Music Or Comedy Special Bruce Gowers Show 833 (The Final Three) Won
Outstanding Host for a Reality-Competition Program Ryan Seacrest Nominated

Teen Choice Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominee(s) Result
2009 Choice Male Reality/Variety Star Kris Allen Nominated
Adam Lambert Won
Choice Summer Tour American Idol Top 10 Nominated

U.S. Nielsen ratings[edit]

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
Show Episode Air date Week
1 "Phoenix Auditions"[79] January 13, 2009 2 15.8 / 23 11.7 / 28 30.424
2 "Kansas City Auditions"[79] January 14, 2009 3 16.4 / 25 11.8 / 30 30.322
3 "San Francisco Auditions"[80] January 20, 2009 2 12.1 / 18 9.0 / 22 22.773
4 "Louisville Auditions"[80] January 21, 2009 1 14.3 / 22 9.8 / 24 25.897
5 "Jacksonville Auditions"[81] January 27, 2009 4 13.7 / 20 9.6 / 24 25.539
6 "Salt Lake City Auditions"[81] January 28, 2009 3 15.0 / 23 10.1 / 25 27.364
7 "New York & San Juan Auditions"[81] January 29, 2009 5 13.6 / 21 9.3 / 25 24.613
8 "Hollywood Round, Part 1"[82] February 3, 2009 1 14.7 / 22 10.0 / 25 26.601
9 "Hollywood Round, Part 2"[82] February 4, 2009 2 14.8 / 23 9.9 / 27 26.384
10 "Hollywood Round, Part 3"[83] February 10, 2009 2 13.9 / 21 9.2 24.941
11 "Hollywood Round, Part 4"[83] February 11, 2009 1 14.0 / 22 9.5 24.825
12 "Group 1 Semi-finalists Perform"[84] February 17, 2009 2 14.3 / 21 9.6 25.374
13 "Group 1 Results Show"[84] February 18, 2009 3 14.1 / 22 9.0 / 24 24.790
14 "Group 2 Semi-finalists Perform"[85] February 25, 2009 1 13.8 / 21 9.1 24.541
15 "Group 2 Results Show"[85] February 26, 2009 2 11.9 / 19 7.1 / 19 20.889
16 "Group 3 Semi-finalists Perform"[86] March 3, 2009 1 13.8 / 21 9.0 24.309
17 "Group 3 Results Show"[86] March 4, 2009 2 13.1 / 21 7.8 / 22 22.776
18 "Wild Card Round"[86] March 5, 2009 3 12.2 / 19 7.6 / 20 21.498
19 "Top 13 Perform"[87] March 10, 2009 1 14.6 / 23 9.5 25.767
20 "Top 13 Results""[87] March 11, 2009 2 14.6 / 22 9.1 / 22 25.547
21 "Top 11 Perform"[88] March 17, 2009 2 12.3 / 19 8.1 / 21 21.886
22 "Top 11 Results"[88] March 18, 2009 1 13.7 / 21 8.7 23.705
23 "Top 10 Perform"[89] March 25, 2009 1 14.7 / 23 9.3 26.025
24 "Top 10 Results"[89] March 26, 2009 2 13.2 / 21 7.7 23.102
25 "Top 9 Perform"[90] March 31, 2009 1 13.7 / 21 8.9 24.410
26 "Top 9 Results"[90] April 1, 2009 2 14.2 / 22 8.4 / 20 24.342
27 "Top 8 Perform"[91] April 7, 2009 2 13.1 / 21 8.1 / 22 22.813
28 "Top 8 Results"[91] April 8, 2009 1 13.4 / 21 8.0 / 20 22.976
29 "Top 7 Perform"[92] April 14, 2009 1 13.8 / 21 8.2 / 23 24.378
30 "Top 7 Results"[92] April 15, 2009 2 14.0 / 22 8.0 / 20 24.114
31 "Top 7 Redux"[93] April 21, 2009 1 13.9 / 22 8.2 23.963
32 "Top 7 Redux Results"[93] April 22, 2009 2 14.0 / 22 8.3 23.947
33 "Top 5 Perform"[94] April 28, 2009 1 13.5 / 21 8.1 23.261
34 "Top 5 Results"[94] April 29, 2009 2 13.2 / 20 7.7 / 19 22.369
35 "Top 4 Perform"[95] May 5, 2009 1 13.4 / 21 8.3 23.414
36 "Top 4 Results"[95] May 6, 2009 2 13.7 / 21 8.3 / 20 23.574
37 "Top 3 Perform"[96] May 12, 2009 2 13.0 / 22 8.0 22.712
38 "Top 3 Results"[96] May 13, 2009 1 14.0 / 21 8.7 / 21 24.670
39 "Top 2 Perform"[97] May 19, 2009 2 13.5 / 21 8.6 23.822
40 "Season 8 Finale"[97] May 20, 2009 1 16.1 / 27 10.0 28.838

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External links[edit]