|Broadcast from||January 15 –|
May 21, 2008
|Broadcaster||Fox Broadcasting Company|
|Finals venue||Nokia Theatre L.A. Live|
|Origin||Blue Springs, Missouri, United States|
|Song||"The Time of My Life"|
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
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. 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, 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.
For the seventh season, auditions began in San Diego, California, on July 30, 2007, and continued in these cities:
|Episode air date||Audition city||Date||First audition venue||Callback date||Callback venue||Golden tickets|
|January 15, 2008||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||August 27, 2007||Wachovia Center||September 1–2, 2007||Hyatt Regency||29|
|January 16, 2008||Dallas, Texas||August 6, 2007||Texas Stadium||September 20–23, 2007||W Hotel Dallas Victory||24|
|January 22, 2008||San Diego, California||July 30, 2007||Qualcomm Stadium||September 12–13, 2007||Rancho Bernardo Inn||31|
|January 23, 2008||Charleston, South Carolina ||August 18, 2007||North Charleston Coliseum||September 6–7, 2007||Charleston Area Convention Center||23|
|January 29, 2008||Omaha, Nebraska||August 10, 2007||Qwest Center Omaha||October 5–6, 2007||Qwest Convention Center||19|
|January 30, 2008||Miami, Florida||August 22, 2007||American Airlines Arena||September 29–30, 2007||JW Marriott Hotel||17|
|February 5, 2008||Atlanta, Georgia||August 14, 2007||Georgia Dome||October 8–10, 2007||Georgia International Convention Center||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. 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.
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.
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. The contestants were allowed two performances before elimination, and the group round was removed.
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. Some were shown playing the keyboard, guitar, or even the drums. If the judges approved of the contestantss performances, they received a "free pass" to the third and final round of performances, and 48 contestants were given this "free pass". Unlike previous seasons, contestants whose performances not considered good enough were given a second chance in the second round. They lined up on stage in groups of 10 and each sang a short segment of a song a cappella. After each group had finished, the judges cut those they felt not talented enough. Almost 100 were eliminated in this round.
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 decided whether or not to cut the contestant. By the end of the day, only 50 contestants remained. 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 cut in the "Green Mile" episode. Another piece of drama involved contestant Kyle Ensley when Simon Cowell voiced strong objection over him not being selected for the semifinals. His nonselection was later revealed to have resulted in serious rift between Simon Cowell and the show producer Nigel Lythgoe.
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- 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.
- 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.
- Jason Yeager (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. 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.
- 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.
Top 24 – 1960s
Top 20 – 1970s
|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|
Top 16 – 1980s
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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. 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". 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 (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 and went on to win the season finale and the $100,000 grand prize. 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 (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. She was voted off as a third-place finisher.
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. 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 (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 (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 (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. Cook also signed with Britney Spears' production company, and Spears herself was supposed to have a cameo in Cook's first video. At the time of signing, she was managed by the former manager of LeAnn Rimes.
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. Before focusing on his singing career, he was a sportsman, winning a tennis scholarship and playing Australian rules football for the USAFL club Atlanta Kookaburras. 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.
Ramiele Malubay (born September 6, 1987 in Saudi Arabia, 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. 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'). 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 (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 (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. This did not prevent him from being on the show. He performed Stephen Stills's "Love the One You're With" on Hollywood week. He was voted off in 12th place.
Top 12 – Lennon–McCartney Songbook
|1||Syesha Mercado||"Got to Get You into My Life"||Bottom 3|
|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 2|
|12||David Archuleta||"We Can Work It Out"||Safe|
Top 11 – The Beatles
|1||Amanda Overmyer||"Back in the U.S.S.R."||Eliminated|
|2||Kristy Lee Cook||"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"||Bottom 2|
|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 3|
|10||Chikezie||"I've Just Seen a Face"||Safe|
|11||Ramiele Malubay||"I Should Have Known Better"||Safe|
Top 10 – Year They Were Born
|Order||Contestant||Song (original artist)||Year||Result|
|1||Ramiele Malubay||"Alone" (i-TEN)||1987||Safe|
|2||Jason Castro||"Fragile" (Sting)||1987||Bottom 3|
|3||Syesha Mercado||"If I Were Your Woman" (Gladys Knight & the Pips)||1987||Bottom 2|
|4||Chikezie||"If Only for One Night" (Luther Vandross)||1985||Eliminated|
|5||Brooke White||"Every Breath You Take" (The Police)||1983||Safe|
|6||Michael Johns||"We Will Rock You" / "We Are the Champions" medley (Queen)||1978||Safe|
|7||Carly Smithson||"Total Eclipse of the Heart" (Bonnie Tyler)||1983||Safe|
|8||David Archuleta||"You're the Voice" (John Farnham)||1990||Safe|
|9||Kristy Lee Cook||"God Bless the USA" (Lee Greenwood)||1984||Safe|
|10||David Cook||"Billie Jean" (Michael Jackson)||1982||Safe|
Top 9 – Dolly Parton
Mentor: Dolly Parton
|1||Brooke White||"Jolene"||Bottom 3|
|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 2|
|8||Syesha Mercado||"I Will Always Love You"||Safe|
|9||Michael Johns||"It's All Wrong, But It's All Right"||Safe|
Top 8 – Inspirational Music
|Order||Contestant||Song (original artist)||Result|
|1||Michael Johns||"Dream On" (Aerosmith)||Eliminated|
|2||Syesha Mercado||"I Believe" (Fantasia)||Bottom 3|
|3||Jason Castro||"Over the Rainbow" (Judy Garland)||Safe|
|4||Kristy Lee Cook||"Anyway" (Martina McBride)||Safe|
|5||David Cook||"Innocent" (Our Lady Peace)||Safe|
|6||Carly Smithson||"The Show Must Go On" (Queen)||Bottom 3|
|7||David Archuleta||"Angels" (Robbie Williams)||Safe|
|8||Brooke White||"You've Got a Friend" (Carole King)||Safe|
Top 7 – Mariah Carey
Mentor: Mariah Carey
|Order||Contestant||Song (original artist when applicable)||Result|
|1||David Archuleta||"When You Believe" (Mariah Carey & Whitney Houston)||Safe|
|2||Carly Smithson||"Without You" (Badfinger)||Safe|
|3||Syesha Mercado||"Vanishing"||Bottom 3|
|4||Brooke White||"Hero"||Bottom 2|
|5||Kristy Lee Cook||"Forever"||Eliminated|
|6||David Cook||"Always Be My Baby"||Safe|
|7||Jason Castro||"I Don't Wanna Cry"||Safe|
Top 6 – Andrew Lloyd Webber
Mentor: Andrew Lloyd Webber
|1||Syesha Mercado||"One Rock & Roll Too Many" (from Starlight Express)||Bottom 2|
|2||Jason Castro||"Memory" (from Cats)||Safe|
|3||Brooke White||"You Must Love Me" (from Evita)||Safe|
|4||David Archuleta||"Think of Me" (from The Phantom of the Opera)||Safe|
|5||Carly Smithson||"Superstar" (from Jesus Christ Superstar)||Eliminated|
|6||David Cook||"The Music of the Night" (from The Phantom of the Opera)||Safe|
Top 5 – Neil Diamond
Mentor: Neil Diamond
Each contestant sang two songs.
|Order||Contestant||Song (original artist when applicable)||Result|
|1||Jason Castro||"Forever in Blue Jeans"||Safe|
|2||David Cook||"I'm Alive"||Safe|
|3||Brooke White||"I'm a Believer" (The Monkees)||Eliminated|
|4||David Archuleta||"Sweet Caroline"||Safe|
|5||Syesha Mercado||"Hello Again"||Safe|
|6||Jason Castro||"September Morn"||Safe|
|7||David Cook||"All I Really Need Is You"||Safe|
|8||Brooke White||"I Am...I Said"||Eliminated|
|10||Syesha Mercado||"Thank the Lord for the Night Time"||Safe|
Top 4 – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Each contestant sang two songs.
|Order||Contestant||Song (original artist)||Result|
|1||David Cook||"Hungry Like the Wolf" (Duran Duran)||Safe|
|2||Syesha Mercado||"Proud Mary" (Creedence Clearwater Revival)||Safe|
|3||Jason Castro||"I Shot the Sheriff" (Bob Marley)||Eliminated|
|4||David Archuleta||"Stand by Me" (Ben E. King)||Safe|
|5||David Cook||"Baba O'Riley" (The Who)||Safe|
|6||Syesha Mercado||"A Change Is Gonna Come" (Sam Cooke)||Safe|
|7||Jason Castro||"Mr. Tambourine Man" (Bob Dylan)||Eliminated|
|8||David Archuleta||"Love Me Tender" (Elvis Presley)||Safe|
Top 3 – Judges' choice, Contestant's choice & Producer's Choice
Each contestant sang three songs.
|Order||Contestant||Song (original artist) — Judge||Result|
|1||David Archuleta||"And So It Goes" (Billy Joel) — Paula Abdul||Safe|
|2||Syesha Mercado||"If I Ain't Got You" (Alicia Keys) — Randy Jackson||Eliminated|
|3||David Cook||"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" (Peggy Seeger) — Simon Cowell||Safe|
|4||David Archuleta||"With You" (Chris Brown)||Safe|
|5||Syesha Mercado||"Fever" (Little Willie John)||Eliminated|
|6||David Cook||"Dare You to Move" (Switchfoot)||Safe|
|7||David Archuleta||"Longer" (Dan Fogelberg)||Safe|
|8||Syesha Mercado||"Hit Me Up" (Gia Farrell)||Eliminated|
|9||David Cook||"I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" (Aerosmith)||Safe|
Finale – Clive Davis' choice, New Song & Contestant's Choice
Each contestant sang three songs.
|Order||Contestant||Song (original artist)||Result|
|1||David Cook||"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (U2)||Winner|
|2||David Archuleta||"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (Elton John)||Runner-Up|
|3||David Cook||"Dream Big"||Winner|
|4||David Archuleta||"In This Moment"||Runner-Up|
|5||David Cook||"The World I Know" (Collective Soul)||Winner|
|6||David Archuleta||"Imagine" (John Lennon)||Runner-Up|
|Female||Male||Top 24||Top 12||Winner|
|Safe||Safe First||Safe Last||Eliminated|
|3||Syesha Mercado||Bottom 3||Bottom 2||Bottom 3||Bottom 3||Bottom 2||Elim|
|4||Jason Castro||Bottom 3||Elim|
|5||Brooke White||Bottom 3||Bottom 2||Elim|
|6||Carly Smithson||Bottom 3||Bottom 3||Elim|
|7||Kristy Lee Cook||Bottom 2||Bottom 2||Bottom 2||Elim|
|Kady Malloy||Bottom 3|
Results night performances
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.
The contestants also performed medleys of songs from that week's theme.
- Top 24: A medley of songs from the 1960s, including "Needles and Pins" and "When You Walk in the Room" by The Searchers, "Spanish Harlem" by Ben E. King, and "Bend Me, Shape Me" by The American Breed.
- Top 20: A medley of songs from the 1970s, including "I Saw the Light" by Todd Rundgren, "It's a Heartache" by Bonnie Tyler, "The Things We Do for Love" by 10cc, and "I Feel the Earth Move" by Carole King.
- Top 12: A medley of songs by The Beatles including "All My Loving," "I Feel Fine," "Can't Buy Me Love," and "Help!."
- Top 11: A second medley of Beatles songs including "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Here, There and Everywhere," "Because," and "The End."
- Top 10: "Right Back Where We Started From" by Maxine Nightingale.
- Top 9: "9 to 5" by Dolly Parton.
- Top 8: "Shout to the Lord" by Hillsong.
- Top 7: "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey with Boyz II Men.
- Top 6: "All I Ask of You" from The Phantom of the Opera.
- Top 5: A medley of songs by Neil Diamond, including "Cracklin' Rosie," "Song Sung Blue," and "Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show."
- Top 4: "Reelin' in the Years" by Steely Dan.
- Top 3: "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" by McFadden & Whitehead.
- Top 12 – "Get Ready" (The Temptations).
- Top 2 – "Hero" (Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott)
- The top 2 meet Guru Pitka (Mike Myers)
- Seal and Syesha Mercado – "Waiting For You"
- Jason Castro– "Hallelujah"
- Girl finalists – Donna Summer medley – "She Works Hard for the Money", "Hot Stuff"
- Donna Summer with Top 12 girls – "Stamp Your Feet", "Last Dance"
- Carly Smithson and Michael Johns – "The Letter" (The Box Tops)
- Jimmy Kimmel
- Guy finalists – Bryan Adams medley "Summer of '69", "Heaven"
- Bryan Adams with the guys – "I Thought I'd Seen Everything", "Somebody"
- ZZ Top and David Cook – "Sharp Dressed Man"
- Graham Nash and Brooke White – "Teach Your Children"
- Jonas Brothers – "SOS"
- Renaldo Lapuz – "We're Brothers Forever"
- OneRepublic and David Archuleta – "Apologize"
- Jordin Sparks – "One Step at a Time"
- Gladys Knight (with Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Robert Downey, Jr. as the Pips) – "Midnight Train to Georgia"
- Carrie Underwood – "Last Name"
- Top 12 – George Michael medley – "Faith", "Father Figure", "Freedom"
- George Michael – "Praying for Time"
- David Cook – "The Time of My Life"
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
|Hot Digital Songs Reaction|
(chart position, sales for week)
|Top 24||Paula Abdul
|"Dance Like There's No Tomorrow"
|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%)|
|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
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 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. However, Idol rules state that contestants are eligible as long as they are no longer under contract when Idol begins, irrespective of any past contracts.
- David Hernandez was revealed by VotefortheWorst.com 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.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
- Why Wait (Kristy Lee Cook)
- David Archuleta (David Archuleta)
- David Cook (David Cook)
- Solidify (Amanda Overmyer)
- Hold Back My Heart (Michael Johns)
- High Hopes & Heartbreak (Brooke White)
- Christmas from the Heart (David Archuleta)
- Jason Castro (Jason Castro)
- Tear the World Down (Carly Smithson)
- The Other Side of Down (David Archuleta)
- Who I Am (Jason Castro)
- This Loud Morning (David Cook)
- Begin (David Archuleta)
- Till Death Do Us Party (Danny Noriega)
- Digital Vein (David Cook)
- "The Time of My Life"
- "Light On"
- "Come Back to Me"
- "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
- "Don't You (Forget About Me)"
- "The Last Goodbye"
- "Fade into Me"
- "The Last Song I'll Write for You"
- "Laying Me Low"
- "Wait For Me"
- "A Little Too Not Over You"
- "Touch My Hand"
- "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" ft. Charice
- "Something 'Bout Love"
- "Falling Stars"
- "Everything And More"
Kristy Lee Cook
- "Hold Up My Heart"
- "Radio Radio"
- "Double Trouble"
- "Night After Night"
- "Let's Just Fall In Love Again"
U.S. Nielsen ratings
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. 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.
Contestants who appeared in other talent shows/seasons
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- Mishavonna Henson, auditioned in the seventh season and got cut during the Hollywood rounds, returned for the eighth season and made it in the top 36.
- Chikezie previously auditioned in the sixth season, but was cut during Hollywood Week.
- Carly Smithson previously auditioned in the fifth season under her maiden name "Hennessy", but was cut during Hollywood Week when the paperwork for her work visa failed to come through.
- Luke Menard previously auditioned in the sixth season, but was denied a golden ticket.
- Chris Watson, who originally auditioned in Philadelphia, but was cut in Hollywood Week, returned for the twelfth season and made it in the top 40.
- Julie Dubela, who originally auditioned in Miami, but did not advance past through the Hollywood Round, competed in American Juniors and eliminated in the semi-final stage.
- Colton Swon, who originally auditioned in Dallas, but he was cut in the last day of Hollywood Week, competed in the fourth season of The Voice with his older brother Zach as The Swon Brothers. They finished third.
- Danny Noriega would later compete on the sixth season of RuPaul's Drag Race as Adore Delano in 2014 where he was runner-up. In 2016, Danny returned for the second season of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars where he quit the competition in the second episode placing him ninth overall.
- David Archuleta competed on the 2003 revival of Star Search, winning the $100,000 prize in the "Junior Singer" category.
- Alexandrea Lushington appeared on the 2003 revival of Star Search, where she was eliminated by fellow Idol contestant David Archuleta.
- Jason Yeager previously appeared on the original version of Making the Band, finishing in the top 25.
- Joanne Borgella was the winner of the first season of Mo'Nique's Fat Chance.
Finalist Michael Johns died in Tustin, California on August 1, 2014. On November 18, 2014, the coroner reported that Johns had died of dilated cardiomyopathy, which inhibited the flow of blood to his body and also caused his heart to enlarge. A fatty liver also contributed to his death.
In October 2013, Semi-Finalist Joanne Borgella posted a video stating she had been diagnosed with cancer. She said she was suffering from severe headaches and, upon going to the emergency room to determine the cause of those headaches, discovered that cancer had spread to her brain. Borgella died early on October 18, 2014, at age 32.
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