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Top 10 WTF American Idol Moments

VO: Lisa Yang
Script written by Q.V. Hough These are the most WTF moments on American Idol! Remember that phone scam that charged a bunch of people money? How about Bikini Girl vs. Kara DioGuardi? Recall when Kris Allen beats Adam Lambert? And when Jennifer Hudson finishes 7th?

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Top 10 WTF American Idol Momnents

We tuned in for the singing performances, but sometimes… we got a whole lot more! Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 WTF American Idol Moments.

For this list, we’re focusing on the most controversial, talked about and/or unforgettable moments from American Idol’s first 15 seasons.

#10: Ruben Beats Clay

In Season 2, two crooners with very different styles squared off in the final. Ruben Studdard, aka the “Velvet Teddy Bear,” stood out with his smooth vocals, while Clay Aiken showed off his range and gained a rabid fanbase called the “Claymates.” By the finals, it seemed like Clay had all the momentum. During the final round however, he reportedly caught a glimpse of Ryan Seacrest’s cue card that named the winner. In the climactic moment, you can see that Clay already knows what’s coming. The fans sure didn’t though! Not just Claymates, but many impartial viewers at home had Aiken pegged as the winner. Either way, a deserving singer won!

#9: Tamyra Gray Voted Off

Kelly Clarkson was ultimately crowned American Idol’s first winner, but it was Tamyra Gray that seemed like the frontrunner after her breathtaking performances each week. She made it through to the Top 4, but shockingly landed in the Bottom 2 after performing Patti LaBelle’s “New Attitude” and Stephanie Mill’s “Feel the Fire.” With all due respect to Nikki McKibbin, Tamyra appeared to be the more polished performer to many viewers, including the judges. When Ryan Seacrest announced the results, “American Idol” suddenly felt more like “American Horror Story”. In this series… no one is safe.

#8: Paula Abdul Judges a Non-Existent Performance

In Season 7, the top 5 contestants each selected two Neil Diamond classics. Meanwhile, the judges were instructed to deliver feedback after both songs were performed. But Paula Abdul seemingly got a little bit confused when speaking to Jason Castro, who performed “Forever in Blue Jeans.” Paula suggests that Jason didn’t have the “usual charm” for the second song, which amused the judges along with the remaining contestants. Though Paula later explained that it was an honest mistake, claiming confusion over having heard Castro perform both during rehearsals, the slip-up nonetheless caused many fans to question the honesty of the entire process.

#7: Melinda Doolittle Voted Off

Before competing in Season 6, Melinda Doolittle provided backup vocals for numerous adult contemporary artists. Combined with her raw talent and overall professionalism, it wasn’t all that surprising to see her reach the top 3. But after Jordin Sparks was given the first ticket to the finals during the results show, Melinda found herself in the bottom two alongside Blake Lewis. He was, without a doubt, a fan-favorite, but most agreed that he was not on the same vocal level as his fellow Bottom 2 contestant. For all the above-mentioned reasons, the big reveal didn’t go over well with the studio audience. Simon’s dejected face perfectly communicates the collective disappointment in the room.

#6: Bikini Girl vs. Kara DioGuardi

At the beginning of Season 8, Katrina Darrell clashed with judge Kara DioGuardi. Still, “Bikini Girl” made it to Hollywood. Though she didn’t reach the finals, she did make a guest appearance to receive her “Best Attitude Award.” After a little chit chat with Ryan Seacrest, Katrina was invited to perform. For a brief moment, the spotlight is all hers, but then Kara emerges, ready and willing all too willing to overpower Bikini’s vocals. It an awkward moment, as Katrina struggles to keep up with DioGuardi’s powerful vocals. Adding insult to injury, Kara ends on a big note and an even BIGGER reveal - a little bikini of her own. Point… DioGuardi.

#5: Kris Allen Beats Adam Lambert

“American Idol” is designed to create superstars, but it didn’t necessarily work out that way in season 8. Each week, Kris Allen stayed consistent while gaining fans because of his likeable demeanor. On the flipside, Adam Lambert created undeniable moments on stage with his stage charisma and rock n’ roll vibe. The two faced off in the finale, with each contestant offering something different for pop culture. Lambert, who would go on team up with Queen, seemed like a true star in the making and the clear winner to many. But ultimately, it was Kris Allen that America chose, leaving many to reflect on what it was that American idol voters are really looking for.

#4: Phone Scam

During Season 1, over 110 million votes were submitted for “American Idol” contestants. By Season 2, the public was still learning the specifics about HOW to vote. “American Idol” has always used an 866 number for their voting system, but some viewers unknowingly got caught up in a phone scam that used an 800 number, only to re-direct callers to a 900 number. The series has never asked voters to pay actual money, but according to a report by the FTC, somewhere in the ballpark of 25,000 voters paid up to $3 per phone call. Clearly, somebody was getting rich off of American Idol’s good name.

#3: William Hung’s “She Bangs”

On “American Idol,” people audition for a variety of reasons, but it’s not always easy to gauge their intent. In Season 3, a student named William Hung showed up with lots of energy and some unique dance moves. He’s not the worst singer in the world, but the overall delivery had the judges scratching their head. William’s good nature and enthusiasm nonetheless touched viewers, and this WTF audition proved to be the beginning of a bizarre “American Idol” journey. The passion in William Hung’s audition was real, even if the presentation is questionable, and people loved him for it!

#2: Jennifer Hudson Finishes 7th

Jennifer Hudson has gone on to have one of the most successful careers of any Idol contestant, winning a Grammy Award and an Oscar. But during her Season 3 run on “American Idol,” she was voted off weeks before the finale. For Barry Manilow week, Jennifer performed “Weekend in New England,” which thoroughly impressed the judging panel - even eliciting some compliments from the usually cynical Simon Cowell. The American public clearly had a different experience, however, as Jennifer landed in the Bottom 2 after what seemed to be a sensational performance. Just like that, she was gone… but clearly not forgotten.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Mariah Carey-Nicki Minaj Feud

Prince’s Surprise Performance

Mario Vasquez Drops Out

#1: Chris Daughtry Eliminated

A contestant can never be sure of how America is going to vote. Every week could be your last. But as a strong fan favorite, Chris Daughtry REALLY seemed safe. For his first Elvis song, the rocker performed an immaculate rendition of “Suspicious Minds,” and then followed it up with “A Little Less Conversation.” The judges gave their approval, except Simon, who thought it was a little flat. That comment aside, Chris’ spot moving forward seemed secure - so much so that his inclusion in the bottom two was a real curveball. But when Ryan Seacrest revealed that he’d actually be going home, well, Daughtry was understandably shocked, as were countless viewers at home.

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