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September 04

Kelly Clarkson

American Idol is truly a global phenomenon: It airs in the U.S., the U.K., Israel, Asia, Australia, and much of Latin America.

Photo by SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images.

2002: Idol Maker
Kelly Clarkson wins the first season of American Idol
Something like 50 million people were watching the night Kelly Clarkson was chosen the winner of the first season of American Idol. This wildly successful, interactive singing competition counts on viewers calling or texting in votes for their favorite singers to help determine who will make it to the next round.

The popular show helped launch Clarkson’s career, just as it has with other winners in subsequent years. The show’s judges—originally Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul—helped shape viewers’ voting with their blunt feedback on the performances, which can range from pathetic to magnificent.
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