How Well Do You Know Season One?

The Season One Review Crew

Thanks to the hard work of's intrepid Season One Review Crew the long-awaited approval ratings for American Idol's first season were published on Monday, May 12th, 2008. That day, we ran a trivia contest on our website to allow our readers to see how their perception of Season One stacked up against the reviewers from 2002 and 2008. Here were the questions and the correct answers.

  1. Which Season One finalist finished with the highest average approval rating?
    A. Kelly Clarkson   (76.8)
    B. Justin Guarini   (52.5)
    C. Tamyra Gray   (72.9)
  2. Four of the 10 AI1 finalists finished with an approval rating above the average of 50. Three of them are the choices to Question 1. Who was the fourth finalist to rate above average?
    A. Nikki McKibbin   (45.8)
    B. R.J. Helton   (42.9)
    C. Christina Christian   (55.4)
    D. Ryan Starr   (38.0)
  3. Among the first six seasons, where did AI1's average approval rating rank?
    A. Third, above AI3, AI4, and AI6
    B. Fourth, above AI3 and AI6
    C. Fifth, above only AI6
    D. Sixth
    ...AI1 finished with an average rating of 48.6. AI6 is fifth at 49.2.
  4. Three performances finished with a "showstopper" approval rating of 90 or higher. Name them, in any order. (Take three guesses only, please.)
    "Stuff Like That There", Kelly Clarkson   (97)
    "A House Is Not A Home", Tamyra Gray   (94)
    "A Natural Woman", Kelly Clarkson   (90)
  5. AI1 produced the highest-rated episode among any of the first seven seasons to date. Which one was it?
    A. Final 6 (Big Band Night)   (65.0)
    B. Final 4 (80's/90's Night)   (54.9)
    C. Final 3   (59.5)
    D. The Finale   (61.3)
  6. The first (and many say, still the biggest) shocking elimination in Idol history was Tamyra Gray's in the AI1 Final Four. Rank the four contestants' approval ratings for that one episode only.
    Each contestant performed twice that night, so use what you estimate is the average of their two songs. Enter "1" (for highest), "2", "3", and "4" (for lowest) in some order in the four boxes.
    Kelly Clarkson 64.5, 2nd
    Justin Guarini 49.0, 3rd
    Nikki McKibbin 67.0, 1st
    Tamyra Gray 39.0, 4th
    ...Yes, way! McKibbin delivered her only two 4-star performances that night, while Gray had her two lowest (led by "New Attitude" at 18). The 2002 reviewers were kinder to the red-headed rocker than their 2008 counterparts – both of her ratings dropped by several points when we folded in the new ballots, but she hung on to the overall lead. For the record, the Crew had Clarkson narrowly winning the night over McKibbin, Guarini in third ("Get Here" was the night's top performance but hardly anybody, yesterday or today, liked "P.Y.T."), and Gray a distant fourth. None of this suggests that Gray deserved to go home, of course, since she clearly outsang McKibbin over the course of the season, but we found this result to be the most surprising and interesting in all of Project S1RC.
  7. What was Kelly Clarkson's lowest-rated performance?
    A. Walk On By   (74)
    B. It's Raining Men   (48)
    C. A Moment Like This   (71)
    D. Don't Play That Song   (72)
    ..."Men" was Clarkson's only foray under 50. Her next-lowest rating, for her reprise of "Respect" in the Finale, was a 69.
  8. What was Justin Guarini's highest-rated performance?
    A. For Once In My Life   (73)
    B. Let's Stay Together   (60)
    C. Route 66   (71)
    D. Get Here (original)   (83)
  9. Who had the higher rating on You Really Got Me?
    A. Ryan Starr   (8)
    B. Sanjaya Malakar   (21)
    ...Poor Ray Davies.
  10. Tiebreaker: How many of the 91 AI1 performances rated out at 1-star (19 or below)?
    ...16% of the AI1 performances were below the "Sanjaya Line," the highest percentage of any season.

Contest Results

We received more than two dozen entries in the few hours the S1 Trivia Challenge was online at our site. (If we'd had the brains we were born with, we'd have posted it several days earlier and aimed for some viral marketing across the Idolsphere.) Scoring was straightforward: 10 points for each correct answer, with partial credit given on #4 and #6. Question #10 was reserved as a tiebreaker.

No one got Question #3 correct! It seems that most people remember fondly the very strong finish to Season One, starting with Big Band Week. But the rocky Semifinals and early Finals episodes dragged the overall rating too far down for the later episodes to recover. No one predicted the precise order of finish in Question #6 either, as we expected. Entrants who were also members of the S1 Review Crew had just watched the relevant clips, so most of them correctly predicted that McKibbin had at least outpointed Guarini and Gray. Eight people correctly named all three songs in Question #4, though more than 80% had at least two of three ("Stuff" and "House").

The winner, with a score of 73 points, is Matt Boyd. Rounding out the top five were Sarah Mentley, Julianne Briscoe, Felipe Andrade, and Ben Clark. Thanks to everyone who participated, and we promise that the next time we decide to run a trivia contest, we'll give you more than 45 seconds to enter.

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