Over the course of eight stupendous seasons, “American Idol” has showcased some of the best undiscovered singers in the country and a few who, well, were probably better left that way.
There have been plenty of highs and just as many lows. So, in celebration of Wednesday night’s (May 20) Lambert vs. Allen finale , we’re taking a look back at some of those who came before them — and were quickly forgotten. Because while there have been plenty of “Idol” also-rans who were really good, there are just as many who weren’t. And really, we’ll remember them a lot longer than the talented ones.
So here’s a look back at some folks who reached for the stars (even though they probably shouldn’t have) and didn’t let a little thing like “skill” stand in the way of their dreams. Here’s our list of the most puzzling, unsettling and downright “WTF?” contestants in “American Idol” history.
Ace Young, season five
The robotic stare. The preternaturally rosy cheeks. The hypnotically perfect teeth and flowing locks. It is entirely possible Young — who finished seventh during the fifth season of “Idol” (a.k.a. “The Lost Year”) — is a cyborg. A really bland one. From Colorado.
Amanda Overmyer, season seven
She was the rockin’ nurse who never really found her way in the competition (she finished 11th). Her two-toned hair, gruff mannerisms and epically festooned jeans landed her on our list. Her gravelly takes on Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Joan Jett tunes landed her a lifetime of gigs at biker rallies and chili cook-offs all across this great land.
Blake Lewis, season seven
The beatboxing man-child who inexplicably finished second on season seven (a.k.a. “The Other Lost Year”), Lewis scatted his way through Jamiroquai, 311 and, uh, Bon Jovi; landed a record deal with Arista; released an “electro-funk-soul-pop” album called Audio Daydream; then summarily got dumped by his label. Wicky-wicky-WTF, indeed.
Bucky Covington, season five
The Buckster rode his down-home charm, amazing hair and truly mystifying teeth to a fifth-place finish in season five. Post-”Idol,” he’s become a successful country artist, but during his time on the show, he could most adequately have been described as “a more Southern Bo Bice.” And that’s not particularly great.
Haley Scarnato, season six
The singer for whom Simon’s “cabaret” criticism was seemingly created, Scarnato sang — and behaved — much like a Disney character brought to life. In a bid to make up for a lack of talent, she began shedding her good-girl image, showcasing her legs instead of her voice, and it worked. Scarnato kept surviving (she ended up finishing eighth), and we all lost a little bit of faith in humanity. WTF?!?
Jasmine Trias, season three
She was from Hawaii! She always wore flowers in her hair! She somehow finished third! WTF, people?
Jason Castro, season seven
The goofy dreads, the ukelele, the stony giggle … we love Jason Castro . But there’s no denying the fact that he pretty much lost interest in “Idol” toward the very end (he probably had Xbox to play or something), seemingly butchering versions of “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Mr. Tambourine Man” on purpose. It was hilarious, for sure. But it was also really “WTF?”
John Stevens, season three
The so-called “Teen Martin” sorta-crooned his way through a series of Rat Pack standards during the early days of “Idol,” earning a special place in the hearts of grandmas everywhere. He finished sixth, released an album and now apparently attends the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Kevin Covais, season five
Another grandma-approved, gawky crooner, Covais — nicknamed “Chicken Little,” due to his similarity to a CGI-animated chicken — stuck around way longer than he probably should have, eventually finishing 11th.
Kristy Lee Cook, season seven
The Wal-Mart of “American Idol” contestants: flag-waving, deceptively down-home, but really pretty terrible when you get right down to it. She belted out patriotic standards like “God Bless the USA” and faith-based classics like “Amazing Grace,” then was thankfully sent packing.
Ryan Starr, season one
A singer/actress more famous for her midriff than anything else, Starr (or Tiffany Ryan Montgomery, if you live in the real world) dressed like a thrift-store Wonder Woman, got the boot, appeared in Stuff magazine, starred in some reality-TV shows (and a straight-to-DVD movie!) and is now presumably up to something, somewhere.
Sanjaya Malakar, season six
Perhaps the most “WTF?” contestant in “Idol” history, Malakar mystified viewers with his hairstyles, bleated his way through truly awful versions of No Doubt’s “Bathwater” and “Bésame Mucho” and launched a million xenophobic call-center conspiracy theories when he continued to survive on the show. He eventually finished seventh — truly, he was impervious to the judge’s critiques — and will appear on the upcoming NBC import “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” alongside such luminaries as Spencer Pratt, Heidi Montag and Lou Diamond Phillips.
Scott Savol, season four
Bizarre, bulgy crooner from Cleveland whose continued survival on the show — he placed fifth — seems more of a testament to the power of Vote for the Worst than anything else. Oh, and Seacrest continually referred to him as “Scotty the Body.” WTF, dude?
Taylor Hicks, season five
This dude actually won! Looking back now, it’s pretty easy to ask, “What were we thinking?” But at the time, when America was gripped with Soul Patrol fever, it was — well, actually, it was pretty bad back then too. His victory (and subsequent failure to light up the charts) makes him the ultimate “WTF?” contestant in “American Idol” history.
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