justin kelly 'American Idol' Season 1: Kelly Clarkson vs. Justin GuariniThe Season 10 premiere of “American Idol” is only a week away and to make the days go by a bit faster, Zap2it decided to take a stroll down memory lane and re-evaluate the previous nine seasons.

Each day leading up to the premiere on Wednesday, Jan. 19, we will post a retrospective on each season. We’re breaking it down into four categories: Best Performance, Worst Performance, Most Underrated Idol and most Overrated Idol. At the end, we will decide how the season stacks up against the rest, rating it as great, good, or not-so-good.

First up, the inaugural 2002 Season. We kind of miss the more intimate, smaller feeling of the show when it was still figuring itself out and had a touch of innocence to it. It produced one of the show’s most successful “Idol”  winners ever and had that extremely awkward co-host Brian Dunkleman (remember him? Bueller?) competing with Ryan Seacrest for more screen-time.

Season 1 contestants in order of elimination:

Jim Verraros
Ejay Day
A.J. Gil
Ryan Starr
Christina Christian
R.J. Helton
Tamyra Gray
Nikki McKibbin
Justin Guarini

Kelly Clarkson (winner)

Best Performance: “A Moment Like This,” Kelly Clarkson

Was there any doubt that we would choose this as the best performance? It may even be our favorite performance in the show’s history. While we loved her performance of “Natural Woman,” we were so moved by her performance of “A Moment Like This” after winning the title in 2002. We cried through the entire song with her and it has become a defining moment for the show. Also, we loved when the rest of the contestants came on stage and finished the song with her. The song went on to shatter a 38-year-old record held by The Beatles for biggest leap to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Worst Performance: “From Justin to Kelly”

While it only ranks at No. 14 on IMDB’s list of the 100 worst movies of all-time (one review called it a “war-crime”), we still think this is the most painful film to ever grace the big screen. We’re not sure what the “Idol” execs were thinking when they decided to make this masterpiece, but it’s pretty telling that they’ve never made any contestants suffer through an embarrassment such as this since. The dance sequences? Cringe-worthy. The romantic plot? Cheesy. The acting? We’re just going to stop now. But not before posting this clip! When searching for a scene from the movie on YouTube, we actually came across a fan-video dedicated to it. Seriously. Don’t say we never gave you anything.

Most Underrated Idol: Tamyra Gray

In our perfect “Idol” world, the finale would have been Clarkson vs. Gray. It baffles us that she didn’t make it all the way when judge Simon Cowell called her performance of “A House Is Not A Home” “one of the best performances on television.” In a way, Gray was the show’s original Jennifer Hudson, a truly gifted singer that America just didn’t wear out the keypads on their phone for. 

Most Overrated Idols: Ryan Starr and Nikki McKibbin

Even though she only made it to Round 3, we still felt that was three rounds too long for Starr. Also, Ryan Starr may be the worst stage name ever and we’re pretty sure she was already running out of shirts that showed off her stomach by the time she was eliminated.

Nikki McKibbin fared much better, making it all the way to the Top Three by riding on subpar performances (Oh, hi “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me!”).The craziest thing about her almost making it to the Final Two was that, with the exception of ’60s week, McKibbin was in the bottom three every week. 

ryan starr 'American Idol' Season 1: Kelly Clarkson vs. Justin Guarini

How the season stacks up: Not-so-good

While there’s no doubt that Clarkson is one of the show’s best finds, the rest of the contestants as a whole were pretty weak.

Posted by:tbricker