american idol season 9 top 20 'American Idol': Was Season 9 really the worst season ever?Opinions have been largely negative surrounding the ninth season of FOX’s hit singing competition show — but is this really the worst season in “American Idol” history? We don’t think so.

We think this is more a case of the collective “Idol” viewing audience having some short-term memory loss. Sure, in comparison to the David vs. David showdown of two years ago and the spectacle that was Adam Lambert coupled with whiskey-voiced Allison Iraheta and cutie-pie Kris Allen, Season 9 seemed a little boring.

But let’s not forget the seasons prior to seven and eight. Do you even remember the black hole that was Season 3?

Season 9’s Paige Miles is arguably the best 11th-place finisher ever, with the possible exception of Alexis Grace. Unfortunately for Paige, the week she was eliminated she was very obviously sick and had had no exposure prior to the Top 24, thus no fan base to get her through the rough patch.

Do we really think Didi Benami can’t compete with 10th-place finishers like Chris Sligh and Chikezie? Or Katie Stevens can’t hold her own against ninth-placers Jon Peter Lewis and Haley Scarnato?

Maybe finalists who finished so low aren’t as important as the ones who make it to the end, but they do make up the season as a whole.

Still, let’s examine the Top 3.

Casey James’ fellow third-place finishers are Nikki McKibbin, Kimberley Locke, Jasmine Trias, Vonzell Solomon, Elliott Yamin, Melinda Doolittle, Syesha Mercado and Danny Gokey. While Casey may not be at the very top of that list, we think he is certainly better than Jasmine Trias or Elliott Yamin.

Among the runners-up, Crystal Bowersox easily out-strips Justin Guarini, Clay Aiken, Diana DeGarmo, Bo Bice and Blake Lewis. We think speaking about her in the same breath as Katharine McPhee, David Archuleta and Adam Lambert is not completely crazy.

When you get to the winners, we feel comfortable putting Lee DeWyze in a second tier behind only Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and David Cook. He is on par with Ruben Studdard, Jordin Sparks and Kris Allen and is quite frankly a better singer than both Fantasia Barrino and Taylor Hicks.

Is Season 9 the best season over? No, of course not. But going on pure talent, it at least rises to the middle. Furthermore, look at three of the last four eliminated semi-finalists. Lilly Scott, Katelyn Epperly and Alex Lambert mop the floor with just about anybody eliminated before the finals in the past. We think the talent pool for Season 9 was actually pretty deep. The talent wasn’t the problem.

The problem was that Simon Cowell, King of “American Idol,” seemed less interested and invested than he previously did and that apathy, much like the way his opinion of the contestants’ performances does, rubbed off on the viewing audience. That apathy coupled with the knowledge that Simon is leaving drove viewers away and the ratings took a dive.

But what else played a part in the ratings slide is simply that it’s the ninth season. What show’s ratings got better in its ninth season? Did “ER” or “Law & Order” get better ratings after they’d been on that long? Did “Survivor” or “Friends” have higher ratings in their later seasons than their early ones? No. It’s also a matter of been there, done that. Perhaps “American Idol” is simply on its way out, regardless of the talent they put forth.

We happen to have enjoyed this season quite a bit. It wasn’t the most electrifying one we’ve watched but it certainly wasn’t the worst. Just for the record, we would rank the seasons from best to worst as: Seven, Eight, One, Two, Nine, Four, Six, Five and Three.

What do you think? Was the ninth season of “American Idol” really the worst ever? To find out how it ranks, vote in our poll. Remember, you are casting your vote for which seasons rank higher overall than Season 9.

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Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."