USA Today played a fun game with its readers: the American Idol section of the newspaper asked people to write it about what order they would now place season one contestants in.
Six years later, the results are telling (actual results from the whoa re in parenthesis)...
1. Kelly Clarkson (1st): Kelly didn't win in a landslide, but the result was clear. She has done the franchise proud and we don't know that anyone else in this crop could have come close to equaling her subsequent achievements.
3. Justin Guarini (2nd): Justin's fast fade from the public eye is reflected in his loss of standing retrospectively. He was the clear No. 3 choice, but was way behind Tamyra in the voting, and only a couple of people cared enough to vote him No. 1.
4. Christina Christian (6th): Substantial support for Christina. It'll be interesting to see where other African-American singers like Kimberley Locke, Trenyce, Jennifer Hudson, La Toya London, Nadia Turner, Vonzell Solomon and others wind up in the revisionist vote.
5. RJ Helton (5th): A bit of a surprise, not that he equaled his actual finish but that he beat real-life third-place finisher Nikki McKibbin to do it (by the slimmest margin between any two finalists).
6. Nikki McKibbin (3rd): Biggest gap between actual finish and revised vote, and well-deserved if you ask us. Always thought Nikki was overrated, and her claim as a "rock chick" quite dubious; Gina Glocksen could probably sing rings around her.
7. Ryan Starr (7th): Fairly substantial gap between Nikki and Ryan, who struck us as substantially more bogus than Nikki, although she was arguably better than her piano-climbing male namesake on Rockstar: Supernova. She was kind of the Haley Scarnato of her day (in terms of teenage boy appeal), but less wholesome.
8. E. Jay Day (9th): E Jay carves out a small triumph by getting voted a notch higher than his actual finish.
9. A.J. Gil (8th): The boy-band-esque A.J. was the victim of E. Jay's success, falling to ninth in the revisionist standings. No great loss.
10. Jim Verraros (10th): And as it was in the beginning, so shall it be for eternity (or until the next poll comes around). Coming out didn't gain Jim a lot of retroactive support, it appears.