Since June 11, 2002, American Idol has been producing some remarkable singers and performances. The show has produced many winners and runners-up who have become platinum artists in their own right such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, David Archuleta, Ruben Stoddard, Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, Kelly Pickler, Chris Daughtry, Jordin Sparks, Adam Lambert, and Scotty Mcreery.
In that time, the Asian community has seen a rise in Asian singers appear in the coveted top 24 of American Idol. Each year, the Asian singer becomes the pride-and-joy of their community and an instant celebrity in all Asian circles. Although an Asian singer hasn’t won it all yet–the closest was Jasmine Trias who finished 3rd in 2004–there is always the hope that one will soon win it all soon. That chance to become an “American Idol” may be this year with Jessica Sanchez or Hee Jun Han. We hope.
Here are Asian singers that many viewers enjoyed in the past and that we remember:
Season 3 (2004) — Jasmine Trias and Camille Velasco. The first two years did not have any Asian singers in the top 24 but when season 3 of Idol rolled around, two Filipino singers appeared on the scene– Jasmine Trias and Camille Velasco, both from Hawaii! Unfortunately, Velasco was eliminated earlier but Trias went as high as #3 before Fantasia Barrino became the eventual winner. Many point to “organized voting” from Hawaii and other parts of the country that contributed to Trias finishing so high. Whatever the case, Trias’ finish was indeed remarkable and she remains the highest ranked Asian American Idol singer to date.
Season 5 (2006) — Filipino Jose “Sway” Penala of the Bay area would appear in the top 24 and the lone Asian entrant in the top 24 but he would endure an early elimination. He was certainly better than eventual winner Taylor Hicks but the voting public had spoken.
Season 6 (2007) — Sanjaya Malakar of Indian descent, Half-Filipino AJ Tabaldo, and Korean-American Paul Kim made the top 24. Tabaldo and Kim would be eliminated early but Malakar appeared in the top 12! It was unprecedented time for male Asian singers on American Idol.
Season 7 (2008) – Filipina Ramiele Malubay would be the lone entrant in the top 24 and would be eliminated early in the competition. Eventual winner was David Cook.
Season 8 (2009) — Anoop Desai of North Carolina would be the highest ranked singer of Indian descent finishing at 6th place (Malakar finished in 7th). Unfortunately, he had stiff competition from winner Kris Allen and runner-up Adam Lambert.
Season 10 (2011) – Thia Megia, a Filipina singer from the Bay area, who was a quarterfinalist on America’s Got talent, finished in the top 11 of American Idol. She would be the youngest performer at 15 to enter the top 24 since Idol made the minimum requirement of 15 years old to enter the contest.
Season 11 (2012) – We are already in the top 10 and San Diego’s Jessica Sanchez and New York’s Hee Jun Han are near the top of winning it all. Han is already the highest ranked Korean singer ever. Sanchez may eclipse Trias if she finishes higher than 3rd place, which is what many Idol experts are predicting for the petite 16 year old singer.
So come on American Idol fans and everyone in the Asian community, let’s vote and make an Asian singer a champion for the very first time. Jessica Sanchez and Hee Jun Han can’t win if you don’t vote!