TOP 30 AMERICAN IDOL RANKDOWN CONTESTANT,
Ryan Starr is a contestant from the influential first season of American Idol, where she made it all the way to seventh place. She first rose to prominence for the viewers when she received the first "yes" audition in the premiere season's first and only audition episode (oh how I wish we could go back to just one audition episode...), and continued to make an impression during Hollywood week.
In the semi-finals, she sang "The Frim Fram Sauce" and delivered one of the best performances from her group, which easily earned her a spot in the Top 10 alongside Tamyra Gray and Jim Verraros. As the finals loomed, she began to rehearse her upcoming performances and realized she didn't really want to be on American Idol... She got started in the finals with "If You Really Love Me," a solid - but not outstanding - performance. After surviving the double elimination unscathed owing to EJay, Nikki and Jim all turning in bad performances, Top 8 week saw Ryan with a pimp spot where she gave a truly legendary performance as part of her self-sabotage.
Queen of delivering Idol's first hot mess finals performance
Sadly for her, the late performance spot and it being her first bad performance helped her get some sympathy votes, and she thankfully survived the vote over A.J. Gil, who really had no business even being in the Top 8. After that, she performance a jazzed-up Last Dance for Top 7 week, where she was eliminated after being placed in the bottom two against frontrunner (unfortunately for us) Justin Guarini. Imagine if she had managed to get enough votes to survive over Justin Guarini. Whoo, chile, maybe Nikki McKibbin wouldn't have been the most hated woman in America that year!
Post-Idol, Ryan was signed to RCA Records alongside most of the finalists after RCA was hoping to capitalize on the success of the show. Unfortunately for Ryan, RCA wanted Ryan to release an album in the same vein as Avril Lavigne, despite Ryan wanting to make a rock album. Well, at least they didn't sign her wanting her to record two country albums. After being stuck in a three-year legal battle with RCA Records, she was finally released from her contract and turned towards recording independent singles. The first of those was My Religion, which earned a Guiness World Book record for selling the most of iTunes-exclusive singles at the time. ICON.
In addition to My Religion, she also recored Blue and Broken for the American Idol: Curtain Call CD, and released a few demos from her scrapped album on her MySpace. Sadly for us, those songs no longer exist owing to MySpace losing their music files pre-2005 because nobody knows what they're doing with that website anymore. Outside of recording, she also appeared as a lead in the 2004 "horror" film Ring of Darkness, and continued her foray into reality television with a stint on The Surreal Life, as well as returning for commentary on American Idol Rewind back when that was a thing.
She disappeared for a few years before returning a couple of years ago as a travel blogger. With her own website and YouTube channel under the moniker She is Ryan, Ryan travels the globe and talks about her experiences in different cultures and finding her inner happiness a la Lauryn Hill. She's also built up a decent following on her Instagram account of the same name: @she_is_ryan. She doesn't seem to be doing music anymore, but she seems happy, which is good to hear. Recently, she took part in the S1 mini-reunion that featured the Top 10 from S1 minus Kelly (for obvious reasons) and Nikki McKibbin. #awkward
Though I wouldn't say she's one of the best contestants of all time, I personally do rank her pretty high in my own ranking of the contestants. After all, she was my first-ever American Idol favourite, which means she's always had a special spot in my American Idol-filled heart. (Nikki became my favourite after her early elimination, and Kelly is obviously my favourite nowadays, but Ryan is still in my Top 4 alongside them + Jim Verraros. don't @ me). I obviously didn't expect her to make it this far and was more-so just saving her for the lulz, but when Solaris also kept saving her, I was committed to bringing her as far as possible.
Thank you for the memories, Ryan.