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Remember When Kelly Clarkson Finished Second on ‘World Idol’?

Kelly Clarkson, Kurt Nilsen
Carl Allegri / Paul Bergen, Getty Images

When ‘American Idol’ copycat programs began enjoying success worldwide, someone thought it’d be a great idea to put the 11 individual country winners against each other for a one-day event called ‘World Idol.’ Kelly Clarkson — season one ‘Idol’ winner — was the U.S. representative, and she did very well, finishing second to Norway’s Kurt Nilsen. Yes, that mop-topped boy on the right (who vaguely resembles Clay Aiken) is Nilsen.

Fox aired the show on Christmas Day in 2003 and the results show one week later. The problem was — well, there were a few. You couldn’t vote for a singer from your country, for one. Some countries even tried to make money off of the voting. Everyone had to sing in English, which was good for us, but bad for Alicja “Alex” Janosz of Poland — and critics panned the show. Even Simon Cowell (the judge from America) criticized the idea, saying he hated it while accusing other judges of copying him.

Nilsen went on to enjoy a relatively successful career in Norway, where he is still a steady presence on the road and the radio. The gap-toothed singer will always be known as the ultimate ‘Idol’ underdog and the only ‘World Idol’ winner. Meanwhile, Kelly Clarkson is enjoying massive success as a pop star — and now, country crossover.

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