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‘American Idol’ Is Officially Ending in 2016

American Idol Simon Cowell Paula Abdul Randy Jackson
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

It’s the end of an era: American Idol will officially come to a close in 2016.

According to an announcement by FOX ahead of today’s upfronts, the show’s fifteenth and final season will air in January 2016, featuring the current judge line-up consisting of Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban.

As for the reason? “Despite judging casting changes and sagging viewership in recent years, it saw a temporary bump this year from showing the same night as Fox’s big first-year hit, ‘Empire.’ But the steady decline in ratings, especially in the 18-49 age group coveted by advertisers, finally led Fox to its decision,” the New York Times reports.

Idol will no doubt live on as one of the most influential cultural juggernauts of early ’00’s TV entertainment, responsible for launching the careers of Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia Barrino, Clay Aiken, Jordin Sparks and Katharine McPhee. (And also Diet Dr. Pepper commercial star, Justin Guarini.)

The show wasn’t just responsible for producing an array of superstars, either: Idol also propelled its initial judge line-up — Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and, of course, the venomous-yet-lovable Simon Cowell — into household name status. Later on, superstar acts like Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj and even Ellen DeGeneres (remember that?) would turn the judges’ table into a hotly competitive world in and of itself.

Idol itself contributed dozens of career-defining performances (Kelly Clarkson’s “Respect” remains one of the most spine-tingling live performances of all time, ever) and catchphrases (Randy Jackson’s “dawg”) into the pop culture stratosphere — not to mention effectively patenting the guilty pleasure/art of so-bad-it’s-good auditions like William Hung, who ironically enjoyed a fair share of fleeting success after his iconic “She Bangs” audition gone awry.

But what happens next for the future of reality TV singing competitions? Which ones will live on for another season, and which ones will soon see the same fate? We’ll find out right after the break.

Idol Winner Scotty McCreery Plays Pop The Question with PopCrush

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Next: Then And Now: 'American Idol' Winners

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