The Most Successful American Idol Alumni

As you have probably already heard, next season will be the final season of American Idol. I’m not sure I ever thought this day would come. Over the years I’ve been multiple different levels of obsessed with the show. Sometimes I am glued to the TV every single episode. Sometimes I only watch a week here and there. I think I may even have skipped entire seasons… but I always thought it would be the train that just kept chugging.

In honour of this announcement – and, you know, because I want to – today I am going to share a list of the most successful American Idol contestants…in my opinion. So please, read on for this very biased list.

lauren-alaina-american-idol

Season: 10

Placing: Runner up

Career Highlights Since Idol:

  • Played the Grand Ole Opry
  • First album Wildflower debuted at number 5 on the US Billboard 200 chart
  • Toured with Jason Aldean
  • Won an award for New Artist of the year at American Country Awards in 2012

Why I Put Her On This List:

As a country music fan, I still hear about Lauren Alaina a bit. I’m not sure you would if you don’t pay attention to the country world, but she had some minor success right away with Wildflower and I think that warrants inclusion here.

scotty mccreery american idol

Season: 10

Placing: Winner

Career Highlights Since Idol:

  • Debut album Clear as Day certified platinum
  • 2012 album Christmas with Scotty McCreery certified gold
  • First single from third album, “See You Again” reached top 10 on Billboard country charts
  • Played the Grand Ole Opry
  • Won multiple awards including an Academy of Country Music Award and a couple American Country Awards.

Why I Put Him On This List:

Scotty McCreery was a ton of fun to watch on his season of Idol, and I’ve loved a handful of his songs since. He’s still a bit popular in the country music world, but he’s also doing it all – going to school like a normal twenty-something while still pursuing his music career.

arrives at  Fox's "American Idol 2012" Finale -Results Show at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on May 23, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Season: 6

Placing: Winner

Career Highlights Since Idol:

  • Dated Jason Derulo
  • Won multiple awards including an American Music Award, a People’s Choice Award, and a Teen Choice Award
  • Spent some time on TV, film, and Broadway
  • Co-hosted the red carpet at the 2013 AMAs

Why I Put Her On This List:

Any singer who has been on both the big and small screen as well as a Broadway stage totally deserves inclusion.

katharine mcphee american idol

Season: 5

Placing: Runner Up

Career Highlights Since Idol:

  • Co-starred in The House Bunny and Shark Night 3D
  • Leading roles in Smash and Scorpion
  • Recorded a duet with Andrea Bocelli for his Under the Desert Sky album
  • Released 3 albums: Katharine McPhee (2007), Unbroken (2010), Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You (2010)

Why I Included Her On This List:

I was never a huge fan of Katharine McPhee, but I did watch and love her on Smash, so I felt that was enough to put her here. Also the fact that she’s acting as well as making music gives her some more street cred.

Kellie Pickler American Idol

Season: 5

Placing: 6th

Career Highlights Since Idol:

  • Several hit country albums including Small Town Girl and 100 Proof
  • Toured with Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts
  • Spent time on Dancing with the Stars
  • Won awards for “Red High Heels”, “I Wonder”, and “Best Days of Your Life”

Why I Included Her On This List:

Kellie Pickler is a country music star, and she absolutely deserves to be included.

Fantasia Barrino American Idol

Season: 3

Placing: Winner

Career Highlights Since Idol: 

  • Single “I Believe” debuted at number one
  • Debut album Free Yourself certified platinum
  • Won a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “Bittersweet”
  • Appeared on Broadway in After Midnight and The Color Purple

Why I Included Her On This List:

Anyone who’s won a Grammy automatically gets on the list. That’s just a rule.

Chris Daughtry American Idol

Season: 4

Placing: 5th

Career Highlights Since Idol:

  • After idol, was offered record deal and formed band Daughtry
  • First album Daughtry became the fastest-selling debut rock band in Nielsen Soundscan history
  • Grammy nomination for best rock song “It’s Not Over”
  • Worked on collaborations with many artists including Slash, Chad Kroeger, Theory of a Deadman, Vince Gill, and Sevendust
  • Made his acting debut in CSI: New York

Why I Put Him On This List:

I think that Chris Daughtry has actually kind of managed to shrug the perception of having been on American Idol. He’s turned out pretty “cool”. Even people that scoff at Idol can like a Daughtry song.

Clay Aiken American Idol

Season: 2

Placing: Runner Up

Career Highlights Since Idol:

  • Released 7 albums with two different labels
  • Launched 11 tours and co-authored a New York Times best-selling book titled Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life
  • Acted as Executive Producer on his A Clay Aiken Christmas TV special, and for his televised live concert special in 2010
  • Appeared as guest star on Scrubs, Drop Dead Diva, 30 Rock, The Office, Phineas and Ferb, and more.
  • Competed on the 5th season of Celebrity Apprentice and finished as runner up
  • Made Broadway debut as Sir Robin in Monty Python’s Spamalot
  • Ran for Congress in North Carolina’s 2nd congressional district in 2014. Won the Democratic primary but lost to Republican incumbent Renee Elmers
  • Co-headlined “Independent Tour” with Kelly Clarkson
  • Won multiple awards including American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, American Christian Music Awards, and more.

Why I Included Him On This List:

Just look at all the stuff he’s done! How can I not? Music, acting, executive producing, authoring, touring, singing on Broadway, and running for Congress… who else has such a diverse set of accomplishments?

Image #: 29544202    Singer Phillip Phillips arrives at the American Idol XIII 2014 Finale in Los Angeles, California May 21, 2014.   REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES  - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)  (AMERICANIDOL-ARRIVALS)       REUTERS /DANNY MOLOSHOK /LANDOV

Season: 11

Placing: Winner

Career Highlights Since Idol:

  • Coronation song “Home” became bestselling of all Idol coronation songs
  • So far released 2 albums, The World from the Side of the Moon and Behind the Light
  • Wrote or co-wrote the majority of the songs on his albums
  • First album debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum
  • Matchbox Twenty was the opening act for his first North American tour
  • Nominated for multiple awards including Teen Choice Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and American Music Awards, among others

Why I Included Him On This List:

Much like Daughtry, Phillip Phillips has actually managed to become “cool”. Out of all the idol contestants, Phillip is one of the few that I am an actual somewhat committed fan of.

Jennifer Hudson American Idol

Season: 3

Placing: 7th

Career Highlights Since Idol:

  • Took to the big screen in Dreamgirls to much acclaim
  • Has been nominated and won MANY awards for both her music and acting. These include both an Oscar and a Grammy, which makes her an absolute superstar.
  • So far released 3 albums, the first 2 of which have been certified Gold

Why I Included Her On This List:

A Grammy and an Oscar? Enough said.

Adam Lambert American Idol

Season: 8

Placing: Runner Up

Career Highlights Since Idol:

  • First studio album For Your Entertainmentdebuted at number 3 on the Billboard 200
  • Acted as Executive Producer on his second album, Trespassing
  • Toured with Queen as lead singer
  • Won more random awards than I care to try to list here
  • Took to the screen for stints on GleePretty Little Liars, and more

Why I Included Him On This List:

I’d say that I’m actually a somewhat committed fan of Adam Lambert as well – I love following his career. His stint on Glee was epic, and he is the perfect lead singer for Queen. Oh yeah, and I love his solo stuff too (new album dropping June 16 for those that don’t know!).

Carrie Underwood during "American Idol" Season 4 - Finale - Press Room at The Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, CA, United States. (Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic)

Season: 4

Placing: Winner

Career Highlights Since Idol:

  • Inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2009
  •  Won 7 Grammys, 17 Billboard Music Awards, 8 American Music Awards, and has been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song
  • Debut album Some Hearts (2005) was the fastest selling debut country album in Nielsen SoundScan history, the best-selling solo female debut album in country music history and the best-selling country album of the last ten years.
  • Second album, Carnival Ride, had one of the biggest opening weeks ever for a female artist.
  • 2009’s Play On and 2012’s Blown Away both had great commercial and critical success as well.
  • Sold more than 65 million records globally.

Why I Included Her On This List:

She’s the top grossing Idol winner of all time, and she’s a country megastar. Of course she’s on this list.

Kelly Clarkson American Idol

Season: 1

Placing: Winner

Career Highlights Since Becoming the Original American Idol:

  • Is Kelly Clarkson, enough said.

Why I Included Her On This List:

Kelly Clarkson is an absolute star. Everyone loves her, she makes great music, and she’s the original American Idol.

What do you think about this list? Did I miss anyone? Who would top yours? Discuss in the comments!

Cheers,

KG

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