American Idol has churned out a whole host of talented individuals since the show aired. Some have gone on to be hugely successful, but others have fallen off the radar. Let’s find out where they are now and if they are still following their dreams.
Clay Aiken Then
You may be noticing a trend here, but Clay Aiken was another big star that didn’t win when he was on American Idol. He was actually the runner-up on season two, but enjoyed massive popularity throughout his time on the show. Although his appearance was pretty geeky, viewers were taken aback by the power and maturity of his voice. Aiken immediately worked to remake his image after the show.
Clay Aiken Now
Clay Aiken has had some musical success, but he has sought to become more than just an entertainer. In fact, he ran as a Democrat against incumbent Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers in 2014. Although he wasn’t able to win, he still works with the Democratic Party and as a UNICEF ambassador. Although music is on the backburner for him, he has managed to rack up a net income of $10 million.
Ruben Studdard Then
Who beat Clay Aiken during season two? None other than Ruben Studdard. During the show, Studdard was so impressive that Aiken even said that he was “proud to lose” to him. Right off the bat, Studdard made a name for himself coming off of the show, even winning a Grammy for his first album. The pride of Birmingham, Alabama, his hometown mayor even dedicated a day to his honor.
Ruben Studdard Now
After all these years, Ruben Studdard is still a fan favorite in R&B and gospel music. Studdard has often performed with gospel choirs and done duets with other gospel singers. He was also seen on the TV show The Biggest Loser. He has performed on stage and created charities that include the Ruben Studdard Foundation for the Advancement of Children in the Musical Arts.
Jordin Sparks Then
Jordin Sparks was the winner of American Idol‘s fifth season and also one of the youngest singers to ever compete on the show. Jordin was just 18 when she first appeared on our television screens! Although she barely got onto the show, the judges said she was the most improved singer in the early weeks and would end up winning the season. She released her first album in 2007.
Jordin Sparks Now
Since 2007, Jordin Sparks has continued to attract a following in R&B and pop music. To date, Jordin has released a total of four studio albums while totaling a net worth of about $10 million. She has also become an activist with causes that include youth education. To top it all off, Jordin has appeared on Broadway! She recently celebrated the arrival of her son to the world.
Phillip Phillips Then
The memorably named Phillip Phillips was the winner of American Idol Season 11, where his original songs connected with artists and judges alike. Phillip continued to shine even when kidney stones flared up late in the season and critics said he sounded too much like Dave Matthews (the famous star said he didn’t mind, however), and he was rewarded with the win.
Phillip Phillips Now
Like many contestants on the show, Phillip Phillips was featured on the American Idol Live! tour after the season ended. Phillip was also honored to be the singer of the national anthem at the 2012 World Series. Phillip has had hit songs such as “Home” and continues to make music for Interscope Records while doing world tours. In 2015, he married wife Rebecca Blackwell.
Chris Daughtry Then
It’s unbelievable how talented the contestants of the fifth season of American Idol was. To put it in perspective, Chris Daughtry finished fourth! Fortunately for him, failing to win did not have an impact on his career whatsoever. He was considered to be a “rocker” on the show and sure enough, decided to tour with a band after his time on the show was over.
Chris Daughtry Now
As lead singer of the self-named band Daughtry, Chris racked up a net worth of over $20 million while releasing six successful studio albums. He’s a well-traveled artist, having been on five world tours with another one on the way in 2018. More than anything, Chris Daughtry is proof that there is no specific formula that will lead to success on – or after – the show.
David Cook Then
When David Cook went on the seventh season of American Idol, he already had a small following. However, he planned to just be there to support his brother, who was there to audition. Cook was surprised to be chosen and would go on to perform well as the underdog while performing a wide variety of songs that included several rock tunes. Many people thought David Archuleta won, but Cook was the victor.
David Cook Now
Since winning American Idol, David Cook has mostly made his music in his private Tulsa, Oklahoma, studio. While he isn’t the household name that some of his colleagues have become, he has a net worth of approximately $6 million. He tours regularly and has released a total of four albums during his career. One of those albums was put out before he was even on the show!
David Archuleta Then
The judges were fond of calling David Archuleta “The Kid” during season seven. It wasn’t his first talent show; he was on Star Search at age 13. The judges were huge fans of his smooth singing, even though David Cook eventually went on to win the show. Still, Archuleta has had quite a following in the years since, many of whom believe he was the real winner.
David Archuleta Now
David is still a young man, as he was just 17 years old when he starred on American Idol. Since his appearance, he has continued to evolve as a singer while his albums have often centered around religion and faith. He’s currently working on his sixth album. Outside of music, he loves doing missionary work and donating time and effort to various charities around the globe.
Jennifer Hudson Then
While everyone expects the winners of American Idol to go on to big things, sometimes it’s one of the runners-up that surprise you and have great careers. Jennifer Hudson came in 7th during the show’s third season, but her career really started to take off after the publicity that she got on the show. If anything, not winning made her fans even more supportive of her career!
Jennifer Hudson Now
Although Carrie Underwood has sold more albums, Jennifer Hudson may be the most successful contestant on the show if you look at her overall achievements. Not only has she won Grammy Awards, but also a Tony Award for her Broadway performances and an Academy Award for Dreamgirls. Jennifer is said to be worth over $25 million, but continues to be involved in charitable activities, especially those that benefit her home town of Chicago.
Kellie Pickler Then
The fifth season of American Idol had a lot of great talent, including Kellie Pickler, who didn’t win, but certainly won over a lot of fans. On the show, she focused on presenting herself as a country vocalist, earning the respect of judge Simon Cowell along the way. Even after she was eliminated, she continued to promote the show and stayed connected to her new fans.
Kellie Pickler Now
In the time since she was on American Idol, Kellie Pickler has put out five albums, including 2011’s Country Music Fair. That album and others have won several Academy of Country Music Awards. She has also had a number of successful tours on her own and with other popular country singers. She currently has a net worth of more than $8 million and enjoys performing for U.S. troops overseas.
Kelly Clarkson Then
The winner of the first season, Kelly Clarkson etched a place for herself in history. She was quick to record her first album, Thankful and even won a Grammy Award for “Miss Independent” off of Thankful. The Texas-born star rejected two record deals before she went on American Idol and won the nation over.
Kelly Clarkson Now
Since the early days of her career, Kelly Clarkson has continued to be very successful. She has sold out arenas, sold millions of records, and tried new musical styles as she developed her artistry. Throughout her career, she has amassed a net worth of over $30 million. Her personal life has also been the source of much of her happiness, as she has two children with Brandon Blackstock.
Taylor Hicks Then
You had to be talented to win a season of American Idol that included Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Mandisa, and others, and Taylor Hicks certainly was great on the show. However, Simon Cowell was against him seemingly from the start. Maybe that made the fans like him even more, to the point where they picked him over the fan favorite McPhee.
Taylor Hicks Now
Taylor Hicks has really evolved and grown since his successful season, branching out from music to succeed in the world of business, as well. He has appeared on Saturday Night Live and largely been quiet on the music front since 2010. Still, Taylor has been able to amass an estimated net worth of over $6 million, so he has carved out a very nice life for himself.
Carrie Underwood Then
In 2005, Carrie Underwood captured the hearts of American Idol viewers on her way to winning the show’s fourth season. Viewers knew that she could have a chance at winning when even the hard-to-please Simon Cowell showed a liking for Carrie throughout the season. The country singer won a million dollars, a record deal, sponsorships, a house, and much more from her success on the show.
Carrie Underwood Now
Carrie Underwood has now slowed down even a bit since winning American Idol. She is one of the top 10 female singers ever in terms of album sales and is said to be worth about $80 million! While some country singers have gone on to do pop albums, Carrie has stayed country through and through and has performed everywhere from the Grand Ole Opry to Madison Square Garden.
Adam Lambert Then
Another star that didn’t win American Idol, Adam Lambert came in 2nd on the show’s 8th season. The disappointment of losing didn’t keep Lambert from getting a record deal right away. He said that he wasn’t happy with the way that the show’s producers made him seem like a “rock kid,” and has since changed his image to more accurately reflect who he really is inside.
Adam Lambert Now
Adam Lambert has come a long way and has been so successful that he is worth $17 million now. Lambert said that he’s amazed at what he’s accomplished after starting out playing Peter Pan in community theater. Lambert is known as much for his fashion sense as his great live performances, and he also takes time out of his schedule to fight for equal rights and support charities.
Justin Guarini Then
He was the guy with the big hair during the first season of American Idol. As the season progressed, he wowed the audience and judges with his vocal talent, ending up as runner-up to the amazing Kelly Clarkson.
Justin Guarini Now
Since then, Guarini has started his own production company, Justice Entertainment, Ltd., made his very own Broadway debut, and has even toned down his look by getting rid of those curly locks and sticking to buttoned-up ensembles.
Sanjaya Malakar appeared in season six and was one of the most-talked-about contestants on the show, and was better known for his wild hairstyles than his singing. He didn’t make it to the end, but we definitely impressed the judges and had a big fan following.
After Sanjaya left Idol he won the award for Best Teen Reality Star at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards and then went on to host the show, Idol Stars: Where Are They Now?, on the TV Guide Channel. Sanjaya also co-wrote his autobiography titled Dancing to the Music in My Head: Memoirs of the People’s Idol, which did very well and has four stars on Amazon.
Kris Allen Then
In one of the most shocking results in Idol history, Kris Allen beat Adam Lambert for the season eight title of winner. His debut single, “Live Like We’re Dying,” became a hit in 2009, but he made major headlines for a devastating car crash in 2013 that made him almost unable to play music.
Kris Allen Now
Thankfully, Allen recovered from the devastating accident and released his third studio album, Horizons, in 2014. In 2016, Allen welcomed his second child with his high school sweetheart-turned-wife.
Lee Dewyze Then
Lee Dewyze is an American singer-songwriter from Mount Prospect, Illinois, and was the winner of the ninth season, gaining popularity with the audience and the judges. Prior to Idol, DeWyze had a solo career and formed the Lee DeWyze Band. Where is he now?
Lee Dewyze Now
DeWyze split from RCA Records just a year after winning the Idol crown and releasing his debut album, which reached No. 19 on the Billboard 200. His 2013 album, Frames, showed off the singer’s folk talents, but didn’t make much of an effect on the charts. But if you are a fan of the show The Walking Dead, you will have heard DeWyze’s voice. His “Blackbird Song” was featured in season four of AMC’s hit drama.
Scotty McCreery Then
At just 17 years old, McCreery became the series’ youngest male winner and second youngest winner overall (before Sparks). Along with his voice, audiences swooned over his cute looks and innocent charm. His weeks grew stronger and he was definitely the sure fire winner from the start. He knocked the other contestants out the park.
Scotty McCreery Now
Since his time on Idol, McCreery has become a recognized star in the country music world, selling more than 2.5 million albums and bagging himself three Platinum-certified singles, all while attending college at North Carolina State University. His third studio album, featuring the single “Southern Belle,” was a huge hit.
Candice Glover Then
Candice Glover won the twelfth season of the show. Glover is the first winner to have auditioned three times before being cast for the live shows.
Candice Glover Now
Glover’s debut album, Music Speaks, was released in 2014, but sadly it failed to produce a hit single. Glover is said to be working on a follow-up album, but seems to be keeping busy and focusing on performing at corporate and professional sporting events. We can’t wait to see what her future holds.
Fantasia Barrino Taylor Then
Fantasia broke a lot of hearts when she won the third season of American Idol, as Jennifer Hudson was surprisingly eliminated and finished in seventh place that year. Fantasia once called her “the best contestant to ever compete in any talent competition ever,” which is certainly high praise. She also broke records, winning the show at just 19 years of age.
Fantasia Barrino Taylor Now
The singer known simply as “Fantasia” has released six albums since she won American Idol. Most recently, she did a Christmas album in 2017. She has toured very consistently, even linking up with the legendary vocalist Andrea Bocelli for a five-show tour. Her resume includes a Grammy Award, a platinum album, and a gold album, as well as the #1 single “I Believe.”
Katharine McPhee Then
Another talented American Idol season five contestant was Katharine McPhee. The Los Angeles resident gave viewers the “McPheever” with her attractive looks, classic style and memorable vocals. A lot of fans were very perturbed when McPhee lost out to winner Taylor Hicks, although McPhee herself did not list any regrets about the way that the show ended.
Katharine McPhee Now
Katherine McPhee has shown that you don’t have to win American Idol to have a future in the music business. She has not only released six albums, but also done some acting as she has amassed over $7.5 million in net worth. She has had the honor of performing with singers such as Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga for the album I Fall In Love Too Easily.