American Idol winners and Runners-up: Where are they now?

“American Idol” was one of the most talked about reality singing competitions in the world. It was on air for 14 years but was canceled after the 15th season. This singing competition revolutionized the reality TV platform and in some cases helped to discover the next big thing in the pop music industry. It has produced global artists whose singles are chart-toppers and platinum awardees.

After staying on Fox for a long time, ABC announced that they want to reboot the series. The 16th season debuted on March 2018. Ryan Seacrest remained as the show’s host while Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, and Katy Perry served as judges. Let us go back to all the winners and their respective runner-up for 16 seasons to witness how much they have changed after their season finale.

Kelly Clarkson

She is the inaugural winner of American Idol. Her finale song, “A Moment like This”, landed  the 1st spot on Billboard Hot 100. Kelly Clarkson managed to sell over 25 million album copies and more than 36 million singles globally since her rise to prominence. She managed to get three number 1 hits, eleven singles in the Top 10 and 27 songs in Billboard’s Hot 100. Currently, she is one of the coaches of The Voice.

Kelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson is one of the most decorated American Idol’s of all time. She’s received numerous awards, including  three Grammys, three VMA, four AMA, and two Academy Country music awards. Kelly Clarkson was hailed by Billboard as one of the greatest singers in the Pop Music Scene. Moreover, she was awarded the Powerhouse Award because of her astonishing vocal prowess. In 2019, she was given a chance to host her self-titled variety show.

Justin Guarini

Justin was  the runner-up to Clarkson in the first season of American Idol. Unlike Clarkson, his post-Idol album wasn’t very successful having only sold 146,000 copies. However, Guarini has moved on from the music industry and focused on television commercials. Since 2015, he has been a commentator on Fox News Channel, Style Channel, Larry King Live, Today and MSNBC.

Ruben Studdard

Ruben Studdard rose to prominence after winning the second season of American Idol. Studdard’s performance of his song “Superstar” received positive praise and received a  Grammy Award nomination in 2003 for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. He released his first album entitled “Soulful” and managed to sell 2.6 million copies. In 2013, he appeared in the fifteenth season of “The Biggest Loser” but failed to win. More recently, he made his Broadway theatre debut in December of 2018.

Clay Aiken

Aiken’s runner-up finish to Ruben Studdard came as a surprise to every American Idol fan. Although Clay didn’t win,  he managed to sell over five million copies of his album in the United States. Aiken embarked on 11 tours and finished second when he joined the fifth season of the reality TV show “The Celebrity Apprentice”. In 2014, he ran for Congress in North Carolina but eventually lost. Despite the loss, he continues his activities in promoting human rights.

Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken and his friend, Diane Bubel created the Bubel/Aiken Foundation which later went on to become  the “National Inclusion Project”. He was tapped to be a UNICEF Ambassador where he served for nine years, eventually stepping down from the position as a result of running for congress. He was appointed and served as an ambassador to the Presidential for People with Intellectual Disabilities for two years.

Fantasia Barrino

Fantasia Barrino became popular by winning the third season of American Idol. Her debut single “I Believe” debuted at the number one spot in Billboard Hot 100. She was able to sell more than 3,000,000 albums and most of these sales came from her debut album called “Free Yourself” which eventually  went platinum. She won a Grammy for her single “Bittersweet” in addition to performing on Broadway in musicals -“The Color Purple” and “After Midnight”.

Fantasia Barrino

Fantasia Barrino made a comeback in April 2013 on American Idol and sang “Lose To Win”. She  received rave reviews in the media for her performance. In October 2014, she was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame for her contribution in the state’s music industry. Even R&B legend and multi-time grammy award winner Patti LaBelle called Fantasia  “Baby Patti LaBelle”.

Diana DeGarmo

Diana DeGarmo finished as the runner-up to the highly-popular Fantasia Barrino in the third season of American Idol. Her album only sold 168,000 copies. After her Idol stint, which didn’t help to launch  her career, she went back to her Broadway roots. She was part of the Broadway musical “Hair” and met her future husband, Ace Young, who happens to be an American Idol alumni.

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood is the season 4 winner and is tagged as the “most successful American Idol winner” of all time. She’s managed to sell more than 65 million albums throughout the globe as of 2017. In addition to that,  Carrie has been awarded seven Grammys for her pop/country hits. In 2014, Time Magazine included her on the list of “100 most influential people”.

Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood was given the title of Billboard’s Country Music’s Reigning Queen. In addition, she was named by the “Rolling Stone” as  “Best Female Vocalist of her Generation of Any Genre”. Underwood is known as a country singer and is the only solo country singer to debut a single on the Hot 100 during the 2000s. She also  topped the charts being the artist with the most number-one hits in the history of the Country Airplay chart. According to Forbes, she is the most successful American Idol contestant of all-time.

Bo Bice

Bo Bice came in second to Carrie Underwood in the fourth season of American Idol. He released his debut album entitled “The Real Thing” after his American Idol stint to limited success, only selling  a mere 757,000 albums worldwide. He started his own record label company, “Sugar Money” and is now busy being the lead singer of Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

Taylor Hicks

Taylor Hicks came out victorious during the 5th season of American idol. He has sold 768,000 albums throughout his career and most of these sales came from his first post-Idol album. Despite his lesser sales compared to the other winners, he was the first Idol winner to acquire a long-term residency in Las Vegas. Taylor started his residency at Bally but later moved to Paris Las Vegas in January 2013.

Katherine McPhee

Katherine McPhee is an American singer, actress and songwriter who rose to fame by finishing as runner up on the 5th season of American Idol. She has sold 475,000 albums worldwide and most of these sales came from her self-titled album in 2007, debuting at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. She has found far more success as an actress then a singer,  starring in shows such as Smash and Scorpion as well as guest starring in hit shows like Family Guy and Community to name a few.

Jordin Sparks

Jordin Sparks rose to fame by winning the 6th season of American Idol . Winning the title at just  17, she is the youngest winner in the series’ history. Her self-titled album went platinum and scored massive hits like “Tattoo” and “No Air”. Sparks has also starred on the big screen alongside Whitney Houston in the film, Sparkle.

Jordin Sparks

Jordin Sparks has not only made a name for herself in the music scene but also in Broadway and  television. She has released several perfumes named Because of You, Fascinate and Ambition .Her five year absence in the music industry ended with her release of  a mixtape entitled #ByeFelicia. Jordan’s recent album named “Right Here Right Now” received minimal commercial success but was well-received by music critics.

Blake Lewis

Blake Lewis was voted as the runner-up to Jordin Sparks on the 6th edition of American Idol. He released multiple albums following American idol but all were  met with moderate success only seling l 413,000 albums . Despite lesser success being a singer, Lewis made it to AOL’s list of ten sexiest Idol contestants ever. Apart from his singing career, he also does  voice acting by dubbing anime series in English.

David Cook

David Cook is a rock singer, songwriter and the winner of the 7th season of American Idol. He released his self-titled album “David Cook” on November 18, 2008. It was well-received by listeners and was certified platinum by RIAA. He was able to sell 1,105,000 copies of his album worldwide.

David Archuleta

David Archuleta was the runner-up to David Cook on  the 7th season. His self-titled album did well in terms of sold copies, but not well enough to top David Cook’s sales. However, he was able to outsell  Cook on his second and third album. In March 2012, Archuleta has made waves in the Philippines by releasing an album, entitled Forevermore, which was composed  of several original Filipino songs.

David Archuleta

In 2012, David  took a hiatus to serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He released an album in the latter part of 2016 with singles like “Numb”, “Up All Night” and “Invincible”. He later started his worldwide tour in the Philippines and continued in the United States.

Kris Allen

Kris Allen was the 8th American Idol Winner. His crowning song “No Boundaries” (which was composed by one of the judges) and his version of “Heartless” both secured  spots on the Billboard Hot 100. He has sold 401,600 album copies worldwide with most of the sales coming from his post-Idol self-titled album. He released his fifth album on March 18, 2016, entitled “Letting You In” but to only moderate success.

Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert was eyed to be the winner of the 8th season but shockingly he was beaten by Kris Allen who was viewed as a huge underdog  . Despite the runner-up finish, Adam Lambert has managed to far surpass the success of Kris Allen by selling over 3 million albums and 5 million singles worldwide. He received a Grammy nomination for his song “Whataya Want from Me” from his debut album and also  became a judge on The X Factor Australia. Arguably his most prestigious accomplishment is being penned as the lead vocalist for Queen during their worldwide tours.

Lee DeWyze

Lee DeWyze is an American singer-songwriter hailing from Mount Prospect, Illinois and the winner of the ninth season of American Idol. He has only sold 178,000 album copies worldwide. Most  Idol fans haven’t heard from DeWyze after his win despite his release of six albums . His seventh album called “Paranoia” was released on February 16, 2018, again to minimal sales.

Crystal Bowersox

Crystal Bowersox finished as the runner-up to Lee DeWyze during the 9th season of American Idol. She has sold 230,000 album copies, which is more successful then the season winner, albeit still being on the low side . This season, season 9, was dubbed the worst in Americna idol history as fans noticed the decreased sales rate of the albums for seasons contestants. On her appearance on Good Day L.A. in 2013, she was promoting her Christmas Album and came out as bisexual.

Scotty McCreery

Scotty McCreery is a country singer who won the 10th season of American Idol. His debut album “Clear as Day” was a hit, selling millions of copies and was certified platinum in the United States which included two Top 20 songs – “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble with Girls”. McCreery has had a successful post-Idol country career, in contrast to the previous seasons winner. His most recent album “Seasons Change”,  was released in March 2018 and met massive success.

Lauren Alaina

Lauren Alaina is a singer-songwriter, and actress originally from Rossville, Georgia. She finished as runner-up on the 10th season of American Idol. In October 2011, she released her debut studio album entitled “Wildflower” and in January 2017, she released “Road Less Traveled” which was her first number one on the Country Airplay chart.

Philip Phillips

Philip Phillips was the winner of the 11th season of American Idol, being crowned on May 23, 2012. He is a singer, songwriter, and actor. His winning single, “Home” became the all-time best-selling song from American Idol. In November 2012, he released his debut album, “The World from the Side of the Moon” which was well-received by fans and listeners. In January 2018, he released “Collateral” as his third album.

Philip Phillips

Philip Phillips married his girlfriend Hannah Blackwell on December 26, 2014. In addition to his singing career, Phillips is known to be a philanthropist and used his talent to help organizations such as  Gibson food relief campaign, Brave Beginnings, and Sarah Foundation with financial support. He furthered his charity work by supporting Habitat for Humanity, Do Something and Save the Music Foundation.

Jessica Sanchez

Jessica Sanchez was the runner-up to Philip Phillips in the 11th season of American Idol. She is a power belter, similar to  Whitney Houston, Jennifer Holiday and Mariah Carey. In July 2016, Jessica’s song called “Stronger Together” was played at the 2016 Democratic National Convention after Hillary Clinton spoke.

Candice Glover

Candice Glover is the 12th winner of American Idol. She was the first contestant to win the show after auditioning for multiple seasons (9th and 11th)  before finally being given the chance to participate in the live shows. Her debut album, “Music Speaks” was released on February 18, 2014. However, it only sold 27,000 copies worldwide.

Kree Harrison

Kree Harrison was the runner-up on the 12th season of American Idol. It came as a surprise that she even made it to the  Top 2; mainly because of the popularity of fellow contestant, Angie Miller who finished as third place in a shocking elimination. Kree Harrison released her first country album, entitled “This Old Thing” in 2016. Sadly, she was only able to sell 900 copies to date.

Caleb Johnson

Caleb Johnson was crowned as the winner of the 13th edition of American Idol after having been  unsuccessful auditioning for two previous seasons. He first auditioned in 2011 but failed to enter the live shows. Three weeks after he won, he released his debut album which makes him the quickest winner to release an album. Despite the effort, he was only able to sell 24,000 albums. He parted ways with this record label in 2015 and began working on his second album independently.

Jena Irene

Jena Irene is a singer who grew up in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She finished as a runner-up to Caleb Johnson on the thirteenth season of American Idol. She was the first female wildcard contestant to be part of the season finale and the second wildcard finalist to do so after Clay Aiken. She signed  with Original 1265 Recordings for a long-term contract and released her debut EP, “Innocence”.

Nick Fradiani

Nick Fradiani won the 14th winner of American Idol in a shocking win against the fan-favorite Clark Beckham. Nick is the first winner from the Northeast region of the US, hailing from Connecticut. In August 2016, he released “Hurricane”, his debut solo album. In the fall of 2017, he released an EP containing six songs but as an independent artist and in the same year co-headlined a tour with the band  “The Alternate Routes”.

Clark Beckham

Clark Beckham was the crowd favorite in the 14th season  of American Idol but eventually lost to Nick Fradiani in the finale. He was known for his good looks and musical versatility. Despite his potential, he never released an album after his post-Idol journey. He was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for the Next Big Thing in Music.

Trent Harmon

Trent Harmon is a country music singer who won the 15th  season of Americal Idol which ended up being the final season televised on Fox. He was crowned on April 7, 2016, and eventually signed to Big Machine Records after his post-Idol stint. In 2017, his  label folded and on-going reconstructing of its parent company caused his contract to be in flux. Thankfully the issue was resolved by the end of the year.

La’Porsha Renae

La’Porsha Renae was the runner-up on the final season of the original run of American Idol. She gained a massive following during her run on the show due to her unstoppable performances. Renae released her debut album in March 2017, “Already All Ready” but it was met with moderate success. Her song called “Battles” reached the number 22 spot on US R&B digital charts.

Maddie Poppe

Maddie Poppe is a singer-songwriter, musician and winner of the reboot edition season of American Idol on ABC. She is a multi-instrumentalist,  playing guitar, piano, and ukulele. She auditioned for The Voice in 2015 but failed to make it to the live shows. She released her debut album after Idol on June 20, 2016, which was named as “Songs from the Basement”.

Caleb Lee Hutchinson

Caleb Lee Hutchinson finished in second place after Maddie Poppe, who is now his girlfriend, on the rebooted season of American Idol on ABC. They began dating after the crowning moment. His single “Johnny Cash Heart” placed at number 16 on the Country Digital Song Sales after its release.

American Idol 2019

The 17th season of American Idol on ABC aired on March 3, 2019. This is the second season  on ABC. Ryan Seacrest returned as a host for the 17th time while Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie returned as judges for a second time. We can’t wait to see who will win the season of American Idol!

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