50 ‘American Idol’ Contestants and Where They Are Now

American Idol is in its nineteenth season, with episodes airing on Sunday nights on ABC. Since it started in 2002, 178 contestants have made it to the finals. While just a few have achieved success on the extent of Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood or Jennifer Hudson, many others have turn into Broadway stars or TV actors, or had their tales became Lifetime motion pictures. And some have sunk with no hint.

Read on for the tales of what occurred to 50 contestants, together with some you’ll bear in mind and some you’ll be shocked to know ever appeared on the present.

50 American Idol contestants and the place they’re now

Clay Aiken

ruben clay american idol
‘American Idol’ Season 2 contestants Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard of their 2018 Christmas present.

A runner-up in 2003, Aiken is presently the fourth-highest promoting alum of the present. He was additionally the primary to run for workplace, unsuccessfully standing because the Democratic candidate for North Carolina’s 2nd congressional district in 2014. He discovered himself in scorching water in 2016 after defending his former Celebrity Apprentice co-star Donald Trump in opposition to accusations of racism—feedback he needed to stroll again a 12 months later after the events in Charlottesville.

Kris Allen

The Season 8 winner had a sturdy profession till 2013, when he was concerned in a head-on collision that shattered his wrist. After the accident, he needed to re-learn learn how to play the guitar. This he did, nonetheless, and he celebrated a decade within the music trade in 2019 with an album referred to as “10.”

Antonella Barba

After reaching the highest 16 in 2007, Barba had a troubled historical past with the legislation. The singer was charged with two misdemeanors for shoplifting in 2010. Nine years later, she was indicted on 11 federal costs, accused of performing because the courier for a drug ring. Barba pleaded responsible to conspiracy to distribute artificial opioids and was sentenced to 3 years and 9 months in jail.

Fantasia Barrino

Season 3’s winner was dubbed “Baby Patti LaBelle” by LaBelle herself. Since Idol, she has launched seven albums and starred in two Broadway exhibits. Fantasia additionally performed herself in a TV film about her life. In November 2020, she introduced she was pregnant together with her third youngster.

Bo Bice

After shedding out to Carrie Underwood in Season 4, Bice had minor success as a solo artist however was then dropped by his label. From 2013 to 2018, he was lead singer for jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Crystal Bowersox

The memorably named Season 9 finalist launched three albums and performed Patsy Cline on Broadway. The self-proclaimed “Farmer’s Daughter” now lives in Nashville and in 2019 created a play based mostly on her personal life.

Lindsey Cardinale

The high 12 contestant from Season 4 discovered acclaim of one other type as she began competing in rodeo roping exhibits whereas pursuing her music profession.

David Cook

Season 7’s champ has launched 4 albums, with a fifth on the best way. He made his Broadway debut in 2018 when he joined the forged of Kinky Boots.

Kristy Lee Cook

Seventh on Season 7, Cook had some music success however has principally labored as a TV presenter. She has fronted Outdoor’s 10 Best, Goin’ Country and searching present The Most Wanted List, which she has hosted for the Sportsman Channel since 2015.

Corey Clark

Clark turned notorious in Season 2 after being disqualified for failing to reveal an arrest for battery. Two years later, he briefly returned to the headlines when he alleged he had had a relationship with Idol decide Paula Abdul in the course of the present, which she denied. He later went again to school and turned an Uber driver in California.

Kelly Clarkson

kelly clarkson american idol
‘American Idol’ winner Kelly Clarkson now hosts her personal speak present.

The first winner of American Idol, Clarkson is one among its most profitable contestants. She has bought greater than 25 million albums worldwide and had three Billboard No 1 singles. She can be a profitable daytime TV host, winning an Emmy in 2020, and turned one of many 10 highest-paid ladies on unscripted prime-time TV in 2018 when she was paid $12 million for her position on The Voice.

Chris Daughtry

Despite solely coming fourth in Season 5, Daughtry is the present’s third highest-selling contestant together with his 5 albums thus far. In 2019, he was runner-up on the second season of The Masked Singer and this 12 months appeared in a Batman fan movie.

Lee DeWyze

Season 9 winner DeWyze had a foul begin to his post-Idol profession when his 2010 album did not hit the highest 10. In 2014, nonetheless, he turned a viral success when his “Blackbird Song” featured on The Walking Dead. His songs have since appeared on exhibits similar to Suits and Nashville, resulting in success on the people music charts.

Samantha Diaz

The most up-to-date Idol winner, identified by the stage title Just Sam, can be its first LGBTQ+ winner. The artist got here out after the present and signed a file deal final May.

Melinda Doolittle

Described as “one of the best pure singers to appear on the Idol stage” by Vulture, Doolittle positioned third in Season 6. Before the pandemic, she was touring a present referred to as “Great American Soul Book.”

Nick Fradiani

A 12 months after his group Beach Avenue made it to Judgment Week of America’s Got Talent in 2014, Fradiani entered Idol as a solo artist—and gained. His track “Beautiful Life” turned the official anthem of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, however his debut album did not hit the highest 100 in 2016 and he parted firm together with his file label. He now information music with a band referred to as the Alternate Routes.

Justin Guarini

The present’s first runner-up, Guarini appeared alongside Clarkson within the 2003 romantic comedy From Justin to Kelly, thought-about by many critics one of the worst movies ever made. In 2015, after transferring into theater and showing in exhibits similar to American Idiot, Wicked and Romeo and Juliet, he admitted he had had a quick fling with Clarkson. He is now in all probability greatest identified for taking part in Dr. Pepper mascot Lil’ Sweet.

Candice Glover

Season 12 winner Candice Glover launched one album and three singles earlier than her chart profession fizzled out. More lately, she carried out on Broadway in Home for the Holidays.

Todrick Hall

A 2010 semi-finalist, Hall turned a YouTube star for performing his personal songs in addition to parodies of Disney tunes. Since Idol, he has appeared on Broadway in Kinky Boots and Chicago, labored because the choreographer for RuPaul’s Drag Race and turn into a part of Taylor Swift‘s “squad.”

Laine Hardy

Hardy auditioned unsuccessfully for the 2018 season. A 12 months later, he returned to play guitar for a good friend’s audition—and ended off taking the crown. The Season 17 winner hit a snag in 2020, nonetheless, when he needed to postpone his tour due to COVID-19, which he caught in June.

Taylor Hicks

Season 5’s winner turned the primary Idol contestant to have a Las Vegas residency, performing within the city for greater than a 12 months from 2012. He additionally turned a meals present presenter, internet hosting INSP Channel’s State Plate.

Jennifer Hudson

Hudson positioned seventh on the 2004 season of American Idol, however is the one contestant to have gained an Oscar—for her debut movie position as Effie White within the 2006 musical Dreamgirls. She has since appeared in motion pictures similar to Sex and the City and Cats, and on TV in The Voice and Empire. Hudson will play Aretha Franklin in a biopic resulting from be launched this 12 months.

William Hung

Perhaps probably the most well-known novelty act on any music present on this planet, William Hung turned an early viral smash together with his efficiency of “She Bangs” in 2004. He retired from singing in 2011, married in 2014 and has since acquired a job on the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

Allison Iraheta

The fourth-placed contestant on the hotly contested eighth season, Iraheta launched a solo album earlier than forming a band named Halo Circus. Last 12 months she joined a brand new group, Fuhm, which launched a primary single late final 12 months.

Caleb Johnson

After auditioning for the present thrice, Johnson lastly made it in 2014 and was declared the winner of Season 13. Although his debut album was launched simply three months after his victory, he left his label the next 12 months. Most lately, he toured with Trans-Siberian Orchestra for his or her winter tour in 2018.

Jermaine Jones

In Season 11, Jones turned the second contestant to be disqualified after it was revealed he had hid prior arrests and present warrants. He now works as a decide on native expertise present Spotlight Under the El for Philadelphia’s Fox 29.

Michael Johns

Michael Johns holds the unhappy distinction of being the primary American Idol contestant to die. He positioned eighth on the present in 2008 and launched an album a 12 months later. He was simply 35 when he died of a coronary heart situation in 2014.

Tori Kelly

A Hollywood Week reject on Season 9, Kelly was signed by big-name supervisor Scooter Braun in 2013. Since then, she has gained two Grammys, labored as an adviser on The Voice, competed on The Masked Singer, offered voices for the film Sing and had three Billboard 100 hits.

Adam Lambert

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Adam Lambert on stage with Brian May of Queen.

Runner-up in 2009, Lambert has since turn into an LGBTQ+ advocate and singer with Queen. His second solo album, launched in 2012, turned the primary by an overtly homosexual artist to high the Billboard 200. He has toured with Queen + Adam Lambert since 2011.

Sanjaya Malakar

Malakar, thought-about by many to be one of many worst Idol finalists, had a quick interval of fame after putting seventh in Season 6. He appeared on I’m a Celebrity …Get Me Out of Here in 2009 and later turned a bartender and singer in New York.

Constantine Maroulis

The sixth-placed finalist in Season 4, Maroulis is the one Idol alum to have been nominated for a Tony for his work in hair steel musical Rock of Ages. He has additionally carried out in Jekyll and Hyde on Broadway and many different musicals.

Scotty McCreery

After successful the 2011 season, McCreery had three consecutive high 10 albums and wrote a memoir. He left his label in 2016. Two years later, his profession had bounced again with one other high 10 album and a No 1 on the nation airplay charts with “Five More Minutes.”

Nikki McKibbin

The singer who completed third in Season 1 launched a variety of information and turned a actuality TV stalwart on exhibits similar to Fear Factor, Battle of the Network Reality Stars and Celebrity Rehab. Her son Tristen auditioned for the 2014 season, at which period McKibbin labored as a vocal coach. She died in November 2020, nonetheless, after struggling a mind aneurysm.

Katharine McPhee

A runner-up on Season 5, McPhee had some success as a musician however has turn into higher referred to as an actress in NBC‘s Smash and CBSScorpion, and within the musical Waitress. In 2019, she married the ability ballad songwriter David Foster.

Ramiele Malubay

Malubay, who completed ninth in Season 7, has since turn into a registered nurse. She additionally runs an Etsy store that sells handcrafted face masks and scrub caps, and used to run an online retailer promoting canine garments.

MK Nobilette

In 2014, Nobilette turned the primary overtly LGBTQ+ contestant on the present, after discussing her sexuality on air. She positioned tenth and launched her first single in 2015.

Danny Noriega

A contestant who made it to the highest 16 in 2008, Noriega later discovered extra fame on one other actuality competitors. In 2014, Noriega’s alter ego Adore Delano was runner-up on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6. He has since launched three albums of authentic music as Delano.

Phillip Phillips

The Season 11 winner’s track “Home” was the best-selling debut single by any Idol champ. However, he turned identified for a bitter lawsuit in opposition to the present’s manufacturing firm 19 Recordings in 2015, which was not settled till 2017. He has clearly made peace with the corporate, nonetheless, since he returned to carry out on the 2020 season.

Kellie Pickler

Aside from Kelly Clarkson, Pickler is the one Idol alum to be nominated for an Emmy, getting a nod in 2018 for her speak present Pickler & Ben. She got here sixth in Idol‘s Season 5, however did handle to win Dancing with the Stars in 2013.

Maddie Poppe

In a actuality TV second that you can not make up. Maddie Poppe and fellow contestant Caleb Lee Hutchinson started courting throughout Season 16, solely to finish up as the ultimate two. Poppe gained the entire thing and, as of December 2020, the couple are nonetheless collectively.

Jessica Sierra

Described by Simon Cowell as one of many strongest feminine vocalists to seem on the present, Sierra nonetheless ended up in tenth place in Season 4. Two arrests, a cocaine drawback and an look on Celebrity Rehab saved her within the headlines for just a few years, however she is not within the public eye.

Rickey Smith

Season 2 contestant Smith turned good buddies with the eventual winner Ruben Studdard, however completed in eighth place. He died in 2016 after being hit by a drunk driver in Oklahoma.

Carly Smithson

A Season 7 alum, Smithson sparked controversy when it was revealed she had had a file deal earlier than the present. She finally positioned sixth, nonetheless, and later turned the singer of steel band We Are the Fallen and appeared in Cirque du Soleil’s Viva Elvis present.

Jordin Sparks

The sixth Idol winner was the youngest within the present’s historical past at 17. She launched two high 10 albums and had hits with songs similar to “No Air” and “Battlefield.” She then moved into performing, showing on stage in In the Heights and Waitress, and within the movie Sparkle co-starring Whitney Houston. The artist, who dated Jason Derulo for 3 years, lately appeared in The Masked Dancer.

Katie Stevens

At 16, Stevens made it to the highest eight of Idol Season 9. She rapidly turned extra well-known for performing, nonetheless. She had a lead position within the TV sequence Faking It, earlier than showing within the remaining episode (before the upcoming reboot) of CSI. She is now in The Bold Type, whose fifth and remaining season is coming this 12 months.

Ruben Studdard

The second winner of Idol was not in a position to match Kelly Clarkson’s success, regardless of his debut album hitting No 1 and being nominated for a Grammy. After underwhelming gross sales for his subsequent two albums, he was dropped by his label in 2007. He has since launched a variety of new albums, carried out in a Christmas present with Clay Aiken and appeared on NBC’s The Biggest Loser.

Carrie Underwood

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Carrie Underwood launched a Christmas particular in 2020.

Season 4’s winner Carrie Underwood has gained seven Grammys, the best variety of any Idol contestant. She additionally has extra CMT Music Awards (22 in whole) than every other artist. Last 12 months, the nation celebrity launched her debut e book and first Christmas album, and had an HBO Max Christmas particular. She is because of launch a gospel album this month.

Jim Verraros

American Idol‘s first homosexual contestant was informed to take away all references to his sexuality from his weblog throughout Season 1, however got here out whereas on the Idol tour. After ending ninth on the present, he appeared within the cult Eating Out movies. He retired from music in 2011 and turned a bridal expo boss, designing the headpiece that Kelly Clarkson wore at her wedding ceremony.

Elliott Yamin

After coming third in Season 5, Yamin had three high 40 albums within the U.S. His greatest success, nonetheless, got here in Japan, the place he has toured a dozen instances and launched a variety of hit albums.

Ace Young

Ace Young made it to the highest seven in Season 5, however is greatest remembered for being one half of an Idol marriage. He met Season 3 runner-up Diana DeGarmo after they appeared collectively in a manufacturing of Hair—and proposed to her on stage in the course of the finale of Season 11.

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