The Most Successful American Idol Losers

By Shelby 1 year ago

1. Adam Lambert

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Adam Lambert finished the eighth season of American Idol as runner-up. Since then, he’s released three solo albums. He also joined Queen as their lead vocalist in 2011 and even had a cameo in the Bohemian Rhapsody movie! His amazing voice has earned him over 3 million album sales worldwide.

2. Jennifer Hudson

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Placing seventh in the third season of American Idol didn’t stop Jennifer Hudson from rising to fame! Since then, she’s landed roles in Dreamgirls, Sex in the City, and The Secret Life of Bees. Her self-titled album also won a Grammy for best R&B album.

3. David Archuleta

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Fun fact: David Archuleta auditioned for American Idol at just 17-years-old! He was season seven’s runner-up and went on to release several successful albums. Two years ago, David came out as a proud member of the LGBTQ community and was met with love and support from his fans.

4. Jimmie Allen

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Before American Idol, Jimmie Allen struggled. At one point, he was even living out of his car! Fortunately, his country music career has since taken off. In 2022, he was the first American Idol alum since Carrie Underwood to be nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy.

5. Constantine Maroulis

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This Greek singer was a contestant on the fourth season of American Idol. He came in sixth place and went on to perform in several different Broadway shows. He also received a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical.

6. Lauren Alaina

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This Southern singer competed in the tenth season of American Idol. Her loss didn’t hinder her success, though! After placing as the runner-up, she went on to produce three full albums. In 2021, she was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

7. Tamyra Gray

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Tamyra Gray came in fourth place during the first season of American Idol. This accomplishment pushed her to launch her own successful career as a singer, songwriter, actress, and Broadway performer. She even acted in the TV series Boston Public in 2003.

8. Haley Reinhart

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After coming in third during the tenth season of American Idol, Haley Reinhart signed a record deal and produced her debut album, Listen Up! She gained popularity in 2015 after touring with Postmodern Jukebox. In fact, she’s still creating music today and touring North America.

9. Diana DeGarmo

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Diana DeGarmo placed second in the third season of American Idol. After that, she released her debut album, Blue Skies. Like many other American Idol contestants, she went on to perform on broadway. She’s even married to another American Idol contestant, Ace Young!

10. Tori Kelly

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Tori Kelly didn’t win the ninth season of American Idol, but she created a very successful career after that! After she independently released her debut EP, she signed a record deal with Capitol Records. During the 58th Grammy Awards, she was even nominated for Best New Artist.

11. Todrick Hall

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Another ninth season contestant, Todrick Hall rose to fame after losing American Idol. He channeled his talent into his YouTube channel, where he currently has 3.6 million subscribers. In 2015, MTV produced a reality show about his life called “Todrick”.

12. Kellie Pickler

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This country singer captured the heart of millions during the fifth season of American Idol. After losing the show, she landed a record deal and released her first album, Small Town Girl. Since then, she’s released several country albums and even competed on Dancing With the Stars.

13. Clay Aiken

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You’ve probably heard of this American Idol loser! He placed second in the second season of the show, and his debut album went multi-platinum! Since then, he’s sold over 5 million albums, co-wrote a memoir, recorded a Christmas special, and appeared on Broadway.

14. Chris Daughtry

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After coming in fourth place on the fifth season of American Idol, Chris Daughtry released his self-titled debut album. Within five short weeks, more than one million copies were sold! After just two months, the record reached number one on the Billboard chart.

15. Katharine McPhee

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Katharine McPhee was the runner-up during season five of American Idol. Since her time on the show, she’s solidified a successful singing career. In fact, her debut album sold 381,000 copies! McPhee has also done a good amount of acting, and she has also performed on Broadway.

16. Kimberly Caldwell

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During the second season of American Idol, Kimberly Caldwell placed second. After that, she became a correspondent for FOX Sports Network. She also released her debut album Without Regret and hosted various TV shows. Today, Caldwell is married to professional soccer player Jordan Harvey.

17. Sanjaya Malakar

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Sanjaya Malakar is best known for his controversial advancement in American Idol. The judges weren’t fond of him, but he was very popular with the show’s audience! After placing as a finalist on the sixth season of American Idol, he made guest appearances on many television shows.

18. Josh Gracin

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This U.S. Marine Corp veteran placed fourth on the second season of American Idol. After he lost the show, he completed his military service and signed a record deal. His debut album topped several country music charts. His second album also contained many popular singles!

19. William Hung

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This motivational speaker from Hong Kong did not successfully advance in American Idol after his audition for the third season. However, he still reveled in the support of several fans! He left college to pursue a career in music, but he eventually accepted a job in law enforcement instead.

20. Ace Young

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Ace Young did not win the fifth season of American Idol, but fans loved him! After the show, he released his debut self-titled album. He also made his Broadway debut as Kenickie, and later Danny Zuko, in Grease! Young is married to Diana DeGarmo, a season three contestant.

21. Gabby Barrett

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This country music artist placed third on the sixteenth season of American Idol. “I Hope”, her debut single, became a top three hit on the Billboard Top 100. She’s been called “Country Music’s Next Superstar” and has a very promising country music career ahead of her!

22. Mandisa

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Mandisa lost season five of American Idol, but she’s now a successful gospel and Christian music singer. In fact, she won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album! She released several albums over the years, including a Christmas album in 2008.

23. Bo Bice

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Bo Bice ultimately lost to Carrie Underwood in the fourth season of American Idol, but that didn’t stop his pursuit of a career in music! After the show, he started his own record label, called Sugar Money. Today, Bo Bice has four children and lives in Georgia.

24. Elliot Yamin

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After placing third on the fifth season of American Idol, Elliot Yamin created a self-titled item that reached number one on the Billboard Independent albums chart. Simon Cowell had effusive praise for the singer, and so did Stevie Wonder during his guest appearance on the show!

25. Bucky Covington

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This country music singer lost the fifth season of American Idol, but he signed a record deal shortly after! In fact, his debut album was very popular and topped several country music charts. Covington continues to work on his music career in Nashville, Tennessee.

26. Blake Lewis

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Blake Lewis lost season six of American Idol, but his debut album sold over 350,000 copies! He’s also appeared on several television shows over the years. He’s passionate about supporting cancer research and has raised money for the Seattle Children’s Hospital in the past.

27. Kimberley Locke

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If you watched the season season of American Idol, you probably remember Kimberly Locke’s beautiful voice! After placing third, she landed a record deal with Curb Records and release her debut album, One Love. She’s also been featured on several TV shows.

28. Crystal Bowersox

Image Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 
Crystal Bowersox didn’t win season nine of American Idol, but she came close! One day after her final performance, she announced that she had signed with a record label. She released a debut album called Farmer’s Daughter and also went on to act in Body of Proof.

29. Danny Gokey

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After placing third on the eighth season of American Idol, Danny Gokey released his debut album and officially began his music career. He’s received several honors for his talent, including an American Country Awards nomination for New/Breakthrough Artist of the Year.

30. James Durbin

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James Durbin lost the tenth season of American Idol. After he was eliminated from the show, he appeared on Live with Regis & Kelly, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and the Ellen Degeneres Show. He also later released a debut album that topped several rock music charts.

31. Where Are These American Idol Contestants Now? Kris Allen

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After winning the show, Kris Allen had an amazing career right up until 2013, when it seems like his dreams could be shattered - quite literally because he got into an accident which broke his list. But he didn't let that stop him, and he actually re-learnt how to play the guitar, and continued to make music!

32. Antonella Barba

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Barba seemed to be doing well in the music charts, until she began to run into trouble with the law. At first it was charges of shoplifting, and then went on to have 11 federal charges, including transporting drugs for a drug ring. She ended up pleading guilty and serving time.

33. Fantasia Barino

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The winner of season 3 not only went on to release successful albums, but starred in a host of Broadway shows on stage, too! There was even a TV movie released about her - in which she played herself, of course. She's now focusing on a growing family, with three children.

34. Lindsey Cardinale

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It seems that this contestant from season 4 made a huge decision in her career dreams, after dabbling in music for a while and then making a switch... to rodeos! She began competing in rodeo roping shows - all while still chasing that music career dream! Multi-tasking, we like it.

35. David Cook

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David Cook has not only had successful with his albums since the show, but he's also had Broadway success, too. It seems that good pop singers are scouted by stage crews! Cook released a good host of albums before taking up a huge role in the famous show Kinky Boots!

36. Kristy Lee Cook

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No relation, we checked! Kristy lost out during season 7 of the show, coming in seventh, and although she stuck with music for a while, she's now best known for TV presenting. She's hosted Outdoors 10 Best and the hunting show The Most Wanted List, as well as Goin' Country.

37. Corey Clark

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Corey Clark became famous for a less savoury reason than actually winning the show - he was disqualified in season 2 after he didn't disclose that he had a previous arrest. He then went on to claim that he had an affair with Idol judge Paula Abdul (which she denied) before he went back to college and became an Uber driver in California!

38. Kelly Clarkson

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One of the most well-known names to come out of American Idol, Clarkson has been so successful that you probably forget she was on a talent show at all! Not only is she still releasing amazing music, but she also now has her own talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show.

39. Lee DeWyze

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Although he won season 9 of the show, Lee actually failed to hit the big time with his subsequent album. But thanks to a little help from the popular TV show The Walking Dead, his song Blackbird Song went viral and he had huge success in the folk music charts after more of his tunes appeared in other big shows!

40. Samantha Diaz

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Now known as the stage name Just Sam, this contestant is also the very first LGBTIQA+ winner of the hit talent show! They signed a record deal after the show, and more recently, they revealed news of being admitted to hospital for an illness, but now seems to be recovering!

41. Melinda Doolittle

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Although she placed third in the iconic talent show, she's certainly placed first in many things since! Doolittle has found huge success with a tour stage show, Great American Soul Book. Before that, she was described as one of the best "pure singers" to appear on the show!

42. Nick Fradiani

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Nick originally went on Idol as part of a band - and then re-entered as a solo artist, which was the right thing to do.. because he won! These days, he's still performing music, but hit a bit of a slow start when his debut album failed to sell. He parted ways with his record label and now has a new band, Alternate Routes.

43. Justin Guarini

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Justin was the talent show's very first runner up! But he's done well for himself - especially since he started in the best rom com ever with Kelly Clarkson! Okay, so it wasn't the best.. it was the worst, but still. He's now best known for playing the mascot of Dr Pepper, of all things.

44. Candice Glover

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The winner of season 12, Candice Glover, seemed to do well for herself in the charts after winning the show. She released one album and three other singles before her music sort of faded out. But that wasn't the end of her - she switched to stage instead, and has performed on Broadway!

45. Laine Hardy

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In case you didn't already know, Laine actually auditioned unsuccessfully for the show, before he got through a year later when he played guitar. After winning the show, he went on to continue his music career and went on tour - only for Covid to more recently set a snag in his performing plans!

46. Taylor Hicks

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Taylor Hicks won the fifth season of the show, and went on to have a super duper Las Vegas Residency - the first of any American Idol contestant! Straying away from his music in later years, he also got a different kind of gig - as a food show presenter for the show State Plate.

47. Allison Iraheta

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Iraheta came fourth on the eight season of the talent show - but she definitely didn't fade away from the music scene! Instead, she first released a solo album, before deciding she wanted to be in a band, forming Halo Circus, and then later going on to join the band Fuhm.

48. Caleb Johnson

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Caleb Johnson had to audition for the show a whopping three times before he actually got a shot! But luckily he did, because he went on to win the the thirteenth season of the show! Although he did try a solo album, he's most recently been touring with an orchestra.

49. Jermaine Jones

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In the eleventh season of the show, Jermaine was the second contestant to be disqualified for not mentioning his previous arrests! But that hasn't stopped him making it in showbiz, although now he's viewing the performers from the judge's chair, for local talent show Spotlight Under the El.

50. Michael Johns

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Michael John's story ended in tragedy, as he became the first contestant from American Idol to sadly pass away. He found success, even after placing eighth on the show, by releasing an album. But he tragically died at the young age of 25 back in 2014, suspected heart condition.

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