With the new season of American Idol upon us, lets take a look back and re-visit past winners and see where they are now, as well as other memorable Idol moments.
Season 1 – The show debuts and did really well, probably better than anyone expected. Kelly Clarkson wins what was a pretty close vote and rockets to stardom. Her debut album sells around 250,000 copies in the first week of release and she goes on to have numerous hits and sells more than 23 million albums worldwide.
Season 2 – The show really hit its stride. Co-host Brian Dunkleman left the show and is now officially American Idol’s Pete Best. The rating are through the roof as we see Ruben Studdard barely beat Clay Aiken
. More than 24 million votes were cast and Studdard won by a margin of 134,000. While Studdard won the show, he was never able to eclipse the success of runner-up Clay Aiken. Studdard’s first album sold well, but he dropped off fast after that. Most recently he and Aiken performed a variety style concert show. He also has lost some weight and is working on building an acting career.
Season 3 – This season is known as the William Hung season. Hung was one of the “bad” singers featured during the beginning of the show. His horrid rendition of “She Bangs” became a viral hit and landed Hung a record deal. Fantasia Barrino won this season and while she had some initial success on the charts she has mostly found work on Broadway. Her success is pale in comparison to 7th place finisher Jennifer Hudson who went on to win a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her role in Dreamgirls.
Season 4 – This was the season of Carrie Underwood and arguably the last season any winner of the show went on to any prominence. Underwood, of course, is a superstar in the country music world and has sold well over 12 million albums in the U.S.
Season 5 – This is American Idol season of that old looking guy. The finals got the most votes of any other season and crowned Taylor Hicks as the winner. His debut album sold around 700,000 copies in the US and his follow-up only sold 52,000. While he has fallen off the radar fellow contestants from that year Chris Daughtry, Katherine McPhee and Kellie Pickler all went on to various levels of success.
Season 6 – The season of Sanjaya. Vote for the Worst and Howard Stern as well as many other people got in on the fun to vote for Sanjaya, a terrible singer, and it kept him around week after week while other better singers got voted off. It was the first time American Idol was shown to be susceptible to outside manipulation. Eventually Sanjaya got voted out and Jordin Sparks won. Sparks debut album went platinum, but her second record flopped and she has mostly focused on her acting/stage career.
Season 7 – The producers, desperate for good contestants, are now letting in people with prior singing experience/recording deals. In a battle of opposites rocker David Cook beats out Glee-like singer David Archuleta. Cook has sold about 1.3 million records in the U.S. About twice that of Archuleta.
Season 8 – American Idol brings on new judge Kara DioGuardi. At the end of this season Paula Abdul left the show. Kris Allen was the winner, but his debut album barely sells 300,000 copies. Adam Lambert, the flamboyant runner-up sells about 775,000.
Season 9 – Ellen DeGeneres joins the show as Paula’s replacement and then both she and Simon Cowell leaves the show at the end of the season. Lee DeWyze is the winner. Both he and runner up Crystal Bowersox recently released their debut albums. Both albums have struggled with neither selling 100,000 copies.
So there you have it, a brief round-up of the past American Idol winners and a few other notables. As this season gets underway with new judges and some new formats it will be interesting to see how the show holds up.
By: Jeff Kane