American Idol winners

Everyone knows the benefits of being crowned the winner of American Idol. For an undiscovered artist, it can mean an invaluable head start in the fiercely competitive music industry. The hard won honor launches a relative unknown talent into the stratosphere, providing instant national and even worldwide recognition and a recording contract with a successful label. A stellar future in the music industry should be virtually guaranteed, shouldn’t it?

Many previous winners of Idol have taken full advantage of these perks and gone on to hugely successful careers. Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Phillip Phillips and Scotty McCreery to name just a few. Other past winners like David Cook, Fantasia and Kris Allen have had comparatively modest success, while for example: Taylor Hicks, Ruben Stoddard and Lee DeWyze have had relatively disappointing careers, especially when you consider the amount of enthusiasm surrounding them during their reign on American Idol.

According to the statistics, winning the coveted title isn’t really an indicator and certainly isn’t a guarantee of future success. A victory on American Idol can easily turn into nothing more than a blip on the screen and a launch pad right back into virtual obscurity.

In fact, the greatest success stories of American Idol have emerged from the pool of Top 10 finalists over the past 12 seasons. Topping the list is Jennifer Hudson, who at this point, is probably remembered least for her time on American Idol Season 3. She has since won countless accolades and awards, including a Grammy, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, BAFTA and of course an Oscar for her role in “Dreamgirls”. She is currently the national spokesperson for “Weight Watchers”.

Another standout Top 10 contestant that immediately comes to mind is Chris Daughtry who went out in 4th place on American Idol Season 5. Daughtry has had a great career thus far with a Grammy nominated album as well as four No. 1 Top 40 hits. Also worth mentioning is the fact that he has donated 100 percent of the proceeds from his single, “Gone Too Soon” to the Connecticut School Shooting Victims’ Fund.

Clay Aiken, American Idol Season 2 runner-up, is a successful singer, actor and author. His first album, “Measure of a Man” has reached multi-platinum status. His book, “Learning to Sing, Hearing the Music in Your Life” is on the best-seller lists and he had a very successful run on Broadway in “Monty Python’s Spamalot”. Continuing his lamentable “always the bridesmaid…” status, Clay finished a respectable second on last season’s Celebrity Apprentice.

Adam Lambert is perhaps the most colorful member of the group of “also rans” and has enjoyed great success since his American Idol Season 8 elimination from the Top 10. His album, “For Your Entertainment” rose to the No. 3 spot on the Billboard chart and his recently released, “Trespassing”, bumped Carrie Underwood out of the No. 1 spot. He is the 7th finalist to reach the No. 1 spot on Billboard, 5 of which finished out Idol in the Top 10. Adam has been touring successfully since appearing on Idol and was the first contestant to headline a tour in the year following his appearance on the show.

Clearly, not winning the top spot on American Idol had no negative effect on these artists’ chances of going on to lucrative singing careers. Of course, this is just a sampling of the more than 100 Top 10 finalists over the years.

The current season of American Idol has produced a Top 10 with great vocal ability, each having unique and appealing talents to contribute to the music industry. Each one has a chance to use their new found fame to make their dreams of a career in music a reality.

What do you think will become of the current Top 10? Who has the staying power to continue on after American Idol 2013 wraps in a few weeks? What past Top 10 contestant do you think didn’t quite live up to their potential and who do you think is succeeding despite not finishing first?


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