Photo: Women’s Health Magazine
Despite being the show’s lowest-rated season finale ever, season 11 of “American Idol” ended last night with a new victor: 21-year-old Georgia native Phillip Phillips took home the microphone-shaped trophy and the crown as the next American Idol after a staggering 132 million votes were tallied. Hopefully Phillips’ future is set for stardom like past winners Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood rather than into obscurity like forgotten winners Taylor Hicks and Lee DeWyze. But before we find out how well the Season 11’s alumni will do in the real world, we’ve compiled a list of the best and worst track records of previous “American Idol” finalists.
Before he became the infamous 'Idol' contestant with the ridiculous hairstyles, Sanjaya Malakar was just a high school student auditioning with his sister. Now, he hasn't had much success in the music business but he hasn't stopped trying.
After appearing on the show 'I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here' in 2009, Malakar was supposed to sign with a modelling agency in Seattle--but that must have fallen through because now he's working as a bartender in the East Village of Manhattan.
Season: 5 and 3, respectively
Finished: 7th and Runner-Up
We put these two contestants from different seasons together because the two started a relationship after starring in a Broadway production together and just got engaged on this season's finale. The two are now consistently working on the stage, mostly on Broadway.
Baby-faced David Archuleta was clearly going to steal the hearts of the tween/teen fans of 'American Idol' so the fact that he made it so far in the competition was obvious. But it also helped that he had a great voice. After releasing a profitable and hit self-titled album, Archuleta announced he was taking a two-year hiatus to be a Mormon missionary.
Despite having a better debut album than the actual winner of season 9 (Lee DeWyze) and having a much more interesting sound, Crystal Bowersox barely performs anymore. In fact, she's now married and lives on a farm in Oregon. It's not a big surprise, really. She's used to the farm life.
Bowersox's audition starts at the :41 mark:
Constantine Maroulis started the way most 'American Idol' contestants do: he was a struggling musician. After finishing sixth, the singer actually made a successful transition to Broadway and starred in the musical 'Rock of Ages' which is now being turned into a movie. Maroulis was even nominated for a Tony for the role. He also will appear in the big screen version as a music executive.
Maroulis' audition video:
Even though she knew from the start that she wouldn't win 'Idol' her season, Jessica Sierra looked like she was too ambitious to give up on singing. But then Sierra hit rock bottom. She was arrested twice, struggled with a cocaine problem, had to work at Hooters for a while and released a sex tape. Now she's back on her feet and sober because she doesn't want to die the same way as her mum.
Jim Verraros made an impression at the AI auditions when he talked about wanting to sing for his deaf parents. Even though he didn't finish out well on the show, he's moved on from singing and is now a relatively successful organiser of bridal fashion shows. He also wed his partner, Bill, in 2009.
The extremely successful Chris Daughtry was a service advisor for an auto dealership in North Carolina before the auditions. After losing the competition, Daughtry went on to be one of the most successful 'Idol' losers in history with his band Daughtry.
The rocker/pop chick Kimberly Caldwell started out as one of the more promising singers in the second season of 'Idol.' However, she ditched the singing for a while after getting ousted from the show and showed up all over red carpet events and talk shows on the TV Guide channel, Extra and more as an entertainment correspondent. She also dated 'American Idol' season 7 winner David Cook for almost a year.
Caldwell on Season two:
North Carolina resident Anoop Desai looked like he'd be a big joke when he auditioned for 'American Idol,' but he ended finishing the competition at a decent sixth place. The singer released a few songs that were semi-successful but nothing broke him out of the pack. He's currently working on a tour for his next single 'Oowee.'
Check out his 'AI' audition here.
Finished: Runner Up
He didn't necessarily look like an 'Idol,' but Aiken persevered to become season two runner-up. Since then, Aiken has released a successful album, has crazy fans, came out of the closet and almost won 'Celebrity Apprentice.' He's also a big advocate for gay rights. That's more than season two winner Ruben Studdard can say for himself.
While Paul McDonald had an interesting voice (he sounded like a male Macy grey- and that is a compliment), he didn't last long in the final rounds of American Idol. McDonald said the whole experience stressed him out and put him off singing for a while. But through AI, McDonald met 'Twilight' star Nikki Reed and the two are now married while McDonald works on writing music for movies and TV shows.
Here's a snippet of McDonald's audition:
Another runner-up that is much more famous than her winning counter-part, Katharine McPhee looked to be the victim of a strong stage mum but when she opened her mouth, it was obvious that she would be around for a while. McPhee had some successful singles and was hilarious on a guest-starring stint for NBC 'Community.' Now she's starring in 'Smash,' the Steven Spielberg-produced hit NBC show.
The young man with the voice of a young woman was not so successful in the first season of 'American Idol' but that was nothing compared to what happened after the competition. A.J. Gil sadly was homeless for a while because his manager apparently stole money from him. He then moved to California and found God, and fortunately for his singing desires, a church choir.
People were surprised to see the talented Danny Gokey not make the final round of AI on the eighth season. But after the cameras stopped rolling, the real problems started. His record label kept trying to push him to sound completely different than he wanted so he left. His dreams were further halted when he started a charity in honour of his wife who passed away.
Watch Gokey's audition here.
When she started the audition process, Julia DeMato was a hairdresser with the same dream as all other AI contestants before and after her: to make it big. But after getting kicked off only two weeks into the finalists portion of the competition, that dream was dashed. She apparently met with lots of labels but no one wanted to sign her. So she went back to hairdressing.
DeMato's semifinal performance:
Jennifer Hudson was wrongly ousted (in our humble opinion) from the 'AI' competition in the third season, leaving Fantasia Barrino to take the crown and subsequently a mediocre career riddled with bad press. But Hudson broke out in the real world, getting a hit album, becoming the spokeswoman for Weight Watchers and scoring an Oscar for her work in 'Dreamgirls.'
Season: 1 and 5, respectively
These two singers are the shining examples of what 'American Idol' can do for a struggling artist if they're smart about their careers.
Kelly Clarkson was lucky that the show was so popular from the get-go so audiences wanted to buy her album. She kept that fame though because she was smart about how she evolved her voice. Clarkson will debut her new singing show 'Duets' tonight on ABC.
Carrie Underwood came in as a country singer and became a country star. She knew what she wanted to sing and she did it. And now she's a platinum-album recording star.
Seasons: 9 and 5
Finished: Winners-turned-washed up
Poor Lee DeWyze and Taylor Hicks. These two singers probably should not have won their respective seasons. For DeWyze, his runner-up Crystal Bowersox was clearly more unique than he and Katharine McPhee blew Hicks out of the water in the 5th season.
The two singers both tried to release albums that were unsuccessful and both were dropped from their record labels. Both are now working on another record. We'll see if things get better.
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