The Rundown: American Idol’s 10 Most Successful Finalists

Above: 10 of American Idol's most successful finalists

On Monday, FOX announced that next year’s 15th season of American Idol would be the long-running singing competition’s last.

After being a ratings monster for a decade, Idol’s ratings have dropped considerably in recent years as competing shows like The Voice and America’s Got Talent popped up and the talent pool continued to thin.

That being said, there is no denying that Idol was massive early and a major success for longer than most people expected. As such, it’s only fitting to take a look back at some of the biggest, brightest and most successful talents to come off the show that made Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest household names while reviving Paula Abdul’s stalled career.

(As always, the is not a ranking; the first finalist mentioned isn’t the most successful per se. These are just the 10 finalists that have enjoyed the most post-Idol success.)

Phillip Phillips

One of the more recent winners to enjoy success beyond the show, Philipps’ coronation song “Home” stands as the best-selling of all the coronation songs, moving over 5 million units in the United States. His debut album, The World from the Side of the Moon, is certified platinum in the US and Canada, and his follow-up album peaked at No. 7 on the US chart.

Taylor Hicks

The senior most Idol winner at age 29 when he claimed the Season Five title over Katharine McPhee, Hicks’ self-titled post-Idol album reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200. While his follow-up didn’t find nearly as much success, the leader of the “Soul Patrol” parlayed his fame into a Las Vegas residency.

Fantasia Barrino

Barrino has enjoyed a great deal of success on the radio and the stage since winning Season Three. Her coronation song “I Believe” topped the Billboard charts and she’s had an additional seven singles chart in the Top 25 on the US R&B charts. In addition to her singing career, Barrino has also made a smooth transition to Broadway, starring in the revival of The Color Purple and the musical revue After Midnight.

Adam Lambert

Though he finished as the runner-up to Kris Allen on Season Seven, Lambert has parlayed his time on FOX’s long-time juggernaut into a terrific career. His debut, For Your Entertainment, spawned the worldwide hit “Whataya Want from Me” and his sophomore effort, Trespassing, debuted at No. 1 in the US and Canada. Lambert has also done a series of successful tours fronting the legendary rock band Queen. Not bad for finishing second.

Chris Daughtry

Though he finished fourth on the fifth season, Daughtry has released four albums with his band, also called Daughtry. The first two – their 2006 self-titled debut and 2009’s follow-up Leave This Town – reached No. 1, while Break the Spell and Baptized climbed to No. 8 and No. 6 respectively. While the band kind of gets the Nickelback treatment (read: everyone slags them all the time), they seem to be doing pretty well overall.

Jennifer Hudson

The lowest-finishing finalist on this list – she finished seventh on Season Three – Hudson has found her greatest post-idol success as an actress, earning an Academy Award for her performance in Dream Girls. She’s released three albums and has numerous other acting credits under her belt, including a three-episode arc on Empire this year. Hudson was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013.

Jordin Sparks

One of two 17-year-olds to win Idol, Sparks’ self-titled debut went platinum and launched the hits “Tattoo” and “No Air,” which earned the Season Six winner her first Grammy nomination. Her follow-up album Battlefield and the lead single of the same name reached No. 7 and No. 10 on their respective charts. Sparks’ third album, Right Here, Right Now is scheduled to be released later this month.

Scotty McCreery

The other 17-year-old winner, McCreery has released three albums: Clear As Day (2011), Christmas with Scotty McCreery (2012) and See You Tonight (2013). Each of the traditional albums reached the top of the charts and his Christmas LP landed at No. 2 on the US Country charts, with the trio registering at No. 1, No. 4 and No. 6 on the Billboard 200. How’s that for the start of a career?

Carrie Underwood

Three years after winning Season Four, Underwood was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. She’s won seven Grammys, 16 Billboard Music Awards and a host of others while cranking out mega-hits like “Jesus Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats.” She’s also married to former Ottawa Senators and current Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher and sings the Sunday Night Football theme song for NBC, so there is that too.

Kelly Clarkson

The first winner in Idol history, Clarkson is undoubtedly one of the show’s most successful graduates. Her coronation song “A Moment Like This” topped the charts, and her second album, Breakaway, was a massive success led by the first single, “Since U Been Gone.” More than a dozen years after rising to success on Idol, Clarkson has sold 25 million albums and 36 million singles worldwide.

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