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From Jennifer Hudson to Adam Lambert: 'American Idol's Most Star-Powered Losers

by Sophie Schillaci 8:29 AM PST, January 06, 2016
Playing From Jennifer Hudson to Adam Lambert: 'American Idol's Most Star-Powered Losers

So, you won American Idol. Now what?

The storied franchise has launched both massive music stars and flashes in the pan -- but in the end, nabbing that Idol crown isn't the end-all-be-all for career success. In fact, some of Idol's most successful alumni didn't even win!

As we gear up for Idol's farewell season, premiering Jan. 6 on Fox, we take a look back at some of the show’s most successful losers.

WATCH: 'American Idol' Winners: Where Are They Now? 

Photo: Getty Images

ADAM LAMBERT

Lambert was the runner-up in the show's eighth season, finishing behind Kris Allen in what many dubbed as the biggest upset in Idol history. No matter! Lambert went on to become a multi-platinum, GRAMMY-nominated artist with three studio albums under his belt -- and a high-profile guest role on Glee. Oh, and he's spent the last few years touring with Queen. (No big deal!) On Wednesday, Forbes named Lambert the top earning Idol of 2015 with a career-high of $10 million in earnings.

Photo: Getty Images

KATHARINE MCPHEE

McPhee has made a splash in the acting world, making her big screen debut with a small role in Anna Faris' The House Bunny. She went on to starring roles on the small screen in NBC's Smash and, currently, CBS' Scorpion. Her last album, 2015's Hysteria, included collaborations with hitmakers Ryan Tedder and Sia. She finished second to Taylor Hicks in Idol's fifth season.

WATCH: Kanye West's 'Idol' Audition Is Totally Delightful 

Photo: Getty Images

KELLIE PICKLER

Pickler -- also a season five contender, finishing in sixth place -- did go on to reality TV show victory, winning the coveted Dancing With the Stars mirror ball trophy in 2013 with Derek Hough. She's released four studio albums, including the critically acclaimed 100 Proof, a home goods line, and dedicated countless hours to supporting the U.S. military on USO tours over the years. She's back on the small screen now, starring in the Ryan Seacrest-produced CMT docu-comedy I Love Kellie Pickler, and she's been tapped to co-host an upcoming daytime lifestyle talk show produced by Faith Hill.

Photo: Getty Images

CHRIS DAUGHTRY

Proving that season five was one of the show's strongest, Daughtry channeled his 15 minutes into a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 chart and a handful of hit singles with his band. Since graduating from Idol, Daughtry has released four studio albums with his band, scored four GRAMMY nominations and won five American Music Awards.

Photo: Getty Images

JENNIFER HUDSON

There's only one former Idol to have earned a GRAMMY, a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, and an Academy Award. Hudson cemented her star status with a scene-stealing role in 2006's Dreamgirls, starring opposite Beyonce, Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy. She followed that up with a role in the film version of Sex and the City, the big-budget comedy The Three Stooges, and a handful of indie films. Meanwhile, her self-titled debut album scored the GRAMMY for Best R&B Album in 2009. Today, Hudson is starring in Oprah's Broadway revival of The Color Purple. It's tough to believe that she barely even cracked the Idol finals back in 2004, finishing in seventh place. The winner that year: Fantasia Barrino.

WATCH: 'American Idol's Final Season Opening Sequence Is Pure Nostalgia 

Speaking of Barrino -- find out what became of all those past Idol winners in the video below.

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