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'American Idol's' Forgotten Winners: Where Are They Now?
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American Idol has launched some incredible careers. But, let's face it, there are probably a few winners that you forgot even existed.
We all know what became of Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, but what about the others?
As the iconic competition series is whittling down the competition in its 17th season (and second season on ABC), ET is looking back at all the past Idol winners, and where they are now.
1. Kelly Clarkson (2002)
Today, Clarkson is a three-time GRAMMY winner with eight studio albums under her belt. She's currently serving as a coach on The Voice, where recently performed her new single, "Broken & Beautiful," off the soundtrack to her new animated comedy, UglyDolls.
2. Ruben Studdard (2003)
He's still making music! Studdard released a covers album, his sixth studio effort, in 2014. Around the same time, fans watched the 6'3 singer drop 119 pounds on NBC's The Biggest Loser. In 2018, Studdard released another covers album, Ruben Sings Luther, this time dedicated to the work of Luther Vandross. He also made his Broadway debut in December 2019, alongside Clay Aiken, in Ruben & Clay’s First Annual Christmas Carol Family Fun Pageant Spectacular Reunion Show.
3. Fantasia Barrino (2004)
Known now simply by her first name, Fantasia has stayed busy over the last decade. She released four studio albums, starred in a Lifetime movie about herself, and appeared on Broadway. The GRAMMY-winner also released two recent studio albums: The Definition Of... in 2016 and Christmas After Midnight in 2017.
4. Carrie Underwood (2005)
Ms. Underwood went on to become American Idol's most successful alum to date. The country cutie is arguably one of the genre's biggest stars and the only artist to score six consecutive No. 1 albums on the Billboard's Top Country Albums chart. She's a seven-time GRAMMY winner and a 14-time ACM Award winner.
5. Taylor Hicks (2006)
Believe it or not, Hicks has remained one of the highest-earning Idols in recent years. According to Forbes, the 42-year-old has scored big paydays with his Las Vegas residency, tour dates, and his co-ownership of an Alabama BBQ restaurant called Saw's Juke Joint. Recently, Hicks accompanied Dierks Bentley on stage with his harmonica for CBS Sports' Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest, and he performed in the Hollywood Christmas Parade.
6. Jordin Sparks (2007)
Sparks also went on to be one of the more successful winners of the franchise, with three studio albums and a leading role in Whitney Houston's final film, Sparkle. Though she didn't win, Sparks did score a GRAMMY nomination for her collaboration with Chris Brown, "No Air," back in 2009. Sparks released her third studio album, Right Here, Right Now, in 2015 amid a highly publicized new romance with rapper Sage the Gemini.
7. David Cook (2008)
After releasing two albums with RCA Records, Cook split from the label in 2012 and re-located to Nashville, Tennessee. (Fun fact: Cook co-wrote country singer David Nail's hit single, "Kiss You Tonight.") He released Digital Vein, his first independent release since pre-Idol, in 2015. He followed that up with his 2018 album, Chromance
8. Kris Allen (2009)
In one of the most surprising upsets in Idol history, Allen topped Adam Lambert for the season eight title. His debut single, "Live Like We're Dying," became a hit in 2009, but he made major headlines for a devastating car crash in 2013 that rendered him almost unable to play music. Thankfully, Allen recovered and released his third studio album, Horizons, in 2014. In 2016, Allen welcomed his second child with his high school sweetheart-turned-wife, Katy O'Connell, and released his fifth studio album, Letting You In, the same year.
9. Lee DeWyze (2010)
DeWyze split from RCA Records just one year after winning Idol and releasing his debut album, which peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard 200. His 2013 album, Frames, showed off more of the singer's folk roots, but didn't make much of a splash on the charts. But if you watch The Walking Dead, you probably heard DeWyze's voice and didn't even know it! His "Blackbird Song" was featured in season four of AMC's hit drama. Since then, he's also dropped two additional studio albums -- Oil & Water in 2016 and Paranoia in 2018.
10. Scotty McCreery (2011)
At just 17 years old, McCreery became the series' youngest male winner and second youngest winner overall (after Sparks, also 17 at the time of her victory). Since then, McCreery has become a certifiable star in the country music world, selling more than 2.5 million albums and scoring four Platinum-certified singles, all while attending college at North Carolina State University.
11. Phillip Phillips (2012)
Phillips' career was given a boost when his Idol coronation song, "Home," was selected as the theme for NBC's Olympics coverage, among other TV projects. Even Idol picked up one of Phillips' tracks, with "Gone, Gone, Gone" serving as the season twelve send-off song. He's released two studio albums post-Idol, but filed a bombshell lawsuit against 19 Recordings in early 2015. In court docs obtained by ET, Phillips called his contract with 19 "oppressive."
In happier news, Phillips tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend, Hannah Blackwell, in October 2015.
Glover's debut album, Music Speaks, was released in 2014, but failed to produce a hit single. Glover claims to be working on a follow-up album via social media posts, but seems to be keeping busy performing at corporate and professional sporting events.
13. Caleb Johnson (2014)
Johnson wasted no time getting his debut album, Testify, on the market, releasing it less than three months after his coronation. Moving along at breakneck speed, Johnson parted ways with his label less than nine months later. "I want to find the right home and the right team of people that are going to get behind my music and really do something," he told Billboard at the time. "What's the point of doing it if the [label] isn't going to do anything?"
14. Nick Fradiani (2015)
Fradiani's first single, "Beautiful Life," co-written by Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba, barely cracked the Billboard Hot 100 in May of last year. He released his debut album, Hurricane, in August 2016 to lackluster sales.
15. Trent Harmon (2016)
Harmon won the 15th and final season of the singing competition and kicked off his career with "Falling," a single co-written by Idol judge Keith Urban. "I'm ready to get focused and go to work," Harmon told ET right after his big win.
16. Maddie Poppe (2018)
Poppe sang a "Rainbow Connection" duet with Kermit the Frog himself during the epic, two-hour finale of Idol's first season on ABC, but the 20-year-old Clarksville, Iowa, native had an even more special performance moment with the season's runner-up, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, as the two performed a "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" medley after announcing that they had begun dating during the season.
The performance brought Ryan Seacrest to tears, just before the host announced that both Hutchinson and Poppe had won trips to Hawaii for placing in Idol's top two!
The pair returned to the Idol stage during season 17, where they celebrated Disney night with a country-inspired reimagining of the iconic Aladdin tune "A Whole New World."