American Idol a Look Back Through the Years

American IdolLooking back through the years it is time to ask, is American Idol is a talent show or is it really a popularity contest? Can America really predict who the next superstar is going to be? Lets look back through the years and see where the votes were right, and where they went wrong.

Season 1 – Kelly Clarkson (shown above) was the winner of the first American Idol, with Justin Guarini as runner up. Kelly has won 3 grammys between 2006 and 2013 and has raced up the charts to become a pop star in her own right. Justin, well, after his first album bombed his record label dropped him and America hasn’t heard much from him since. So this is a win for the voters!

Season 2 – Rubin Studdard, (shown above) dubbed ‘The Velvet Teddy Bear’ was the winner of this season, and his first recordings sold 1.8 million albums. The runner up was Clay Aiken, whose followers were called ‘Claymates’ and whose 1st single sold 1 million records and has released 5 subsequent albums and sold out concerts all over the world. So America was so very close on this one, but it looks like Clay has done better in his music career to date than Rubin.

Season 3 – Fantasia Barrino (pictured above) won this season with a very young Diana DeGarmo as runner up. Fantasia has released many successful albums and stared in a movie depicting the story of her life. Diana has had no such luck with her music career, but has been looking to work on Broadway. But wait! Jennifer Hudson was also on this season, and she has had many musical hits and even won an Academy award for her work in Dream Girls. Jennifer only made it to the top 7 so it looks like this may have been a miss for the voters.

Season 4 – Carrie Underwood (pictured above) swept the nation with this big win and has gone on to be one of American Idols biggest successes as we look back through the years. Her debut album sold 12 million world wide and it went 7 times Platinum, not to mention the 6 Grammy’s she has won from 2005 through 2013. Poor Bo Bice who was the runner up that year pales in comparison. His first album debuted at No. four on the charts, but his career has been quiet since. America most certainly saw the potential in this country crooner and definitely got it right.

Season 5 – Taylor Hicks (pictured above) was the first male crowned a winner, and has a platinum album and fans that call themselves the ‘Soul Patrol’. Runner up that year was Katharine McPhee who has had her ups and downs with music and film before scoring the lead in Smash. Chris Daughtry came in 4th in Season 5 and has since gone on to have many hits with his band Daughtry, and has proven himself to be a force in the world of rock and roll. This was a banner year for contestants but did the right person ultimately win?

Season 6 – Jordan Sparks (shown above)  found herself the youngest winner of the American Idol title at the tender age of 17. Since Idol she has sold more than 4 million in albums and starred in ‘Sparkle’ with the late Whitney Houston. The runner up this year was Blake Lewis, and the beat boxing boy entertained us all season but ultimately couldn’t hold a candle to Sparks. Score another win for voters!

Season 7 – David Cook (shown above) was the winner of this season and since his win he has had 11 songs in Billboards Hot 100, and also has an album that went platinum. The runner up was the indescribably cute David Archuleta, whose music career did not take off, but he has scored spots in such hit shows as ‘I Carly’ and ‘Hannah Montana’ . So once again the voters seem to have gotten it right.

Season 8 – Kris Allen  (shown right) possibly the nicest songbird to hit the Idol stage has only had one Billboard Top 20 hit from 2009 through American Idol2013. His runner up that year did a bit better for himself and is non other than Adam Lambert (shown right) who has sold over 12 million copies of his album and his 1st album went platinum and his second debuted at No. 1. Quite possible an epic fail for this season.

Season 9 – Lee Dewyse was the winner but sold just 145,000 copies of his 1st album, however he was looking to a new deal with Vanguard records in 2013. The runner up was Crystal Bowersox whose 1st album did not do much better than Dewyse’s but she is going to play Patsy Cline on Broadway, and that one up’s Lee’s music career. No clear superstar this year, so maybe it doesn’t matter if America got it right this time.

Season 10 – Another relatively slow year for superstars, season 10 was won by Scotty McCreery whose 1st album did debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Charts. Runner up Lauren Alaina whose 1st album debuted at No. 5 , so neither of these two country crooners really made it big. So right or wrong, Idol needs some new talent.

American Idol

Season 11 – Phillip Phillips (shown left) was the clear winner with his single ‘Home’ going gold and it was used for many things including ‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition’ and he toured with Matchbox 20 in 2013. Runner up was Jessica Sanchez (shown left) who was looking to put out her 1st album in 2013 and scored a spot on Glee. Clear winner here with Phillip Phillips.


Season 12 – Candice Glover is the most recent winner and her R & B album that has just been released this year. Kree Harrison was the runner up and should be a shinning star when she hits up Nashville. This one is too soon to call, and in looking back at American Idol from years past it is fun to see just how accurate America can be when voting for what everyone hopes will be the next superstar.

Opinons by Kristi Cereska

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9 Responses to "American Idol a Look Back Through the Years"

  1. Melissa   April 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    So much misinformation in the article and comments:
    1) Clay Aiken never had a world tour, and I don’t believe he sold a million singles. 2) Carrie sold a lot of albums, but I highly doubt her first one sold 12 million worldwide. She is huge in the US, not so much outside US. 3) Archuleta does indeed have a music career. 4) I highly doubt Adam sold 12 million albums, and it is not true Arkansas cheated on the AI voting. 5) Scotty is doing fine, as is Phillip.

  2. Fea   April 4, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Reuben was 1st male(2nd season) not Taylor.

  3. lauriellenw   April 4, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I’m a HUGE Adam Lmbert fan and looking forward to 3 shows this summer fronting QUEEN! The voting on Idol has always been goofy and certainly has no bearing on who will eventually become STARS. As Adam said, the show is a platform.

  4. Eric   April 4, 2014 at 8:04 am

    I am a big Adam Lambert fan and everyone knows that Kris Allen only won because of the Arkansas cheating, but here did you get the number for Adam’s album sales? 12 million? RCA has never released the number of album sales Adam has had overseas to my knowledge. The other gay guy, Clay, has outsold Ruben by well over 2 million albums. I guess American Idol does not let gay men win.

  5. Nat   April 4, 2014 at 12:44 am

    Justin Guarini has a solid career with starring Broadway roles in ‘American Idiot’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’, and ‘Wicked’, as well as other Broadway-connected work. Also had leads in ‘Rent’, ‘Chicago’, ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County’, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, ‘Joseph’, etc. Plus a 4 year stint on television as show host, and acted in television and movies.

    For the record, most have lost their record deals.The exceptions being Underwood, Clarkson, Fantasia, Hudson, McCleery, Daughtry, Sparks, and the most recent 3 seasons’ top two. Time will take some of them, too.

    IOW, the info needs some updating, Also, Guarini shouldn’t be the only one singled out about a lost record deal when it is now proved more common than not for “Idols”.

  6. caitlin   April 3, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Diana DeGarmo is not “trying” to have a broadway career. She has had one since 2006. Two broadway shows, one off broadway show. three broadway national touring productions, and two regional productions. She’s doing very well.

  7. sweetsmoke1   April 3, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Taylor Hicks rules. End of story. Made Forbes top 10 highest earners for 2013 and the first and only Idol winner to get a Las Vegas headlining residency.

  8. violet   April 3, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Hope this doesn’t post twice. First time it said I was posting too fast and it was my only comment. Trying again.

    David Archuleta was in the Forbes list of Top 10 Idol earners every year from 2008 through 2012 (even though he was away on a church mission for 9 months of 2012, all of 2013 and 3 months of 2014). He has 6 albums (not counting expanded editions) and was also the 2010 guest soloist for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert series (seated 21,000 per night for 4 nights, was shown on PBS, CD&DVD available). In additional he has a NY Times Bestselling memoir and starting doing some real acting before his church mission. I think his career is doing fine. He just returned from 2 years in Chile and should be returning to music soon. I love his voice. We’ve heard him sing in 6 languages so far including Spanish, Italian and Tagalog. Talented guy and a great human being.

  9. Mary Kaye   April 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Pretty much agree with your analysis except for season 10. Scotty has done a lot better than you think…..2 gold albums, 3rd album #1 all genres. He was awarded Best New Artist ACM and ACA. Best breakout artist CMT. Now, he has a #10 hit on country radio. He also sells out concerts all over the coutry. I believe he’s 5th on the top earning idols list on Forbes. Not sure, but I think it was 5 million earned last year.


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