American Idol is a week away from crowing it’s 13th (unlucky number = bad ratings?) American Idol winner. While the show has been going downhill in ratings for the last few years, no one can argue the success of several of the winners and losers of the house that Kelly Clarkson built. The voice, America’s Got Talent, and the now canceled X-Factor have yet to produce mega stars like Carrie Underwood or Jennifer Hudson. In honor of our next weeks season finally, we have put together our ranking of the greatest American Idol Winners from the last 12 seasons. To come up with our rankings we looked at the chart success of each winner after Idol, their performances on American Idol, and lastly their voice. Draw the lights, here are your results America.
Winner of season 5 of Idol, Taylor Hicks is our least favorite American Idol. If you his season, it is clear that Hicks just does not have a great voice. Simon even voted no on him during the auditions round. So why did he win? Well. The guy is very likeable, he even dressed up in a Easter Bunny suit for one of his interviews. He created water cooler buzz as the guy with silver hair who had no clue how to dance. It was his personality that won him American Idol and that’s why he has never had great success after Idol as a recording artiest. He released 3 albums since Idol with not a single one of them producing a radio hit. Once the buzz of season 5 of Idol was over, his fans simply forgot about him.
Lee Dewyze came in the middle of the Idol trend of giving the crown to a white guy who plays the guitar. It seemed like a successful formula and it worked for him during season 9 of Idol. His best selling CD sold only 153,000 units and he has had not a single hit on the radio. The best thing he has done has been having a song appear on an episode of the Walking Dead. The truth is Lee has a nice voice, but never really showed creativity or that he has a unique……well….anything. He was the guy next door who dreamed of being a rockstar but ended up sounding like a 100 other guys next store who wanted to be rockstars.
Ruben Studdard beat Clay Aiken to become the season 2 champ with only 134,000 more votes out of 24 million votes. Ruben is a loveable guy with a big voice. Ruben even had big hits with Sorry 2004 and Flying without Wings, both landing on Billboards Top 10 singles. However, he at times just reminded us of a great karaoke singer and he does not have a lot to add to the pop or R&B world. Again, it seems like his personality was able to grab him votes, and his size, being a larger man helped give him some great water cooler buzz but as an artiest he is actually just average.
17 year old Scotty McCreery won season 10 of Idol thanks to his incredible country voice. He has won several awards post Idol as well as number 1 hits on the country charts. While his post Idol career has been incredible, Scotty’s time on Idol was very underwhelming….. he pretty much did the same thing week after week (if it’s not broken don’t fix it?). Scotty clearly knew his audience was in country music (as well as high school girls) and never shook things up. He ranks as high as he does based mainly on his success post Idol.
The current Queen of Idol, Candice Glover won season 12 of American Idol. Her first album has only sold 58,000 copies so why is she so high on the list? It’s simple….the girl can sign. Love Song and I Who Have Nothing are two of our all time favorite Idol performances. It hasn’t even been a year since she left the Idol stage so hopefully her incredible voice will get paired up with the right songs and producers and she will have bigger post Idol success.
This Grammy nominated and American Music Award winning artist, Jordin Sparks was only 17 when she was crowned the 6th American Idol. Watching Jordin on Idol was so exciting because she was so young and excited to learn how to become a better artiest. She truly grew each week in front of America’s eyes. Since Idol,she’s had 3 Billboard top 10 hits and her hit No Air with Chris Brown was one of the biggest song of 2008. Jordin Sparks is what makes Idol so special, a regular girl being transformed into a world wide star.
Fantasia Barrino, American Idol season 3 winner deserves her place on our list. Love her or hate her, Fantasia sings with passion and every note has real emotion. She changed Idol, making it a must to be a great performer not just a great singer to win Idol. She showed up to Idol hungry and ready to become a star. Since Idol, her first Single I Believe topped Billboards top 100 list, and she has been a staple on the R&B charts with another R&B top hit.
David Cook, Rockstar and Winner of season 7 of Idol broke the Idol mold. Kris Allen and Phillip Phillips have Cook to thank for their success. As a talented musician, the music as a whole shined every time Cook went on stage. His performances of Billie Jean and Always Be My Baby are two of our all time favorite performances as well. Since Idol, Cook has had great success with his hits the Time of my Life and Light On. Bold and Original David Cook is a great pick to crack the top 5 list.
Phillip Phillips post Idol success after winning season 11 has kept American Idol alive. While some people felt he was just a Dave Matthews want to be, Phillip stayed true to himself throughout the entire season and was risky when it can to song choices. Than there was the season finally, and when he sang Home for the first time, we knew a star was born. Home latter became the theme song for the Olympics and was a huge radio success. While yes he was another white guy playing guitar, there had never been a similar artiest like Phillips on Idol and you could tell that he lived for music. He’s still a fairly new champ, but we have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more from him in the years to come.
The worship leader from Arkansas, Kris Allen fought his way to the top position on Idol. Season 8 seemed like it was Adam Lamberts year, but it was the underdog in Allen that America fell in love with. We love how no one thought Kris would even get to the top 5 at the start of the season. But every week he got better and better and every week he took a risk on his song choices and arrangements. Season 8 was our favorite season ever of Idol, and that is what helps Kris make the top 3 on our list. After Idol, his song Live Like We’re Dying cracked the top 10 singles list on Billboard. While his second album did not have many sales, we believe that his upcoming 3rd release could put him back to where he belongs.
American Idol went country with Carrie Underwood in season 4. With a perfect voice, a beautiful image, and a likeable personality….Carrie Underwood quickly became the person to beat. As her confidence started to grow, America got to see a true star being formed. Her performance of Alone has made several top 5 greatest Idol performances of all time and helped her win over non country fans. What’s interesting is that Carrie Underwood was country before country music was cool and helped bring country music to the masses. Since Idol she had 3 top 10 singles hits, and her last three albums have all debuted at number 1. She’s won 6 Grammy awards and countless others. Altogether she sold over 16 million albums sold and has made over 100 million in tour revenue, Carrie is one of the greatest stars Idol or not currently out there.
She’s the first and best Idol of all time, that’s right Kelly Clarkson tops our list. Her voice is powerful and full of emotion. She’s the girl next door who you want to be your best friend. And her legacy is now 500 episodes deep. Let’s see, Respect, Natural Woman, Stuff Like That There, I Surrender, and A Moment Like This, would all make our top 100 greatest performances of all time list. She’s also a Grammy Award winner with 3 of her own. She’s had 3 number 1 hit singles, 10 top 10 singles, and 2 number 1 albums. Besides that fact that she was the first Idol, the main reason we picked Kelly Over Carrie is due to her radio play and mass appeal. While Underwood is the queen of Country, Clarkson is the Queen of Pop (and she is country star too). Kelly Clarkson has almost twice as many radio plays as Carrie Underwood giving her the upper hand. Just imagine if Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood went on tour together…the world would rejoice.
What did you think of our list? Did Kelly Clarkson make your top pick as well? Who do you think is the weakest Idol of all time? Let us know on the comments below and check out our website popcornwhiskey.com .