American Idol Ends: Look Back at the 10 Most Successful Alums!

American Idol 10 most successful alums
Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Jennifer Hudson are three of American Idol's most successful alums. Robin Marchant/Getty Images for SiriusXM; Terry Wyatt/WireImage; Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images

Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this, and in the case of the American Idol alums, those moments spanned more than a decade. On Monday, May 11, it was announced that American Idol would be ending after the upcoming 15th season on the air. 

Not only does this mark the end of a historic television series, but it also represents the conclusion to a show that sparked so many massive singer’s award-winning, chart-topping music careers. 

Here are the most successful stars to come out of American Idol:

1. Carrie Underwood

The Oklahoma native stole America’s hearts on season 4 of American Idol when she took home the top prize. The country crooner went on to win seven Grammy awards and is the country artist with the most no. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Her top songs include “Before He Cheats,” “Cowboy Casanova,” “Blown Away,” “Something in the Water,” and “Somethin’ Bad.” She has sold more than 65 million albums worldwide. 

2. Kelly Clarkson

The confident Texas native went on to be the first winner of American Idol in an emotional moment competing with her friend Justin Guarini. She then released hit pop albums with chart-topping singles like “Miss Independent,” “Since U Been Gone,” “My Life Would Suck Without You,” Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” and “Catch My Breath.” Clarkson also dipped her toes in the country music scene and tried her hand at acting in the 2003 film From Justin to Kelly and TV shows American Dreams and Reba. She’s won three Grammys and two Academy of Country Music Awards. She has sold more than 45 million albums worldwide. 

3. Jennifer Hudson

In the biggest underdog story to come from the show, Hudson placed seventh on the third season of Idol, but went on to have a career that includes an Oscar, Grammy, a Super Bowl performance, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Take that, Simon Cowell!  

Katherine Mcphee

4. Katharine McPhee

The pop singer came in as a runner-up on the fifth season of Idol, losing to Taylor Hicks, but she went on to have a far more recognized career. Her self-titled debut album came in at no. 2 on the Billboard 200 in 2007. But McPhee found more success in her acting efforts. She appeared in the films The House Bunny and Shark Night 3D and had lead roles on NBC’s musical series Smash and the CBS show Scorpion

5. Jordin Sparks

At age 17, Sparks became the youngest singer to ever win Idol, landing the sixth season title. Since then, she’s released hit singles “Tattoo,” “No Air,” and “Battlefield.” She also performed on Broadway in the Tony-winning show In the Heights and starred in the 2012 film Sparkle with the late Whitney Houston. Her third studio album, Right Here, Right Now, is set to have a May 2015 release. 

6. Chris Daughtry

The rocker placed fourth on the fifth season of the Fox reality series (which Taylor Hicks won), but he hit the ground running, starting his band Daughtry. The group’s self-titled debut album was the fastest selling rock album in Nielsen Soundscan history. He is the third most successful Idol alum in terms of album sales, coming in behind Underwood and Clarkson. 

7. Adam Lambert

After coming in as a runner-up to Kris Allen on the eighth season of American Idol, Lambert went on to not only make a mark with his music, but also his social activism. After officially coming out as gay in 2009, he’s become an outspoken member of the LGBT community and received a GLAAD award in 2010 for Outstanding Music Artist. 

Phillip Phillips

8. Phillip Phillips

The most recent success story to come out of Idol is the season 11 winner Phillip Phillips. The singer-songwriter got a massive hit in 2012 with his song “Home,” which was played during the London Olympics. The song has sold more than 5 million copies in the U.S.

9. Kellie Pickler

The country singer finished in sixth place during season 5. She went on to release several albums, but is better known for winning season 16 of Dancing With the Stars with dance pro Derek Hough. Pickler has also lent her voice to breast cancer awareness, famously shaving her head in 2012 to support her best friend Summer Miller’s battle. 

10. Fantasia Barrino

The single mom had a tearful win in season 3 of the hit show. She went on to release the hit single “I Believe.” She also appeared on Broadway in the musical After Midnight and won a Grammy in 2011 for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “Bittersweet.”

Tell Us: Who is your favorite American Idol alum?

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