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My picks for most successful ‘Idol’ contestants of all time

jennifer-hudson-spotlight-lyrics

Today is a deathly quiet day so far in the “Idol” world. This might be a good time to do this:

After eight seasons, we’ve had 95 ‘American Idol’ alums over eight seasons.

That’s 10 season one, 12 each for the next six seasons and 13 last year.

I’d say at least one third have now been able to leverage their fame into some semblance of a music career. In other words, many don’t have to go back to being a postal service worker or a Sonic waitress.

I decided just for fun to rank my top 25 most successful “Idol” contestants among those finalists (I’ll leave the likes of Frenchie Davis and William Hung out. We could do a separate, much shorter list of most successful “Idol” contestants who didn’t make the finals). This isn’t a judgment based on me liking them or not. It’s not just record sales. It’s how I perceive success to be. Feel free to rank your own top 5 or 10 on your own criteria.

1. Jennifer Hudson. Okay, she didn’t win and disappeared for a couple of years. During the season, I thought she was talented but at the time, fell in the shadow of Fantasia. Ultimately, she merely wasn’t quite ready for the primetime. When she got that “Dreamgirls” role, her life changed and our view of her changed, too. She’s the only “Idol” to branch out into movie acting and win the biggest awards for said acting. Plus, she’s an incredible singer who’s now in the “A List” category when it comes to recognition and respect. She’s, in effect, far transcended “Idol” and that’s quite a feat.

2. Carrie Underwood. She has seven No. 1 singles (and an eighth on the way), a stable full of awards and the respect of the country music industry and beyond. Though she’s had some tabloid moments thanks to a her penchant for football palyers and actors, she has maintained a clean-as-a-whistle reputation. She’s talented, likable and the perfect vehicle to prove ‘Idol” can create a star.

3. Kelly Clarkson. Being the first winner has its benefits. She was there early and we’ll always have warm and fuzzies for her for that reason alone. She still strikes me as incredibly down to earth and “real,” especially when she’s battling her record label or her weight. I don’t think that will ever change. She’s sold more albums than any other “Idol” over four albums and has more than a dozen big hits under her belt. You can’t help but root for her no matter what happens.

4. Chris Daughtry. He may be a bit Nickelback cookie cutter with his sound and his second album may be “no surprise,” but boy, his band is commercial gold! So far, he’s been a guaranteed hits generator and comes across as a truly earnest, if not terribly original, rocker.

5. Fantasia. Whether you like her or not, she’s hard to forget. She was a distinctive personality and singer from day one. Since the show, she’s had hit singles, a hit biopic, a hit bestselling book and accolades galore for her role on “The Color Purple.” I’ve seen her live multiple times and just emanates “star.”

6. Adam Lambert. Okay, he has not released an album yet, much less finish it. He didn’t even win. But he’s a tornado force to be reckoned with, a glam rocker “Idol” has never seen before and probably never will again. He made the cover of “Rolling Stone” when he came out. He’s the first “Idol” non winner to make the cover before the actual winner. The man hit No. 1 on the Amazon charts this week two months before its release.

7. Clay Aiken. Speaking of a man who didn’t win that captured a massive fan base, we have the delightfully fun Clay. Mocked for his “gay or not gay” tap dance, it’s interesting that this alone kept him in the spotlight far longer than if he had just come out in 2003. The Clay jokes have generally gone away in recent months, haven’t they? He brought out those Barry Manilow comparisons and sold a boatload of early CDs. He squandered some of his fan base by doing too many covers in recent years and not creating his own portfolio. He was well received recently doing “Spamalot.” If anything, we will watch his future endeavors with interest.

8. David Cook. Sure, that eyeliner was a bit much but he always struck me as a more original rocker than Daughtry – and less sullen. He seems to be able to laugh at himself more, too. While he hasn’t quite had Daughtry-level success, he has made a mark and it’s likely he’ll be in our sights for years to come.

8. Kellie Pickler. Three years ago, I would never have imagined putting her in the top 10 but she has earned it. She has made smart career choices, kept herself in the limelight via constant touring and goofy TV appearances and generated some decent songs to boot. She latched herself to the Taylor Swift bandwagon and got her first top 10 single this summer as a result. She still comes across as a sweet, bubbly, just less naive, personality.

9. Jordin Sparks. She is pure pop and has four genuine top 10 hits as a result. Still a teen-ager, she is a bit of a work in progress. It’s hard to say given the fickle nature of the pop world whether she’ll still be viable in five years but she seems to be a hard worker and quick learner. She is clearly the shining star during the arguably weakest “Idol’ season yet.

10. Ruben Studdard. Ruben surprised the world by beating Clay six years ago. He is now no longer talked about much. He tried to break into the R&B world but has been too old school to get much V-103/Hot 107.9-type airplay. His sales, as a result, have steadily eroded. He is now touring with “Ain’t Misbehavin’ ” and he seems at ease with himself. I still like him and he did sell quite a few records those first two years out.

11. David Archuleta. He has a dedicated fan base and one top 10 single under his belt. Once he outgrows hte Disney crowd, who knows?

12. Taylor Hicks. He is one of the more distinctive personalities ever to come out of “Idol.” He made great TV, which is why he won “Idol” in 2006. But his 70s-style rock-soul was never an easy sell commercially. He’s going to tour for the rest of his life and I’m sure he’ll be happy about that, even if it ends up being Smith’s Olde Bar-type places when he’s 50. He’s currently on the “Grease” national tour in a basically cameo role.

13. Kris Allen. It’s a bit premature to predict how successful Kris can be but he has a commercial look, a commercial sound and a good head on his shoulders. I predict he’ll do just fine.

14. Elliott Yamin. A true underdog, he came into the competition with virtually no stage experience and came out a modest star. He surprised the world with a massive hit with “Wait For You” in 2007. He hasn’t been able to duplicate that since but nobody seems to hate the guy. I hope he can find another hit or two down the road.

15. Katharine McPhee. She isn’t much of a pop artist but she manages to keep herself busy doing concerts and acting in films. Now she’s blonde. I’m not sure about that.

16. Justin Guarini. The poor guy became a butt of many many jokes when he bombed out and lost his record contract after season one. He has never been able to fully climb out of that abyss. But he did get work on TV Guide Channel, still gets concert dates and recently got married. He strikes me a nice guy who will find work.

17. Constantine Maroulis. Talk about a man people loved to hate! The man who visually humped the TV camera has actually found bliss on Broadway, even garnering himself a Tony nomination. The man’s a hustler.

18. Bo Bice. Like Taylor Hicks, his brand of 70s rock was never commercially viable. In fact, his first single proved that pop schlock isn’t for him. But again, like Taylor, he is a tour machine. He has a great fan base and they’ll follow him to whatever beer-sodden honkytonk he plays at. He is also an incredibly nice guy. He’s the only “Idol” ever to call me personally after I interviewed him to thank me for a story. Classy!

19. Bucky Covington. The man nobody thought much of season five now has three top 15 hits. Country music liked him and his unassuming persona clicked enough to make him a decent opening act for any big artist.

20. Diana DeGarmo. Snellville’s own hasn’t released a full album in ages and even pondered country music after doing that CMT show. But her heart and soul is in theatre. Her voice is perfect for it. She’s been on numerous shows now, the most recent being “The Toxic Avenger” in New York City.

21. Kimberley Locke. She had one pop hit “Eighth World Wonder” and a bunch of AC radio hits. She landed on “Celebrity Fit Club” and found herself a boyfriend. She can belt it out. Overall, she has managed to carve out a modest career.

22. Josh Gracin. Another season two vet, Gracin generated several country hits after he left the show but his last few songs have not done much. Good thing about country is even after you’ve left the charts, you can always do fairs and festivals and he has enough hits to do that for awhile.

23. Kimberly Caldwell. She is only now working on an album after all these years but she has kept her career alive via hosting shows on TV Guide Channel. (And dating David Cook for a while to boot.)

24. Chris Sligh. He only finished 10th season six but he found his niche in Christian music and pulled out a hit there. He is also a songwriter and got a No. 1 hit via “Here Comes Goodbye,” sung by Rascal Flatts. The man, as he noted recently on his blog, makes a good living doing what he loves and he works hard at it. Go Chris!

25. Ace Young. He co-wrote a hit with Daughtry and shows up each year on the Jerry Lewis telethons. He does a lot of charity work and has very fanatical fans. That says something.

Who else could have made the list? Tamyra Gray had some success on Broadway. Sanjaya wrote a book and ate bugs on “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Outta Here.” Anthony Fedorov did “Fear Factor” with Carmen Rasmussen and did the “Fantastiks.” Carly Smithson has joined what used to be Evanescence.

Trenyce and LaToya London both do theater. Mandisa wrote a book and sells CDs in Christian music, along with George Huff. Mikalah Gordon showed up on “Gone Country.” Nikki McKibbin has also done reality shows, as did Jessica Sierra (though she had to be in “Celebrity Rehab”). Blake Lewis released an album and has a second on his way. Brooke White came out with some tunes. Jason Castro is doing a mall tour.

363 comments Add your comment

wreckedpizza

October 2nd, 2009
10:59 am

Very interesting list, Rodney. I don’t know that I would put Diana so low (course I’m biased because I LOVE the young woman), but most of the rest seem pretty close to what I would think…

Rickster

October 2nd, 2009
11:00 am

I’m surprised that Rodney didn’t put Chris Sligh a bit higher since he’s the only known contestant that reads this blog!

kelly&carriefan

October 2nd, 2009
11:13 am

I only have two things…I would place Pickler above Fantasia. Jennifer makes an interesting case since she didn’t really benefit quite as much from the Idol machine. And if I were basing it solely on music (which arguably is/was the point of Idol), I would have Carrie topping the list. I honestly think that we’re just scratching the surface with her. Wouldn’t be surprised if she ventures into acting at some point. Tho, can’t really vouch for her acting ability… As far as Kelly goes, I tihnk the writeup pretty much nails it. That’s why she’s my fave Idol. ;)

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
11:55 am

I like your list, Rodney, although I’d switch some numbers around.

As for your “also” list, I’d add Matt Rogers. The Discovery Channel seems to love him as a host and, although what he does now has nothing to do with singing, he’s been pretty successful at making a decent living in the industry.

I think that Kat McPhee is more in the public eye than you’re willing to admit. With a couple of movies under her belt and more on the horizon, a number of guest appearances on PBS music specials and a new cd coming out she’s way busier than Ruben or even Taylor.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
12:00 pm

And I’m not sure I’d even put Elliot on the list.

Rodney Ho

October 2nd, 2009
2:07 pm

Good thoughts Deirdre. I probably did put Elliot a bit high. And yes, Matt just did the “There Goes the Neighborhood” show, too.

SINY

October 2nd, 2009
2:25 pm

Anthony Fedorov also starred in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in Oklahoma and is now doing it in Seattle.

Debbie

October 2nd, 2009
2:29 pm

didn’t Clay have a Rolling Stone cover before Ruben?

Geri

October 2nd, 2009
2:38 pm

Enter your comments here Just a correction: Clay Aiken made the cover of Rolling Stone many months before Ruben did. So Clay is the first “non-winner” to do that – not Adam Lambert.

allyson

October 2nd, 2009
2:54 pm

Clay Aiken was on the cover of Rolling Stone before Ruben was, so actually Clay was the 1st non-winner to be on the cover.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
2:58 pm

Looks like you might’ve touched a nerve, Rodney.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
3:02 pm

OK, Clay was the first non-winner on the cover of Rolling Stone but Adam was the fastest! Clay, July cover; Adam, June cover.

Kitty

October 2nd, 2009
3:05 pm

Enter your comments here
Constantine is the only Idol to receive a Tony nomination. He was nominated for Best Leading Actor in the Musical, Rock of Ages. I would say that’s very successful. His show Rock of Ages which had 5 Tony nominations stays sold out practically every night. Check it out! It’s a great show!

KD

October 2nd, 2009
3:06 pm

Diana & Clay should be higher and Fantasia(her mom must of loved the Disney movie)shall be no higher than 19th. Carrie should be #1.

Robin

October 2nd, 2009
3:06 pm

Thank you for your comment on Bo Bice. He is not only talented but is a wonderful man. This makes him doubly special and that is why we WILL follow him to any “beer-sodden honkytonk” with pleasure!

Jessie

October 2nd, 2009
3:13 pm

I’d leave out Adam and Kris. I love them but it’s really not fair to include them when the others have been working for years.

I’d rank Diana and Bucky higher. Diana has worked consistently in theater and gets great reviews. Bucky has a string of hits and is on the verge of a breakthrough, if buzz around his new single is any indication. Justin would be ranked lower because his primary job is tv host on a small network. Simply having a job in the industry doesn’t warrant being ranked above those who are still performing as their primary means of employment.

msalbright

October 2nd, 2009
3:18 pm

In my opinion it is too early to put Adam or Kris on your list let’s see what happens in the next year. I am one of those fans that will follow Bo Bice to whatever beer-sodden honkytonk he plays at. Hate to see him placed at 18, but I do understand that he did not achieve expectations. He opened twice for LS this year and will be opening for Styx and REO later this year. Bo has a beautiful voice and stage presence and I think it is just a matter of the right song for him. He has quietly built a music career in Nashville and he may yet have commercial success. I agree, Jennifer Hudson should be near the top of the list.

gjtiruuy

October 2nd, 2009
3:19 pm

It would be interesting to revisit this list in 5 to10 years and see who is still viable then. My money is on the ones that are the most diverse, not one trick ponies. We shall see.

Carol

October 2nd, 2009
3:21 pm

David Archuleta is not Disney. He is not attached to Disney brand in any way. He was recognized as a Male Rising Star at ALMA awards, has won 5 TCA awards. Go check out his live performances live. He will blow you away.

sarah

October 2nd, 2009
3:25 pm

I don’t think you should put anyone from this season. I think Blake Lewis being picked up by Tommy Boy merits a mention on this list. His new album is awesome. Also, Jason Castro is just getting started. He has a real tour in the New Year. I would have put him above some of them who don’t have major label record deals.

Jessie

October 2nd, 2009
3:28 pm

For fun I just did my own Top 20. I didn’t base it on record sales, just on how viable and active their career is, either in music, theater or movies, as well as whether or not I can still see those people being viable and active five years from now:
1.Carrie Underwood 2. Jennifer Hudson 3. Kelly Clarkson 4. Daughtry 5.Kellie Pickler 6.Clay Aiken 7. Jordin Sparks 8.David Cook 9.Ruben Studdard 10.Bucky Covington 11.Fantasia 12.Constantine 13.David Archuleta 14.Diana DeGarmo 15. Ruben Studdard 16. Josh Gracin 18.Bo Bice 19.Taylor Hicks 20.Justin Guarini

Jessie

October 2nd, 2009
3:29 pm

“Also, Jason Castro is just getting started. He has a real tour in the New Year. I would have put him above some of them who don’t have major label record deals.”

Great, once he’s done something then he can be considered. Having a major label deal means nothing. Keeping it is the thing.

Jessie

October 2nd, 2009
3:35 pm

Whoops, listed Ruben twice. Ok, well then that’s my Top 19 I guess. Just ignore the second Ruben. :)

Tyree

October 2nd, 2009
3:41 pm

You have the list. However, I only able to stomach a couple of these “idols”. Underwood and Clarkson. Not being a homophobe, so don’t take it there. Clay just creeps me out period. Cook screams. Daughtry seems distant. Fantasia bellows. Archuleta, sweet but forgetable. Studdard, Hicks and all the rest…YAWN.

DS

October 2nd, 2009
3:53 pm

Clay Aiken was the first AI alum. EVER to be on the cover of Rolling Stone, before Ruben, before anyone else.

His talent is what kept him in the headlines, and his sexual orientation was no one’s business but his own (and whoever he might actually sleep with). When the day comes that the puerile media isn’t obsessed with ones orientation we’ll have come a long way towards liberation. Finally, the covers were Clive Davis’s mandate. Poor, ancient Clive seems to be stuck on them. Look what he just did to Harry Connick Jr.

ugaaccountant

October 2nd, 2009
3:57 pm

Carrie is far and away the #1 on any ranking of Idols overall success. She’s an A-list celebrity in addition to being an award winning and commercially successful musician. Hudson is B-list celebrity with minimal music success, but admitidley dreamgirls was a big deal so she’s probably the 2nd best on this list, but she is miles behind Carrie.

Kathy

October 2nd, 2009
3:58 pm

Deirdre says: And I’m not sure I’d even put Elliot on the list.

I disagree. His debut album was the highest independent debut by a new artist in Billboard chart history (#3 on the Top 200), the single “Wait For You,” was a Top 5, platinum-certified smash, that still has an audience of nearly 5 million listeners weekly despite being over two years old. His first album went gold, selling over 550,000. He also sold over 400,000 ringtones. Elliott’s accomplishments are pretty amazing considering he is an independent artist with little promotional power to back him up.

Highlander

October 2nd, 2009
4:12 pm

Dang, Rodney! For a nice little thread topic on a very slow AI news day, you sure brought out a bunch of the (rabidly fanatic) lurkers! :-)

Haven’t been here much the past couple days, so I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to JT and his family.

annie

October 2nd, 2009
4:13 pm

Enter your comments here I had to respond to your comment about David Archuleta. The majority of David’s fans are not teenagers. His fan base is growing all over the world. He is a gifted musician and will make a huge mark in the music industry. Did you see his performance on the Almas? Contigo En La Distancia. You ought to check it out!

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
4:14 pm

Deirdre says: Yeah but what has he done lately?

I liked Elliot, don’t get me wrong, but his inclusion on the list is somewhat questionable especially considering he was listed at 14 ahead of Diana, Constantine and Katharine who have all worked non-stop in the industry…successfully. Even Bucky has more music out there than Elliot!

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
4:16 pm

I feel the need to kinda stand in for JT on the Archie comment from Annie.

He MAY indeed make a huge mark on the music industry someday but so far…nada!

annonymous

October 2nd, 2009
4:25 pm

Interesting list, David Archuleta is not affiliated with Disney. His label is JIVE and his MGT. is Azoff. Sure Disney would love to get there hands on him if they could, but that will never happen. However, Disney has been giving David alot of publicity, and considering how poorly JIVE has been failing in that dept., I appreciate Disney’s support for David right now.

Year Presenter Awards
2008 Teen Choice Awards 2008-Most Fanatic Fans/Won
2008-Best Smile (Post Show)/Won
2009 Teen Choice Awards/2009-Breakout Artist/Won
2009-Music: Love Song (for “Crush”)/Won
2009-Music Tour/Won/(with Demi Lovato)
Alma Awards/2009-Music Rising Star/Won

He is currently up for 7 Grammy nominations also. So I have to agree with you, David Archuleta is doing very well for himself :D

Patti

October 2nd, 2009
4:27 pm

Rodney, great list. While some may change the order a bit, I think you’ve captured a reasonable list of contestants for this list. I know some people prefer their ommitted favorites be on the list, but sometimes they forget that record sales and “A” list pop status isn’t the only way to measure success. Success is in the heart and soul of the performer and only they can define it. Also, that yet to be seen “potential” can only happen if the contestant works their butt off in future years and makes smart decisions and surrounds themselves with people they can trust.

Thanks, particularly, for recognizing Constantine in your list. I have never seen anyone love what they do more than he does. He is a bonafide star on Broadway leading a smash hit musical, and a star in my eyes. He’s a triple threat, humble, mannerly, determined and intelligent. And from what I’ve witnessed thus far, he does exceptionally well in any entertainment medium – TV, Theater, Hosting – comedy, drama, touring, acting, singing – likely one of the most underrated and versatile of all the top Idol contestants, IMO. I have no doubt he will have a satisfying career for the rest of his life.

Kathy

October 2nd, 2009
4:32 pm

Currently Elliott has a new single, Can’t Keep On Loving You, in the top 30 on the Adult Contemporary radio chart. His single Fight for Love did well at Pop stations that bothered to give it a chance. Elliott’s problem is he doesn’t have big label guns promoting his work.

AJC

October 2nd, 2009
4:43 pm

Funny not many making comments here realize just how popular David Archuelta is and contrary to what you all want to believe, it’s not just tweens and teens and grandma’s………just cause you are not seeing him in the news headlines or trash magazine doesn’t mean he is not around, successful and making his mark on the music world…..

just a little fun fact……. of all the AI Alum you have listed here…… David Archuleta’s debut single ‘Crush’ has over 19,380,000 views on his Youtube video…… the highest views on a YT video of all the others listed here…. hmmm……

he was just submitted by his record label for 7 Grammy categories, finished several very successful tours, which all but one completely sold out, appeared on the ALMA’s 2 weeks ago and wow’d the crowd with his Spanish cover of ‘Contigo El La Distancia’. his Christmas CD will be released on Oct. 13th , of the 13 tracts listed, he sings one of those in Spanish, French and Latin….. he will begin another solo tour soon to promo the CD, begin his 2nd pop CD the first of the year and is rumored to be going to Malaysia to do a benefit concert with Katy Perry for the Tsunami victims…… this along with attending the RSO Reception Dinner last night where he met with VIP’s from India as one of the charities he supports. Oh, and he also sang the best version I have ever heard in my lifetime of ‘America The Beautiful’ at the US Open a couple weeks ago…… and last year at the Pro Bowl he sang the National Anthem… so maybe check out his videos…… you just may love what you hear…. :)

And David A is only 18 !!! He has just begun…. he will be around for a very long time to come.

So you should probably research a little more before you write up an article ….. and of course we all have our opinions… and I’m not here to argue…we all have our favs…… I just think so many are counting out David because of what they saw on AI only…… and that is sad…. because he will be a force in the music world…. and for many years to come…

and have I mentioned he is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet…just as genuine and humble as they come…

Dave

October 2nd, 2009
4:51 pm

David Archuleta is not just for teens! David has fans of all ages and all around the world! David Archuleta has won several awards already and will win many many more! His Christmas album, “Christmas From the Heart,” will be released on Oct. 13. He is also working on a new pop album for the start of next year. David has helped many charities. David sang at the ALMA awards and won an award. He sang, “Contigo en la distancia.” David also sang at the US Open. He has also been submitted for 7 Grammy awards! David Archuleta has made a mark in not only the music world but in the world and there is much more to come! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZN7hBq7bBo

Debbie

October 2nd, 2009
4:59 pm

I’m not complaining about where David Archuleta falls on your list. It is a misconception though that David appeals only to the Disney crowd. Honestly, I’ve been to many David Archuleta shows, and most of his fans are from mid to late teens and up.. He does not have mass appeal with the young Hannah Montana crowd, and honestly, I don’t think he wants to. His musical taste is very mature and I believe he will go more in the direction of a Jason Mraz than some Radio Disney star.
For the most part I do agree with your list, and most of my favorite Idols are on there. Wish them all the best.

Jon

October 2nd, 2009
5:00 pm

I have to follow up with some comments on David Archuleta and the media’s ignorance in thinking his fans are just teens. You are sadly mistaken, his fans are of all ages.

If you think he is in the same category as Disney stars, think again. Check out his performance at the ALMA Awards….. what Disney star do you know of that has the vocals and style to perform this song and hit it out of the park? There is NOTHING teen about this performance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZN7hBq7bBo

David has had a very successful year with many accolades and I think you underestimate his worth because you haven’t bothered checking out what he’s been up to and accomplished.

kelly&carriefan

October 2nd, 2009
5:00 pm

Weel, it looks like the Claymates jumped ship…can someone please film it when he walks on water? Please and thank you.

sls

October 2nd, 2009
5:03 pm

Wow, David Archuleta fans are on the warpath! Calm down, folks.. this is just Rodney’s list – a good list IMO.

Jon

October 2nd, 2009
5:08 pm

sls, David’s fans aren’t on the “warpath”, they are just stating facts that Rodney obviously isn’t aware of. Suggest you just chill and not take things the wrong way.

AJC

October 2nd, 2009
5:09 pm

sls….

funny, I don’t see any of us David A fans on the ‘war path’ as you so say…. all we are trying to do is educated those reading and commenting here on what David A is doing these days… and looks to me like the comments for the most part here have been very respectful to each other….

some just won’t give David A his props… and that’s too bad… I wish every and all listed here from AI the best on their careers…… it’s a tough business and even tougher world

djafan

October 2nd, 2009
5:13 pm

I feel the need to kinda stand in for JT on the Archie comment from Annie.

He MAY indeed make a huge mark on the music industry someday but so far…nada!

So far …. nada?

I dare you to truly research what he has been accomplishing at the tender age of 18!

I’m a grandmother not a tween or teen and appreciate true talent and character. I think many of your picks are spot on but to not give David Archuleta the credit he deserves and has earned proves to me that you have not researched him.

El57

October 2nd, 2009
5:27 pm

Not really an AI fan, but have watched a few of the seasons and I would have to put Carrie Underwood as number one and the young Archuleta as number two. He was on TV singing a Spanish song a few weeks ago and I have to say he impressed me with is ability to sing in two languages, more than one genre, and how old is he? Daughtry – I would peg higher as well.

Ewolf.girl

October 2nd, 2009
5:28 pm

Enter your comments here
1) Carrie Underwood 2) Kelly Clarkson 3) Daughtry 4) Jordan Sparks 5) David Cook 6) David Archuleta 7) Jennifer Hudson 8) Clay Aiken 9) Bo Bice 10) Elliott Yamin (’course as an avid David Cook fan, I’d like to put him first, but this is my list of generally perceived popularity among the Idols.)

Irene

October 2nd, 2009
5:35 pm

Enter your comments here You truly need to check your facts. Clay Aiken was on Rolling Stone long before Ruben Studdard. He also has done much more then you’ve given him credit for. Please do research before you speak.

Leona

October 2nd, 2009
5:38 pm

1. Carrie Underwood
2. Kelly Clarkson
3. Daughtry
4. Jennifer Hudson
5. Clay Aiken
6. David Archuleta (my idol and I think he’ll go up the list as years progress)
7. Jordan Sparks
8. David Cook
9. Kelly Pickler
10. Elliott Yamin (wish he would go higher as I think he’s under-rated and a great artist)

Steph

October 2nd, 2009
5:49 pm

My list-1. Carrie Underwood 2. Kelly Clarkson 3. Daughtry 4. Jennifer Hudsen 5. Clay Aiken 6. David Cook 7. Fantasia 8. Kelly Pickler 9. David Archuleta 10. Jordin

Adam and Kris have yet to prove themselves. Of all of the Idols Carrie, Kelly, and Clay have earned the most money. Carrie, Kelly, Clay, and Daughtry are the only ones that are Tour Headliners. The rest have just been opening acts. Jennifer did a co-headlining tour and played similiar or smaller venues that Carrie,Kelly, Daughtry, or Clay play.

Oh and Clay reached #1 on Amazon within hours and stayed there for six weeks. He also has hit #1 on Amazon for every album he has put out.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
5:49 pm

Dave and Jon…thanks for the ALMA awards video. There is no doubt that Archie has a wonderful voice and the song was absolutely beautiful. I, for one, am happy to see him maturing.

I will also say that most of the Idols on the above list have wonderful voices. There appeal is not limited to one group but to many people from different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. This is what our Idols have in common. The ability to touch people with their voices. The fact that one Idol wins over another is just a number count. Every Idol on Rodney’s list has accomplished much from their days on the show.

The comments made here are opinions, not facts. We’re not all going to like the same voices, the same styles and certainly not the same Idols. Relax!

Cece

October 2nd, 2009
5:51 pm

As many have said, Clay Aiken was the first idol to grace Rolling Stone. He also had the biggest selling issue that year and one of their top selling issues of all time. Clay’s debut album went to #1 on Amazon and stayed there for months prior to it’s release back in 2003. Most popular idols can hit #1 on Amazon – it’s easy to do with large internet fanbases. I’m not sure why it’s so newsworthy for Adam.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
5:51 pm

Excuse me….why would I want to “research” an Idol????????? Opinions! IMO, Archie has a long way to go…I never said he wouldn’t get there. Again…Relax!

Gia

October 2nd, 2009
5:57 pm

Enter your comments here
I am pretty sure that Clay Aiken had a Rolling Stone Cover before Ruben.

Jessie

October 2nd, 2009
5:58 pm

Oh Lordy the Claymates and the Archuleta fans have their panties in a twist. I wasn’t aware that in order to do an off the cuff list, Rodney wasn’t supposed to go by HIS definition of success but by THEIRS. LOL

Jessie

October 2nd, 2009
6:00 pm

“some just won’t give David A his props”

So please explain to me why that is apparently such a problem for YOU? Is he your son???? LOL

Well

October 2nd, 2009
6:02 pm

In the list specific “facts” are listed not opinions about the idols listed. The “facts” about David Archuleta are not listed. Hence the request to research factual information across the board.

Now as far as opinions go, Archie has a long way to go is your opinion, my opinion is yes he is just beginning but to list Adam Lambert at #6 without having anything to go buy as of yet is absurd, Fantasia and Ruben, my favorites of their seasons haven’t been as popular as Archie, factually, I also buy there music and follow them.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
6:03 pm

IMO, first albums don’t count. The first albums sell because of continuing fan wars. Fans of Idols buy in a frenzy, not only because they love their favorite Idol but they are trying to prove that they weren’t wrong. I’ll be fascinated to watch what happens when the Adam/Kris war begins in November.

An Idol is not a huge success until he or she scores big with a second album. Or moves on to something else like Jennifer Hudson, Diana DeGarmo, Fantasia,or Constantine. An Idol must, if he or she wants the career to continue, connect with new fans. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood are the only 2 Idols to be embraced by the “outside” world. Chris Daughtry may join them. Jennifer Hudson, mostly because of Dream Girls, not Idol, is right there as well.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
6:08 pm

Well….I was responding to someone who quoted me who said that I needed to do research on Archie. Why? I didn’t write the blog.

Well

October 2nd, 2009
6:11 pm

I apologize…didn’t realize that.

lynnk

October 2nd, 2009
6:11 pm

Good list…yes I have my favorites for sure just not going to say. What I really think is a shame is the “fan wars” that all this causes. People have to come on here and give a resume of their favorite contestant. Those who don’t like them don’t care so don’t bother. I will say to the Adam fans though…I appreciate your enthusiam but just be careful not to push him down everyone’s throat. It can do him more harm and good. It has happened to other’s. You can end up making him a joke, so just enjoy and support him and let nature take it’s course on his career. Yes he has gotten accolades from the music industry but so have other contestants and it didn’t help them. RCA will take care of him you don’t have to worry. It’s a big world and there is room for them all because they are all different and appeal to different people……..peace out!

Heather

October 2nd, 2009
6:16 pm

David Archuleta has one hit song. ONE. His subsequent singles tanked. If his second album does well then he will be a lasting success. An ALMA award is nice within his culture but ultimately means nothing. Neither does the fact that he has a nice voice. Longevity is what matters. He hasn’t been around long enough for that and he doesn’t have superstardom going for him yet either.

But maybe he will someday.

Clay Aiken’s best days are behind him. He certainly warrants a place among most successful AIers but until or if his Decca CD returns him to multi-platinum status, his star is rightly considered on the decline.

But maybe he’ll make a marvelous comeback.

AI has produced mega music superstars in Kelly, Carrie and Daughtry, along with B level music stars like Cook, Kellie, Jordin, and Bucky.

AI has produced skilled and respected theater stars like Diana and Constantine.

And AI has produced a couple of good tv hosts in Guarini and Matt Rogers.

Everybody else is fighting for their spot as far as I’m concerned.

AI has produced a movie star named Jennifer Hudson.

Heather

October 2nd, 2009
6:18 pm

David Archuleta has one hit song. ONE. His subsequent singles tanked. If his second album does well then he will be a lasting success. An ALMA award is nice within his culture but ultimately means nothing. Neither does the fact that he has a nice voice. Longevity is what matters. He hasn’t been around long enough for that and he doesn’t have superstardom going for him yet either.

But maybe he will someday.

Clay Aiken’s best days are behind him. He certainly warrants a place among most successful AIers but until or if his Decca CD returns him to multi-platinum status, his star is rightly considered on the decline.

But maybe he’ll make a marvelous comeback.

AI has produced mega music superstars in Kelly, Carrie and Daughtry, along with B level music stars like Cook, Kellie, Jordin, and Bucky.

AI has produced a movie star named Jennifer Hudson.

AI has produced skilled and respected theater stars like Diana and Constantine.

And AI has produced a couple of good tv hosts in Guarini and Matt Rogers.

Everybody else is fighting for their spot as far as I’m concerned.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
6:23 pm

lynnk…gotta agree with you. I love Adam but I understand that not everyone will. I would hope that his fans don’t do to Adam what the Claymates did to Clay Aiken.

lynnk

October 2nd, 2009
6:24 pm

Heather..well said..but I do want to say Clay did a marvelous job on Broadway and should be mentioned among “respected theatre stars”. Actually I think that is where he shines brightest…and that is not so bad. Whatever area of the entertainment business they end up I wish them well. Only want the best for all of them because they have provided me with a lot of entertainment over the years!

lynnk

October 2nd, 2009
6:31 pm

Deirdre…exactly that is my concern as well. The enthusiam for Adam and the “2nd” place “sting” have his fans reacting much like the fans did for Clay…their “enthusiam” caused DJ’s and others to turn away from Clay. Don’t want to see that happen to Adam as well.

rick

October 2nd, 2009
6:32 pm

The Glamberts must not have found this blog yet or they would be all pver it saying Adam should be number 1. However, the fact is that most of the things Lambert has done are not new–some idol has done them all before. The only thing different about him is the genre of music he is representing and no one knows yet if the rocker world will accept him as one of them. This year’s idols aren’t quite ready for prime-time as none have released a CD at this point in time.

Heather

October 2nd, 2009
6:36 pm

“Heather..well said..but I do want to say Clay did a marvelous job on Broadway and should be mentioned among “respected theatre stars”. Actually I think that is where he shines brightest’

I don’t include Clay in that list because he did one role and the reviews from both fans and theater purists were actually mixed. Whereas Diana and Constantine have done numerous musicals. Also, some thought Clay was passable and others found him way too over the top, even for Spamalot. He was trying to fill a role previously done by David Hyde Pierce though, so it’s only naturally that to some he’d pale in comparison.

Bottom line is that for me he’ll have to do a few more shows and prove his versatility before he qualifies as a bonafide theater star.

lynnk

October 2nd, 2009
6:42 pm

Heather..note taken..see your point.

Steph

October 2nd, 2009
6:43 pm

Excuse me Heather but Clay got excellent reviews for Spamalot and the fans loved it. He also majorly increased ticket sales for the show. You also forgot to mention Fantasia who got rave reviews for The Color Purple. Constantine has done very well and was nominated for a Tony.

I like Diana but you really can’t compare her to the others, the others were major stars in their shows. Clay and Fantasia had huge Time Square posters and their posters on city buses. Clay is the only one to have his caricature up at Sardis. He also has been offered other shows but has turned them down.

You also forgot about Tamyra in Rent.

Well

October 2nd, 2009
6:50 pm

Heather….Diana and Constantine have one “ONE” broadway show under their belts and not one musical hit.

They haven’t reached superstardom yet either.

But maybe they will someday.

David Archuleta has a major hit with one song and is a respected skilled vocalist.

Well

October 2nd, 2009
6:53 pm

Just saw…numerous musicals?

I googled didn’t find numerous….I’d appreciate a link to those if you don’t mind

Lisa

October 2nd, 2009
6:54 pm

Enter your comments here As far as I am concerned…..Chris Daughtry will be around for a long time. His voice is amazing…he is a great family man and his band has come a long way. He is just getting started and expect him to have many No. l singles coming out from his new album.
There really hasn’t been another American Idol winner come close to Chris Daughtry’s success.
Give credit…where due. Listen to his new album…..what a voice!!!!!!!

liz meier

October 2nd, 2009
6:56 pm

Enter your comments here

I think everyone is nuts, Adam is going to go all the way, He was to me the very best Oj Idol

Lisa

October 2nd, 2009
6:56 pm

CHRIS DAUGHTRY……..Fantastic voice…..love him.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
6:57 pm

Diana was in Legally Blonde on Broadway is now in The Toxic Avenger. Constantine was nominated for a Tony which trumps the fact that this is his first Broadway outing.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
6:58 pm

What’s an Oj Idol?

Steph

October 2nd, 2009
7:01 pm

“There really hasn’t been another American Idol winner come close to Chris Daughtry’s success.”

Uh Lisa you might want to check the stats on Kelly and Carrie. It’s not even close.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
7:02 pm

Lisa…Chris Daughtry was not an Idol winner and you must be forgetting about Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood…while it’s true that they are not close to Daughtry’s success it’s because they passed his level a couple of years ago and continue to climb.

Man, I’m having fun…I can’t wait for the new season! :-)

Well

October 2nd, 2009
7:06 pm

Man, I’m having fun…I can’t wait for the new season! :-)

hahaha…now that was funny!

Erin

October 2nd, 2009
7:08 pm

Can’t wait for David Archuleta’s Christmas Album and I think after it’s release you will have to move him up a bit on your list an maybe have to give him some prompts for his achievement. Not sure why he is the only idol to receive two small comments from you with everything the teen has accomplished.

Deirdre

October 2nd, 2009
7:20 pm

We have a good time here during the season. Y’all should pop on and join us. we chat during the day and many of us blog along with Rodney during the show.

This blog focuses on the show. we try not to get too fan-actic about any of the singers but we all have our favorites. Despite differences of opinion, we manage to stay a happy group because we try not to go overboard. It ends up as a respectful yet fun group.

Check us out when the season begins.

Claire

October 2nd, 2009
7:27 pm

Strange list. I love JHud, but despite getting a lot of recognition, I don’t known if I’d put her at #1. The first 4 are actually very hard to rank. Anyway, here’s my stab at it: 1. Kelly Clarkson, 2. Carrie Underwooe, 3. Daughtry, 4. Jennifer Hudson, 5. Jordin Sparks, 6. Kellie Pickler 7.David Cook, 8. Fantasia Barrino, 9. Clay Aiken, 10. David Archuleta.
Your list sort of takes into account over the top fan behavior to rank people like Clay Aiken and Adam Lambert higher. Clay was never that popular outside of the crazy idol fanbase and Adam has yet to prove himself. The # 1 on Amazon preorders on Adam’s album has been accomplished by prior idols (like David Cook last year). Unfortunately, the media and certain bloggers chose to sensationalize it this year.

Claire

October 2nd, 2009
7:33 pm

Did a David A fansite link here? WTF? David A has potential and will probably move up the list but I think it’s fine to rank him where he is for now.

Barbara

October 2nd, 2009
7:35 pm

Enter your comments here
Constantine has been in two off-Broadway shows and two on-Broadway shows (The Wedding Singer and Rock of Ages. He originated the role in ROA which is the one where he was nominated for a Tony.

sarah fall

October 2nd, 2009
7:38 pm

Enter your comments
the poll is just your opinion.. don’t agree with it at all.
Adam Lambert has not achieved anything yet and listed at 6 when the result is not here yet.
fantasia is a little bit high for someone who sales is not that high.

Jill

October 2nd, 2009
7:54 pm

To my understanding, Diana, Constantine, Fantasia and Clay have all gotten very good reviews for their theater efforts. But I don’t recall Clay or Fantasia saying they consider theater their primary career goal whereas Diana HAS said her primary goal is to work in theater. She’s been in a Broadway show (Hairspray), an award winning off Broadway show (Toxic Avenger), the lead in an major touring production (Brooklyn), and several major regional productions in Los Angeles, northern California, and Oklahoma. To be fair, theater IS her career not something she dabbles in here and there.

Jennifer

October 2nd, 2009
8:31 pm

I think Kelly Clarkson should be at the top of the list. She is the only artist that is viable internationally and has sold more albums worldwide than any other idol probably ever will.

You can’t deny Carrie’s achievements, but she was fully embraced and supported and in a way, propped up by the country music industry.

Fantasia definitely is in the same level as JHud. She has won a Tony and a Grammy, plus sold more and toured more than jHud, plus the lifetime movie she starred in.

JHud’s success is largely hype due to her support from the Hollywood establishment, Oprah, Obama, etc, but I don’t think her sales are stellar,and I don’t know how she would fare as a tour headliner.

I agree with some other comments that Adam Lambert and Kris Allen should not be included here because they don’t really have any proven track record yet, it is too early.

And my fave Taylor Hicks seems to be the Rodney Dangerfield of American Idol (no respect). Most people don’t realize the touring success he has had. He was the first idol to jump straight off the show as a headlining act (remember the sold out Tabernacle show here in Atlanta?) and has had star billing on both the Broadway and National tours of Grease, Between Grease and his regular concerts I think he will be doing about 300 shows this year where he has top billing…not too shabby

We can see from this list the “Golden Season” is season five, with Taylor, Kat, Elliott, Daughtry, Kellie, Bucky, Ace all on the list…and Mandisa who has had success in Christian music. That was the pinnacle of Idol for me.

anomymus

October 2nd, 2009
8:39 pm

Since Chris Daughtry……..there has not been on AI winner even come close to Chris Daughtry success. Clive Davis saw in him longlivity as an artist. The bottom line is this…..the voice……listen closely to the three or four AI voices……that have done well……and they work hard at it. Some winners don’t want to pay the price.

Kate

October 2nd, 2009
8:43 pm

“Fantasia definitely is in the same level as JHud. She has won a Tony and a Grammy”

Fantasia has not won a Tony. What on earth are you talking about? I don’t think she’s ever won a Grammy either, though she has been nominated several times.

Kate

October 2nd, 2009
8:46 pm

“JHud’s success is largely hype due to her support from the Hollywood establishment, Oprah, Obama, etc, but I don’t think her sales are stellar,and I don’t know how she would fare as a tour headliner.”

JHud’s success is largely due to the fact that she’s won a freaking Oscar and a Grammy. The woman is a superstar and, yes, she does have Hollywood’s support. That’s kinda one of the perks of being a huge A list star.

Her cd did pretty darn well considering her mom, brother and nephew were MURDERED a couple weeks after it was released. Kinda hard to promote a cd after that ya know?

Sasha

October 2nd, 2009
9:06 pm

Clay Aiken was so good in his leading role in Spamalot that he was asked to return for a second run. His reviews were excellent and he will be back to do more acting, I have no doubt.

There is no way he should be ranked so low on the list. His 7 million album sales, his sold out headlining tours and his Broadway runs are enough to propel him to at least #3, JHud has no tours, no million dollar sales and nothing coming in the future. Adam doesn’t belong on the list. He hasn’t accomplished anything yet, same with Kris.

Laura

October 2nd, 2009
9:14 pm

Enter your comments here Surprised you have Cook that low on your list. He actually made $2 million just last year alone and has been on tour since 2/13/09 through the end of the year, pretty much selling out 90% or so. Plus he already has a platinum album, after only 3 months, plus two platinum singles to his name.

Maria

October 2nd, 2009
9:22 pm

David Archuleta should be number one on this list–

Jennifer

October 2nd, 2009
9:23 pm

My apologies for the error, I checked and Fantasia did not win a Tony or Grammy, she did win the 2007 Theater World Award for the Color Purple and was nominated for eight grammies but as far as I can see never won. While looking that upI also noticed she had a New York Times bestseller.

And while Jennifer’s family situation was extrememly heartbreakingly tragic, it really should be kept apart from her (considerable) talents and accomplishments. But the fact remains that Fantasia has outsold her record-wise, has had more hits, and sold more seats than Jennifer Hudson. Oscars and Grammys are given out by an elite few in the industry. Record sales, book sales, Broadway and concert seats, and American Idol titles are given out by the public, which holds more weight for me in terms of measuring success.

Keysha

October 2nd, 2009
9:27 pm

how can Kimberley Locke be below Diana Degarmo???

Jessie

October 2nd, 2009
9:51 pm

“There is no way he should be ranked so low on the list. His 7 million album sales, his sold out headlining tours and his Broadway runs are enough to propel him to at least #3, JHud has no tours, no million dollar sales and nothing coming in the future. Adam doesn’t belong on the list. He hasn’t accomplished anything yet, same with Kris.”

Oh for heavens sake, why don’t all the whiners do their own list and post it here. You know, instead of going “So and so should be #1 because they are AWESOME and so cute and they fart rainbows, you big doo doo heads!” That list is Rodney’s OPINION and it started out with people here calmly discussing what alterations they would make to the list, which was fun. Now the fantards have arrived to clutch their pearls and get their undies in a twist. Instead, just post your own list and make your precious favorite #1 if that makes you feel better.

It would probably be more productive than telling Rodney his opinion is wrong.

Sasha

October 2nd, 2009
10:03 pm

Clay Aiken had a #2 New York Times Bestselling Book.

Anthony D.

October 2nd, 2009
10:05 pm

For those who said Adam should not be on the list (I do agree that Kris should not be on the list), I would have to say that I think he definitely belongs there. He’s already a megastar, if the worldwide clammer is any indication. He’s number 1 in presale on Amazon, a music site (google in top 100 most technically skilled rock vocalists) has placed him at number 2 on the list, and numerous magazines have been intrigued enough to feature him prominently. This guy is going to be huge, and Rodney wisely recognizes that fact.

Sasha

October 2nd, 2009
10:06 pm

“it started out with people here calmly discussing what alterations they would make to the list,”

What is different about my calm suggestions for alterations to the list and yours? Nothing! Why have comments if pushy people like you want to police them? WTF are you?

Sasha

October 2nd, 2009
10:08 pm

“This guy is going to be huge”

Yeah so was Blake and Hicks. He isn’t anything yet. Megastar my A**. The music site is just a bunch of Lambert fans, hardly objective.

jane

October 2nd, 2009
10:10 pm

Enter your comments here………Lots of talent rated on these pages……they’re all working hard and should be appreciated for what they have accomplished. This list is just one person’s opinion…..not a bad list ,by the way…I would have changed a couple of them around a bit and elininated one completely , but then that would have been MY list. Everyone make your own list and then you’ll be happy….just don’t post it because someone is bound to disagree with you …it’s the nature of the beast….LOL