After weeks of performances and eliminations, Season 10 of American Idol all comes down to one night. When either 17-year old Garner, North Carolina native Scotty McCreery or 16-year-old Rossville, Georgia-born Lauren Alaina is named this year’s winner, chances are one or both of them will head to Nashville to kick off their career in country music.
Considering the fate of the previous nine American Idol winners, being tapped as the next American Idol winner to embark on a country career isn’t a bad thing. Let’s look at all nine past Idols to see where our youngest finalist might be headed.
First there was Kelly Clarkson. Right outta the Idol gate, she co-starred with her Season 1 runner-up, Justin Guarini in the miserably bad, From Justin to Kelly feature film. She guested on Reba McEntire‘s sitcom and appeared on both MADTV and SNL. There there was the music. She’s formed not only a working relationship with her own Idol, Reba, but a friendship as well. They’ve duetted on numerous occasions over the years. She and Reba even co-headlined 2008’s 2 Worlds 2 Voices Tour. Reba‘s hubby, Narvel Blackstock became Kelly‘s manager in 2007. As for success, she’s had two #1 albums, two #1 singles, a slew of Top 20 Hits, 12 Billboard Music Awards, 4 American Music Awards and 2 Grammys. In 2010, she recorded a duet with country singer Jason Aldean for his album. The duet hit # 1 on the Country Singles chart.
Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard scored a #1 album with his 2003 debut. His lead single for the project landed at #2 on the Billboard Top 100 Singles chart. In 2006, the lead single from his third album scored a #1 on the Urban Contemporary chart. Studdard has also been featured in a number of TV and film roles. During a 2008 revival tour of Ain’t Misbehavin‘ he starred as Fats Waller and appears on that production’s cast recording. He won Outstanding New Artist at the 2004 Image Awards. Studdard, who is in the process of recording his fifth album, showcased his talent in the jazz arena with a recent two-night gig as a headliner right here in Music City when he brought his show to Nashville Dinner Theatre.
Season 3’s Fantasia Barrino has scored with each of her three studio albums. Her first release landed in the #2 spot on the US R&B chart, her self-titled second album came in at #3 and her 2010 release topped the chart at #1. She has won more than a dozen awards, including: 1 Grammy, 2 Billboard Awards and a Theatre World Award. That’s right, she too has embarked on an acting career. On Broadway, she received rave reviews as Celie in The Color Purple. On the small screen, she played herself in a made-forTV movie based on her book, Life Is Not A Fairytale, as well as starring in her own reality show. Her next acting gig will take her to the big screen when she stars as Mahalia Jackson in a musical biopic reportedly due in theaters by year’s end.
Then there’s Carrie Underwood. The Season 4 Idol is arguably the most successful of the bunch, and coincidentally the one with the most ties to Nashville. Since taking home the title of American Idol in 2005, Carrie has scored 10 #1 hits on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart,. She’s won 109 Awards, including: 15 Billboard Music Awards, 11 Academy of Country Music Awards, 8 CMT Awards, 7 Grammys, 7 Country Music Association Awards and everything from a Teen Choice and People’s Choice on to BMI and ASCAP Awards. In 2009-2010, she became the first female artist ever to win back-to-back CMA Entertainer of The Year Honors. She’s been inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. She’s also a proud member of the Grand Ole Opry and the list goes on and on.
Despite scoring a number #1 single from a #2 album, Season five winner Taylor Hicks hasn’t exactly been on the fast track to success. Like the Idols who came before him, Taylor has also entered the world of acting. He landed the role of Teen Angel in the musical Grease during it’s recent Broadway revival. He then joined the National tour in 2008.
At the time of her Season 6 win, Jordin Sparks, then 17, was the youngest to ever hold the title–a record she will no long hold after Wednesday’s finale. Her debut album landed just inside the Top 10 chart. Her 2009 Battlefield did slightly better by charting at #7. She’s had five Top 20 singles, her most successful being her 2008 No Air duet with Chris Brown, unless you count her involvement on the benefit single Haiti relief effort, We Are The World 25. As for Jordin‘s awards, she’s won 2 Teen Choice, an Image Award, a BET Award, an AMA and a People’s Choice. She played herself in an episode of Disney‘s The Suite Life on Deck. For 12 weeks in 2010, she appeared on Broadway in the musical In The Heights.
Rocker David Cook took home the Idol honors for Season 7. His post-Idol debut landed at #3 on the US chart. He’s had four songs break the Top 100 chart, including his debut single, Time of My Life. He has won 2 Teen Choice Awards, 2 New Music Awards and a Nashville Music Award for Time of My Life as Song of The Year. His next album, This Loud Morning will be released June 28.
Season 8 winner Kris Allen released his self-titled post-Idol project in November of 2009. Both the album and the lead single, No Boundaries peaked at #11. His second single landed just inside the Top 20 at #18 and also sold enough units to be certified a Platinum seller. His next single did’nt chart on Top 100, but did land at #17 on the Adult Pop chart. HIs fourth single failed to chart on any of the major lists. Major awards have alluded Chris thus far, but he was nominated for 2 Teen Choice Awards in 2009, received a nod in 2010 for a People’s Choice and was included in the nominees for a 2011 Billboard Music Award. He co-wrote–along with Andrew Frampton and Stephen Allen Kipner–the song, Still Got Tonight, included on Glee star Matthew Morrison‘s debut album.
It’s only been a year since Lee DeWyze took top honors as the Season 9 winner of Idol. His Live It Up post-Idol release landed just inside the Top 20 at #19. His non-album cover of U2‘s Beautiful Day has been his most successful single so far, peaking at #24 on the US Hot 100. His debut single, Sweet Serendipity charted at #110, while the follow-up single, Beautiful Like You, failed to chart. Falling Slowly, a post-Idol digital single featuring his Season 9 runner-up, Crystal Bowersox landed at #66 on the Top 100 chart. Lee will kick off his first-ever headlining tour on June 19 in Columbus, OH with dates through July.
So you see, among the nine previous Idol winners, quite a few of them have ties to Nashville so no matter if you’re Team Scotty, or Team Lauren, your next American Idol is sure to take the country by storm.
American Idol Season 10 Finale airs tonight at 8/7c on FOX (seen in Nashville on FOX17).
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