9 Biggest Success Stories From American Idol

Gregory E. Miller

Once upon a time American Idol was the biggest thing on television, churning out music superstars left and right. But in recent years, ratings have slid and the show's light has dimmed—so much so, in fact, that Fox has announced that the impending 15th season will be its last.

But it's been a good run, as evidenced by the hit-makers the show has produced. These nine singers represent the show's biggest success stories.

Carrie Underwood After American Idol


Carrie Underwood

A genuine powerhouse in country music, Underwood is arguably the most successful Idol alum, full-stop. She's sold more albums than any other show competitor and has been pumping out chart-toppers like "Jesus, Take the Wheel" and "Before He Cheats" since her debut. Last fall she released her first greatest hits album, which itself has spawned two more hits, "Something in the Water" and "Little Toy Guns."

Kelly Clarkson After American Idol


Kelly Clarkson

The O.G. Idol champion has been releasing albums steadily for 12 years. As the competition's reigning pop queen (with three Grammys to prove it), Clarkson has given us such ubiquitous singles as "Breakaway," "Since U Been Gone," and "My Life Would Suck Without You." In February, she dropped her seventh studio album, Piece by Piece, featuring the current single "Heartbeat Song."


Jennifer Hudson

No other Idol contestant has come close to Hudson's achievements in the realm of acting. In 2007, she scored an Oscar for her turn in Dreamgirls and then followed that up with various film and TV roles, including a stint on Empire. But she's continued to pursue music: Her three studio albums have spawned such R&B hits as "Spotlight" and "No One Gonna Love You," and in 2012, she memorably paid tribute to the late Whitney Houston at the Grammys telecast with a performance of "I Will Always Love You." Most recently, Hudson joined Iggy Azalea earlier this year for a new single off the rapper's album, "Trouble."

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Scott McCreery

Though the Season 10 winner has been quiet as of late, he made a name for himself on the country charts with hits like "I Love You This Big" and "See You Tonight." In 2011, he made history when his first album bowed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, making him the first country act to ever debut atop the chart with a freshman album.

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Katharine McPhee

The fifth season's runner-up had a short-lived music career without a breakout hit single to her name. But McPhee has reinvented herself as an actress, starring in NBC's Broadway drama Smash before moving on to CBS' hacker procedural Scorpion, which has been renewed for a second season.

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Jordin Sparks

A high-profile romance—and then break-up—with radio star Jason Derulo has kept Sparks in the spotlight recently. But before that, she had major hits of her own with "Tattoo" and the Chris Brown-featuring "No Air." She's also dabbled in acting, with a role opposite Whitney Houston in 2012's Sparkle and a gig in last year's Left Behind.

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Fantasia Barrino

The Season 3 winner has released four albums in the R&B and gospel genres, but she's perhaps best known for her work on Broadway in 2007's The Color Purple and 2013's After Midnight. And, of course, who could forget the time she starred as herself in the 2006 Lifetime movieThe Fantasia Barrino Story: Life is Not a Fairy Tale.

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Chris Daughtry

As the frontman of his band Daughtry, Chris launched numerous hits from his band's 2006 self-titled album (which debuted at No. 1), including the radio smashes "It's Not Over" and "Home." The band's put out three albums to decidedly less fanfare since – most recently with "Baptized" in 2013.

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Adam Lambert

The glam-rocker has led a stealthily successful career, thanks in part to a very dedicated fan base. 2012's Trespassing debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart; his third album, The Original High (featuring the whistle-y dance single "Ghost Town"), hits shelves in June.

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