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Top 10 American Idol Alumni

The 10 Biggest Stars That Have Emerged from American Idol


American Idol is not only the world's biggest and most popular talent competition, but also a springboard for launching the careers of future pop stars. Winning American Idol is no guarantee a performer will become a major star just as being eliminated does not automatically consign a competitor to being an also-ran in the music industry after the show. This list identifies the 10 most prominent pop stars who have emerged from the ranks of finalists in eight seasons of American Idol.

1. Kelly Clarkson

Women`s World Awards
Johannes Simon/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The first American Idol winner is still the most successful. 10 top 10 pop singles in the US and worldwide album sales over 20 million tell the story.

Top pop hit singles:



2. Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood
Photo by Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Shortly after winning the fourth season of American Idol, Carrie Underwood quickly turned in a country music direction. She has unleashed seven #1 country singles while still managing to reach the pop top 40 fifteen times.

Top pop hit singles:


  • "Inside Your Heaven" - #1 - 2005
  • "Before He Cheats" - #8 - 2006
  • "Cowboy Casanova" - #11 - 2009
  • "So Small" - #17 - 2007
  • "Good Girl" - #18 - 2012
  • "Last Name" - #19 - 2008
  • "Blown Away" - #20 - 2012
  • "Jesus Take the Wheel" - #20 - 2005


3. Chris Daughtry

After finishing #4 in the fifth season of American Idol behind Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry's career headed for the stratosphere when he put together his own band and the album Daughtry became one of the biggest rock debuts of all time.

Top pop hit singles:



4. Jordin Sparks

Jordin Sparks
Photo by Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

At the age of 17, Jordin Sparks became the first teenage victor of American Idol at the end of the show's 6th season. Many fans speculated she may head in the direction of contemporary Christian music when she began recording. However, her first, self-titled solo album was firmly in the pop vein and generated three top 10 pop singles.

Top pop hit singles:



5. Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert
Photo by Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Arguably no other American Idol contestant has generated the kind of intensive press interest that has followed season eight's runner-up Adam Lambert. His music has done well on the charts with his first album For Your Entertainment placing #3 on the album chart and the second Trespassing going all the way to #1.

Top pop hit singles:



6. Phillip Phillips

Phillip Phillips
Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Georgia born Phillip Phillips, winner of American Idol's season 11, has the distinction of releasing the show's all time bestselling coronation single "Home."  It was a major hit across radio formats from adult pop to rock and peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 selling more than four million copies.  Phillip Phillips followed it with a million selling debut album and a second million sellling song "Gone Gone Gone."

Top pop hit singles:


  • "Home" - #6 - 2012
  • "Gone Gone Gone" - #24 - 2013


7. Fantasia

Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Fantasia Barrino, who performs simply as Fantasia, is widely recognized as delivering one of the most powerful performances ever on American Idol with the Porgy and Bess standard "Summertime."  Her debut album Free Yourself earned three Grammy Award nominations.

Top pop hit singles:


  • "I Believe - #1 - 2004
  • "Truth Is" - #21 - 2004
  • "When I See U" - #32 - 2007


8. David Cook

David Cook
Photo by Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

In the seventh season of American Idol, David Cook became the first rock musician to win the competition. He had the most success yet at placing performances from the show on the pop charts.

Top pop hit singles:


  • "The Time Of My Life" - #3 - 2008
  • "Dream Big" - #17 - 2008
  • "Light On" - #15 - 2008
  • "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" - #22 - 2008
  • "Permanent" - #24 - 2009
  • "The World I Know" - #28 - 2008


9. Scotty McCreery

Scotty McCreery
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

Scotty McCreery won the tenth season of American Idol at age 17.  He quickly followed Carrie Underwood into country music stardom.  His first two non-holiday studio albums have topped the country albums chart.

Top pop hit singles:


  • "I Love You This Big" - #11 - 2011
  • "The Trouble With Girls" - #55 - 2011


10. Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken

After placing second in the second season of American Idol behind Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken generated one of the largest and most devoted fan bases of any contestant. This resulted in big sales for his first album, but he has not sustained the momentum. However, Aiken headed to Broadway to become a star in the musical Monty Python's Spamalot. Clay Aiken has reached the top 40 on the adult contemporary chart 16 times.

Top pop hit singles:


  • "This Is the Night" - #1 - 2003
  • "Solitaire" - #4 - 2003
  • "Invisible" - #37 - 2004


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