13 of the Most Successful ‘American Idol’ Contestants


Fox’s American Idol has discovered some of the biggest names in the music industry since its 2002 debut, and the Ryan Seacrest-hosted show will return for its 13th season on Wednesday, January 15 and Thursday, January 16 for a special two-night event.

This year’s panel of judges will include Keith UrbanJennifer Lopez, and Idol newcomer Harry Connick Jr.who together will discover America’s next singing superstar.

In anticipation of the upcoming season, here is a countdown of the 13 most successful American Idol contestants:

13. Elliott Yamin, Season 5

Elliott, now 35, who placed third in his season, has a grand total of over 1,609,000 track sales, Billboard reports, and the Virginia native snagged the No. 3 spot on the Billboard 200 chart with his self-titled album.

12. Kris Allen, Season 8

According to Billboard, the eighth winner of the talent competition has sold over 348,000 copies of all his albums combined — which includes his popular self-titled album and Thank you Camellia — and he has graced the airwaves with over 395,000 radio plays.

11. David Archuleta, Season 7

The runner-up to David Cook has produced three full-length albums since his debut on Idol, and according to Forbes, the 23-year-old earned $1 million between May 2011 and May 2012.

10. Kellie Pickler, Season 5

Although the North Carolina singer came in sixth place during her season, her album 100 Proof, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard country chart, and according to Forbes, she earned $1.1 million in May 2011-2012.

9. Phillip Phillips, Season 11

The Season 11 winner’s debut album, The World From the Side of the Moon, is certified gold, and his debut single, “Home,” made him the first Idol star to land the No. 1 spot on Adult Pop Songs, Billboard reports.

8. David Cook, Season 7

According to Billboard, the season’s victor, who toured with Gavin DeGraw in 2011, has sold over 1.4 million albums, 4.3 million tracks, and has placed two songs off his No. 3 debut album David Cook on the Hot 100.

7. Chris Daughtry, Season 5

Although he placed fourth in the competition, the “Home” singer, now 34, has sold over 6.5 million album copies and 11.9 million track sales, Billboard reports.

6. Scotty McCreery, Season 10

The deep-voiced winner’s debut album Clear as Day went certified platinum and his holiday LP, Christmas With Scotty McCreery, went gold. His singles “I Love You This Big” and “The Trouble With Girls” both landed the Hot 100 and the Hot Country Songs chart on Billboard — and the 20-year-old is only getting started.

5. Jordin Sparks, Season 6

The season winner — who was 17 at the time and received a record-setting 74 million votes — was certified platinum for her Jordin Sparks album and her hit singles, “Tattoo” and “No Air.” She also launched her acting career by co-starring with Whitney Houston in Sparkle.

4. Adam Lambert, Season 8

The runner-up’s sophomore album, Trespassing, debuted at No. 1 with 77,000 copies sold in 2012, according to Billboard, and the “Whataya Want From Me” crooner has recently made his return to the charts after landing a guest-starring role on Glee where he covered Lady Gaga‘s “Marry the Night.”

3. Jennifer Hudson, Season 3

Although J-Hud placed seventh in her season, the I Remember Me artist, now 32, has gone on to become one of the show’s biggest successes by being the only Idol contestant to win an Oscar for her performance in Dreamgirls … that’s in addition to her Golden Globe, SAG, and Grammy awards!

2. Carrie Underwood, Season 4

The Grammy award-winning country star’s hit single, “Before He Cheats” has sold over 3,509,000 copies since its release in 2006, The Hollywood Reporter reports, and the 30-year-old recently starred in the modern remake of The Sound of Music.

1. Kelly Clarkson, Season 1

The 31-year-old, who recently released her sixth studio album, Wrapped In Red, set the bar for the hit singing competition in 2002, and according to Billboard, the Texan and mom-to-be currently holds the title for all-time best-selling single by an Idol contestant.

Who is your favorite American Idol alum?