American Idol has become a staple of American viewing with the show going strong into its eighth season. The show has been a success because they’ve truly nurtured and put in the spotlight some very successful performers.
The most successful of the Idol winners are Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. No disrespect to David Cook or Jordan Sparks, but it’s too early to say if their successes will continue and be of substance. Clarkson was the season one winner, and she’s already had a number of hit records. She’s had some battles with her music, but she knows who she is as a singer, and when she’s on her game, she’s as dynamic as anyone. Underwood took home the top prize in the fourth season. She was just named Entertainer of the Year in the Country Music Awards, and she’s already a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Both of these talented ladies stand to become even more successful in the coming years. I believe Underwood could truly become a legend as the decades pass.
Winning American Idol doesn’t mean you’ll be a star. Past winners Taylor Hicks, Fantasia Barrino, and Ruben Stoddard have all been successes to an extent, but none are household names. Grammy-nominated Barrino might have been, but after acting in her life story on television, she chose to appear on Broadway in The Color Purple. She was acclaimed in that role, but it’s kept her away from the mainstream camera. Her musical style is distinct and unique, and the potential is definitely there for her to have great success with R&B or to crossover into other styles. The musical screen version of The Color Purple, when released, could also set her on explosive career path. Barrino just needs a little nudge to be one of the big successes from Idol.
The most successful of the non-winners have been Clay Aiken (season 2), Jennifer Hudson (season 3), Chris Daughtry (season 5), and Kellie Pickler (season 5). It’s highly possible that season 7’s David Archuleta could join this elite group. He’s doing very well right now, with a couple of hit songs under his belt and an upcoming tour. Katherine McPhee from the fifth season may make this list one day, too. In my opinion, she’s on the cusp. She’s had some visual recognition, including her high-profile wedding, but there hasn’t been the work to back it up.
Aiken’s success is as much about who he is at home as it is about music and books, but he’s sought after and he continues to intrigue the public, both as singer and as a father. Hudson, of course, is an Oscar-winning actress. The world is at her feet, just waiting to do her bidding. If she continues to be her best and make good choices, she might emerge as one of the greatest American Idols ever. Daughtry is the rocker of the group and is making all the right music right now. That said, I’m waiting for something new from him to see if he really does belong in this grouping over the long haul. Finally, Pickler, the country girl who had never left her small hometown before joining the competition, has had a couple of hit records, is sought after for award shows, and is rapidly becoming one of country music’s sensations. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pickler doesn’t become the next Loretta Lynn. Now that’s high praise, and it’s way too early to say whether or not she’ll achieve those heights, but when I see Pickler, I think of Lynn.
American Idol’s eighth season will probably have some of its class added to the success list. Adam Lambert is the most notable. He has the greatest chance of becoming one of music’s famous singers. Time will tell. For now, though, American Idol has already made an impact, and those named in this article are the cream of that crop.