Platinum-selling albums! Canceled recording contracts. Sold-out tours! Embarrassing gigs... So, what's really going on with American Idol winners these days? We're about to fill you in on American Idol winners' success stories (will anyone ever top Carrie Underwood?), disappointing outcomes (bet you haven't heard Ruben Studdard on the radio lately!), and career decisions we didn't see coming (why, oh why, oh why, did Fantasia get a reality show?).
Career High Notes: Jordin Sparks's debut album, which eventually went double platinum, featured the memorable top ten singles "Tattoo" and "No Air." Her second album, Battlefield, also got our attention with its catchy namesake single. Career Low Notes: Even though Jordin has been holding her own in the music industry, she hasn't had her breakout moment yet. After all, competition is strong from other young stars like Rihanna. Where She Is Now: Following in the footsteps of other Idol winners, Jordin gave theater a try when she joined the Broadway play The Heights in 2010. She has been enjoying her run in the popular musical.
Career High Notes: Carrie Underwood's career has been one success after the other. The country cutie has won countless industry awards, recorded multi-platinum-selling albums, and toured the world with country music's top stars. Carrie's biggest singles include "Jesus Take the Wheel" and "Inside Your Heaven" — and the hits just keep on coming. Career Low Notes: Like we said, Carrie has been on a roll since winning Idol. No career lows worth mentioning so far! Where She Is Now: Carrie tied the knot with hockey player Mike Fisher in 2010. She continues to be a country music favorite, hosting award shows like the CMAs, filming a TV special on FOX, and making frequent appearances on American Idol. We should also mention that Carrie has endorsement deals with Sketchers and Hershey's. You go, girl!
Career High Notes: Kelly's debut album, Thankful, shot to number one on the Billboard charts. And her second album, Breakaway, was one of the most successful albums of 2004, spawning "Since You've Been Gone" and other songs we have often sung badly at karaoke bars. Career Low Notes: After the success of Breakaway, Kelly insisted on writing her own songs for her third album, My December. Bad move, Kelly! My December ended up being a flop, and Kelly's tour was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. Where She Is Now: Kelly made a comeback in 2009 with her fourth album, All I Ever Wanted. It was no Breakaway, but the album's hit song, "My Life Would Suck Without You," rocketed to number one on the charts!
Career High Notes: With some help from the Soul Patrol, Taylor Hicks's first single debut at number one on the Billboard charts. After establishing his post-Idol recording career, the soulful singer starred on Broadway in Grease. Taylor also added author to his resume when he wrote a memoir of his life titled Heart Full of Soul: An Inspirational Memoir About Finding Your Voice and Finding Your Way. Career Low Notes: Not even the Soul Patrol could save Taylor when he was dropped by Arista Records in 2006 after disappointing record sales. In 2009, TMZ reported that tickets literally had to be given away for one of Taylor's shows. Where He Is Now: Don't feel too bad for Taylor Hicks. He has been busy touring with Grease and recording music on his own label, Modern Whomp Records. He also makes occasional TV appearances.
Career High Notes: David's American Idol coronation song, "The Time of My Life," debuted at number 3 on the Billboard chart. After his self-titled debut album went platinum, David embarked on his nationwide Declaration Tour. Career Low Notes: "Light On," the first single from David's debut album, peaked at only number 17 on the Billboard Top 100 chart. And his song "Permanent" didn't do any better, peaking at number 24. Where He Is Now: David is working on his second album, which will be released in 2011.
Career High Notes: After her emotional Idol win, Fantasia Barrino's first single, "I Believe," debuted at number one on the charts. Then, her autobiography, Life is Not a Fairytale, was turned into a Lifetime movie starring Fantasia herself. And we can't forget that Fantasia also landed a starring role in Broadway's The Color Purple. Career Low Notes: Let's just say Fantasia's album sales are nothing to sing about. She has also struggled with a number of scandals since winning Idol, including reports of home foreclosures, a love affair with a married man, and a suicide attempt in 2010. Where She Is Now: Fantasia is trying to get her life back on track as she promotes her latest album, Back to Me. We can watch it all unfold on her VH1 reality show Fantasia for Real, which documents all the drama in the American Idol winner's crazy family life — just in case you like watching train wrecks.
Career High Notes: "The Velvet Teddy Bear" was off to a smooth start when his debut album, Soulful, went platinum, thanks to popular songs like "Sorry, 2004" and "Flying Without Wings." Career Low Notes: Too bad Ruben's future albums weren't flying off the shelves. Sales were so disappointing for Ruben's albums that J Records dropped the American Idol winner from its roster in 2007. Ouch! Where He Is Now: Ruben, who married his longtime sweetheart in 2008, showed off his acting skills when he toured with the play Ain't Misbehavin'. And in 2009, the slimmed-down star released his fourth album, Love Is, via his new label Hickory Records.
Career High Notes: Well, he did win American Idol, right? Maybe that should be enough. Career Low Notes: Let's just say Chris's post-Idol career hasn't quite taken off yet. His self-titled debut album sold only approximately 80,000 copies in its first week, and according to Billboard, the album's first single, "Live Like We're Dying," peaked at number 89 on the singles chart. (David Cook's number 17 is starting to look pretty good!) Where He Is Now: Kris has been traveling the world since winning Idol. He has even visited Haiti to raise awareness for disaster relief efforts. Kris now says he wants to record "better songs" on his second album.
Career High Notes: Lee signed with RCA records after winning American Idol in Spring, 2010. He recorded his first album, Live It Up, while touring with the Idol Top 10. He also snagged a Teen Choice Award for "Choice Male Reality/Variety Star." Career Low Notes: Lee released Live It Up on November 16, 2010. The album sold a disappointing 39,000 units, making him the lowest selling AI winner thus far. Where He Is Now: Despite disappointing sales, he's still busy promoting his first single, "Sweet Serendipity." Hmm. It remains to be seen whether his career will turn out more like Carrie Underwood's or Kris Allen's. We'll keep you posted.