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American Idol

The Top 5 Hit-makers Who Didn’t Win American Idol

No matter where the Top 8 fall in the next-to-be-eliminated list, it’s a comfort to know that at least some of them will have no problem getting a recording career started. History has shown that if you’ve got the goods, Idol will still be a stellar jumping off point to a successful career, regardless of how far you got on the show. Don’t believe us? Well then just feast your doubting eyes on this Top 5 round-up of Idol non-winners who went on to produce great things.

Jennifer Hudson
Album sales: 1,060,000
J-Hud placed in only 7th place on Season 3 of American Idol, but don ‘t feel sorry for this pop diva. Two of her albums have reached #2 on the Billboard 200 and R&B/Hip-Hop Album lists, and even more impressive, she’s earned both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance in Dreamgirls. Not too shabby for a so-called “non-winner.”

David Archuleta
Album Sales: 1,084,000
David Archuleta ranked as the Idol Season 7 runner-up behind winner David Cook. But Archuleta’s debut album and his hit single “Crush” both charted higher than Cook’s respective releases. We liked both these singers, but can’t blame America for liking David Archuleta more.

Kellie Pickler
Album Sales: 1.3 million
This sassy country girl wooed audiences on Season 5 to a 6th place finish, but she was clearly only just getting started. Her two album releases – Small Town Girl in 2006 and Kellie Pickler in 2008 – both went to #1 on the country charts and #9 on the Billboard 200. Oh, and she co-wrote her 2009 hit single, “Best Days Of Our Lives” with Taylor Swift. Guess not winning Idol didn’t hurt her too much…

Clay Aiken
Album Sales: 5 million
We know, we know… But just hear us out! Despite the fact that his music is kind of a snooze, Clay has been a huge success since finishing Idol Season 2 in second place. The guy has had numerous TV and theater roles and five Top 200 albums — the most of any Idol alum, winner or not. He’s also the only Idol non-winner to score a #1 single, with “This Is the Night” back in 2003. So haters step to the left — Clay brings it when it counts!

Chris Daughtry
Album Sales: 6.1 million
Like everyone on this list, Chris didn’t win American Idol. But this 4th-place finisher from Season 5 has gone on to sell more albums than any Idol alum, except winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. Both his band’s albums – Daughtry from 2007 and Leave This Town from 2009 – have gone straight to the top of the Billboard 200.


04.14.2011 / 11:23 PM EDT by David Connell
Related: American Idol, Kellie Pickler, Chris Daughtry, Clay Aiken, David Archuleta

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