Ranking the most successful American Idol contestants is a bit tricky. For example, we really wanted to add Ace Young to the list because he was so successful at making us swoon. (Sigh. We love us some Ace Young.) But in the end, we had to come back to sales* and chart rankings because, well, numbers never lie.
The following talented guys and girls are currently the most successful American Idol contestants of all time:
8. Kellie Pickler (Season 5) Don’t let her ditzy behavior fool you. Season 5 finalist Kelly Pickler has been an impressive player in the country music world after making it all the way to the AI top six.
She sold more than 1.3 million albums in the US and more than 2.9 million singles.
Her single “Red High Heels” was a country hit, climbing to number 15 on the Billboard country chart.
She has opened for top country acts including Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift, and Rascal Flatts.
6. David Cook (Season 7) Since winning American Idol ’s seventh season, David Cook has been busy raising awareness for brain cancer, a disease his brother Adam sadly battled and lost. The talented rocker has also been making an impact on the music industry.
He has sold more than 1.3 million albums in the US and 3.9 million singles.
After his successful run on Idol, he almost matched a record set by the Beatles in 1964 when 11 of his songs debut on the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart — all in the same week!
He won a Teen Choice Award for Best Reality/Variety Star.
7. Fantasia (Season 3) After winning in Season 3, Fantasia starred in a movie based her own life, acted on Broadway, and landed her own VH1 reality show. She remains one of Idol’s most memorable stars.
She was the first new artist in history to debut at number one with her first single, “I Believe.”
She has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards.
She has sold more than 2.3 million albums in the US.
Her single “When I See You” was a number one R&B hit.
10. Ruben Studdard (Season 2) Season 2 winner Ruben was supposed to be the next Luther Vandross, but his career hasn’t been been quite as successful as that. Even so, the Velvet Teddy Bear remains an R&B favorite.
He sold more than 2.6 million albums since winning American Idol.
His debut album, Soulful, boasted two top ten hits.
His gospel album, Send Me An Angel, was a hit on the gospel charts. Amen to that!
*Record sales reflect sales numbers in April 2010.
3. Chris Daughtry (Season 5) Even though he finished American Idol’s fifth season in fourth place, Chris Daughtry has kicked Idol butt on the music charts, surpassing Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks and many other Idol champs.
He achieved two consecutive number one albums on the Billboard charts.
He sold more than 5.7 million albums in America
His album Daughtry was certified the fastest-selling album in the history of Soundscan.
He has been nominated for Grammy Awards and won several American Music Awards.