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February 12, 2010 at 1:55 PM

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Who is the most successful 'American Idol' contestant?

Posted by Heidi Brown

With eight seasons of "American Idol" behind us, there are now 95 Idol alumni who made it the public voting rounds (10 season one, 12 for each of the next six seasons and 13 last year). That's a lot of people, many of whom were not able to use the fame to launch a career. But, many are now household names and have made something of themselves. Here are a handful, in no particular order.

Among them is Kelly Clarkson, winner from the first season. She's come a long way since 2002 but she still seems down to earth. Clarkson has released four albums, won two Grammy Awards and has had many singles on the charts including "My Life Would Suck Without You" and "A Moment Like This". Luckily, the movie she made 'From Justin to Kelly' with fellow Idol contestant, Justin Guarini, did not hurt her fame.

Fellow blogger, Cheri Mossburg, feels Clarkson has been the most successful. "Here's the thing, since the very beginning, I've been captivated by not just her voice, but the way she growls when she sings. Kelly is always in control, in sort of a Melissa Etheridge type way. During the second season on AI, Kelly Clarkson came out to debut her first single, "Miss Independent" and it made a lasting impression. The song was different and well produced and really set the tone for the type of artist she would insist on being. Now I'll admit that not every song has been up to Miss Indy caliber, but she's still my favorite."

Clay Aiken, season two runner-up, has come a long way since we first saw him audition. Simon Cowell, said it the best, "you don't look like a pop star but you have a great voice." He's made four albums, including "Measure of a Man," and debuted on Broadway playing the role of Sir Robin in Monty Python's "Spamalot."

Chris Daughtry finished fourth in season five. The past five years have been good to Daughtry. He was given a record deal by RCA Records and formed the band, "Daughtry," which sold more than a million copies after just five weeks of release, becoming the fastest selling debut rock album of all time.

Jennifer Hudson disappeared for a couple of years after getting voted off Idol in the third season. Then she made her film debut in 2006 with Dreamgirls and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, among others. She went on to release her first, self-titled album in 2008.

Fellow blogger, Chris Glover says, "I'd have to say that Jennifer Hudson was probably the most successful. She's half-way to having a full EGOT (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EGOT) with the tough awards out of the way."

Fellow blogger, Patrick Brown, states, "Clearly Jennifer Hudson is the most successful American Idol contestant ever. American Idol is ultimately not just a singing contest, but a contest to find the best total package - the best entertainer."

No one can argue that Carrie Underwood, winner of season 4, is one of the most, if not the most successful winner. She has become a multi-platinum selling recording artist with multiple number one singles. Underwood has won awards at all the majors including American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards and Grammy Awards (including best new artist). Do you think Underwood would have eventually gotten to be where she is now with the Idol venue?

Fellow blogger Sharon Abraham says, "I think for pure super star power, Carrie Underwood wins hands down. She has become a bona fide star, sells millions of albums, gets tons of air play on pop and country stations, had her own Christmas TV show, sang the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, dated a quarterback and is marrying a hockey player. She hasn't taken a wrong step since her first audition."

Underwood is also the pick for blogger Bob Payne, who says, "Although Carrie Underwood (2005 Idol winner) has sold fewer albums than Kelly Clarkson worldwide, she's made a bigger impact in her genre of country music. And she has consistently produced chart-topping singles with each album."

Other Idol winners, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Taylor Hicks and David Cook come to mind. Of this group, I think Cook has made the most of his name. It's premature to predict how successful Kris Allen or Adam Lambert will be.

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