AI Aftermath: 7th place finishers - VIDEOS
by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 21st 2008 7:03PM
Welcome back to "AI Aftermath," where we explore Idol's past. Each week, as one more American Idol hopeful is eliminated from the competition, we take a look back at contestants past who were eliminated in the same week. We'll examine how they did on the show and what they've been up to since their eliminations. In honor of Kristy Lee Cook's elimination last week we'll be looking at other seventh place finishers.
This week: 7th place finishers, featuring featuring Ryan Starr (Season One), Kimberly Caldwell (Season Two), Jennifer Hudson (Season Three), Anwar Robinson (Season Four), Ace Young (Season Five) and Sanjaya Malakar (Season Six).
SEASON ONE - RYAN STARR
I think Ryan Starr has parlayed her Idol appearance into the biggest reality television career of any other alumni. She's appeared in countless reality shows since her seventh place finish in the first season starting with a prominent role on The Surreal Life. If her stories are to be believed we can easily extrapolate why she's been all over our TVs.
Apparently Ms. Starr was wrapped up in a very restrictive two-year recording contract with RCA Records. But when she refused to let them mold her into an Avril Lavigne-type artist, she was at a stalemate and couldn't record at all. Thus, she appeared on reality television so as to keep in the public awareness.
Since that contract lapsed, Ryan released an iTunes exclusive single "My Religion" which sold over 360,000 units in 2004-2005 landing her a spot in the 2005 Guinness Book of World Records for selling the most exclusive-single downloads in ITunes' history; a very specific record but a record nonetheless.
As you may recall, Ryan is also a bit of a designer, having fashioned all the clothing she wore on the show. Since Idol she's gotten involved in the fashion industry as well, working with major designers and such companies as Lord and Taylor with her own design work. Unfortunately, her official site and her MySpace page seem to be horribly out of date so there's not a lot of details as to her current projects. The latest word that I can find says she's shopping around a reality show that will focus on her attempts to make an album her own way in the music industry.
Here she is with that single "My Religion":
And on Idol, with "If You Really Love Me":
On Idol, with the quirky "Frim Fram Sauce," which I enjoyed tremendously:
[via Ryan Starr's official site, Wikipedia, MySpace and more!]
SEASON TWO - KIMBERLY CALDWELL
Kimberly has become a staple for the TV Guide Network, where she has hosted and co-hosted various American Idol related shows for a few years now. She's currently in the studio trying to put together her debut album. You can purchase some tracks at Kimberly Caldwell's MySpace page if you're so inclined.
This beauty has dabbled in a bit of everything entertainment-wise, with an appearance on a television show, in a horror film and, of course, all that hosting work. All the while working on that debut album, originally with Diane Warren and now with John Rich of Big and Rich. When's it coming out? She says soon so quit your whining. It'll happen ... someday ...
Here she is out working it at Miss Planet Beach International:
Here's a Ford bit she did:
Here's Kimberly with "Come to My Window" on Idol:
Here she is with "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)":
[via Kimberly Caldwell's official site, Wikipedia, MySpace and more!]
SEASON THREE - JENNIFER HUDSON
Jennifer Hudson did not deserve to be eliminated as quickly as she was. There were cries of every kind of foul you can imagine when she was cut, but the bottom line was that she had one of the strongest vocals of the entire season, and certainly deserved to outlast the likes of John Stevens, George Huff and Jasmine Trias.
Personally, I think it was mostly due to her coming off as a bit of a diva and not really connecting with the audience on a personal level like some of the other contestants did. Personality plays as much a part in success on Idol as vocal prowess. But it looks like J.Hud came out of the whole experience just fine. After all, how many other Idol alumni have Golden Globes and Oscars sitting on their mantles?
I guess we all know what Jennifer's been up to since Idol, or at least the part where she stole the show in Dreamgirls and racked up all those accolades. But not one to rest on her laurels, Hudson is back at it with Winged Creatures, based on the novel and an appearance as Carrie Bradshaw's assistant in the forthcoming Sex and the City film. In January 2008 she got to work on her newest film, The Secret Life of Bees, in which she will appear alongside Queen Latifah and Alicia Keys.
But this talented young star isn't satisfied to put all of her energy into filmmaking. After Dreamgirls she was able to get some respect in the music industry and finally singed a long overdue record contract with Arista Records. Currently scheduled for September 30, 2008, Hudson is working with Ryan Tedder and Timbaland on a number of new tracks. She proved she could blow us away with "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," so I expect this new project to do it again.
Here's Jennifer live on her now signature song "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going":
Again, live with "Love You I Do":
Check her out back in 2006 before she blew up with Dreamgirls, live and a capella with "I Am Changing":
But that powerhouse voice has always been there, like here on Idol with "Weekend in New England":
And I may be the only one, but I absolutely loved her take on "Circle of Life":
[via Jennifer Hudson's official site, Wikipedia, MySpace and more!]
SEASON FOUR - ANWAR ROBINSON
In the fall of 2007, Anwar took on the roll of "Collins" in the touring company of RENT. At Anwar Robin's MySpace page you can see the touring schedule keeps him pretty busy, but he appears to be enjoying the work tremendously. Prior to hitting the road, Anwar put together an album of covers, The Truth (About Love), which can be sampled on his site. He's indicated intentions of a follow-up featuring original material to be titled The Truth II.
It looks like Anwar was sidelined from RENT briefly with a knee injury, but with physical therapy and regular exercise he's been able to rejoin the troupe. His page, unlike some others here, is impeccably updated and slick, so good on him for that. Anwar had a very smooth vocal style that I enjoyed tremendously. He's been taking the opportunity he's experiencing now to learn more about musical theater, songwriting and singing so when he does come off of the tour, he'll be better equipped to make a run at a recording career.
I couldn't find any post-Idol video for Anwar, but here's one of his stronger performances: "A House is Not a House":
I always enjoy it when contestants do something different and unexpected (like Starr's "Frim Fram Sauce" above) and I thought Anwar really did well here with "Moon River":
[via MySpace, Wikipedia and more!]
SEASON FIVE - ACE YOUNG
Ace was the "pretty boy" of Season Five and relied as much on his stunning looks as he did on his vocals. This led to some incredibly cheesy looks into the camera with puts and smiles (think Constantine Maroulis). Despite this, Ace also happened to have a very good voice. He helped write the chorus to Daughtry's "It's Not Over" smash and received a Grammy nomination for the single along with the single's other co-writers.
After the show, he started working on a full-out media assault, racking up guest appearances as an actor on various television shows as well as talk shows and live venues across the country. He released "Scattered" back in 2006 and has taken his time perfecting his sound since then.
Ace's self-titled debut is set to drop in June 2008. He's currently filming the video for the debut single, "Addicted," which was released April 15th. You can see video of the production in progress at Ace Young's MySpace page.
Ace always had a George Michael vibe in his vocals to me, though there were times on the show when he seemed to falter. With his looks and vocal prowess, though, I think he might just have what it takes to follow his good friend Chris Daughtry to mainstream success. Certainly he knows how to appeal to his female audience.
This is a pretty funny clip. While out and about promoting the album, this local morning show manages to convince Ace that he needs to take his shirt off, primarily so one of the female staffers can see it. Oh, and eventually he gets around to singing a rearranged acoustic version of the single "Addicted.":
Ace performing his first single "Scattered" on American Idol Extra:
Acting on the show Half & Half:
I put this in here because you can compare it to another Idol contestant's (Michael Johns) performance of "Dream On":
This is quite possibly the best performance of a George Michael song by someone other than George Michael. Ace on Idol with "Father Figure":
[via Ace Young's official site, Wikipedia, MySpace and more!]
SEASON SIX - SANJAYA MALAKAR
Somehow, this unlikely kid with the mop-top head who only eked out a seventh place finish on American Idol managed to become not only the most talked about contestant of Season Six, but one of the most well known contestants across all seasons. Unfortunately for Sanjaya he became more known for his various hairstyles and for lasting as long as he did in the competition.
It's hard to say what causes media and pop culture sensations, but Sanjaya definitely qualifies. I'd wager more people recognize the name Sanjaya than either Blake Lewis or Jordin Sparks. And yet, throughout his run there were moments of nice vocal quality. Admittedly at other times there were moments of vocal pain.
Nevertheless, Sanjaya was an internet sensation. Even now there are two Sanjaya MySpace pages purporting to be him (two for his sister, too) and tons of fan pages. Sanjaya was also VotefortheWorst.com's pick for his run, as well as getting support from Howard Stern's radio show. Granted this support may have been for the wrong reason, but it's all publicity.
After the show, Sanjaya went on the talk show tour, appearing everywhere on television and was even nominated for various fashion and reality television awards, nabbing a win for "Best TV Reality Star" at the 2007 Teen Choice Awards. Sanjaya walked off of American Idol a media darling.
Now that the hubbub has settled down, he is looking to sing with his sister, Shyamali, and join her at the Berklee College of Music. Only one year removed from the Idol stage, and even less time to contemplate his next career move, I'd say the kid with the funny hair and funnier name has a real shot at making something of himself, and probably bringing his sister along. After all, she sings too and she's freaking hot.
On Idol with "Bathwater"and the infamous pony-hawk. This video features the studio recorded vocals over the live video:
On Idol with "Steppin' Out With My Baby":
On Idol with what was probably his strongest performance. Maybe he sings better in other languages. Here he is with "Besame Mucho":
And to remember the family fun, here's that initial audition featuring his sister Shyamali, who became almost as famous as him just by association with him and her relative attractiveness.:
[via Wikipedia, MySpace and a whole lot more!]
SEASON SEVEN - KRISTY LEE COOK
As you can see above, clearly coming in seventh on American Idol need not have any detrimental impact on your future career. In fact, the only former Idol with an Academy Award comes from this illustrious group. It's up to Kristy now to see what kind of career she wants to have for herself. She's already established on the show that her heart is in country music, and no genre has granted more success to Idol alumni than country music.
Kristy's beautiful and fun and I think if she can just work on those weird stances she hits when singing, she has fine potential to get another album together and have a better shot at success in Nashville the second time around. For a look back at Kristy's American Idol experience, and more bonus material as well, check out our farewell to Kristy Lee Cook.
NEXT TIME ON AI AFTERMATH
We take a look at the sixth place finishers, including Christina Christian, Carmen Rasmussen, John Stevens, Constantine Maroulis, Kellie Pickler and Phil Stacey. See you there!
8th Place Finishers
9th Place Finishers
10th Place Finishers
11th Place Finishers
12th Place Finishers