AI Aftermath: The Winners - VIDEOS

by Jason Hughes, posted May 23rd 2008 10:20PM
American Idol Winners
Welcome to the final installment of "AI Aftermath," where we explore Idol's past. Each installment, as one more American Idol hopeful is eliminated from the competition, we take a look back at contestants past who were eliminated at the same point. We'll examine how they did on the show and what they've been up to since their eliminations. In honor of David Cook's crowning as your American Idol, we will look back at other winners.

This week: The Winners, featuring Kelly Clarkson (Season One), Ruben Studdard (Season Two), Fantasia Barrino (Season Three), Carrie Underwood (Season Four), Taylor Hicks (Season Five) and Jordin Sparks (Season Six).


Kelly ClarksonSpending 2008 on tour with legendary Reba McEntire, the first American Idol has already sold more than 25 million records across three albums, making her the most successful artist to come out of the franchise yet. But things started slowly for Clarkson. At the time she got criticism for having been affiliated with a record company; there was a time when even past associates were a no-no. Then she starred in that horrible movie From Justin to Kelly with runner-up Guarini. Thankfully, though, her Idol winning single "A Moment Like This" was a bona fide hit, and she was able to ride that to a number one premiere for her album Thankful.

After a strong start, the album started to falter with her third and fourth singles essentially tanking. Clarkson removed herself from the Idol umbrella, taking more control of her next album, the smash Breakaway. That album stayed in the Top 20 for a year and has now sold over twelve million copies on the strength of five hit singles and two Grammy awards. For 111 straight weeks, Clarkson had a hit in the American Top 40 countdown making her the most successful female artist in that chart's history.

2007 was a bit tougher for her, as controversy brewed over the direction she wanted to go on her third album, leading to a conflict with her and Clive Davis. But despite a moderate hit with "Never Again," My December's anemic sales were a far cry from Breakaway's highs. She had to cancel a summer tour due to lower than expected ticket sales, rescheduling at much smaller venues. After that, she hooked up with McEntire for a co-headlining tour in January and February 2008. That proved such a smash success that they're doing it again later this year in September and November. Clarkson is currently working on her fourth album which promises to continue her successful mix of pop and rock.

Performing "Never Again" on The Today Show:

Live on her biggest hit to date, "Because of You":

The video for her Idol winning song "A Moment Like This":

Here's a neat compilation of her performances throughout her Idol run:

[via Wikipedia, MySpace, and more!]


Ruben StuddardWell, I think we all know the latest thing Ruben Studdard has been up to. His cover of "Celebrate Me Home" has been the farewell song all season on American Idol this year, and he was on hand this past Tuesday night to perform it live as we prepared to say farewell to one David and crown the other the winner. The Velvet Teddy Bear was an awesome presence on Season Two of American Idol, with his smooth vocals and even smoother personality. He was a perfect counterpart to the geeky brilliance of Clay Aiken, leading up to one of the most intense and exciting finales in Idol history.

Ruben stormed out of the gate after his win with a hit album, Soulful, and single, "Sorry 2004." After this strong start, though, the album didn't really generate any new hits and so sales softened. Studdard shifted to a more gospel sound on his follow-up effort, I Need An Angel, which did tremendously well in the gospel market, landing at #1 on that chart, while reaching #20 on the Billboard 200 chart. During this time he also did a lot of bit acting parts on various sitcoms and the Scooby-Doo film sequel.

In 2006, Studdard reached back to his R&B roots with The Return, which also opened strong, but again quickly faltered. Sales were so disappointing that he was dropped by J Records, though remained tied to 19 Entertainment, leading to his gig on the AI7 farewell song. While Studdard is charming and vocally talented, he's yet to really blow up in any really significant way, though 19 seems committed to working with him. Maybe his high profile position on Idol this season can kick-start his career back into a higher gear.

The video for his recent single, "Change Me" (sorry about the commercial at the beginning):

This video is just a slideshow (can't embed the real one) but you can at least hear his gospel single "I Need An Angel":

Back on Idol with "If Ever You're In My Arms Again":

[via Wikipedia, MySpace, and more!]


Fantasia BarrinoFantasia is an either-love-her-or-hate-her artist. As it turns out, I love her, but hated what she did on American Idol 7 a few weeks ago. I fell in love with her raspy and passionate delivery and it quickly became apparent that she was on her way to winning the whole thing, even though her margin of victory was ultimately less than 2 million votes. It felt largely the same way two years later with the runaway popularity of Taylor Hicks. Fantasia has two albums under her belt and a critical run on Broadway as Celie in The Color Purple. The acclaim for her performance in the latter has led to her casting in the feature film version of the musical in the same role.

Her debut album, Free Yourself, has moved more than two million units and spawned to R&B/Hip-Hop hits with "Truth Is," "Free Yourself" and "Baby Mama." The album was nominated for four Grammy Awards and offered Fantasia the opportunity to perform at the awards ceremony. Her wave of success continued as she starred in a Lifetime biopic of her life that became the second highest rated program in the network's history. She dropped her second self-titled album which has since gone gold and took that gig on Broadway.

Three Grammy nominations sprinkled Fantasia, however, again she garnered no wins. She's since gone back in the studio to work on her third album scheduled to be released later this year or in early 2009. I guess that ... song she sang on Idol would be one of the contenders for that album. Shortly after she releases her album, production will begin on the film version of The Color Purple. Will more award nominations follow, and maybe a win or two?

The official video for her hit single "Hood Boy":

Fantasia live on Ellen with "Baby Mama":

Here's that winning single from American Idol "I Believe":

This was her magical Idol moment with "Summertime":

[via Wikipedia, MySpace, and more!]


Carrie UnderwoodWhile Kelly Clarkson is the undisputed sales champ so far, Carrie Underwood has dominated country music in an unprecedented way. Her debut album, Some Hearts has netted her five number one hits and took home multiple awards for the disc at the Grammys, the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards. Seven million sales later, Some Hearts is the biggest selling debut country album in SoundScan history and still continues to move units on a weekly basis.

Late last year, Underwood's sophomore effort, Carnival Ride, hit the racks and in less than two months sold more than 2 million copies. This past March, she was surprise inducted into the Grande Ole Opry and just a few days ago, on May 19, 2008, she performed her new single "Last Name" to open the 42nd Annual Country Music Association Awards. Later that night, she took home a second consecutive trophy for top Female Vocalist.

From Carnival Ride, here's "All-American Girl":

Her smash hit and Grammy-winning single "Before He Cheats" from live footage in Albany:

Her winning single from Idol, "Inside Your Heaven":

Showing some diversity, despite that "big hair," Carrie totally owned "Alone" back on Idol:

[via Wikipedia, MySpace, and more!]


Taylor HicksAfter his Idol win, Hicks signed a promotional deal with Ford and was named "Hottest Bachelor" by People. His debut single, "Do I Make You Proud" reached #1 and gold sales status. That summer, he penned his memoirs (okay there was a ghostwriter but Taylor said "Whoo!" a few times through the process) to the tune of $750,000. Hey, I had a life, too. And I accept checks!

His self-titled debut album was released in December 2006, but just over a year later Hicks was dropped by his label, Arista Records, for lackluster sales, but the enigmatic Hicks has just kept rolling on, promising a DVD and a new album by the end of this year. Earlier this month, his fanatical fan base, the Soul Patrol, held their Soul Patrol Convention in Hicks' hometown of Birmingham, AL. As has become the norm for the charity-based group, proceeds from the event went to Kid One Transport.

His latest gig is as "Teen Angel" on the stage production of Grease in New York. At his MySpace announcement of this, he reminded fans that his new album is tentatively anticipated to drop this fall, meaning the Soul Patrol can see what Taylor can do out of the watchful eye of those pesky Idol producers. While I think he's an amazing and mesmerizing stage performer, your mileage may vary, I always worry that he doesn't come across as dynamic and entertaining when your just listening to him. I like his voice, too (watch those Idol clips with your eyes closed if you can't stand to watch him and he's got a nice pure voice), but I wonder if he's just too eclectic for mainstream success.

Performing his debut single "The Runaround" on Christmas at Rockefeller Center:

Taylor on Idol performing the winning single "Do I Make You Proud":

Here he was on Idol with a pretty amazing rendition of "Levon":

[via Wikipedia, MySpace and more!]


Jordin SparksAt only seventeen, Sparks was the youngest ever winner of American Idol, and possibly the tallest! After performing her latest single "No Air," with Chris Brown for this year's "Idol Gives Back" tour, Sparks set out to open for Alicia Keys on her As I Am tour. She's also signed with Avon to be a spokesperson for their teen-focused line Mark.

Her self-titled debut album was less typical of past Idol albums, which proved to be a positive direction for the show and for Sparks. Her first single, "Tattoo," is an infectious pop/R&B track that quickly rose the charts. In a fan-centric move she allowed visitors to her website to vote on which track should be her second single out of four selections, with the Chris Brown duet "No Air" coming out on top. Fans chose right, as this single outperformed her debut settling in at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks straight.

Her new single "One Step At a Time" performed last night on the Idol finale:

Her duet with Chris Brown, "No Air" as performed on "Idol Gives Back":

The video for her debut single "Tattoo":

The winning moment and single from Idol, "This is My Now":

[via Wikipedia, MySpace, and more!]


David CookSo if you do the math, every three years after Kelly, the winner of American Idol goes on to a blockbuster career. Sure, it's only happened once so far (Carrie Underwood) but the math still holds up. Daughtry has had a huge career, and he's the most similar in style and approach to Cook, so the stars may be aligned right. As Debra broke down in her article, David Cook winning is good for American Idol, as it gives them credibility and a winner that can actually be considered a unique and bona fide artistic talent.

Regardless, as long as the Idol folks allow him to make a truly rock sounding album, I think the Cook has the potential of making an absolutely amazing album, smashing out several rock hits and truly making a mark for himself in the rock and roll market. He's already taken on Nickelback on the Idol stage, so now it's time to take them on in the sales charts as well. Good luck, David!

As a bonus, here's David's winning moment, followed by his winning single "Time of My Life" from last night's finale:

What are you guys talking about? There is no next time. If this format comes back next year, we can update what these kids did in the past year, as well as look at what the Season 7 kids did their first year out. Otherwise, I hope you've had as much fun looking back at Idols past as I have bringing it to you. Thanks for all the updates and corrections in your comments, they are appreciated. See you around.

2nd Place Finishers
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4th Place Finishers
5th Place Finishers
6th Place Finishers
7th Place Finishers
8th Place Finishers
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I've never commented before, but I come to read your take on AI every week. I hope you do the same next year! Thanks :)

May 26 2008 at 2:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, Jimmy's opinion aside, I thought Taylor's version of that song was great. I know a lot people out there can't stand Taylor because he's actually interesting and different (unlike David Cook, who's just "more different than David Archuleta") but Taylor is actually the reason I started watching Idol. You're right--he's not near as interesting to listen to as he is to watch, but I still think he deserved to win that year.

May 25 2008 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

that song Fantasia sang on Idol a few weeks ago "Bore Me (Yawn)" is the current single off of her second CD "Fantasia".

My favorite winners are Kelly, David, Fantasia, Carrie and Jordin

May 24 2008 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Taylor Hicks shows up on Public Television in Alabama all the time playing his harmonica and singing with a bunch of old blues guys. From all appearances, he looks at peace with the world.

May 24 2008 at 12:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Taylor Hicks is a joke, and I will never forgive him for murdering The Beatles' "A Day In The Life."

Of all the winners, he comes in a DISTANT seventh.

May 24 2008 at 7:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Jim's comment

Uh, Jimmy - you'll happy to know that Taylor is starring in a Sgt. Pepper tribute show with Denny Laine and Todd Rundgren at Wolftrap in Vienna, VA Aug 23.

Shows how much YOU know about what's good and bad. Perhaps you should buy yourself a ticket and treat yourself. Heh!

Here's you link to get tickets and the promo for the show:

May 24 2008 at 2:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Uh, Marc, you'll be happy to know Taylor was widely criticized for his rendition, which was featured in the 2007 finale. I have not forgotten; it was blasphemous.

Enjoy the show, you lemming.

May 24 2008 at 7:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

AI Aftermath has been very fun to read! Thanks for getting us all the videos and information. I really look forward to this next year. Go David! He'll have a wonderful career. I hope Carly and Michael Johns will have too.

May 24 2008 at 6:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Maria's comment
Jason Hughes

Thanks! It's been a lot of fun checking in on the kids, and surprising at how much most of them have made of their moment in the spotlight.

May 24 2008 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good Summing up:) KELLY CLARKSON not only talented girl, but very beautiful;)

May 24 2008 at 5:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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