American Idol – now on its 17th season (albeit with a different network than the one originally backing the show) – has produced its fair share of celebrities. From Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood to Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry, some of the biggest names in contemporary music got their starts on Idol. However, not every Idol contestant has been so lucky.
Earning the title “Winner of American Idol –” as Ryan Seacrest builds suspense and echoes throughout the auditorium – probably feels like a direct route to success when the lucky contestant hears his/her name. However, some winners never get off the ground after the fact. This list will highlight those who have since struggled to succeed after winning American Idol.
‘American Idol’ season 13: Caleb Johnson
Caleb Johnson, widely known for winning season 13 of American Idol, unfortunately, isn’t known for much else. Caleb Johnson was born in Ashville, North Carolina to an accountant (mother) and former football coach (father); however, both his parents possess a background in music.
After winning American Idol, Johnson went on to record his debut album, which included collaborations with Howard Benson, Aloe Blacc, Blair Daly, and more. The album was titled Testify, and it released on August 12, 2014.
Johnson parted ways with his label in 2015 and has since attempted to succeed going solo. However, his albums have not gained much traction. In 2018, Johnson joined the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for their winter tour.
‘American Idol’ Season 12: Candice Glover
The R&B singer, Candice Glover, auditioned three times before even making it to the American Idol live shows. However, her third audition definitely paid off…well, sort of. At least she won.
Candice Glover’s debut album was titled Music Speaks. And while Glover has not had much success since this album, the single “I am Beautiful” did hit number 93 on the Billboard Top 100 in its first week. Glover has since been featured on other albums and appeared on Broadway in Home for the Holidays, Live on Broadway in 2017.
‘American Idol’ Season 9: Lee DeWyze
Lee DeWyze, a singer-songwriter from Mt. Prospect Illinois, won season 9 of American Idol; however, before Idol, he had formed the Lee DeWyze Band. DeWyze has released five studio albums since starring on Idol.
Lee DeWyze has worked with Vanguard Records, RCA Records, Shanachie Entertainment and Pledge Music; however, he cannot seem to find his “sweet spot,” so to speak. Or, it’s possible that he’s content with the music he’s producing and the loyal fanbase he has acquired from his band, Idol, and subsequent solo career.
‘American Idol’ Season 8: Kris Allen
Whether Kris Allen is most known for winning Idol or recognized as the guy who beat out Adam Lambert is the real question here. Competing in the same season as Allen, Lambert – the runner-up – has gone on to boast a very prosperous career. Lambert most recently performed with Queen at the 91st Academy Awards. Kris Allen has not been as successful.
Kris Allen’s most recent album was released in 2016. Titled Letting You In, the record marks the singer-songwriters fifth studio album. According to the singer-songwriter’s website, he has no upcoming performances on the horizon, nor does he appear to be working on any new projects.
‘American Idol’ Season 15: Trent Harmon
Trent Harmon won the final season of American Idol’s original run. Harmon’s debut studio album, You Got ‘Em All, was released in 2018. Following his win on Idol, Harmon was signed by Big Machine Records, and later released a top 30 single “There’s a Girl;” however, the singer has had moderate success and minimal luck expanding his fan base.
Since Trent Harmon is still just getting started post-Idol, he may be able to turn his career around; however, as previous contestants have proved, stardom is a fickle beast.