1. Vonzell Solomon (Season 4, 3rd Place) Vonzell has the perfect voice: An amazing range, a gorgeous tone, & polished to perfection. She's also gorgeous herself--both inside & out, making her the perfect package! I honestly can't think of a worse crime the industry has committed than Vonzell not being signed to a major label.
Single: Dirt Bag
2. David Archuleta (Season 7, Runner-up) My favorite male contestant, David's beautiful voice resulted in some of the best performances on the Idol stage & post-Idol material ever. Simple as that.
Album: The Other Side Of Down
3. Jennifer Hudson (Season 3, 7th Place) Famously robbed during Idol's third season, there was no way Jennifer's talent was going to go to waste, as evidenced by her Oscar-winning, Grammy-winning comeback. Her vocal chops rival those of the legends that came before & inspired her.
Album: I Remember Me
4. Jordin Sparks (Season 6, Winner) My favorite Idol winner, the sweet, gorgeous Jordin doesn't even know how to hit a bum note. She delivered with her incredible voice not only during her Idol run, but also throughout her post-Idol career.
5. Adam Lambert (Season 8, Runner-up) Adam single-handedly saved the eighth season of Idol with his brilliant collection of performances. What can I say that he doesn't in the above performance? He's phenomenal!
Album: For Your Entertainment
6. Kelly Clarkson (Season 1, Winner) Of course she was a standout on Idol, but Kelly's outstanding post-Idol career both solidified her status as one of our generation's greatest talents & gave the show the credibility it needed to stay on top for so long.
Album: All I Ever Wanted
7. Syesha Mercado (Season 7, 3rd Place) Syesha was another season seven contestant that never really got the credit she deserved from the judges, but performances like the one above kept me excited throughout the season.
8. Jacob Lusk (Season 10, 5th Place) Jacob has a jaw-dropping range & a beautiful tone, & despite his nerves getting the best of him toward the end of the season, he is fully capable of greatness.
9. Carly Smithson (Season 7, 6th Place) Simon never gave Carly a break while she was on the show, but that didn't stop the vocal powerhouse from following her dream of fronting a rock band.
Album: Tear The World Down (We Are The Fallen)
10. Fantasia (Season 3, Winner) Fantasia's incredible talent & charisma won her the title in 2004 & that led to a successful recording career, but in case you've forgotten just how incredible Fantasia can sound when she performs since she tends to go--in the best possible way--a little crazy these days, watch her make Idol history above with one of the show's best performances ever.
Album: Back To Me
11. Pia Toscano (Season 10, 9th Place) Without a doubt, the biggest shock elimination in Idol history. Pia can sing her face off & has a promising career ahead of her!
12. Melinda Doolittle (Season 6, 3rd Place) Melinda is probably the most polished contestant Idol has ever seen. She delivered week after week & deserved to find more success post-Idol than she has.
Album: Coming Back To You
13. LaToya London (Season 3, 4th Place) One of the three season three divas, it's a shame LaToya hasn't found the level of success her competitors have. (Maybe she will with her new venture Urban Punk!) Skip to the 3:50 mark above to watch what is quite possibly the best exit performance in Idol history.
Album: Love & Life
14. Elliott Yamin (Season 5, 3rd Place) Elliott's soulful voice charmed many back in 2006--& it still does today. As his recording career progresses, Elliott just keeps getting better!
Album: Fight For Love
15. Paris Bennett (Season 5, 5th Place) Paris was born with a unique talent that many grew fond of during her Idol run. Unfortunately, she has yet to truly realize her talent post-Idol.
Album: Princess P
16. Anwar Robinson (Season 4, 7th Place) Anwar's voice was so big, he didn't even know what to do with it. He's certainly an incredible talent though.
17. Carrie Underwood (Season 4, Winner)
Album: Play On
18. LaKisha Jones (Season 6, 4th Place) LaKisha's powerful, yet unpolished voice was impressive enough during the competitive sixth season of Idol to take her far. Her post-Idol debut wasn't too shabby either.
Album: So Glad I'm Me
19. Katharine McPhee (Season 5, Runner-up) Katharine had her fair share of showstopping performances during her run on Idol, but it wasn't until after the show was over that I really took much notice of her. Not only was her self-titled debut album right up my alley, but she still has a promising career ahead of her!
20. Mandisa (Season 5, 9th Place) Despite such an early elimination, Mandisa has gone on to enjoy quite a successful recording career in the Christian genre.
Album: What If We Were Real
21. Tamyra Gray (Season 1, 4th Place)
Album: The Dreamer
22. Ruben Studdard (Season 2, Winner)
Album: Love IS
23. Rickey Smith (Season 2, 8th Place) With his Brian McKnight-esque vocals & upbeat personality, Rickey was one of my favorites during Idol's second season.
24. Stephanie Edwards (Season 6, 11th Place) Talented as she may be, considering she was up against the likes of Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, & LaKisha Jones, poor Stephanie picked the wrong season to audition.
Single: The Wind
25. George Huff (Season 3, 5th Place) The last male standing of his season, George released a pair of solid gospel albums post-Idol. It appears that didn't go as well for his as it should have, as he's now a background singer for Jennifer Hudson, but the two of them were friends back in their Idol days, so it's cool that J-Hud didn't forget about him now that she's a big star.
Album: George Huff
26. Kimberley Locke (Season 2, 3rd Place)
Album: Based On A True Story
27. Nikko Smith (Season 4, 9th Place)
28. Karen Rodriguez (Season 10, 12th Place) Her chops may have pailed in comparison to her friend & fellow contestant Pia's, but I still don't think Karen got the proper chance to shine before being eliminated.
29. Chris Daughtry (Season 5, 4th Place)
Album: Leave This Town (Daughtry)
30. Camile Velasco (Season 3, 9th Place) Camile didn't make it onto many people's radars, but she caught my attention. I wish they hadn't dropped her before she was able to release an album, but Camile released a cover of "Hangin' On" on Universal Motown that I love.
Single: Guava Jelly
31. Kris Allen (Season 8, Winner) Though not worthy of winning by a long shot, Kris was the second-best contestant of his season.
Album: Kris Allen
32. Trenyce (Season 2, 5th Place)
33. Kimberly Caldwell (Season 2, 7th Place) Kimberly was pleasant enough way back in 2003, but with the release of her debut album just this year, she proved her Idol run was no fluke.
Album: Without Regret
34. Lisa Tucker (Season 5, 10th Place) Lisa was the definition of potential. She had a big voice, but she audition much too young.
35. Jason Castro (Season 7, 4th Place) Unfortunately, I haven't really been able to get into his music post-Idol, as his recording voice sounds weird to me, but it was performances like these that took him so far in the competition.
Album: Who I Am
36. Lil Rounds (Season 8, 7th Place) She fizzled out after making the top 12, but Lil was promising with this semi-final performance.
37. Brandon Rogers (Season 6, 12th Place)
38. Christina Christian (Season 1, 6th Place) Otherwise not a memorable contestant for me, this particular performance from Christina was a season standout.
39. Nadia Turner (Season 4, 8th Place)
Single: Standing On Love
40. Mikalah Gordon (Season 4, 11th Place) Though a somewhat talented singer, it was Mikalah's personality that helped her stand out from the crowd.